• TheMadFool
    11.9k
    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."James Riley

    Another good point. Reminds me of the following example conversation that appears in the definition of the expression, "speak for yourself":

    X: The movie was absolutely fantastic.
    Y: Speak for yourself!

    There's something terribly wrong about thinking for others - it impinges on their autonomy and also, makes yourself a benchmark for values, both signs of stupidity/hubris of the highest order.

    You mentioned, in your previous post, that our ancestors most likely picked up useful hints and tips from animals. See below:

    So how much more do those entities themselves have that the indigenous people learned from in the first place?James Riley

    What I find intriguing is the learning ability of humans. Our intelligence enables us to study animal behavior and then adapt their life-skills for our benefit. No other animal I know of does that, right?
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    No other animal I know of does that, right?TheMadFool

    I am not sure. Could be we are the only ones. But it could also be that we are the only ones who want and need more than what we have. We might be the only animal dissatisfied with ourselves, and life as it is. I mean, look at us! Can you blame us for being so insecure? Physically we are awkward and clumsy and vulnerable. So we invent ways to distract ourselves, we create stories about how great we are, and we make a virtue of our searching, wanting, exploratory efforts to escape ourselves. We make a virtue of achievement, invention, subjugation of the rest of the world. And then pat ourselves on the back, and make us the measure of all things, in our minds.

    No other animal may copy another animal. I don't know. But I imagine a Raven is pretty content. He can fly from the arctic to the equator, eating anything that is not nailed down, and thrive. What's to want? What's to need? If he, for some strange reason, wanted what fish have, he still doesn't have the opposable thumb to build a submarine. But why would he want to?

    I once had a conversation with the single most brilliant man I know. He was constantly engaged. He was engaged with people, or in a book. Constantly soaking up knowledge. He wondered how I could go so long without people, without anything to read, no music, no tent, no food; just being. He said it would drive him nuts. I said that it's possible that he could not stand to have himself around. He smoked on that for a while, and then confessed I was probably right. That is the nature of man. We see it as a strength. That story about how great we are is so long engrained it has become truth. In our minds anyway.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    That story about how great we are is so long engrained it has become truth. In our minds anyway.James Riley

    Well, all I can say is we are great, in some relative sense and also in being, as Yuval Noah Harari says in his book Sapiens, the planet's most prolific serial killer, but...not thaaaaat great!
  • Hermeticus
    58
    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.Daemon

    There's two ways to look at this. Consider how language must have formed back in the day. We went from random noises to words to complete and ever increasingly complex sentences. This obviously started out as instinct, warning signals like monkeys do. It evolved from there but I'd argue that much of the same function is retained. The ability to consider a multitude of scenarios ("what if") beforehand is an excellent tool for survivability. I'd guess the truth lays somewhere in the middle. This ability is likely able to overwrite instinct - but at the same time it is an instinct. It's not like you have to try very hard to think at all.

    Birds, especially.James Riley

    The most underrated animal intelligence there is! I'm fascinated how clever our feathery friends are. Emotionally as well.

    I once picked up a crow with an injured wing to nurture it back to health. As soon as the second day, the crow was following me around like a dog. Turns out crows love to cuddle and this particular one used every opportunity to jump on my shoulder and snuggle up against my head. What struck me the most though was communication. Not just that it would respond to the human "CAW!"s I exclaimed at him, after a week or so, we've established communication between each other. The crow knew how to signal me it was hungry amongst other basic things like "Hey wait!" if I was getting too far ahead on one of our strolls or "Give me attention!" if it just felt like hopping on my shoulder and cuddling again. In turn it understood when I was signaling to follow me, when it was feeding time and so on.

    What I find intriguing is the learning ability of humans. Our intelligence enables us to study animal behavior and then adapt their life-skills for our benefit. No other animal I know of does that, right?TheMadFool
    Animals may not study our behavior the way we study animal behavior but a lot of animals certainly adapt to humans and use humans for their benefit.

    You'll see this especially in animals that live in or near urban settlements. In Asia there are colonies of macaques absolutely thriving from tourism, snatching whatever they can from dimwitted tourists.

    Likewise many mammals like badgers and foxes opt to dwell in urban settings. Living conditions may be complex but food is available in abundance.

    Once again crows: They'll drop nuts on the street, waiting for cars to crack them open so they can get that delicious snack inside.


    Also, this time unrelated to humans, I want to give another prominent example of animal intelligence: Elephants. The matriarch of a herd will spend all her life learning and teaching essential information to her herd. From the best feeding places, to places to avoid, to tricks that allow an elephant to get that juicy fruit on the very top branch of the tree. Along with some apes, they also bury their dead, which I find fascinating. Makes me wonder if the act of burial is really purely religious or if there is some instinctive social behaviour mixed in there.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Ok but my point still stands! No animal has been documented to have learned life-lessons from a human.
  • Hermeticus
    58
    Ok but my point still stands! No animal has been documented to have learned life-lessons from a human.TheMadFool

    In a similar reasoning to Rileys reply: Why would they? What life-lessons could they possibly learn from us? How to drive a car? How to philosophize?

