On Imagination

On Imagination

Mais ici, il faut s’entendre sur le sens à donner à ce mot si vague, et si compréhensif: <<l’intelligence>>. Presque tous les phénomènes dont s’occupe la psychologie sont des phénomènes d’intelligence; une sensation, une perception, sont des manifestations intellectuelles, autant qu’un raisonnement. Devrons-nous donc faire intervenir dans nos examens la mesure de la sensation; à l exemple des psychophysiciens? Devrons-nous mettre en tests toute la psychologie?

Une petite réflexion nous a montré que ce serait bien du temps perdu. Il y a dans l’intelligence, nous semble-t-il, un organe fondamental, celui dont le défaut ou l’altération importe le plus pour la vie pratique, c’est le jugement, autrement dit le bon sens, le sens pratique, l’initiative, la faculté de s’adapter. Bien juger, bien comprendre, bien raisonner, ce sont les ressorts essentiels de l’intelligence. Une personne peut être débile ou imbecile si elle manque de jugement; avec un bon jugement, elle ne le sera jamais.

  • Mémoires originaux — Alfred Binet et Simon — Du Niveau Intellectuel des Anormaux

But here we must agree on the meaning to be given to this word so vague, and so comprehensive: “intelligence”. Almost all the phenomena of which psychology deals are phenomena of intelligence; a sensation, a perception, are intellectual manifestations, as much as a reasoning. Shall we, therefore, have to make the measure of sensation intervene in our examinations; like the psycho-physicists? Should we test all psychology?

A little thought showed us that it would be a lot of wasted time. There is in the mind, it seems to us, a fundamental organ, the one whose defect or alteration is most important for practical life, is judgment, in other words common sense, practical sense, the initiative, the faculty to adapt. To judge well, to understand well, to reason well, are the essential springs of intelligence. A person may be weak or foolish if they lack judgment; with good judgment, she will never be either.

  • Online Translation

So let’s dive into what this online translation is telling us.

First of all, I’m not reading these French people. I was actually looking into what the hell Stephen Hawkins meant by “intelligence is the ability to adapt.” But, it turns out, there’s no source for that quote. Although an earlier thought in the same vein was found in the French journal that I just quoted. For more info, I got it from this WaPo article.

Alright, so thankfully I don’t have to bullshit against Stephen Hawkins. Just against Alfred Binet, whoever that guy is.

The online translation basically tells us all the context that we need to proceed, so let’s proceed.

If intelligence is the ability to adapt then we have to take into consideration the role of identity in this process.

I maintain that every aspect of the universe is triadically subjective, objective and relative. That is, any aspect of the universe can be treated as a subject, object or a relative of some other aspect that can be treated as a subject, objective or relative.

So this thought that you’re having is not your own thought. They’re my words. So these thoughts inside your head are an object that is subjectively related to you. You are another object that is a subject to your relations.

The question of identity is that identity is defined in context.

This context is holistic.

For an aspect of “holism” I like this snippet from Donald Davidson’s wikipedia

page (I haven’t read much about him so I’m just using this to justify my end; please read his work directly is you’re not looking for a misrepresentation of him):

Davidson argues that because the language is compositional, it is also holistic: sentences are based on the meanings of words, but the meaning of a word depends on the totality of sentences in which it appears.

This is simple and the example is right in your head at this very moment. The way you’re making sense of this is because of a holistic context where the parts are detrimental to the hole but the parts would be meaningless without the hole.

An example would be the misspelling of “whole” in the previous sentence. You probably know that it’s misspelled because, if you get the gist of what I’m saying, then you would expect the word “whole” to be there. But the context is enough that you get the meaning even though the word is incorrect.

There is a sort of “nutrition” that the context gives to the word that completes it from being just symbols to it being symbols with meaning.

This is talking about language. But language would be incomplete without intelligence as we know it.

See if intelligence is the ability to adapt, then you adapt to reach something.

Now this very controversial because I’m going to make the connection with evolution, since evolution also deals with adaptation, but to say that you adapt to reach something means that evolution occurs to reach a point. And this type of thinking if very dangerous.

Because if you’re determined to reach a point, you might as well reach it, but how sure are you of this direction you take? Are you sure enough of your goal to demean and trivialize other sentient beings when there is an alternative route to the point? Which road do you take when trying to navigate the world, simultaneously aimlessly, as abstract space and time push you further into old age, and determined, as you hope to reach old age in a particular fashion?

I’m getting ahead of myself and tying a lot of things together.

But going back to language, if you’ve ever had to talk in code to another person, then you know that context shifts in precedent.

What I mean by this shifting of precedent is that sometimes it’s okay to be grammatically incorrect if the meaning is smuggled in through slang. Because the primary function of language is to reach meaning and you reach meaning, the metaphysical concept, in spite of language; not because of it.

But then if we move the goal post of language, we change our understanding of language. If we change the goalpost, we change the rules of the game. We shift our focus on this new understanding. That language is a tool.

You do not follow language to reach ultimate truth. You use language to get there.

Since we’re usually multiple subjects that make of an objective group, it facilitates communication if we form a an objective concept out of language that we all agree on. This has ugly side effects; such as grammar nazis and pedantic burros but this is justified because we can all spend less time arguing about what we mean when we say something.

An ugly side effect, however, is that some times people get lost in the words and get trapped in literal mazes that they cannot escape. They become entrapped in the holism of language rather than the holism of life.

This holism of life is, in part, the breeding ground for language. If language is holistic in itself it’s because it is part of a bigger scheme itself. Language is only part of something much bigger.

Language is part of our intellect and it plays a large role in our intellect but it doesn’t define our intellect. Our intellect, in the holistic sense, is always beyond and our focus, concentration and consciousness is a part of the bigger picture.

Again, our focus, concentration and consciousness, like the words in the sentence, make up what the sentence is.

So our intellect nurtures our consciousness the same way sentences nurture words. But our consciousness, and our words, in turn, nurture our consciousness. And this you can go further and say that our consciousness nurtures our group, or herd, mentality.

Going back to the concept that “intellect is able to adapt,” we have to consider that the intellects goal is to survive in the world it find itself in.

The same way that life, through our understanding of evolution, seems to favor more life. That is, life struggles to survive. This struggle is traction based on its circumstances. We’re born with an innate sense of hunger because we want nutrition. We want to live.

The intellect wants something and so it adapts for this want. At the minimum it seems to want to survive.

But because of the reflectory property of the intellect, part of the consideration that the intellect entertains in its adaption is what impact its actions will have in the holistic environment it finds itself in.

Here you can make the connection with a chess game. You move a chess piece not just to survive but also to be in a “better” position rather than a “worse” position than before.

The intellect captures the holistic aspect of its existence. But our vision isn’t infinite. We can only picture, or reflect, the holistic properties of our position insofar as our intellect can capture it.

And so we are in a position where we obligatorily have to consider the consequence of our action and take into consideration where we want our actions to leave us.

This aspect of our existence is where imagination is important. Our actions can and must be infused with what we imagine and what we imagine directly nurtures our intellect. It molds our intellect. It plays a role in how our intellect adapts.



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Betsy Calabaza

Betsy Calabaza


blooms — crazy rants masked as abstract experimental philosophy. s/o CS Peirce