Evolutionary Epistemology
Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge

Radnitzky, Bartley, Popper

I read this book when it was new (1993). I should have written a great deal about this anthology. It is the only book I have read in many years that caused me to reclassify a whole subject matter. I had thought of mentality as inhabiting a Platonic or mathematical realm. After reading several of the contributions in this book I now regard mentality as a biological subject. I was unconsciously some sort of dualist before.

The papers here followed the obvious (in retrospect) evolutionary trail of organisms learning how they are situated in the universe so as to better survive. The paramecium sensing the sugar gradient and using its flagellum to navigate towards more food—no nerve cells needed. A near continuum is depicted with no obvious magic point to choose where intelligence arose.

Plato’s ultimate mystery remains: whence mathematics? I think that awareness of awareness is instrumental here. That leads to abstraction where we notice patterns among our patterns. Numbers are among those patterns. We took note of logic and discovered mathematics. This pushes off but does not resolve the mystery.