## From numbers and information to communication

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When I walked my dog, I decided his sniffing was equal to humans reading a newspaper and that made me more patient as I waited for him to move on. Eventually, I started carrying a book I could read while he read the information on the ground.

Throughout the animal kingdom, from the simplest creature to the most complex, some form of communication takes place. Although most of us think of it in terms of sound, actually there are four methods of communication—auditory (sound), visual (sight), tactile (touch), and chemical (smell and taste). https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/nonpwdpubs/young_naturalist/animals/chemical_communication/#:~:text=Throughout%20the%20animal%20kingdom%2C%20from,chemical%20(smell%20and%20taste).

When chased by a dog or a bear, I don't intentionally communicate I am scared but I have been told when we are scared animals can smell it. I have also heard running away from a bear is probably not a good idea. That identifies you as the prey, something to eat.

Question: Is an animal's response the result of rationally thinking through a communication or something else?
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Nature or nurture? Why not both? Instinct - nature - given, but any pet owner can recite occasions when the animal exhibited evidence of rational thinking. My guess is that the both killing and mistreatment of animals makes it a necessity to resist acknowledging their "personhood."
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Nature or nurture? Why not both? Instinct - nature - given, but any pet owner can recite occasions when the animal exhibited evidence of rational thinking. My guess is that the both killing and mistreatment of animals makes it a necessity to resist acknowledging their "personhood."

What do you mean by rational thinking? I have no doubt that animals are good at problem-solving.

In mathematics, a rational function is any function that can be defined by a rational fraction, which is an algebraic fraction such that both the numerator and the denominator are polynomials. The coefficients of the polynomials need not be rational numbers; they may be taken in any field K. In this case, one speaks of a rational function and a rational fraction over K. The values of the variables may be taken in any field L containing K. Then the domain of the function is the set of the values of the variables for which the denominator is not zero, and the codomain is L.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_function

Math is not a knee jerk reaction to someone walking across the yard. It does not come to us naturally but we must first learn how to learn math. How do you propose to teach your best friend (dog) to use math?

I can fully appreciate the sentiment of humans being animals. But I think the awareness of other animals is different from ours. I will never be able to tell what used the path by sniffing a spot on the ground. I can not detect that a person has cancer, or is autistic, or has dangerously high blood sugar levels by smelling it. Services dogs can. I would love to think like a dog but I will not experience life as a dog does.
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What do you mean by rational thinking? I have no doubt that animals are good at problem-solving.
By "evidence of rational thinking" I have in mind that animals can learn and having learned appear to apply what they have learned, replicating the actions of their lesson learned to obtain a desired result. But a greater challenge to you is for an account of "problem solving" by animals - and that won't be easy. Perhaps a start would be a quick description of the process.
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Question: Is an animal's response the result of rationally thinking through a communication or something else?
In Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious, Antonio Damasio writes:
Intelligence, in the general perspective of all living organisms, signifies the ability to resolve successfully the problems posed by the struggle for life. — Damasio
and
We know that the most numerous living organisms on earth are unicellular, such as bacteria. Are they intelligent? Indeed they are, remarkably so. Do they have minds? No, they do not, I believe, and neither do they have consciousness. They are autonomous creatures; they clearly have a form of “cognition” relative to their environment, and yet, instead of depending on minds and consciousness, they rely on non-explicit competences—based on molecular and sub-molecular processes—that govern their lives efficiently according to the dictates of homeostasis. — Damasio
It's a long road between that non-explicit competences type of intelligence and human intelligence. Difficult to know when/where rational thinking begins.

Bears certainly have some instinctual intelligence. But they also learn. If a bear is not raised and taught by its mother, it does not do what bears do. I don't know if it would die very young.
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Question: Is an animal's response the result of rationally thinking through a communication or something else?
To think rationally is to use (valid) reasons for your actions. If an animal can learn new information that it was not born with (instincts) and use that information in a way that provides some advantage to its survival then we could say that it is capable of rationally thinking. For instance, my cat has learned some English words like, "treat" and "outside", and has even learned to communicate to me her needs to receive treats and to go outside even though she does not have the ability to say those words. Rational thinking provides the ability for the animal to make predictions using the patterns it has experienced in its environment.

It's a long road between that non-explicit competences type of intelligence and human intelligence. Difficult to know when/where rational thinking begins.
Is natural selection a rational process?
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Is natural selection a rational process?
I don't know. Rational processes have come into being through it. Does that make it a rational process?
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If we can explain the workings of the universe if a logical way and logic permits us to acquire some truth about the universe, does that mean that all the processes in the universe are logical or rational? Let me just say that I am not implying some type of intelligence or goal-directed behavior (ie god) is at work here. In a deterministic universe would it be safe to say that all processes are rational, and as such we are able to determine causes from observed effects and predict effects from observed causes?
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By "evidence of rational thinking" I have in mind that animals can learn and having learned appear to apply what they have learned, replicating the actions of their lesson learned to obtain a desired result. But a greater challenge to you is for an account of "problem solving" by animals - and that won't be easy. Perhaps a start would be a quick description of the process.

