• frank
    8.5k
    "Intelligence" primarily denotes compliance with a worldview.

    My dogs always gather excitedly when I plant things in my woodland garden. They end up staring at me as if disappointed.

    I joke to myself that my dogs think I'm an idiot because I dig holes that have no rodents hiding within, and then I shove useless plants in the holes and pour water all over it.

    I, on the other hand, am often pleased that my dogs aren't smart enough to escape. In the past, I had border collies who would figure out fairly complex latching mechanisms which would require unlatching and pushing in just the right way to open a gate. The Chihuahuas I have now can be leaning into a hole in the gate and not realize they could just jump through.

    Each of these examples shows how intelligence could be judged by a particular agenda.

    So no matter how stupid I may be in this world, there's a possible world where I'm a genius, and vice versa.

    Thoughts?
  • VincePee
    84
    Believe it or not. Before dumping a heap she firstly put an old toilet seat on the dumping ground and then she delivered. And she still has to celebrate her first birthday (26 september).

    Computers having the intelligence of a 4-year old or an animal? Dogshit! All animals with brains have intelligence comparable with ours. But bound to their bodies, cinstrained and not so frew as ours.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    I learned that if I have a question about a mineral, plant or animal, I will ask them. And they will answer, in their own way. And if I don't understand, that's on me; I'm not listening. I have also learned that their failure to ask me questions is not due to an inability to do so, or a lack of curiosity. I just don't have anything to say that they don't already know.
  • tim wood
    7.7k
    Two cats, both from kittens, different litters, Homer and Ajax. Old house, old doors hung to slowly swing closed. Homer decides on the outdoor life, where he's a hunter and from the depths of the bushes a still, vigilant guardian of his territory - which, if you look closely, you can see is matched by three other cats under their bushes also keeping sharp eyes on their patch of neighborhood. But he sometimes gets trapped in the bedroom behind a door, just sleeping until someone opens it.

    But he's lucky. Ajax has decided to be a people cat and a house cat, master of the indoors. She's learned to put a paw under the door, pull it to her, and then jump up and slide through the opening before the door starts again to swing closed. And Homer has watched her do this many times and learns nothing.

    Outdoors, living on the street that leads to the trolley station, Homer under his bush, Ajax has learned that twice each day a stream of nice people walk by, going in town in the morning, and home in the evening. And she greets them morning and evening by lying in the middle of the sidewalk on her back, obstructing the way, waiting to be petted and to have her belly rubbed, and she gets a lot of that. And nothing new or remarkable here. Every owner of animals has similar stories. Animal intelligence is not a matter of debate. What is surprising and shocking is that, apparently, a lot of people once thought they are just machines. They never saw a border collie work, whether herding sheep or children.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Each of these examples shows how intelligence could be judged by a particular agenda.frank

    Excellent OP.
  • Daemon
    246
    Animal intelligence is not a matter of debate. What is surprising and shocking is that, apparently, a lot of people once thought they are just machines.tim wood

    Chemotaxis is the directed motion of an organism toward environmental conditions it deems attractive and/or away from surroundings it finds repellent. Movement of flagellated bacteria such as Escherichia coli can be characterized as a sequence of smooth-swimming runs punctuated by intermittent tumbles. Tumbles last only a fraction of a second, which is sufficient to effectively randomize the direction of the next run. Runs tend to be variable in length extending from a fraction of a second to several minutes.
    As E. coli cells are only a few microns long, they behave essentially as point sensors, unable to measure gradients by comparing head-to-tail concentration differences. Instead, they possess a kind of memory that allows them to compare current and past chemical environments. The probability that a smooth swimming E. coli cell will stop its run and tumble is dictated by the chemistry of its immediate surroundings compared to the chemistry it encountered a few seconds previously.
    — https://www.cell.com/current-biology/comments/S0960-9822(02)01424-0

    We have a full understanding of the biochemical "machinery" that allows the bacteria to behave in this way, as set out in the article I quoted from. Is this "intelligence"?
  • Daemon
    246
    That's not an interesting comment.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Whenever I see people distinguishing non-human action as "instinct" I can't wonder what an objective view from 30k feet would say about what we do. We might be interesting ants, but we're still ants, moving about, doing our thing and, quite frankly, not a whole lot more interesting than an animal we know very little about.
  • Daemon
    246
    We would be a whole lot more interesting than ants to an objective observer. However complex and fascinating their behaviour might be, they are unable to escape from their instinctive patterns in the way we can.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    they are unable to escape from their instinctive patterns in the way we can.Daemon

    I don't think we have or can. At least not from an objective 30k feet.
  • Daemon
    246
    I was in an aircraft flying at 30,000 feet yesterday. You think we make aircraft using our instinct?
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Yep, intelligence can be hard to define. I sometimes wonder if there are species, aliens perhaps, who deliberately/intentionally/purposefully gave up their intelligence and ceased attempting to climb up the IQ ladder because, this is where it gets interesting, they found out, paradoxically, it's smart to be stupid. That's why the Fermi Paradox [Silentium Universi/The Great Silence]

