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Are humans special?


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#226    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:22 PM

View PostlibstaK, on 21 January 2013 - 12:36 PM, said:

I have a vision of a cat in your life Mr Walker that is sitting there looking at you with that disdainful expression they do so well and thinking "when that biped answers my meows I will credit him with my level of self awareness and cognitive reasoning - until then there just ain't no proof he has those things" :innocent: .

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Fact is, everything we posit here is based on animals not being able to speak or write or have a social set of "language skills as we understand them.  Why is there no question of whether we are making a huge assumption based on our limited capacity to perceive the nature of human behaviour?, our inferences on what their behaviour means could very well be laughable to any number of animals if they knew what we were thinking - they could very well be talking to "god" non-stop for all we know, why do we assume what we perceive of their behaviour is the truth about their behaviour, it is really only based on humanities version of reality isn't it?
We have a fridge magnet which says "A dog thinks he is human, A cat thinks she is god"

Of course neither of them are capable of thinking in those terms at all, but we, as humans, perceive those qualities in them which we know exist in oursleves,

Modern science shows the differnces between human thought, and that of other anils be it  in neuroscience  or linguistics or biology. Humans are quite capable of  both imagining all sorts of things but also of discovering physical truths.

To be honest, in this debate i feel like an evolutionist trying to convince creationists by using science against what they want to believe. While there i  stil some debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that huan thought is dependent on language, and that the two are deeply connected and co evolved.   Without a similar form of linguistic depth an animal cannot evolve a similar level of cognitive ability. (and humans could not have either)

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#227    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:33 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 21 January 2013 - 06:34 PM, said:

You do not know that nor have you shown that. I don't see any evidence at all that 'we can choose differently' any more than you believe an animal cannot choose differently.  Short of introducing unsubstantiated theological 'evidence' of course

It would take a lot of time to  demonstrate the many scientific arguments for this, but here is one simple test.

When a human feels anger or rage or lust they can control their behviour by self aware choice because they both understand the consequences of their behaviour and can see into the future the consequences of their act for them selves and for their victim They have a sense of linear time

  Humans have acknowledged this, at first almost subconsciously, all through history and so our laws reflect this.

More recently, even more so ,where passion is no longer a mitigating circumstance for a crime.  Animals on the other hand do not have these abilities because of their limited cognition. Thus we cannot charge,  or hold responsible, another type of primate with rape or murder or infanticide when it takes a female, kills its riva,l and kills its rivals young.

If other animals had human capabilities we would have to treat them  as we treat orselves and charge such an animal with those crimes. I do not know one scientist who argues that animlas have anything like human level self awreness and cognition once a humans is more than about 4 years old
(and we would not charge such a child with those crimes either, for the same reasons) There is nothing theological about any of this. I knew these truths when i was an atheist and secular humanist.  Adult sane humans are accountable for every action because every action is a self aware choice. That is NOT true for any other animal.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#228    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:03 PM

View Posteight bits, on 21 January 2013 - 03:43 PM, said:

My objection to calling a modality or style a "level" is renewed. It is an obstacle to fair discussion.

I am a human being. I represent to you as a ground fact that my thinking far exceeds what can be expressed in language. Language can sometimes offer a substrate for some thought, but its typical use is as a medium to exchange already-thought ideas with other human beings.

Even in that role, however, natural language is not the unique means of human expression. Not me, but many other people can fluently express their thoughts by drawing, painting, sculpture and dance. That I cannot express my thoughts in these ways doesn't support that visual artists and dancers lack my "level" of cognitive ability. On the contrary, I wonder if maybe I'm on the short end.

As it happens, I have limited ability to communicate according to the customs of some other warm-blooded animals. I'm about as skilled at it as I am at human interpretive dance, and in both cases, the patience of my audience is a major factor in what little success I have.

As you know, I am a big fan of treating similar uncertain cases similarly. Just as I doubt whether my limitations as an interpretive dancer are a reliable indication of my superiority to competent dancers, I also doubt whether my inability to express myself fluently to dogs is a reliable indicator of my superiority to them.



