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Are humans special?


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#211    eight bits

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:13 AM

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Why assume you have to train an animal to do what comes naturally to them?

I'm unsure that that was what our colleague Darkwind said. He said that his cat, and to a lesser extent his dog, do without training what some service animals are trained to do.

My understanding of "training," human or animal, is to take activity that is in an animal's behavioral repertoire ("comes naturally to them"), and to make that behavior more frequent, or occur more often in specific situations, or able to occur on "cue" (that is, when the human and the animal communicate so they can agree that now is a good time for that behavior).

DW's argument, as I understood it, stemmed from the indisputable fact that animals can be, and actually are, trained to perform alerting, This means that alterting is within animals' behavioral repertoire. It follows that some animals will exhibit the behavior spontaneously, without training.

Add to that the definition of alterting, and Darkwind reports that his cat and dog, to name two animals, do alerting spontaneously, without training. That they do so makes a positive contribution to the quality of DW's life. I sense in his words the hope that it makes a positive contribution to theirs as well.

As arguments go, Mr W, this one is starightforward. Or so it seemed to me anyway.

The nature of alerting behavior is to make an inference from evidence, and to find a way to get a crisp message about the conclusion to move across the interspecies barrier in timely fashion. These are cognitive feats of a high order. Training can help a lot with the second goal: human and animal might agree on a "signal." Training can't help at all, however, with the first goal unless the necessary inferential competence is already there in the first place.

It is all the more remarkable that DW's animals have concluded on their own initiative that all of that is worth their effort. There's no question that it is worthwhile for Darkwind. Apparently, then, the animals show interest in Darkwind's welfare, and reason about what is in his welfare. If that is also in their interest, then that doesn't diminish their inferential accomplishment in the least.

Somebody is home inside each of those two skulls. It's time to meet the neighbors, Mr W.

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#212    GreenmansGod

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:40 AM

Thanks, 8-bits, for your explanation of what I was trying to explain.  :yes:

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#213    Mr Walker

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:07 PM

View Posteight bits, on 20 January 2013 - 11:13 AM, said:

I'm unsure that that was what our colleague Darkwind said. He said that his cat, and to a lesser extent his dog, do without training what some service animals are trained to do.

My understanding of "training," human or animal, is to take activity that is in an animal's behavioral repertoire ("comes naturally to them"), and to make that behavior more frequent, or occur more often in specific situations, or able to occur on "cue" (that is, when the human and the animal communicate so they can agree that now is a good time for that behavior).

DW's argument, as I understood it, stemmed from the indisputable fact that animals can be, and actually are, trained to perform alerting, This means that alterting is within animals' behavioral repertoire. It follows that some animals will exhibit the behavior spontaneously, without training.

Add to that the definition of alterting, and Darkwind reports that his cat and dog, to name two animals, do alerting spontaneously, without training. That they do so makes a positive contribution to the quality of DW's life. I sense in his words the hope that it makes a positive contribution to theirs as well.

As arguments go, Mr W, this one is starightforward. Or so it seemed to me anyway.

The nature of alerting behavior is to make an inference from evidence, and to find a way to get a crisp message about the conclusion to move across the interspecies barrier in timely fashion. These are cognitive feats of a high order. Training can help a lot with the second goal: human and animal might agree on a "signal." Training can't help at all, however, with the first goal unless the necessary inferential competence is already there in the first place.

It is all the more remarkable that DW's animals have concluded on their own initiative that all of that is worth their effort. There's no question that it is worthwhile for Darkwind. Apparently, then, the animals show interest in Darkwind's welfare, and reason about what is in his welfare. If that is also in their interest, then that doesn't diminish their inferential accomplishment in the least.

Somebody is home inside each of those two skulls. It's time to meet the neighbors, Mr W.

Thats what my question meant to elucidate/ascertain. If an animal can be trained to do something, then some individual animals may do it without training, because it is within their natural abilities to do so. I would assume darkwinds cat fell into this category from the description given. The cats show the same "concern" for darkwinds welfare as they would for any member of their "pack" because that is what they are evolved to do.

Words like concern are tricky in such a scenario, because a cat can't feel concern even if it appears to display concerned behaviour ."Making inferences from evidence" is even more problematica. That is a very late- evolved cognitive skill, even in humans. It is a conscious and aware procedure of a quite high order. More likely a cat responds subconsciously or unconsciously to certain stimuli, even as a very young child does from evolved programming.
I have trouble teaching inferential thinking to 14-15 year olds. Many don't even consciously understand the concept, let alone the quite complex conscious procedural steps involved. But then again, some cats could well be smarter and more trainable than some teenagers i know. :devil:  

To put it simply. While apparently, to an observer, a complex high order skill, "alerting" is most likely like a beaver's ability to build a dam, or a pigeon's ability to find its way home, or a spiders ability to build an intricate web; a  purely natural, evolved ability, which requires no congitive ability or self awareness at all.

