Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is learning?


Full Definition of LEARNING
1: the act or experience of one that learns
2: knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
3: modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)

The concept of learning appears a lot in debates on mind, consciousness, intelligence so it seems appropriate to question it and how it is applied. For no apparent reason, I chose the above as a valid enough definition. So here are my thoughts on that.
1: Learning is a process that occurs in any context where some object carry the functional property of responding to input in reference to previous input and its experienced consequences. Because of this, learning is not intended action “done” by the learner. A dog will learn without being aware of “now I am about to learn something”. Learning is not an experience because there is no mode of perception dedicated to input specified as not being of the 5 senses.
2: What is acquired by instruction/study equals storage of external input. Because of this, learning has nothing to do with intelligence. It is instead the capacity of passive memory.
3: Change by exposure to conditioning is all there is. That is how everything, including humans, evolves and grows. It is passive adaption to the environment. Because of this, it can hardly be considered “intelligent”.

To me, it is rather odd that “learning” is considered so important in relation to intelligence. The act of reading an instruction can be intelligent, if the subject was not instructed to do so. In that case it is only obedient. But the reading itself is simply about receiving and remembering input. My smartphone does that way better than I do. But even so, I consider myself more intelligent than the smartphone. Why is that?
It is because I deal with the input subjectively as opposed to just receiving and keeping it in memory. What I receive is not only what it is, but also what I make out of it. One thing will be many things and many things will be one. Not because it/they inherently is/are so, but because I automatically analyze and synthesize all of input before I compute an output. This is not learning, but intelligence. Intelligence is minds basic function of converting “reality in itself” to “reality to me”.
Reality is “this” because I make it “that”. That is, without the conversion, there is no reality to me. But since reality is really obvious, it is a mistake to deny its existence.
It would be wiser to question the existence of “me” and keep reality exactly as it is, and “that” is actually THIS!

What will You make of THIS?

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