This is entirely speculative, Star Trek xenoanthropology. I have no reason whatsoever to expect that space aliens would have a "language" that would be available to me, or that our human language would be naturally available to them. I could imagine an intermediary translator technology, but not very clearly, and with no idea at all about what English would end up being translated "into."

You and I are unable to agree about earth creatures who exist and whom we can examine. Citing your imagined concept of beings who may not exist outside your skull is an inauspicious route to close the gap between us about real beings who live right in front of both of us.



How would you know what a rat thinks about? Why would a rat look to us for guidance about how to handle big questions, following us into the dead ends of our ideas about religion and philosophy? "Our" idea of religion includes such notions as a caravan robber who imposes his God at sword point on men who wonder why his God says he gets a bigger share of the loot and more wives than any of them do. Which is bad enough, but apparently the imposed-upon can't figure out why his God is so generous to him.

I could choose other examples, too. That rats might look elsewhere for advice, then, hardly speaks poorly of them.
Then call it something else, like form, but i think your objection is based on denial. We attribute levels to everything(another evidence of cognition) If an animal, however it thinks, does not think with an equivalency to human then it is not equivalent to a human. It is differnt And the more effectively a creatue or entity thinks the more potential and capacity it has This is an evolutionary argument Otherwise you are almost suggesting that all creatures are as they are, and thus havea  fixed place in the world which is a sort of a creationist argument.

  As an an example humans become non specialist experts while animals remain specialst experts due to evolutionand then to our cognitive abilities. We consciously adapt ourseves to our environment and can live in  almost any environment on earth using that abilty translated into technology.

Your thinking IS your language Your ability to thnk and to speak are intimately intertwined You can think as well as you can speak and you can speak as well as you can think ((One doesnt have to be able to speak externally  only internall So a dumb (as in deaf and dumb) person can learn to think and speak internally very well But a brain damaged person who cannot think, will not be able to speak either.

Unless you are physically handicapped you can express your thoughts in dance music painting etc. I am the last person qualified to comment on how WELL you might do so, but you can do it. You could learn the "language" of whales or birds  or wolves, and understand it,  and even reproduce it. But they could not do the same with yours.

If the aliens did not have a language then they could not develp the social integration and technology which would allow them to build star ships or whatever transport network they utilised. Language comes first, along with  technology even if tha t language is very differnt to our own, even if it is telepathic .for example.. Even very early people recognised this, hence the  tale of the tower of babel.

A thinking animal produces observable evidences which we, as thinking animals, can measure. More so, we now have the ability to look inside an animmals mind and read it. We can even read human thoughts using technology. We understand increasingly the biological and neuological construction of thought and of language, and so yes, i can say scientifically that a rat's brain does not have the ability to think as a human would. It lacks the physicla capacity to do so and we can leasure tha t capaicit both on the structure of its brain and in the output of its brain.

we also know how and why humans develop concepts of god. It is an essential and integral part of our cognitive evolution. So any self aware entity, including an artificial one, will think in a similar fashion and will inevitably ask questions of which it is capable, like, "Wha tis the meaning of my life?" If it can ask such questions it will. If it can't ask such questions it has not yet evolved through the human stage of evolution.

What sort of religion the rat develops will be up to him as it is to a human being, but he will develop a sense of spirituality and forms of religion suited to his own existence if he  evolves a sophisticated enough form of cognition and self awareness Of course our evidence for this is limited But EVERY being we know with this level of cognition develops spiritual and religious beliefs naturally ie all humans past and present. They have to be taught NOT to think like this, which one could argue is a futher progression in human evolution.

Once we know, understand and recognise, the causes and construction of our most basic belief sets, we can make a conscious and informed choice as to whether to accept them or not..

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#229    eight bits

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:08 PM

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but i think your objection is based on denial.

You picked the wrong dude if you think I'm going to be intimidated by a dismissal of my reasoned argument with your specious appeal to mental health jargon. You have already been admonished on this point once before in this conversation.