    We're way in over our heads in that regard. Our society, especially our rich socialist nations, have made it harder to starve than not to starve (this being an exaggeration). We ponder over all sorts of "problems" these days because the only real problem - survival - has been solved for us. You said it yourself as well:

    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.TheMadFool

    We've learned these life-lessons from nature. Then we forgot them. Animals still know these life-lessons. And they are constantly learning to adapt to the ever increasing presence (and threat) of humans. My point being: We have very little to teach to animals but a lot to learn from them.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    What life-lessons could they possibly learn from us?Hermeticus

    Tool making? Attacking/defending/foraging/etc. can be vastly improved with tools. Granted that some animals know how to fashion tools, Caledonian crows are capable of meta-tools, but none have learned it from humans. In fact, it's the opposite; as you said,

    We have very little to teach to animals but a lot to learn from them.Hermeticus

    Mother Nature is our best teacher! Most of our technology, Mother Nature got there first.
  • Hermeticus
    58
    Tool making? Attacking/defending/foraging/etc. can be vastly improved with tools. Granted that some animals know how to fashion tools, Caledonian crows are capable of meta-tools, but none have learned it from humans. In fact, it's the opposite; as you said,TheMadFool

    Even the aspect of tool making is only practicable for a very limited number of species - mostly Hominids. A majority of animals can not grab tools like we do. At most they'd be able to use a stick like the Caledonian crows do. I feel like animals that can use tools in a sensible matter already do so - all other animals come with their tools attached to their bodies - claws, teeth, physical prowess.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Even the aspect of tool making is only practicable for a very limited number of species - mostly Hominids. A majority of animals can not grab tools like we do. At most they'd be able to use a stick like the Caledonian crows do. I feel like animals that can use tools in a sensible matter already do so - all other animals come with their tools attached to their bodies - claws, teeth, physical prowess.Hermeticus

    A tool transcends the physical limits of an organism, allows an organism to do what their bodies can't. For example, a tiger can use material at its disposal to do more than what its claws, fangs, and strength permit, that would be tool-making.
  • Hermeticus
    58
    A tool transcends the physical limits of an organism, allows an organism to do what their bodies can't. For example, a tiger can use material at its disposal to do more than what its claws, fangs, and strength permit, that would be tool-making.TheMadFool

    My point exactly. How is a tool going to allow a tiger to transcend his capabilities? Is it going to carry a butcher knife in its maw? Seems impracticable consider it has claws and fangs that do the job just as well.
  • Gobuddygo
    28
    - all other animals come with their tools attached to their bodies - claws, teeth, physical prowess.Hermeticus

    That, amongst other things, is why they don't need spoken language. They understand one another because they, contrary to humans, are fixed. The chimp is still in the process of shredding his hairs off but they are happy with their in-between state. Sometimes laughing, sometimes using sticks to collect ants, sometimes using their sharp front teeth to rip apart.
  • Gobuddygo
    28
    My point exactly. How is a tool going to allow a tiger to transcend his capabilities? Is it going to carry a butcher knife in its maw?Hermeticus

    Maybe in a magical circus show.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    My point exactly. How is a tool going to allow a tiger to transcend his capabilities? Is it going to carry a butcher knife in its maw? Seems impracticable consider it has claws and fangs that do the job just as well.Hermeticus

    You misunderstand, I meant to say claws, fangs, strength aren't tools.
  • Gobuddygo
    28
    Animals are born perfect. People are born naked.
  • Daemon
    246
    Consider how language must have formed back in the day. We went from random noises to words to complete and ever increasingly complex sentences. This obviously started out as instinct, warning signals like monkeys do. It evolved from there but I'd argue that much of the same function is retained. The ability to consider a multitude of scenarios ("what if") beforehand is an excellent tool for survivability. I'd guess the truth lays somewhere in the middle. This ability is likely able to overwrite instinct - but at the same time it is an instinct. It's not like you have to try very hard to think at all.Hermeticus

    I think you're overlooking the vast difference between human and animal language and thought. We can say something new any time we want. No other animal can do that, and the effects are enormous.

    Neil Degrasse Tyson is making a similar mistake in that somewhat over-excited video we were linked to. The difference between us and the other animals isn't the 1% he refers to. The difference between human and animal language and thought isn't 1%, there's a vast chasm between us.

    Of course we still have instincts, by their nature they are difficult to overcome, but we can recognise them and seek to overcome them. We can explicitly identify our instincts, communicate our thoughts about them to other humans, and modify our behaviour. We don't wholly succeed, of course not, but we do have the capacity to change our behaviour at will, en masse. No other animal can do anything like that.

    I was just watching a game of rugby. In games like that we recognise our instinct for aggression, and we use language-based thought to devise and communicate measures to reduce the risk of serious injury. Other animals can't do that, so they are trapped in their aggressive behaviour indefinitely.
  • DanLager
    25
    I think you're overlooking the vast difference between human and animal language and thought. We can say something new any time we want. No other animal can do that, and the effects are enormous.Daemon

    The difference ain't that big. All animals are culturally fixed. No language is needed. They understand one another without words. The communicate by means of body and sound.