Edited by Mr Walker, 20 January 2013 - 12:14 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.

#214    eight bits

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

Mr W

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"Making inferences from evidence" is even more problematica.

If alerting is not sending a message based upon an inference from evidence, then what is it?

Quote

a  purely natural, evolved ability, which requires no congitive ability or self awareness at all.

Putting aside whether site-adapted constructions and navigation over variable terrain are examples of activities which do not require inferences, how is "purely natural, evolved ability" antithetical to something requiring "cognitive ability or self awareness?"

My answering your post exercises a purely natural, evloved ability, yet it displays at least some cognitive ability and is accompanied by self awareness, too.

Edited by eight bits, 20 January 2013 - 01:53 PM.

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#215    GreenmansGod

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 20 January 2013 - 12:07 PM, said:

Thats what my question meant to elucidate/ascertain. If an animal can be trained to do something, then some individual animals may do it without training, because it is within their natural abilities to do so. I would assume darkwinds cat fell into this category from the description given. The cats show the same "concern" for darkwinds welfare as they would for any member of their "pack" because that is what they are evolved to do.


When we show concern for our fellow humans are we not also driven by an instinctive behavior formed as a pack mentality in early hominids. We live in packs, we look out for our pack members and fight with those outside of our packs. We just call them countries, warfare and sports.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." Salman Rushdie

#216    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:08 AM

View Posteight bits, on 20 January 2013 - 01:52 PM, said:

Mr W



If alerting is not sending a message based upon an inference from evidence, then what is it?



Putting aside whether site-adapted constructions and navigation over variable terrain are examples of activities which do not require inferences, how is "purely natural, evolved ability" antithetical to something requiring "cognitive ability or self awareness?"

My answering your post exercises a purely natural, evloved ability, yet it displays at least some cognitive ability and is accompanied by self awareness, too.
Yes; and when a cat answers my post, I will credit it with your level of self awareness and cognitive reasoning. :devil:
The ability to reason is and evolved ability. The capacity to reason at a human level is a learned one which requires self awareness and complex thought structures that also require complex linguistic abilities. One cant THINK like a human unless one can potentially speak (even if only in inner dialogue) like a human Language is the same. humans have an evolved ability to speak but they will never do so unless they are taught how to either deliberately or by exposure to language As they learn to "speak" internally, they learn to think. The two are basically insperable. I am not arguing that animals don't think. Just that they do not think with the concious self awareness that a human uses.

  A rat "thinks" its way through a maze, once it has been through it once, but it doesnt ask why it was placed in the maze.

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.

#217    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:48 AM

View PostDarkwind, on 20 January 2013 - 02:56 PM, said:

When we show concern for our fellow humans are we not also driven by an instinctive behavior formed as a pack mentality in early hominids. We live in packs, we look out for our pack members and fight with those outside of our packs. We just call them countries, warfare and sports.
No. In my opinion, having read the debates about this in various scientific disciplines, that is not true.
Ys some humans act as you describe, but my point is  that,unlike other animals, we are not compelled to. We have a conscious choice. We can choose differently and more productively.


Like language, empthy is an ability we have evolved, and then refined through ongoing practice, usage and development. But, human level empathy requires awareness of its nature to act on it. We have to know and understand many concepts to be able to FEEL and understand human level  empathy and thus to exercise it.

We have to understand self/other,  the nature of pain /suffering/ grief, consequence, creative/destructive outcomes of actions.  We even have to understand the nature of time and its effects, to be able to empathise at a human level with another. Empathy is NOTsimply grooming another pack menber or giving food to another animal.  It is not related to any form of reward Thats why empathy leads to true human level altuism which doesnt exist in other animals either.

It involves conscious reasoning that we do this for no reason other than that it is the right thing to do (and that includes a sense of philosophy and logic about WHY an act is the right thing to do.)

Human empathy creates acts with NO natural reward, not even a sense of feeling good, despite what some scientists argue about it. It is  about what is right and what is wrong. And so, to be empathetic and altruistic you have to understand what is right to do and whatt is wrong to do, and make a choice.
Some of the reductionist scientific analysis of empathy was originally based on an understandable philosophical opposition to the type of christian view that we are superior because we are god's creations and given dominion over the earth. They argued that, as we are obviously not created by god, then all our qualities are evolved and innate.