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We attribute levels to everything

We? Who's we? Among the truths featured in my formation and training is that not everything comes in levels. And I already have called it something else, styles. There is no denying that species have specific cogntive styles. However, that doesn't end the conversation.

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Otherwise you are almost suggesting that all creatures are as they are, and thus havea  fixed place in the world which is a sort of a creationist argument.

Oh boy, do you have the wrong dude. How the hell did you get that from anything I have posted? Ever?

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As an an example humans become non specialist experts while animals remain specialst experts due to evolutionand then to our cognitive abilities. We consciously adapt ourseves to our environment and can live in  almost any environment on earth using that abilty translated into technology.

Yes, there is a trade-off between specialization and generalization. So what?

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Your thinking IS your language

Speak for yourself. If your thinking is word-bound, then that's too bad. Don't assume that everybody else shares your deficit, however.

I don't see anything in the rest of the post that raises an issue about which I haven't already commented.

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#230    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:50 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 21 January 2013 - 09:33 PM, said:

It would take a lot of time to  demonstrate the many scientific arguments for this, but here is one simple test.

It would take even longer to recap the ongoing debate concerning whether humans have free will or not.  There is no scientific proof that we actually do, and I'm hard pressed actually to think of a way to even set up a test to determine it, and I believe the only way currently around it is to invoke theological arguments.

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When a human feels anger or rage or lust they can control their behviour by self aware choice because they both understand the consequences of their behaviour and can see into the future the consequences of their act for them selves and for their victim They have a sense of linear time

  Humans have acknowledged this, at first almost subconsciously, all through history and so our laws reflect this.

More recently, even more so ,where passion is no longer a mitigating circumstance for a crime.  Animals on the other hand do not have these abilities because of their limited cognition. Thus we cannot charge,  or hold responsible, another type of primate with rape or murder or infanticide when it takes a female, kills its riva,l and kills its rivals young.

Mostly agreed.  Animals can control their behavior and 'emotions', we train them to do it all the time.  That the training likely is based on memory of reward or a punishment I don't see as being significantly different from the point of view of being able to make a 'choice' based on human understanding of linear time, which is also based on memory and in many ways is interrelated with reward and punishment.  Even though you can teach your dog to shake hands, many dogs do not always do it on command; it looks remarkably like a dog 'choosing' not to (maybe they are fatigued/daydreaming/who knows the thoughts of a dog) from the outside.  You may just consider this animal training essentially like updating their computer program, but if that's the case you'll have to show how that is not the same case with humans; just because we have more elaborate brains it does not follow that we are necessarily not just executing our ever-evolving program also and that we are really making 'choices' and animals are not.

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If other animals had human capabilities we would have to treat them  as we treat orselves and charge such an animal with those crimes. I do not know one scientist who argues that animlas have anything like human level self awreness and cognition once a humans is more than about 4 years old
(and we would not charge such a child with those crimes either, for the same reasons) There is nothing theological about any of this. I knew these truths when i was an atheist and secular humanist.  Adult sane humans are accountable for every action because every action is a self aware choice. That is NOT true for any other animal.

I never said that animals have human level self awareness and cognition; I don't think neither you nor scientists know if all animals are 'compelled' to do every action they take and that they don't actually make choices, while simultaneously holding that humans do make choices.  'Every action is a self-aware choice' for humans is an unproven assumption, specifically the 'choice' part.  You seem to be presuming that we ultimately have more 'control' over our actions than animals do.

I agree that our laws are largely based on the idea that we have free will, but that doesn't make it so (I don't know how much I'd really change them actually if we could determine we absolutely did not).  You suggest something I think is somewhat intriguing though, the idea of insane people; do you think that insane people make choices or are they also helplessly compelled?  I would think that any answer to that would be largely conjecture, thus it's difficult not to then think that statements about what brains from entirely different species cannot choose is also in that category.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

#231    Mr Walker

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:02 PM

View Posteight bits, on 21 January 2013 - 11:08 PM, said:

You picked the wrong dude if you think I'm going to be intimidated by a dismissal of my reasoned argument with your specious appeal to mental health jargon. You have already been admonished on this point once before in this conversation.



