Wednesday, 12 November 2008

By virtue of reflexive and reflective reasoning then reflexive and reflective thinking?

Following up the threads

- Thinking (with)in and (with)out the brain.
- FROM SIMPLE ASSOCIATIONS TO SYSTEMATIC REASONING: A Connectionist representation of rules, variables, and dynamic bindings using temporal synchrony
- The minds we make overall stupid despite being generated by an underlying remarkable ability to draw inferences?
- Intuitions. Should we be afraid or trust our intuitions? Building up a case for trust.
- Neural processes beat rational thinking.
- Not recommended: frantically seeking escape from a chaotic situation, we find ourselves in.
- Is thinking an automatic process?
- Unconscious knows better ... Indulge yourself.
- Our neurons chart the space we unfold our actions in
- Mind sets and their overriding influence

This paper by Lokendra Shastri and Venkat Ajjanagadde 'From simple associations to systematic reasoning' got me going. I felt that their conclusion, arrived from a somewhat different path, matches what I have arrived using different leads. Or might be simply that I have not wholesomely (systematically) engaged in their views, despite being aired since 1992.

I felt, I have to go through, trod again the path that led me to the views, currently prevalent in my mind, but I am hesitating as I can not decide how to do that. While I am in that process, I recognise the source of my dilemma, given by the authors account of reasoning, as they differentiate it, in reflexive and reflective reasoning.

As the authors stated

"As the above examples suggest, we can draw a variety of inferences rapidly, spontaneously and without conscious effort — as though they were a reflex response of our cognitive apparatus. In view of this let us describe such reasoning as reflexive (Shastri 1990).2 Reflexive reasoning may be contrasted with reflective reasoning which requires reflection, conscious deliberation, and often an overt consideration of alternatives and weighing of possibilities. Reflective reasoning takes takes longer and often requires the use of external props such as a paper and pencil. Some examples of such reasoning are solving logic puzzles, doing cryptarithmetic, or planning a vacation."

Is the clash within me, in choosing the mode of reasoning, I want to use to deal with the notions put forward. Reflexive reasoning or reflective reasoning. Though, to my mind is quite evident that my preferred way is in favour of the reflexive reasoning than reflective reasoning, as I found it to be more productive. Thus stated, I should point out that I do not ignore the significance of reflective reasoning, though I find reflexive reasoning a more suitable way to deal with problems.

By pondering on these thoughts I realize that the case on reasoning, the authors mention, do not include what I have contemplated on the matter. The matter being, that reasoning is only a small part of the brain processes that go under the much wider umbrella concept of thinking. Surpassing the limits and extending the scope by attaching the attributes associated with reasoning, as they are revealed by their findings, to be included in the attribute repertoire of the much wider concept of thinking.

Regarding reasoning the authors mention

" reasoning underlies even the most commonplace intelligent behavior."

which they see as

"One could argue that some of the steps in the above reasoning process are pre-compiled or ‘chunked’, but it would be unreasonable to claim that this entire chain of reasoning can be construed as direct retrieval or even a single step inference!"

not just a matter of retrieving information already stored, but as

"Hence, in addition to accessing lexical items, parsing, and resolving anaphoric reference, some computation similar to the above chain of reasoning must occur when the sentence in question is processed."

computations which make it possible, as in the case of language understanding to

"... language understanding, a task that we usually perform rapidly and effortlessly, depends upon our ability to make predictions, generate explanations, and recognize speaker’s plans."

predict, explain, recognize plans in other individuals minds. And all these are done rapidly and effortlessly.

It is not just reasoning that humans can perform effortlessly, as the authors point out, but even wider aspects of thinking. Adopting the authors terminology for reasoning to this wider view of mental activity, should consider referring to thinking along the same terms as reflexive and reflective thinking.

One ill that plagued me is the use of the words-symbols for attributes and properties amassed as they develop in my mind. The notion of orphan attributes and properties springs forth. Or better, as all these attributes are amassing, mainly by virtue of their associations, converge into something, which to my mind represents the concept. The matter conceived by the amassed orphan attributes.

This thought emanating, by the authors elaboration on the individual's, designated as agent, long-term knowledge base

"... it must include, besides other things, our knowledge of naive physics and naive psychology; facts about ourselves, our family and friends; facts about history and geography; our knowledge of artifacts; sports, art, and music trivia; and our models of social and civic interactions."

naively originated thoughts and in the process, being fleshed up, demand to be acknowledged and respected. Out of the chaos in my mind converging into stable attractors, forming visible structures, entities that need to be dressed up with words to symbolize their existence, and as such to become part either as attributes or any other form along the lines mentioned by the authors

"... hierarchy that represents entities, types (categories), and the super/sub-concept relations between them ..."

entities, types, categories, super/sub-concept hierarchies. To overcome their naive origins to more informed states, towards overarching and lucid meaning. From naive roots seeking out the word, the symbol to denote the converged distinct entity.

Thinking instantiates, using up the brain reflex mechanisms, named as reflex responses of human agents cognitive apparatus, taking advantage their effortless, spontaneous remarkably efficient character, to use the speed of their processing, to arrive to new knowledge quicker. Since reflexively processing the thoughts can produce many more associations than if it was processing the thoughts reflectively.

Advancing from naive, ill-, mis-, under- informed knowledge to more inclusive empowering knowledge, broadening and deepening the long-term knowledge base, towards the empowered state of an individual.

.... not just to reason but to think too.