Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Chronically curious モ..

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Symbols, according to Huxley & Koestler

Came across these two quotes I'd jotted down in some old file. The central idea is pretty darn similar, although differently beautiful in the two cases... {warning: not for the connectionist-hearted ;) } 1. Aldous Huxley, The Island
Spiders can't help making fly-traps, and men can't help making symbols. That's what the human brain is there for - to turn the chaos of given experience into a set of manageable symbols. Sometimes the symbols correspond fairly closely to some of the aspects of the external reality behind our experience; then you have science and common sense. Sometimes, on the contrary, the symbols have almost no connection with external reality; then you have paranoia and delirium.
2. Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine
But man has an irrepressible tendency to read meaning in the buzzing confusion of sights and sounds impinging on his senses; and where no agreed meaning can be found, he will provide it out of his own imagination. ... The sensorium extracts meaning from the chaotic environment as the digestive system extracts energy from food.

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