We? Who's we? Among the truths featured in my formation and training is that not everything comes in levels. And I already have called it something else, styles. There is no denying that species have specific cogntive styles. However, that doesn't end the conversation.

Oh boy, do you have the wrong dude. How the hell did you get that from anything I have posted? Ever?



Yes, there is a trade-off between specialization and generalization. So what?



Speak for yourself. If your thinking is word-bound, then that's too bad. Don't assume that everybody else shares your deficit, however.

I don't see anything in the rest of the post that raises an issue about which I haven't already commented.

I dont do intimidation. That was an inferential statement based on the contents of your post Give me the  rationales for the assumptions you are making. They aren't based on scientific evidences and go directly against the science which does exist in this area.
Ok so call them styles. Do the cognitive styles of other animals allow them to do any of the things humans do using their cognitve style? Not on the evidences we have, beyond very limited mutual abilities. Which means they  create different levels of outcome and thus of thought.

I'm not saying you are a creationist, or even think like a creationist, but the way you argue for human level/style cognition in animals closely resembles how many creationists argue for creationism using  "creation science"

Eg "Oh we cant really know this is scientifically true, because we are limited to human abilities and a human way of thinking,  and so anything is possible, given that we cant comprehend gods cognitive "style"

Maybe the comparison is unfair but it has struck me strongly, not just in reading your post, in others who allow a belief they really want to be true, to overide the fact that there really isnt any science for it, only some  scientific individuals who argue for it, and some pseudo science which is not accepted by mainstream science.


It is not the trade off, it is the reason why,  non human animals are specialists and  human animals  are generalists, that is significant. We are because we can be. Others are not because they cannot be. And the reasons for both are our levels, sorry styles, of cognition.

Sorry but  I'm speaking science again.  It is growing ever more certian that abilty to think is linked to two things Abilty to construc tools (And hence largely hands that can do this) and secondly and more significantly  language. However there is an argument that tool making also connects with, facilitates the growth of, and increases in sophistication with an increase in the sophistication of, language.

It is true I am strongly language based and influenced by language, but I; paint, draw, sing, dance, play music, and imagine. I construct or make physical  things from scratch using my imagination and then  my abilities  to design/ plan,  usescientific/technological abilities  etc. I draw maps, and create whole worlds with working ecosystems, races and civilizations.

  In humans, language is the distinguishing element of difference from all other known species, along with our level/style of cognition. Thus logic, and  increasingly science, indicate that the two are fundamentally connected. Modern science is proving this and showing why/how it is so.

Edited by Mr Walker, 22 January 2013 - 12:07 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#232    Mr Walker

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 21 January 2013 - 11:50 PM, said:

It would take even longer to recap the ongoing debate concerning whether humans have free will or not.  There is no scientific proof that we actually do, and I'm hard pressed actually to think of a way to even set up a test to determine it, and I believe the only way currently around it is to invoke theological arguments.



Mostly agreed.  Animals can control their behavior and 'emotions', we train them to do it all the time.  That the training likely is based on memory of reward or a punishment I don't see as being significantly different from the point of view of being able to make a 'choice' based on human understanding of linear time, which is also based on memory and in many ways is interrelated with reward and punishment.  Even though you can teach your dog to shake hands, many dogs do not always do it on command; it looks remarkably like a dog 'choosing' not to (maybe they are fatigued/daydreaming/who knows the thoughts of a dog) from the outside.  You may just consider this animal training essentially like updating their computer program, but if that's the case you'll have to show how that is not the same case with humans; just because we have more elaborate brains it does not follow that we are necessarily not just executing our ever-evolving program also and that we are really making 'choices' and animals are not.



I never said that animals have human level self awareness and cognition; I don't think neither you nor scientists know if all animals are 'compelled' to do every action they take and that they don't actually make choices, while simultaneously holding that humans do make choices.  'Every action is a self-aware choice' for humans is an unproven assumption, specifically the 'choice' part.  You seem to be presuming that we ultimately have more 'control' over our actions than animals do.

