Tag Archives: mathematics

The order of the soul

Our higher cognitive functions have two modes: a drive to bias nature towards certain outcomes, and an appreciation of structural symmetry in the arrangement of the universe. In standard three-part models of the soul, bias maps well onto the middle part. Symmetry maps well onto the "upper" part in ancient accounts, but not modern ones. This reflects a real change in how people think. It is a sign of damage. Damage wrought on people's souls – especially among elites – by formal schooling and related pervasive dominance relations in employment. Continue reading

Geometers, Scribes, and the structure of intelligence

When people talk about general intelligence in humans, they tend to talk about measured IQ. While a lot of variation in IQ is really just variation in brain health, and probably related to variation in general health, there are at least two distinct modes of general intelligence in humans: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

Fluid intelligence is pretty much anything you can use a spatial metaphor to think about, and is measured pretty directly by Raven's Progressive Matrices. It's used for puzzle-solving.

Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, relies on your conceptual vocabulary. You can do analogical reasoning with it – so it lends itself to a fortiori style arguments.

I don't think it's just a coincidence that I know of two main ways people have discovered disjunctive, structural reasoning – once in geometry, and once in the courts. Continue reading

Three puzzles

3-RFTEKUTS
7-FTDLITHOS
What is the next item in the sequence?

My partner's name is Kitty. Our children's names are Bishop and Cantor. What is my name?

Eight American tourists were vacationing in the Lesser Antilles. They were staying on a large island, but decided to take an overnight trip to a smaller island that was supposed to have spectacular beaches, and was less crowded because it was harder to get to. The day before they were supposed to take a boat over to the smaller island, one couple fell ill, but the others continued on. When they arrived, they found there was only one bed-and-breakfast inn on the island, which already had many guests - seven Germans, four Italians, and five Swedes. Fortunately, there was room at the inn to accommodate the Americans, so after enjoying sunset on the beach, they stayed overnight at the inn. To their surprise, when they came into the common area for breakfast, the Swedes and Italians were not present. The Germans were there, but were not eating - they looked full. One of the Americans asked one of the Germans whether their number had already eaten the breakfast served by their hosts, and the German indicated in her native tongue that they had not. Why were the Americans terrified?