Oct 14, 2021
In this week’s Unsupervised Learning Podcast, Razib is joined by author and psycholinguist Steven Pinker to discuss his new book Rationality: what is it, why it seems scarce, and why it matters. Pinker makes the case the humans are fundamentally rational beings, and that it’s this capacity that has allowed Homo sapiens to spread across the planet and occupy virtually every niche available to us. Our intuitive ability to understand how physical objects, other creatures and other humans think and behave, combined with our cultural innovativeness, has allowed us to become the apex species of planet earth. Our natural logical abilities allow us to remain one step ahead in the evolutionary arms race.
Next, they delve into the history of academic discourse on thinking and rationality, from Aristotle to artificial intelligence, and try to probe and characterize the differences between logic and critical thinking, correlation and causation, and domain-specific versus general intelligence.
Finally, the discussion then veers into tackling the interplay between rationality and morality, and how the former can aid progress in the latter. They conclude with a discussion on our current cultural climate, and the discourse on sex, race and wokeness.