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February 13, 2012 / Wythe

Speculative realism & possibility, vis-a-vis future fauna

Ray Brassier, Collapse III, my emphasis:

The problem is this: If the structure of reality produces the structure of thinking, then the challenge is to avoid both transcendentalism and a kind of pragmatism which would say that evolutionary history simply guarantees the congruence between representation and reality as a function of adaptational necessity, so that only creatures that have a cognitive apparatus that is appropriate to their kind of biophysical environment will be able to survive. And this is a claim that fuels much of naturalised epistemology, but one that I think is metaphysically problematic, because there is no reason to suppose that evolutionary adaptation would favour exhaustively accurate beliefs about the world. There’s no reason to suppose that evolution would infallibly provide human organisms with a cognitive apparatus that can accurately track the salient features or the deep structure of reality.

I.e., weird creatures are not ruled out by any law. Knowledge of reality is not given. Anything could happen.

There’s no reason, according to Brassier, that knowing the world should let you better operate within it. This is pretty well demonstrated by contemporary humanity’s inability—despite massive evidence—to clean up its own environment, get off petrol-power, etc. Very interesting, when you spend time speculating about the future of life (biotic or robotic, take your pick).

Perhaps the ultimate winners always tend to be, as some fucked up rule of metaphysics, bacteria and nanorobot swarms, e.g.?



Leave a Comment
  1. andrewggibson / Feb 13 2012 6:20 pm

    Also, octopuses know nothing about the world when they come into it, but somehow manage to ‘reinvent the wheel’ from scratch for themselves. They’re freakishly intelligent, and if they actually managed to live for longer (max. expectancy is ~ 5 years) they’d have taken over ages ago. Imagine their intelligence, with our lifespan, and then swarm it… [cephalopod nightmares]


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