They forgot (or at that stage science hadn't realised) that once a certain level of cognitive self awareness is attained it is not evolution which sets the course of humanity but we ourselves, We cut loose from our biological and environmental impaeratives because we can. First we reconstruct our inner selves, minds emotions etc. Then we begin to reconstruct our bodies; including today, hormone replacements, genetic engineering, medical nano technologies, gene therapy etc.

Thus,  that form of scientific thinking falls into the same trap as that form of christian thinking.

Humans are different purely because of our sapient self awareness and cognitive development. We evolved those abilities, but then we learned, over 100000 years or so, to use them, as illustrated in how we can potentially think and speak. (not all humans actually learn to think and speak at this level of sohistication)
Some animals may well have evolved close to the natural ability of early humans, but they have not had time to evolve the language and cognitive skills of a human being.

I would like to see us help them learn/develop those skills, and share the planet (and more) with us, as true equals.

An interesting side bar One could argue that sports are, and always have been, a conscious construct to replace armed conflict, and to give a more creative outlet for humans, especially male human aggression. I hope one day we go beyond the need for competitive sports, and keep fit and healthy just for the pure benefit and joy of doing so.

Modern humans dont really need, or benefit from, highly aggresive or competitive sports any more than they do from warfare. In a way they teach young people dangerous values.  (Dangerous in this day and age but useful and desired for most of human history).

Edited by Mr Walker, 21 January 2013 - 01:07 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.

#218    eight bits

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 02:51 AM

Mr W

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Yes; and when a cat answers my post, I will credit it with your level of self awareness and cognitive reasoning.

There's where we differ. If a cat answers my posts, then I'll credit her with my modality of expression. Self-awareness seems categorical, so "levels" wouldn't apply; I'm confident that the typical cat has the quality. Cognitive reasoning? I think the cat beats me on some dimensions, I beat the cat on others. That's what I'd expect from two species in a cooperative relationship.

If she beat me on every dimension, then she wouldn't have an incentive to stick around. The comparative situation seems to me better described as "styles" than "levels." "Levels" is certainly a loaded term. With such words, you seem to try to frame our discussion as if the controversy has already been decided in your favor. There wouldn't be much point having such a discussion.

Why would thiinking like a human be an improvement for a cat? I think like a human better than a cat does. So what? Any cat thinks like a cat better than I do. Stalemate.

Quote

  A rat "thinks" its way through a maze, once it has been through it once, but it doesnt ask why it was placed in the maze.

I'm not following you there. To whom would you have the rat pose this question? In what language?

I think this is the third or fourth time we have gone over that human language is species-specifc. That fact has been beaten to death. The controversy is what follows from that.

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#219    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:34 AM

View Posteight bits, on 21 January 2013 - 02:51 AM, said:

Mr W



There's where we differ. If a cat answers my posts, then I'll credit her with my modality of expression. Self-awareness seems categorical, so "levels" wouldn't apply; I'm confident that the typical cat has the quality. Cognitive reasoning? I think the cat beats me on some dimensions, I beat the cat on others. That's what I'd expect from two species in a cooperative relationship.

If she beat me on every dimension, then she wouldn't have an incentive to stick around. The comparative situation seems to me better described as "styles" than "levels." "Levels" is certainly a loaded term. With such words, you seem to try to frame our discussion as if the controversy has already been decided in your favor. There wouldn't be much point having such a discussion.

Why would thiinking like a human be an improvement for a cat? I think like a human better than a cat does. So what? Any cat thinks like a cat better than I do. Stalemate.



I'm not following you there. To whom would you have the rat pose this question? In what language?

I think this is the third or fourth time we have gone over that human language is species-specifc. That fact has been beaten to death. The controversy is what follows from that.
It doesnt matter what language but there must be language Without language you cant think at human level. If a rat or a cat had a language  anythng "like" humans they could think like a human and we would be able to decode their language and talk with them  Cats dont "think" at all; well not compared to humans.  Thought is a form of cognitive ability connected to language cats dont have language thus they cant "think" at all, Yes this is a bit  absolute but the difference in capability of thought between humans and other animals is so great as to BE almost absolute.

