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wk2slides - The Question: Are we lost in cognitive space?...

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Unformatted text preview: The Question: Are we lost in cognitive space? The average human genome has about 100,000 genes; this large number is utterly dwarfed by the number of nerve cells in a single human, which is about 1 trillion, that is, 1,000,000,000,000. This number in turn, shrinks in comparison with the number of combinatorial arrangements possible among these nerve cells, estimated to be between 100-1,000 trillion, that is, 1,000,000,000,000,000 (Ehrlich [2000] 4). Compared to our gross physiological features (e.g., bipedalism, manual dexterity), these numbers may turn out to better indicators of our nature because they point to the very wide chasm separating our genetic endownment and what, by dint of our brain and nervous system, we may do with that endowment. Whatever else may be shaping who or what we are as a species, we appear, by virtue of our cognitive agility, to be able to imagine and interpret the world in a vast and sometimes contradictory variety of ways. We are evidently free within the vault of cognitive space to weave cultures into existence. So, of the, practically speaking, infinite variety of patterns we can re- cognize, which patterns are truly out there and which are partly, or wholly, in here? But no less significantly, how do we make sensethat is, explain or give meaning--to the patterns we recognize, in here or out there? For examples: Up to a point, we can perhaps be reasonably proud of the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences (wigner) --what does Wigner mean by unreasonable effectiveness? And perhaps the Pythagorean vision of the integration of numbers and reality (music, physics, life, consciousness) will at some future point be possible...(and we may come to concur with the inscription on that Grecian urn, that truth is beauty, and beauty truth {and that is all yea know on earth, and all yea need to know}) But in the meantime, much of lifes phenomena have proven more difficult to diagram mathematically: We see some quantifiable...
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2011 for the course CAT 1 taught by Professor Carlisle during the Spring '06 term at UCSD.

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wk2slides - The Question: Are we lost in cognitive space?...

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