    There is some evidence that the size of the average Sapiens brain has actually decreased since the age of foraging. surviving in that era required superb mental abilities from everyone. when agriculture and industry came along people could increasingly rely on the skills of others for survival, and new 'niches for imbeciles' were opened up. you could survive and pass your unremarkable genes to the next generation by working as a water carrier or an assembly-line worker. — Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens)

    A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. — Arthur C. Clarke

    A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature. — Some Guy
  • Outlander
    1.3k
    "Intelligence" primarily denotes compliance with a worldview.frank

    Does it? Naturally the opposite of intelligence, being ignorance, would of course be what an unequivocal collection of what is known vs. what is unknown or more severely what is known to be wrong. For example, creating friction between two pieces of flint or twigs perhaps, can create a fire, whereas not doing so when one would be deemed necessary could result in death or at least being annoyingly hungry for some time.

    Basically "the way things are" and knowing how best to respond to them, that is provide for what is desired or needed, is an adaptation or yes knowledge, but worldview? Eh, I would call that shaky ground.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    You think we make aircraft using our instinct?Daemon

    If our instinct is to invent, which it apparently is, then yes. Again, an objective view would see an animal.

    As I wrote for friend's new baby:

    When you get older you'll discover a flaw
    You're sorely lacking in tooth and claw
    You'll also find you are pink and bare
    Sorely lacking in fur and hair

    But wobbling atop that tiny frame
    You'll also find a great big brain
    If properly used it will suffice
    To make some cloths and a great big knife

    So you can trek cross Colter's Hell
    And return to us with stories to tell
    You'll also return with wisdom learned
    From those who live there on Her terms
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Watch and be amazed! Niel deGrasse Tyson's take on animal and human intelligence.

  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Did you make this? It's great!Nummereen

    Thanks. Yeah, my friend had a baby and named him Colter, so . . . I also gave him some baby winter cloths and great big buck knife. LOL!
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Only 1% more useful DNA then the average mortal...vanThooft

    Useful to some. :wink:
  • Plektwee
    2
    I also gave him some baby winter cloths and great big buck knife. LOL!James Riley

    :razz:
  • Daemon
    246
    If our instinct is to invent, which it apparently is, then yes.James Riley

    Well, no. Human level language equips us to transcend instinct, for example it enables us to consider "what if" questions, it allows us to consider alternatives, it allows us to pass on knowledge obtained through that kind of thinking and thereby to build on progress made by others.

    I wonder what motivates you to deny this.
  • Plektwee
    2
    Well, no. Human level language equips us to transcend instinct, for example it enables us to considerDaemon

    Well, no. Thinking what if can be instinctive too. But when the thinking gets rationalized, troubles arise...
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Watch and be amazed! Niel deGrasse Tyson's take on animal and human intelligence.TheMadFool

    :up: :clap:

    I think that goes to half of what I was saying. The other half is looking "the other direction" and investigating what "they" know that we don't know. We've lost a metric shit ton of institutional knowledge that indigenous people had of mineral, plants, animals, weather. So how much more do those entities themselves have that the indigenous people learned from in the first place? Dissecting an animal in a lab is only a part of it's story. Studying it in the wild is also merely a part, especially if we come to the study with our own inherent limitations. Becoming that animal is yet another step (hunting) but still only a part.

    If the yogi on the mountain top doesn't come down and share the secret of life, it might be for the same reason animals don't spend a lot of time reaching out to us.

    Anyway, we come to the table with our own limitations. We are interesting, but we're not all that and a bag of chips.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    I wonder what motivates you to deny this.Daemon

    Sex, war, exceeding carrying capacity, all the things animals do, the list goes on. I look around at people and I see animals. No better, but maybe a little worse. In fact, the only worthwhile thing we've ever brought to the table is art. Everything else is about us. No giving, just taking.
  • tim wood
    7.7k
    Actually pretty good. Careful you don't lose your troglodyte mask else you be invited to and permitted into where you don't want to go - among polite company for tea! .
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Careful you don't lose your troglodyte mask else you be invited to and permitted into where you don't want to go - among polite company for tea! .tim wood

    I've been working on my pinky extension, just in case. I wonder if animals try to fit in? :grin:
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    I wonder what motivates you to deny this.Daemon

    P.S. I want to add, I have spent a good deal of time alone, in the wilderness, watching. I have seen things I don't dare to share, especially around a scientist. However, I have taken some comfort in the number of viral videos of animals (both domestic and wild) doing things that traditional human understanding of animals (science) just won't compute. Birds, especially. And we might also consider need. Why evolve an instinct you don't need? And if you don't need it, what does that say about a species that does need it? And yet I see compassion, configuration, adaptation, etc.