If an alien race reached earth its language would be totally different to any of ours, but because it got here, it is self aware and highly sapient. Thus, whatever its language, we would be able to decode it and learn to speak it in a relatively short time. We would be able to communicate with it species to species despite any physical differnces in our species. The fact that we cannot do this with other  earth animals after millenia of living with them indicates they simply do not have a complex language system that enables the  formation and tranmission of  complex ideas abstract concpets symbolic meaning etc They dont even have a simple language system for the transmisson of simple ideas  Generally only humans communicate cross species, because we can.


They are an evolved species with instincts, environmental drivers, genetic forces and  biological imperatives which shape their behaviours and which they have no choice but to respond to. While humans also evolved those same things, our self awareness and language moved us past them.  A cat cant say mouse to another cat  in any form of language probably because its memory and symbolic attachments dont form as humans do, and so it doesnt name an image in its mind. If it cant name the image it cant transmit the image via a name to another cat.

Im am not so certain about some of the primates. Some  individuals seem to be on the verge of this ability but all have lived in close contact with humans for a long time which influences the assessment.

A dog can learn 400 words and know the difference between under, over, on, up, down, etc; but it has to be taught these and it cant speak them or teach them to another dog. It doesnt have language, just learned responses to words/commands

Ps the rat doesnt pose the question to itself. It is not capable of doing so. If it could, it would/could also pose a question like, "What is the meaning of life?", and develop religion and philosophy.

Edited by Mr Walker, 21 January 2013 - 11:44 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.

#220    GreenmansGod

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:43 AM

Well I think, Walker, as usual you reject science and only use it as it suits you.  I sometimes do it myself, but like Hawking, I  know science changes and is not engraved in stone or a book 2000 years old.  Not much point in discussing this with you as you are lock into a way of thanking that is happily out of date.  I am glad I listen to my animal friends and have learned to speak and understand their language.
Dust off your brain and think out of the box and read this book.

http://en.wikipedia...._in_Translation

Edited by Darkwind, 21 January 2013 - 11:45 AM.

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#221    libstaK

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 21 January 2013 - 12:08 AM, said:

Yes; and when a cat answers my post, I will credit it with your level of self awareness and cognitive reasoning. :devil:
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?

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

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#222    Beckys_Mom

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 02:45 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?

Take a look at this...

Animal's Self Awareness

The Real Self Awareness:
Self awareness is proven by the many behavioral patterns which animals exhibit which suggest, without the shadow of a doubt, the possessions of certain mental stimuli; some of which are: status, pride, self esteem, territoriality, self punishment, self love, supremacy, and submission.
As an example lets take supremacy and submission: supremacy and submission are feelings which can not exist without self awareness, for if you are not aware of yourself, how can you be able to understand how great you are or how small you are.


Supremacy and submission are emotions which exists in fish, reptiles, mammals and birds. The reason why it exists in so many animals is because, along with territoriality, it is the most primitive of all feelings within self awareness.
It is my belief, that the sense of self awareness might have evolved as the by-product from some of the senses of self preservation, such as supremacy and territoriality. In other ways, when you evolve these adaptations, which are neurological, instinctive factors in the brain, what you get as the by-product of such, is the primitive self awareness which is present in fish as well as reptiles.
Self awareness is a very important adaptation, because it gives animals the ability to recognize their environment and themselves in order to avoid being hunted, create and defend their territorial grounds, groom themselves, protect themselves, and help themselves survive in many situations which require the love and the caring of one's self.
As an example, lets take territoriality: to own a piece of property you, most likely, will need to be aware of your self in order to understand the ownership of your property. If you where not self aware you would not have the need to own any property, for you will not be aware of your own needs.

For example: as a territorial animal, if you would put to words the feelings and thoughts that will come to your mind during a territorial dispute, you would say "Get off my territory!" you can not say "Get off the territory!" for you will be implying that the territory is not yours. You have to use an indication of self worth, which in this case would be the pronoun "my". Therefore, if you are a territorial animal which does not show much of any other signs of self awareness, you most likely will be self aware.
Some animal behaviorist would explain a territorial dispute with the phrase "back off!," but that would imply that the animal is uncomfortable with another and just wants to be left alone. So in this case, these two words would not apply within this behavioral action.

