The Evolution of Human Knowledge and Capacities to Act

In the first half of this presentation, I provide an overview of the idea that there is a hierarchy of distinct biological mechanisms that generate ontologically distinct classes of knowledge about the world. These distinct classes are described as qualitative, phenomenal and conceptual in their construction. This idea is covered in more detail in this presentation. I also provide a detailed exposition in a paper published in Biosemiotics Journal entitled Qualitative attribution, phenomenal experience and Being. The second half of the presentation focuses on the third element of this hierarchy which is concerned with conceptual interpretations of reality. I propose that this conceptual class must determine, in each individual, a stable ideological stance that incorporates all that is considered known, unknown and unknowable. My intention is to give some indication how, through an understanding of their dynamic interrelation, we might improve our understanding of the structure of conceptual knowledge. The purpose in doing this is to make knowledge less of an instrument to bias and prejudice and more of a facilitator to greater tolerance and improved social and cultural contribution and influence.

Higher School of Economics, Moscow – “Knowledge and Power” Presentation

The conference was hosted by the National Research University – Higher School of Economics and the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The theme of the conference was concerned with the evolution of human capacities to know and act, and how to convert knowledge into power.

Anton Sukhoverkhov, Bob Hodge, Mark Pharoah, Mikhail Ilyin in the foyer during the Knowledge to Power conference
Anton Sukhoverkhov, Bob Hodge, Mark Pharoah, Mikhail Ilyin

The conference was devoted to the study of cognitive and agentive capacities from a transdisciplinary perspective. It focused on the fundamental mechanisms of learning and knowledge in the contexts of biological and cultural evolution. It was also concerned with the methodological perspective of transdisciplinary research and education. The participants of the conference explored the use of the concepts of agency, cognition and meaning. Findings from biological, social and political studies were discussed in the context of evolutionary morphology, social semiotics and cognitive science.

A major track of the debating sessions was concerned with the problem of transdisciplinary interfaces of biological, social and semiotic research.

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