Book: Language, Society and Consciousness
Chapter: 9 Reading Picture Reading: a study in ideology and inference
Going beyond the information given is something we human beings do quite spontaneously and unconsciously. We engage in this activity with an ease that might persuade us to believe that making inferences on the basis of the information in hand inheres in the genetic make up of the human species. It may well be that the belief is justified to some extent: we may by nature be predisposed to reasoning of the type: given that A is the case, then B must follow from it.
The value of such a genetic trait is obviously enormous for the survival of the species. But the actual act of inferential reasoning as a whole – which is what, after all, impinges on our life – involves much more than this formula suggests. Inferential reasoning is complex and like most complex processes it cannot be accounted for purely on the basis of our species specific endowments.