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Re: [ontolog-forum] Car attitudes

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 13:20:54 -0400
Message-id: <46B363F6.5090907@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Gary,    (01)

The word 'bias' suggests that it is bad.  A neutral word would be
'tendency'.  And a positive term would be 'sensitivity':    (02)

> Yes, many of our inanimate "friends" seem to have qualities that don't
> reduce to the standard explanations.  In part this shows our lack of
> understanding about the states they get into as complex mechanisms along
> with what seems to be the human bias to see agency in our universe.    (03)

The assumption that agency somehow springs into existence with the
advent of human beings or even with the advent of life postulates
a fundamental discontinuity in nature.  Such a discontinuity would
truly be a "miracle".    (04)

Perhaps miracles do occur.  But continuity is the default assumption,
in which the more developed forms of agency are based on simpler forms
that occur in physical processes.    (05)

A feedback mechanism, such as the governor in a steam engine, was
considered miraculous in the early 19th century, because it enabled
a simple mechanical device to do the work of a human being.  Before
it was invented, some human had to keep a constant watch on the heat,
pressure, and speed.  The slightest lapse in attention could lead to
an explosion or some other failure, minor or catastrophic.    (06)

Similar feedback mechanisms occur naturally in hurricanes and some
kinds of chemical processes.  Biologists are actively exploring them
to determine how various combinations could lead to self-replicating
life forms.    (07)

John    (08)

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