I agree that our laws are largely based on the idea that we have free will, but that doesn't make it so (I don't know how much I'd really change them actually if we could determine we absolutely did not).  You suggest something I think is somewhat intriguing though, the idea of insane people; do you think that insane people make choices or are they also helplessly compelled?  I would think that any answer to that would be largely conjecture, thus it's difficult not to then think that statements about what brains from entirely different species cannot choose is also in that category.

Free will is easy. Free means unhindered, will means the ability to imagine a posibility and exercise that imagination. Scientifically humans  have no physical hinderance on their ability to create a concept or thought, and  secondly we  know we can do so, There is also nothing physicla to prevent the initial exercise of any thought we create. Thus, simply we have free will

There is no physical, environmental or biological reality which can hinder a humans will. I can chose to walk through a wall, and attempt to do so. The physical impossibility of doing so does not hinder my formation of a desire, nor my attempt to exercise it. In fact my mind allows me to believe that, perhaps, just this time, i will succeed.
I can jump off a cliff and die. The fact i will die creates no impediment to my ability to create the will to jump or to exercise it. Physical impossiblities have no bearing on free will. and neither do consequences, because neither can physically prevent the forming of a choice/ desire/ imaginative thought/ whim/ fancy,  or the physical act of acting on that choice etc.

LAstly there is no physical connection between this moment and past moments. It is a fallacy of the mind, based on our experience of linear time, in sapient beings, to think that the past predetermines the present or the future. There are many potential futures, thus there were many potential pasts before they became our past, and hence there are  many possible presents.

Does an animal which is trained, either by pavlovian methods or others, really have a choice  or is it simply conditioned? Can it think well enough to make an informed choice? Human level thought is increasingly well understood, down to the level of memory storage on neurons and brain activity with thoughts.  There isn't any evidence for similar complex thoughts in other animals. If you want to believe so, then do so.

ANd if you do not realise, believe, or accept, that a normally functioning adult human being can make conscious choices to control their behaviour and thoughts, based on our understandings of cause and effect, and on the ability to feel empathy etc then I cant  really have a dialogue with you, its such a silly idea.

If this were true humans would be like  other animals. They could not be held accountable or punished by law for anything they did because they had no choice, and thus no responsibilty, in the matter When they felt lust they would act on it, When they felt anger they would act on it. When they wanted something they would take it.

If humans train animals to act  in ways the ydo not do inhte wild, then it only happens because it is something humans have learned , with imagination, philosphically, ethically, morally or theologically, and then applied to other animals, not something the animals came up with. Eg  we train animals to do all sorts of things for our entertainment, or to help us, but it is OUR minds which  are devising the procedures and training the animal. They do not construct these things for themsleves.

At a certain level of insanity, as with a certain level of brain damage, a human being loses the cognitive functions to  freely formulate and exercise their will. To be able to recognise cause and effect and thus to be responsible for their actions

At that point they need to be placed in care. We would not let a wild animal free in our cities or towns, first because it would be harmed, and second because it would cause harm.  Same with humans who are like other animals.  Theoretically, I would argue that every human who shows an inabilty to control their evolved emotional states needs to be carefully watched, and perhaps kept in care, but that is not going to happen any time soon. We just wait for the  inevitable harmful, and often tragic consequences, and deal with them.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#233    eight bits

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:11 PM

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I dont do intimidation.

Then we're in agreement that it's ineffective, so save the psychobabble for somebody it works on. Better yet, lose it.

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Do the cognitive styles of other animals allow them to do any of the things humans do using their cognitve style?

Those things that fit their niche, they do, those don't fit, they don't do. Just like people.

Again, and at the risk of being repetitious, how would acting like an ape, and failing to be an ape, improve the stature of a cat, who can act like a cat, and really be one?

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I'm not saying you are a creationist ...

Good. I'm not.

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... closely resembles how many creationists argue for creationism using  "creation science"

Well, I suppose that's a limtation in treating similar cases similarly. There's no telling what will strike some people as "similar."