    For one example, when it comes to animal love, a scientist would say "That's just instinct!" LOL! As if a human protecting her baby is a cognitive, deliberate decision arrived at through some superior human attribute. And a monogamous goose mourning the loss of a mate is something less. :roll:
  • tim wood
    7.7k
    I wonder if animals try to fit in? :grin:James Riley
    Mama's teeth on the neck if they don't. But that also passes for love.
  • Daemon
    246
    Sex, war, exceeding carrying capacity, all the things animals do, the list goes on. I look around at people and I see animals. No better, but maybe a little worse. In fact, the only worthwhile thing we've ever brought to the table is art. Everything else is about us. No giving, just taking.James Riley

    You were talking initially about animal intelligence, in a Philosophy of Mind forum. Whether our intelligence or our minds are different to those of other animals. But now you are moralising. You are using a mental capacity that (some?) other animals don't have. Fish can't look around at other animals and ascribe moral properties to them in the way you are.

    We can overcome our instincts to the extent that we agree to limit the number of children we have, to avoid overpopulation, as in China. Maybe you don't think that was a "worthwhile" thing to do. Maybe you think it is immoral. But that doesn't change the fact that the world's most populous country could make a decision that no group of other animals could make.

    Art is all about us! And while fish couldn't make a moral/political decision to limit their population, a fish is "probably nature's greatest artist", according to David Attenborough:

    https://youtu.be/VQr8xDk_UaY

    Art is just a way of attracting attention to yourself.

    And so I think it's time for a total reconfiguration of your current world view.
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    But now you are moralising. You are using a mental capacity that (some?) other animals don't have. Fish can't look around at other animals and ascribe moral properties to them in the way you are.Daemon

    Now you are parsing out animals like fish, and using words like "some". We can't expect a fish to win a tree climbing contest, or a bear to win a free-diving contest. You accuse me of parsing "intelligence" from "moralizing" but then you turn around and throw moralizing in as unique to us, at least vice fish. I've seen dogs moralize when it comes to spotting an asshole. You might attribute that to some base animal instinct, but you can't distinguish that from what we do when we get a vibe.

    We can overcome our instincts to the extent that we agree to limit the number of children we have, to avoid overpopulation,Daemon

    At seven billion and climbing, with no end in sight. It will be nature that stops us. Not us. It seems like it may very well be nature that works out the Covid issue, not us. Never mind climate change. We are exhibiting animal behavior. As to no other animal making a population limitation decision like China, you need to study wolves. Conveniently and typically (and with no evidence) you may attribute that to some other base animal control mechanism. But you don't know. And you won't find out in a lab. And you won't find out in field studies. But they do it.

    Art is all about us!Daemon

    That is not true. But you'd have to be an artist, or an author to know that. You might ask Einstein about how his best ideas came to him.

    And so I think it's time for a total reconfiguration of your current world view.Daemon

    Since you lack the intelligence, experience and wisdom that comes from extensive interaction with animals in their own environment, on their own terms, you clearly don't have the understanding required to tell me that it's time for a reconfiguration of my world view. You can't tell me that any more than you could tell an animal that. You don't speak our language, you do not listen, and you do not hear. You are lost in humanity. Sad, really. But you be you. You animal.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    I think that goes to half of what I was saying. The other half is looking "the other direction" and investigating what "they" know that we don't know. We've lost a metric shit ton of institutional knowledge that indigenous people had of mineral, plants, animals, weather. So how much more do those entities themselves have that the indigenous people learned from in the first place? Dissecting an animal in a lab is only a part of it's story. Studying it in the wild is also merely a part, especially if we come to the study with our own inherent limitations. Becoming that animal is yet another step (hunting) but still only a part.

    If the yogi on the mountain top doesn't come down and share the secret of life, it might be for the same reason animals don't spend a lot of time reaching out to us.

    Anyway, we come to the table with our own limitations. We are interesting, but we're not all that and a bag of chips
    James Riley

    Aye! There's this misconception that knowledge is passed down from parents to children, ancestors to descendants in a perfect manner - completely and accurately - and that knowledge grows over time. However, as you kindly pointed out, much of the phronesis (practical wisdom) our ancestors had about plants, animals, nature's rhythms, so on, has been irretrievably lost. I wouldn't be wrong in saying that in some respects, a modern person knows less than a hunter-gatherer forebear. Something to think about I guess.
  • James Riley
    1.7k


    :up:

    Another unwarranted assumption surrounds the words "need" and "want." Our homocentric view, our anthropomorphism, has us thinking they must need or want what we think they would want if they only knew as much as we do, and if they only knew they needed it. Hell, if they were smart they would be like us. :roll: We do it to each other all the time: "If only those people would be like us they wouldn't be the way they are."
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