    Humans are culturally free. We need language to inform one another about differences and similars or changes in our cultures and clothes (all animals have fixed clothes and tools on top of fixed cultures). Humans speak to one another too with body and sound and vision. Humans cry. Because of mutual understanding and love and loss. Love, loss, understanding or loneliness have everything to to with this freedom of culture.
  • Daemon
    246
    The difference ain't that big. All animals are culturally fixed. No language is needed. They understand one another without words. The communicate by means of body and sound.DanLager

    And we aren't culturally fixed, and we are free in limitless other ways, and so the difference between us is vast.
  • ExistenceofSelf
    12
    **** (A Social Engineer Explains) ****

    (Intuitive or instinctual) and intelligence are the two main categories of measurement. Intuitive or instinct has to do with automation in prompting and the ability to apply and formulate information. Intelligent is the ability to maintain and regurgitate information and skills.

    Substance of matter first formulates before perspective of matter formulates. Biology is only useful so far for survival. As an individual and sub-species looks for new concepts to survive from their external, they start to rely more on cognitive functioning to resolve problems rather than biological function to resolve problems. The dominate use switches naturally from biological to cognitive.

    The perspective should not be how "intelligent" animals are, but how intuitive they are. The more complex the environment is, the more an individual or sub-species has to cognitively and biologically develop in order to survive. Humans have built a complex structuring for animals. Animals have naturally become more complex due to the influential environment created by humans.

    Animals are closer to "consciousness" then humans may think. Eventually, humans will influentially evolve animals on this planet into complexity that is considered "conscious."

    You have an underlining perspective of an existential crisis or worrying about your existence. That is for another conversation. The longer an individual lives in an expression, the more the individual becomes that expression. In your anxiety to worry, you will worry into anxiety.

    Respectfully,
    Lloyd R Shisler
  • DanLager
    25
    And we aren't culturally fixed, and we are free in limitless other ways, and so the difference between us is vast.Daemon

    If you read my whole comment you see that it's basically the same. Only fixed and non-fixed.
  • Daemon
    246
    Maybe I am misunderstanding you DanLager but you said their is little difference between us and other animals and I am saying there is a big difference. So I don't think we are saying the same thing.
  • DanLager
    25
    So I don't think we are saying the same thing.Daemon

    We are saying the opposite!
  • Daemon
    246
    But it's precisely because we are freed (by language and language-based thought) that we are in a completely different world to the other animals.
  • Bylaw
    85
    The issue with dogs is considering them machines but not considering humans as machines. There was a hard line in science, even, with mammals as machines but not humans. Then it started to erode in the 70s. Even words can be, if one wanted, seen to be forms created by biochemical machinery, products of machines.
  • Daemon
    246
    Dogs aren't humans tho.
  • Bylaw
    85
    The issue with dogs is considering them machines but not considering humans as machines. There was a hard line in science, even, with mammals as machines but not humans. Then it started to erode in the 70s. Even words can be, if one wanted, seen to be forms created by biochemical machinery, products of machines.Bylaw
    Right, I haven't asserted they are. They are a different mammal, running on cells, however complicatedly linked. This

    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
    is just as problematic for human intelligence. Words get produced, movements get produced by machines.
  • Newkomer
    27
    The issue with dogs is considering them machines but not considering humans as machines. There was a hard line in science, even, with mammals as machines but not humans. Then it started to erode in the 70s. Even words can be, if one wanted, seen to be forms created by biochemical machinery, products of machines.Bylaw

    "We all, animals and people, are just machines serving our genes and memes. Who are selfish."

    Luckily there is Lamarck!
  • Bylaw
    85
    The word just is a value judgment. So we think of 'machines' which are things we have made that are vastly simply than us, at least so far. Vastly.

    Then we say we or dogs or whatever are just machines.

    It's like saying oceans are just drops of water so what does a marine ecologist do?

    As far as Lamark, I'd need a bit more. It seems it might veer your post in a new direction, but I am not sure which.

    Epigenetics is what I think of instead of Lamark, but even then, not quite in this context.
  • Newkomer
    27
    It's like saying oceans are drops of water so what does a marine ecologist do?Bylaw

    Nice one! ☺ Machines can be Natural too. L'homme machine.
  • Bylaw
    85
    It confusing words with things. A vague general term 'machine' (which is created for a purpose by someone) is being used to cover any phenomenon and the word just then diminishes all possible claims of uniqueness. So a word used in a new way without all the usual qualities associated with that word is being used by one unbelievably complex organism to diminish potential claims of uniqueness by other unbelievably complex organisms. It should undermine itself. I mean the first organism making the value judgment would then be a machine. And a machine does what it does. It might create a good conclusion, it might now, but if it is a machine, it can't help produce it and therefore cannot be sure it is being logical or rational. It might be, but whatever self-evaluation it produces, it had to produce. And so on every meta layer onward.
  • Newkomer
    27


    I have to read firstly a few times to digest your comment. The brain-machinery inside me, my body, doesn't yet fully comprehend... ☺
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