I haven't the faintest idea what God's cognitive style might be; I've never met him, nor any other god, either. The similarities I have discussed here prevail among the animals, and others of their kind, whom I have met.

Perhaps that difference carries more weight with some people than with others.

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Maybe the comparison is unfair ...

Oh, I think we're way past "maybe."

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Sorry but  I'm speaking science again.

Again? When was the earlier time?

Oh, you mean when you say that human language is species-specific, a point which you keep making, and that nobody has ever disputed.

Edited by eight bits, 22 January 2013 - 01:11 PM.

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#234    Mr Walker

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:17 AM

View Posteight bits, on 22 January 2013 - 01:11 PM, said:

Then we're in agreement that it's ineffective, so save the psychobabble for somebody it works on. Better yet, lose it.



Those things that fit their niche, they do, those don't fit, they don't do. Just like people.

Again, and at the risk of being repetitious, how would acting like an ape, and failing to be an ape, improve the stature of a cat, who can act like a cat, and really be one?



Good. I'm not.



Well, I suppose that's a limtation in treating similar cases similarly. There's no telling what will strike some people as "similar."

I haven't the faintest idea what God's cognitive style might be; I've never met him, nor any other god, either. The similarities I have discussed here prevail among the animals, and others of their kind, whom I have met.

Perhaps that difference carries more weight with some people than with others.



Oh, I think we're way past "maybe."



Again? When was the earlier time?

Oh, you mean when you say that human language is species-specific, a point which you keep making, and that nobody has ever disputed.


No my point is not that human language is species specific, that is what you are basing your responses on. It is that language is essential for the co-evolution of any form of self awareness and cognitive abilities, beyond a very simple and self limiting style(or level)   Only via internal language can any entity become self aware, and engage in self aware cognitive processes. And only by external language can a species evolve beyond the natural limitations of its environment  via, for example various forms of social evolution, and finally technological ability

Humans do not have a niche like other animals. Niches are a product of physical evolutionary process. Humans can imagine, design and create, any "niche" they want to. Or they can reconstruct themselves to fit into any new niche they discover.

Ps a human CAN act like a cat, or act like a great ape. In doing so it may entertain itself or others, learn something useful, or  meet another objective, deliberately or accidentally.  A human can even attempt to understand and imitate the thought processes of another animal, and write a book about that. Such attempts are usually failures because we are not other animals, and are influenced by our own way of thinking. However, we can learn some things; and increasingly,  as science lets us look into and even reconstruct, and create artificially, the thoughts of humans and animals, we learn more.
Pps i don't do psycho babble(whatever that means) either.

I try to explain my world view, which is formed using knowledge gained from reading and experiences, and then the application of logic and rational thought, as clearly as I can. Labelling something psychobabble denigrates it, and makes your contempt of it clear, but does not invalidate it.

Edited by Mr Walker, 23 January 2013 - 12:30 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#235    eight bits

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:35 AM

Mr W

Quote

Pps i don't do psycho babble(whatever that means) either.

It's an American word, referring to an uninformed and inapproriate usage of psychological and psychiatric jargon instead of an actual argument. An example would be when you characterized as "denial" my disagreement with your personal opinion about an uncertain proposition. You most certainly did that. My statement was accurate as written.

Quote

Labelling something psychobabble denigrates it, and makes your contempt of it clear, but does not invalidate it.

Quite so. It is already invalid. All I can add to that is to point out its deployment with disapproval, or if you prefer, label and denigrate it for the abuse that it is. I'm glad that my contempt for it is clear.

Returning to another recurring apect of the topic,

The conversation about natural language stops at the universal agreement that it is species-specific because you have presented no evidence for your proposition that human language is necessary for thought. Obviously, if that were proven true, then there were would be nothing else to say on the topic, since animals would necessarily be unable to think.

Unproven, as it actually stands, the Walker-Whorfian hypothesis is a dead-end when discussing uncertainty about interspecific comparison of cognitive competencies. It is a specialized restatement of the uncertainty being discussed, a circularity masquerading as an argument.

