Friday, January 25, 2013

Alfred Wallace rediscovered and # 42 category errors

Natural History Museum
How lucky are UK school children who live within a reasonable distance of London and whose teachers make the most of the wealth of museums, galleries and places of interest?  Pretty damn lucky is the answer I'd give.
On Thursday  I travelled a few miles to Kensington to the fantastic Natural History Museum, mainly to pay homage to Charles Darwin but in the event found out much much more.
You might have heard in the news about Alfred Wallace who ploughed much the same furrow as Darwin in terms of work around the theory of evolution, for long overlooked his contribution is currently being reassessed.
Darwin - evolution theory man
The work of the Natural History Museum goes far beyond a mere museum with the amazing research work is it  involved with along with the stimulation methods of reaching out  to visitors and scholars.
I visited the Darwin centre and saw some of the imaginative ways that the natural world is being explained to visitors NaturePlus was just one of the great tools used at the centre.

The facts that I picked up (I think) were things like there are something like 450,000 types of beetle - which helps me realise how important and  significant the work around describing the living world is.
Some of the 'treasures' are pretty mind blowing too, like the illustration from the most expensive book in the world (Birds of America).
But what really got me thinking was the display showing the evolution of man  from Apes/monkeys to  what we are today - I'm not too sure how those who take the bible as a literal  work view this but the evolution for me raises so many questions about what we (the human race) were, what we are now and how we might further evolve.

Big Idea Number 42 Category Errors

A Category Error or Category Mistake is defined by  the British Philosopher Gilbert Ryle. (He also coined the memorable phrase Ghost in the machine)

A Category error  occurs when someone acts as though some object had properties which it does not or cannot have. The reason why it cannot have those properties is because the properties belong to objects in some other category or class.  

In Ryle's 1949 book the concept of mind  he gives the example of Category mistake  which details a  student at Oxford where he had seen the library, the classrooms and various facilities, then asking, "But where is the university?", illustrating that it is a different place. The student fails to see that "university" and "library" are terms that belong to different categories.