Monkey see monkey do. I think we need a different thread for discussing animals. I have been watching and re-watching lectures about arthropods and was really looking forward to sharing information with you, but not in a math thread. The language skills of some great apes is amazing and they can teach their children. I can not make strong arguments about this but it is an interesting subject.
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To think rationally is to use (valid) reasons for your actions. If an animal can learn new information that it was not born with (instincts) and use that information in a way that provides some advantage to its survival then we could say that it is capable of rationally thinking. For instance, my cat has learned some English words like, "treat" and "outside", and has even learned to communicate to me her needs to receive treats and to go outside even though she does not have the ability to say those words. Rational thinking provides the ability for the animal to make predictions using the patterns it has experienced in its environment.

I agree with you and would gladly discuss it in another thread.
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I don't know. Rational processes have come into being through it. Does that make it a rational process?

We really need a thread for that discussion. I started a thread but left it in the logic and philosophy of math category. That might not be the right thing to do but there are reasons for doing so. https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/15426/evolution-animals-and-humans
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On "problem solving" the only point I have is that for nonhuman animals it would have to be carefully defined/described to distinguish it from human problem solving - and likely differently for any species considered - taking human problem solving to be the application of a process similar to the scientific method, which I do not think animals capable of. E.g., recognition/definition of a problem, statement of a solution, hypothesis, experiment, evaluation, repeat, etc. Not to be confused with learning, which I think lots of animals can obviously do.

Actually, "monkey see monkey do," is imo probably about right!
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When I walked my dog, I decided his sniffing was equal to humans reading a newspaper and that made me more patient as I waited for him to move on.

Question: Is an animal's response the result of rationally thinking through a communication or something else?
Just as we, they try to be rational. That helps them to survive. Information like what is food, where is food and predators and how to avoid them (or kill them) that can kill you are important.

Feelings, anger and fear, happiness etc. are the easiest things to "communicate". "I'm here" or "Warning" are also easy. What animals lack is to communicate in the advance way we can do with an advanced language, and they also lack a collective memory. This is central. It can be seen even from the simple fact how much philosophy, the love of wisdom, put's emphasis to language. It's really not an accident or coincidence. Wit a collective memory, especially with written language, all information can add up on a totally different level, which creates then all that advanced "rational thinking" that separates us from other animals.

Also I'm sure that animals have some equivalent number system like "no predators, one predator, two predators, many predators". That might be totally enough for them, a system of zero, 1, 2 and many is sound and rational. If they see three or more predators, there's no reason (or time) to count, just flee! Yet there's no reason for them to then to think about transcendental numbers or imaginary numbers... the problems they face can already be dealt with the simple "arithmetic".

(Clever Hans the horse. Not perhaps a great mathematician, but an awesome horse in reading human body language)

Also when you don't have that collective memory, the findings or innovations of some extremely smart animal won't go on as information to the next generations.

This means that you can hunt animals even today with totally same strategies that people used tens of thousands of years ago. Animal predators can also use tactics to hunt their prey, but not with the ability and tactics that humans can. Like one group of people approaching the animals by making noise and hence guiding the animal pack to go away, only then to be ambushed with others lying in wait, armed either with spears or arrows or present day hunting rifles. In a similar way, a hunter using an elkhound has been effective in the past and will be also in the future: a moose won't think that a small barking dog next to it poses any danger to it. And a future moose will not notice it either.

(This moose doesn't know in what danger it is)

Assume if moose would behave as humans in this case: first as a collective they would notice that they are hunted. Then they reason out how they are hunted and then decide how to avoid this and then teach these methods to the next generations. Yet for now, the basic survival skills for an animal is hearing, eyesight, scent and general alertness. Yes, some things can be taught by their parents. Yet these teachings are not learned rules like "If an elkhound comes to you, get the hell out of Dodge. Preferably first kick the little dog that it cannot follow you. Here's a picture of an Elkhound, if you counter one".

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I don't entirely agree.
↪Patterner If we can explain the workings of the universe if a logical way and logic permits us to acquire some truth about the universe, does that mean that all the processes in the universe are logical or rational?
I don't think so. Certain things can and cannot happen in this universe, due to its properties and laws. For example, a human cannot live if it is born with its heart outside its body. At least not without extreme medical intervention, and not before such intervention was possible. I don't see how it is rational for this to happen.

In a deterministic universe would it be safe to say that all processes are rational,
No, for the above reason.

and as such we are able to determine causes from observed effects and predict effects from observed causes?
Under relatively simple conditions, yes. We can calculate where Pluto will be in a hundred years. But we cannot predict what mutations to human DNA will take place at any point in the future. Or how many children my son will have, or if any will be poets, cure cancer, or be a mass murderer.
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Question: Is an animal's response the result of rationally thinking through a communication or something else?
No. It is not reason that they use, although they can be described as intelligent.

Animals do not put together an argument to arrive at a conclusion. A valid/sound conclusion is the goal when one is engaged in reasoning. For example, if I have some information on the chance that it's going to rain this morning -- atmosphere, clouds, radar -- I can conclude validly that it's going to rain this morning.
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Animals do not put together an argument to arrive at a conclusion. A valid/sound conclusion is the goal when one is engaged in reasoning. For example, if I have some information on the chance that it's going to rain this morning -- atmosphere, clouds, radar -- I can conclude validly that it's going to rain this morning.

That point seems to be what is being argued in the Rational thinking: animals and humans thread, @Vera Mont is making strong arguments in favor of animals being rational thinkers. Can I copy and paste your argument there?
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