The fifty years that followed saw the exponential rise of the Industrial Revolution, the triumph of Engineering over Mind, so that the culturally appropriate epistemology for the Origin of Species (1859) was an attempt to exclude mind as an explanatory principle. Tilting at a windmills.
There were protests much more profound than the shrieks of the Fundamentalists. Samuel Butler, Darwin's ablest critic, saw that the denial of mind as an explanatory principle was intolerable and tried to take evolutionary theory back to Lamarckism. But that would not do because, of the hypothesis (shared even by Darwin) of the "inheritance of acquired characteristics." This hypothesis-that the responses of an organism to its environment could affect the genetics of the offspring-was an error.
I shall argue that this error was specifically an epistemological error in logical typing and shall offer a definition of mind very different from the notions vaguely held by both Darwin and Lamarck. Notably, I shall assume that thought resembles evolution in being a stochastic (see Glossary) process.
In what is offered in this book, the hierarchic structure of thought, which Bertrand Russell called logical typing, will take the place of the hierarchic structure of the Great Chain -of Being and an attempt will be made to propose a sacred unity of the biosphere that will contain fewer epistemological errors than the versions of that sacred unity which the various religions of history have offered. What is important is that, right or wrong, the epistemology shall be explicit. Equally explicit criticism win then be possible.
So the immediate task of this book is to construct a picture of how the world is joined together in its mental aspects. How do ideas, information, steps of logical or pragmatic consistency, and the like fit together? How is logic, the classical procedure for making chains of ideas, related to an outside world of things and creatures, parts and wholes? Do ideas really occur in chains, or is this lineal (See Glossary) structure imposed on them b scholars and philosophers?
What has to be investigated and described is a vast network or matrix of interlocking message material and abstract tautologies, premises, and exemplifications.But, as of 1979, there is no conventional method of describing such a tangle. We do not know even where to begin.
Fifty years ago, we would have assumed that the best procedures for such a task would have -been either logical or quantitative, or both. But we shall see as every schoolboy ought to know that logic is precisely unable to deal with recursive circuits without generating paradox and that quantities are precisely not the stuff of complex conununicating systems.
In other words, logic and quantity turn out to be inappropriate devices for describing organisms and their interactions and internal organization. The particular nature of this inappropriatenesswill be exhibited in due course, but for the moment, the reader is asked to accept as true the assertion that, as of 1979, there is no conventional way of explaining or even describing the phenomena of biological organization and human interaction.
John Von Neumann pointed out thirty years ago, in his Theory of Games, that the behavioral sciences lack any reduced model which would do for biology and psychiatry what the Newtonian particle did for physics.
There are, however, a number of somewhat disconnected pieces of wisdom that will aid the task of this book. I shall therefore-adopt the method of Littlejack Homer, pulling out plums one after the other and exhibiting them side by side to create an array from which we can go on to list some fundamental criteria of mental process.
In Chapter 2, "Every Schoolboy Knows:' I shall gather for the reader some examples of what I regard as simple necessary truths-necessary first if the schoolboy is ever to learn to think and then again necessary because, as I believe, the biological world is geared to these simple propositions.
In Chapter 3 I shall operate in the same way but shall bring to the reader's attention a number of cases in which two or more information sources come together to give information of a sort different from what was in either source separately.