So, conversation grounded in human-specific language usage does indeed stop, right there.

I regret very much that I am unable to communicate more fluently with members of other species. I do not assume, however, that the shortcoming is theirs.

Edited by eight bits, 23 January 2013 - 10:38 AM.

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#236    Mr Walker

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:24 AM

View Posteight bits, on 23 January 2013 - 10:35 AM, said:

Mr W



It's an American word, referring to an uninformed and inapproriate usage of psychological and psychiatric jargon instead of an actual argument. An example would be when you characterized as "denial" my disagreement with your personal opinion about an uncertain proposition. You most certainly did that. My statement was accurate as written.



Quite so. It is already invalid. All I can add to that is to point out its deployment with disapproval, or if you prefer, label and denigrate it for the abuse that it is. I'm glad that my contempt for it is clear.

Returning to another recurring apect of the topic,

The conversation about natural language stops at the universal agreement that it is species-specific because you have presented no evidence for your proposition that human language is necessary for thought. Obviously, if that were proven true, then there were would be nothing else to say on the topic, since animals would necessarily be unable to think.

Unproven, as it actually stands, the Walker-Whorfian hypothesis is a dead-end when discussing uncertainty about interspecific comparison of cognitive competencies. It is a specialized restatement of the uncertainty being discussed, a circularity masquerading as an argument.


So, conversation grounded in human-specific language usage does indeed stop, right there.

I regret very much that I am unable to communicate more fluently with members of other species. I do not assume, however, that the shortcoming is theirs.


This section of wiki shows the basic differences. Note how many times the word unique is used. In the last 20 years the study of neuro linguistics and other disciplines has brovided the scientific basis underlying this brief wiki summation.

Human language is unique in comparison to other forms of communication, such as those used by non-human animals. Communication systems used by other animals such as bees or non-human apes are closed systems that consist of a closed number of possible things that can be expressed.[18]
In contrast, human language is open-ended and productive, meaning that it allows humans to produce an infinite set of utterances from a finite set of elements and to create new words and sentences. This is possible because human language is based on a dual code, where a finite number of meaningless elements (e.g. sounds, letters or gestures) can be combined to form units of meaning (words and sentences).[19] Furthermore, the symbols and grammatical rules of any particular language are largely arbitrary, meaning that the system can only be acquired through social interaction.[20] The known systems of communication used by animals, on the other hand, can only express a finite number of utterances that are mostly genetically transmitted.[21]
Several species of animals have proven able to acquire forms of communication through social learning, such as the Bonobo Kanzi, which learned to express itself using a set of symbolic lexigrams. Similarly, many species of birds and whales learn their songs by imitating other members of their species. However, while some animals may acquire large numbers of words and symbols,[notes 1] none have been able to learn as many different signs as is generally known by an average 4 year old human, nor have any acquired anything resembling the complex grammar of human language.[22]
Human languages also differ from animal communication systems in that they employ grammatical and semantic categories, such as noun and verb, present and past, to express exceedingly complex meanings.[22] Human language is also unique in having the property of recursivity: the way in which, for example, a noun phrase is able to contain another noun phrase (as in "[[the chimpanzee]'s lips]") or a clause is able to contain a clause (as in "[I see [the dog is running]]").[23] Human language is also the only known natural communication system that is modality independent, meaning that it can be used not only for communication through one channel or medium, but through several - for example, spoken language uses the auditive modality, whereas sign languages and writing use the visual modality, and braille writing uses the tactile modality.[24]
With regard to the meaning that it may convey and the cognitive operations that it builds on, human language is also unique in being able to refer to abstract concepts and to imagined or hypothetical events as well as events that took place in the past or may happen in the future. This ability to refer to events that are not at the same time or place as the speech event is called displacement, and while some animal communication systems can use displacement (such as the communication of bees that can communicate the location of sources of nectar that are out of sight), the degree to which it is used in human language is also considered unique.[19]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language

Ps. I prefaced my comment about "denial" with the words "I think", indicating indeed that this was, indeed, a personal opinion about which even I do not  have certainty.

