The Learning Machine, pecking pigeons and the Sending of Being

nick shackleton-jones, Research, Sept 28, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When people interact with each other, the social learning produced is not the replication of content from one mind to the next to the next. It's not even contained in any individual mind at all. Rather, society as a whole develops new learning. This is the meaning of "We think, therefore we am." Nick Shackleton-Jones captures the effect of this nicely. "Although we frequently stumble upon these bigger, emergent, purposes - evolution, religion, capital, technology – we don’t like to think of ourselves as their component parts. Because we glimpse but not grasp them, we like to think of them as products of human activity... Heidegger understood this: he realized that at best we glimpse these higher purposes, and that we experience them as an unfolding, as uncanny – as a revealing, a ‘destining’ and a ‘sending of Being’. We sense that something is being done to us, but we can’t guess what until we see it."

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