Does reaching independently identical reasoning mean some potentially pre-formatted mind?


I am collecting examples of persons/.../groups reaching identical reasoning but in an independent way. Here are only three examples of such collection: *[Leibniz/Newton: Calculus], [The Lotka - Volterra predator prey equations were discovered independently by Alfred Lotka and by Vito Volterra in 1925-26 ], [Joel Mokyr / Cesar Hidalgo: in books The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy / Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies ]*, see picture below. In case you bumped in situations of reaching identical reasoning in a independent way I would be pleased if you would share them, please. enter image description here


Posted 2019-01-23T12:03:02.563

Reputation: 107

1I believe there could be a genetic component, iow some brains may be wired in similar fashion with similar problem-solving capabilities. Diet could also be an important factor, for obvious reasons. – Bread – 2019-01-23T12:08:58.183


It might be usefull to look at indian or chinese philosophy and look if you find examples. The best way to do so is most likley comparative philosophies that tries to compare/integrate different philosophical traditions that developed rather isolated and independently. This is also connected to the question if we could diversify the curiculum by replacing western author x with f.e. Indian author y and still cover the same philosophical ground in field F. See: And

– CaZaNOx – 2019-01-23T14:59:36.273

1It happens all the time. It's called the zeitgeist. – Richard – 2019-01-23T17:37:45.393

2Landmann, Michael (1974). Philosophical anthropology. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. ISBN 978-0664209957. – Gordon – 2019-01-23T20:02:52.167

3Be careful with this, Leibniz's and Newton's calculus ideas were very far from "identical". They were convertible into each other in hindsight, but used very different conceptions (kinematic for Newton, infinitesimals for Leibniz), and it is like that in many other cases. If anything, these examples suggest that even equivalent ideas are not identically handled, and there is no "pre-formatted mind". – Conifold – 2019-01-23T20:59:01.773

1I took my longer comment down due to @Conifold's comment. You may still find the Landmann book helpful, if you can get it from a library. – Gordon – 2019-01-24T05:33:17.483

1@Conifold Wouldn't the question just regress to being about "equivalent ideas". I.e: There is an "idea", that being equivalent between "different conceptions", appears independently and, (almost) simultaneously, in different places. Such an "idea" may be thought to indicate 1) A mental activity at a different level to human cognition. Or as the Question speculates 2) There is a "pre-formating", or disposition, in the human mind to produce certain ideas (presumably when "the time is right") – christo183 – 2019-01-24T13:37:27.390

1@christo183 "Equivalent ideas" are often equivalent only in view of conceptions developed later. They are not "inherently" equivalent at the time of origin, so the title question would not even arise for them. Even then, Newton's ideas are closer to classical analysis, and Leibniz's to non-standard one, so there is a real sense in which they are also non-equivalent, even in hindsight (another example is matrix/wave mechanics). The illusion of "identities" is only created by these superficial ex post facto projections, and our tendency to have them fall out of view. – Conifold – 2019-01-24T19:03:37.497

1And in this milieu, these conceptions are only fueled by incidences such as 'Nylon', but that of course may be explained by the simultaneous becoming available of technology. – christo183 – 2019-01-25T04:23:32.090

1mind IS preformatted, but for other reasons. Reaching same conclusion from the same premisces is not particularly revealing – Manu de Hanoi – 2019-01-25T19:07:45.570

1What qualifies as "identical reasoning"? – Tautological Revelations – 2019-01-27T01:44:35.190

@Richard do you think it could be possible using machine learning for example to through a an extensive list to find the "pre-formatted mind"? – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:13:57.483

@Conifold do you think that "pre-formatted mind" expresses in different ways towards identical conclusions? The case you well presented Newton/Leibniz could reflect that, for example. – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:16:14.053

@ManudeHanoi [but for other reasons] nothing against; [Reaching same conclusion from the same premisces is not particularly revealing] I am afraid the question is not that. – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:19:01.573

@TautologicalRevelations from what is written in the question and in text below what do you think it is, please? – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:20:31.907

@Gordon I just added the reference to my list of books to order. ☺ – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:21:49.190

@Bread would be so kind and expand it further, please? – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:22:52.170

@christo183 could you explore further that part of ["the time is right"], please? – KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-28T17:24:34.897

1I saw it used for an expensive price! Please do not overpay for this book. For one thing, Landmann does not seem to take a consistent position in the book. He seems rather undecided himself. I still think your project is an interesting project. – Gordon – 2019-01-28T17:25:58.050

1@KwanzaKymi minds learn. Contemporary minds learn similar things. The calculus arose simultaneously because both Liebniz and Newton were studying cavalieri and fermat etc. Calculus didn't magically appear.. it was an innovation on previous work. – Richard – 2019-01-28T18:44:15.867


I do not think there is much to "pre-formatted mind" beyond the generic cognitive similarities humans have, and those are very flexible, see Neuroplasiticity. The idea of "identical conclusions" also seems like an artifact to me. When we have established conceptions that are intertranslatable we project "identical core" behind them, but the truth is that the intertranslatability is itself a bridge we made. Both versions of calculus aimed at the same practical problems, that they turned out so differently speaks against the "pre-formatted mind".

– Conifold – 2019-01-28T21:06:40.670

1Very often a new idea is "in the air." Calculus didn't arise in a vacuum. The first published proof of the fundamental theorem of calculus was by Isaac Barrow, Newton's teacher. I've read that Leibniz was familiar with Barrow's work. If so, Newton and Leibniz would have been inspired by a common source. Fermat had his method of adequality that anticipated many aspects of calculus. Archimedes certainly understood calculus in an age where there was barely a concept of number. A lot of smart people thought about the subject for a long time before things crystalized in the 17th century. – user4894 – 2019-01-29T07:02:12.383

@Gordon I appreciate your warning. I think I will good for the used version here:

– KwanzaKymi – 2019-01-30T11:17:05.767



There are some distinctions to be made: we are presented with examples, like (Leibniz/Newton: Calculus), these are instances of the phenomenon which may be individually disputed (as Conifold has done). The phenomenon itself, termed "identical reasoning", could be caused by more than one possible mechanism. A proposed mechanism/cause would be a "pre-formated mind". Though I won't outright dismiss the idea of a "pre-formated mind", let me present here an alternative explanation for the phenomenon described.

Most technology is dependent on others, for example you couldn't make an electric motor without an understanding of electricity and the ability to make bearings. In a similar way ideas are dependent on other ideas, for instance the concept of "computer" must exist before someone could think of a "personal computer".

It should be obvious that over time technology will tend to accumulate through the mechanism of multiplication and recombination of entities. The same principle applies to ideas. So when there is a particular confluence of ideas/technology/knowledge, the time is right for a new concept to emerge.


Posted 2019-01-23T12:03:02.563

Reputation: 2 265