Edited by Mr Walker, 25 January 2013 - 10:29 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#237    Frank Merton

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:42 AM

View PostRlyeh, on 27 December 2012 - 07:09 PM, said:

Is the human animal, God's greatest creation?
Human beings are in my opinion animals evolved from other animals.

We of course are something special, having sentience to a degree other animals lack, and what we call intelligence, that we don't seem to be able to define, except it makes things possible for us that other animals don't even begin to comprehend.

I am something of a non-materialist but still atheist Buddhist, and so think there are properties of the universe that science cannot penetrate, and the mystery of consciousness and of mind is probably one of these.  I don't, however, see any reason to think there is a God.


#238    Frank Merton

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:31 PM

View Posteight bits, on 23 January 2013 - 10:35 AM, said:

The conversation about natural language stops at the universal agreement that it is species-specific because you have presented no evidence for your proposition that human language is necessary for thought. Obviously, if that were proven true, then there were would be nothing else to say on the topic, since animals would necessarily be unable to think.
I think it is fairly obvious that we do little if any "thinking" in language.  I speak several, but think in none of them.  When I am ready to say something, the words seem to just "come out" in whatever language I am using without thought ahead of them.  (I would assume something is going on subconsciously, but not in words).

Another bit of evidence of this is the fact that languages frustrate me -- even my native tongue -- so often I have to stumble around to find the right word for what I want to say.  To me this indicates that the thinking has already been done long before words are found.

That animals think is plain enough, and that some are better at it than others is too.  We have nine cats in our household (as part of a considerable menagerie), and there is one in particular that we call "smarty" because she is smart (for a cat).  She figures out how to open doors and turns on faucets and how to use the human toilet and so on, that the others are hopeless at (if we could only teach her how to flush it).

View Posteight bits, on 23 January 2013 - 10:35 AM, said:

Unproven, as it actually stands, the Walker-Whorfian hypothesis is a dead-end when discussing uncertainty about interspecific comparison of cognitive competencies. It is a specialized restatement of the uncertainty being discussed, a circularity masquerading as an argument.
I'm not sure what you said in this paragraph.  I think the hypothesis has truth in it, but in fairly limited ways.  For example, Vietnamese has about thirty words that translate in English as "you," but still, like English, does not force distinction between singular and plural.  Instead, the distinctions are sex, status, relative age, professionalism, friendliness (some forms are rude), formality, and so on.  They are also, at least the friendly ones, derived from words for family members.  These characteristics of the language do change the way you perceive others.


#239    onereaderone

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:41 PM

put  a  red  frog  on  a green  rock...    and  the  frog  turns  green

  put  a red  man  on  a  green  rock  ,   and  the  rock  turns  red .

humans  are  special ,  the  very  fires  of  eternity   shimmer   at  our  whim ,
   we  humans   of  earth   are  the  flower  of  soul  knowing  awareness ,  dreamers   of  mind  songs
,  and  dawn  dancers .

i love  you  for  who  you  are   ,  not  for  what  you  do .
you  are  clever   ,  you  are  funny  and  comical  in  pride   and  laughable  in  ego ....  you  think   so  much  of   what  you  have  done ,  and  fail  to  see   how  little   you began  with  .

oh  little  ones  ,  you are  so  small  ...   stand  bravely  firm  against  all   the  shadows  of  fear   and  dangers   you  imagin .

you  live   such  short  lives ,  battle   the  monsters  of  your   own  making  ...    your greatest   preditor  ,  are  beings of  your  own  kind   ...

are  human  special ?   to  ask  the  question  shows  what  little  you  know  of  those  other  beings  that  came  befor  ,  and  the  beings   who  came  after  and   say  proudly   they  are    the  humans  spawn .

what  is  most  remarkable   of  the  human  soul ,   is  how  hard  they  are   of  themselves  ,  and  how  little  they  take  note  of  their  greatness .


#240    Tor_Hershman

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

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