March 22, 2005

What is philosophy? – cognitive development, thought experiments, apparatus of extended cognition

Psychology diagrams the internal, mental and neuro-chemical constraints that limit how we think. Sociology diagrams the external, social constraints that limit how we think. Philosophy is different, it seeks new ways to think that go beyond those constraints. It looks for these by experimenting with and inventing the materials of our extended cognitive apparatus: the technology of thought (for example, new ways of writing that enable new concepts to be thought). In this way, as for Nietzsche, the thought experiment (the activity at the heart of philosophy) is not simply a matter of applying a familiar technology of thought to a familar set of concepts, combining them in a new way. Rather, it sets out to invent new concepts through the development and application of a new technology of thought. What kind of experiment is carried out by a child (or other learner) to move to a new way of thinking (not just a new concept)? A new technology of thought must be adopted. Cognitive development is in this way, driven by Nietzschean thought experiments.

A model of constraints only ever maps out an algorithm, programme or expression that repeats itself. It can only account for the emergence of that algorithm from another greater algorithm that contains entirely the conditions of its production. As such, disciplines other than philosophy are not able to account for or make possible creativity in thought. Or at least they cannot do so unless they become philosophical (speculative, experimental). Philosophy is the practice of speculation, experiment, risk. It goes beyond constraints.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Robert O'Toole

    Technology of thought = abstract machine.

    13 Jun 2005, 12:27

  2. Robert O'Toole

    Conjecture: Philosophy makes possible new kinds of theory in art and in science. Not just a new set of permutations, but new kinds of search space and search.

    13 Jun 2005, 12:30

  3. Robert O'Toole

    Abstract machines arrange storage, deletion, transmission – expression of content.

    13 Jun 2005, 12:43

  4. Robert O'Toole

    Concept = abstract machine? Or the assumption that an event will happen when a particular abstract machine is applied.

    13 Jun 2005, 12:46

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