Pride:
Although pride is a feeling (mental stimulus), it is another part of the sense of self, because it concerns the importance of one's self. This stimulus gives animals a certain higher feeling of self worth which some animals use, to prove to their opposite sex that they are worthy of mating with, and it also helps individuals, such as matriarchs, behave in a manner that will show importance and higher status.
In the world of some bird species, pride is very important, for it helps male birds do their ritual dances with the finesse required to win the females. These ritual dances show the females the beauty, health, style and self expression which the males possess.
In some bird species, when the male appears too desperate and gets nervous, this feeling is expressed in his ritual dances, making the females loose interest and fly away. Such a behavior is probably due to the bird not thinking of himself as being good enough, for it has failed too many times before, and therefore, panic and desperation starts to show through the ritual.
In order for these male birds to win their females, they must perform their rituals without hesitation, which means that they must have an above average sense of pride stimulus to help them perform without getting desperate.
Birds that have manage to do their rituals right are able to breed and spread those proud qualities on to their species, while the birds that are not as proud, are most likely not to be able to do their rituals right and end up not breeding at all, making that species have a well developed pride stimulus.
Pride is a stimulus which evolved to stimulate all of the sociological senses of an organism towards performing their best. It is an adaptation made to do just that.

A Sense of Belonging:
An animal needs to be self aware in order for it to recognized another individual as a part of itself. Therefore, a sense of belonging is yet, another part of the sense of self awareness. This is what tells pack animals that they are a part of one particular group, and separate from other groups of the same species. For example: lions in Africa travel in groups, but each group has a sense of belonging, a sense of us, so when one group of lions meets a member of another group, lets say a female lion, and that lion asks for food, it could be hard for that lion to get food from that group, since that lion would not be considered a part of their group, and therefore, she might be considered an enemy.
This sense is also the reason why two groups of animals from the same species can be able to fight against each other. Such is the case with hyenas, lions, wild dogs, wolves, humans, chimpanzees, baboons and many other species.
By having this type of system, the group that works better can be able to succeed better, therefore, replacing the other groups with behavioral systems that might not work as good.
Taking into consideration the diversity caused by natural selection, it is quite possible that within different species of animals, there are also different or/and advanced senses of recognition which can make them see reality in different manners. Manners that our own perceptions can not understand.

Decision Making Processes:
These processes are a conjunction of thoughts, intelligence, instincts and feelings, which gives animals their mental freedom and helps them develop their personalities. Most of us who have pets, know that most animals have their own personalities and are always trying to do what they want, unless they are highly trained not to do so.

Decision making processes vary in their complexity depending on the intelligence of the animal, its environment, the skill or experience that it has at makings those decision, its social rank (if any), and a few other mental interactions and adaptations.
Decision making processes give animals an upper hand in deciding how to operate their escapes, how to operate their hunting strategies, where to rest better, when is best to play, how to protect their young, and so on. It also gives some intelligent animals the abilities of self expression.

More here - http://www.strato.ne...vny/sa03002.htm


Edited by Beckys_Mom, 21 January 2013 - 02:49 PM.

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#223    eight bits

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 03:43 PM

Quote

It doesnt matter what language but there must be language Without language you cant think at human level.

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.

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If an alien race reached earth its language would be totally different to any of ours, but because it got here, it is self aware and highly sapient. Thus, whatever its language, we would be able to decode it and learn to speak it in a relatively short time.

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.

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the rat doesnt pose the question to itself. It is not capable of doing so. If it could, it would/could also pose a question like, "What is the meaning of life?", and develop religion and philosophy.

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.

Edited by eight bits, 21 January 2013 - 03:46 PM.

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#224    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 21 January 2013 - 12:48 AM, said:

Yes some humans act as you describe, but my point is  that,unlike other animals, we are not compelled to. We have a conscious choice. We can choose differently and more productively.

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

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#225    Mr Walker

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:09 PM

View PostDarkwind, on 21 January 2013 - 11:43 AM, said:

Well I think, Walker, as usual you reject science and only use it as it suits you.  I sometimes do it myself, but like Hawking, I  know science changes and is not engraved in stone or a book 2000 years old.  Not much point in discussing this with you as you are lock into a way of thanking that is happily out of date.  I am glad I listen to my animal friends and have learned to speak and understand their language.
Dust off your brain and think out of the box and read this book.

http://en.wikipedia...._in_Translation
It is ONLY a variety of sciences upon which I base my opinion. I talk and listen to trees as well as animals. Science will say that is impossible too, because trees very obviously cant think or speak. So trees cant speak, and yet i can communicate with them, That says more about the science of my mind than that of the tree.  Same with another animal.

I already said that i agree with the authors ideas and philosophy, and that my wife and i are members of groups like the rspca and IFAW and give a lot of money and spend a lot of time, working for animal welfare. My argument is that you dont see any other species doing something similar, because they cannot. That is what makes humans special.

Edited by Mr Walker, 21 January 2013 - 09:13 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.




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