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Are humans special?


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#91    SpiritWriter

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:06 PM

We are special but animals are cool too. Normally we cant communicate with animals so whos to say they have less intellegence than we do, we are different from them thats for sure but they are special too. Each is unique not only to thier own kind but to themselves as well, their coloration, thier swiftness, their boldness or underdogness, thier little hops and walks and flights and scampers... awww. So yes we all are very special. We can pretend we know about animals, but we only know them externally and from our own viewpoints and in this regards humans are more special for us because we have the opportunity to get to know each other on a much deeper level than that. We are all so unique on the inside and on the out. Anyone who doesn't think humans are special doesn't think they are special and thats sad... I bet those people are hard to be around because they probably have a negative attitude and a lack of respect for others. If we see our own beauty we will see other's beauty as well and that makes for plenty of special moments.. :)

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Non-ambiguity and non-contradiction are one sided and thus unsuited to express the incomprehensible. -Jung

#92    shadowlark

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:38 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 30 December 2012 - 07:33 AM, said:

You can talk to as many whales as you like. The problem is they cant talk to you. Studying whales can tell you a lot about the earth, but talking to them, no. They do not know very much at all, and probably none of their thoughts or knowledge is structured in a linguistic way that allows for  the formulation or communication of ideas. Their songs are like the hunting calls of wolves for example, or the songs of birds, a useful evolved mechanism, but not human- like communication at all.


How do you know whales can't talk to us? Just because you don't understand what they're saying, doesn't mean they aren't communicating with us. I can't communicate with a Russian/Japanese/Turkish speaker. Does that put them on the same level as whales? By your logic, since I can't undertsand them, they must not know very much at all.

View PostMr Walker, on 07 January 2013 - 09:25 AM, said:

What has mating for life got to do with love? One is a biological phenomenum, the other is a philosophical/symbolic concept created only in human minds, spoken of only in human languages, and enacted only by human beings.

If it was purely biological, other animals wouldn't have one partner for life - they would have several in an attempt to spread their genes to the next generation. A male cat could go from female to female to female just trying to spread his genes to as many females as possible.

As to animals mourning the deaths of other animals, I share my story of our cats Tonks and Rye.  Tonks adored Rye. Followed him everywhere. If he was in a different room and you said "Where's Rye?" she would go find him.  When Rye died last January, Tonks mourned for him for months. She was constantly looking for him, calling for him, and acting very depressed. She was never the same cat after he died. (We had other cats that she liked, so it wasn't that she was suddenly all alone). Four months later, Tonks went downhill. We discovered she had cancer. Brought her home as we tried different meds. One night, she was really bad. Just laying around not moving. We knew it was time. We talked to her, asked her what she wanted. No response. No meowing, no movement, just laboured breathing. Then my husband said "I think we should let her go see Rye"  As soon as he said Rye's name, Tonks lifted her head up and meowed. Not a pained meow - the meow she used to say to him when he'd come back from the vet or from a different room. The "Hey Buddy!" meow. That was the only sound she made that night. We took her to the vet soon after. Was it coincidence? Maybe. Or was it a simple cat, remembering her friend who had passed 4 months earlier and trying to communicate that she wanted to see him? I like to think that. I can't prove it, cause I don't speak cat. But just because I don't undertand, doesn't mean I should stop listening and assume animals aren't talking to us.


#93    Astral Hillbilly

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:43 PM

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

Is the human animal, God's greatest creation?

Yes, because we're the only living thing created in his image.


#94    GreenmansGod

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:29 PM

Shadowlark :cry: that is touching.

My dog still looks for her buddy cat, Lugh, who was murdered last month. I am going to adopt a cat for her next month. I thought I would take her to the adoption center and let her pick one out.

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

#95    SpiritWriter

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:58 PM

View Postshadowlark, on 09 January 2013 - 07:38 PM, said:




How do you know whales can't talk to us? Just because you don't understand what they're saying, doesn't mean they aren't communicating with us. I can't communicate with a Russian/Japanese/Turkish speaker. Does that put them on the same level as whales? By your logic, since I can't undertsand them, they must not know very much at all.



If it was purely biological, other animals wouldn't have one partner for life - they would have several in an attempt to spread their genes to the next generation. A male cat could go from female to female to female just trying to spread his genes to as many females as possible.

《My reply 》

Male cats do actually go from female to female.. the females stay in a certain section and make their camp, the male comes around and gets her pregnant and has other female cats waiting for them down the way. The male cat is territorial and tries to keep the area to himself, fighting off the other male cats so that each area had its own dominator... at least thats what its like in my neighborhood. The male stops coming around after the female cat gets fixed. The female seems to respect him and lets him eat first and the babies look forward to him coming around, they want to wrestle and learn from him. The daddy cat in my neighborhoods name was Panthro and he had plenty of kids and baby's mamas... you could tell they were all related too. I dont see him around much anymore... life on the street is tough for a player...

《End reply》

As to animals mourning the deaths of other animals, I share my story of our cats Tonks and Rye.  Tonks adored Rye. Followed him everywhere. If he was in a different room and you said "Where's Rye?" she would go find him.  When Rye died last January, Tonks mourned for him for months. She was constantly looking for him, calling for him, and acting very depressed. She was never the same cat after he died. (We had other cats that she liked, so it wasn't that she was suddenly all alone). Four months later, Tonks went downhill. We discovered she had cancer. Brought her home as we tried different meds. One night, she was really bad. Just laying around not moving. We knew it was time. We talked to her, asked her what she wanted. No response. No meowing, no movement, just laboured breathing. Then my husband said "I think we should let her go see Rye"  As soon as he said Rye's name, Tonks lifted her head up and meowed. Not a pained meow - the meow she used to say to him when he'd come back from the vet or from a different room. The "Hey Buddy!" meow. That was the only sound she made that night. We took her to the vet soon after. Was it coincidence? Maybe. Or was it a simple cat, remembering her friend who had passed 4 months earlier and trying to communicate that she wanted to see him? I like to think that. I can't prove it, cause I don't speak cat. But just because I don't undertand, doesn't mean I should stop listening and assume animals aren't talking to us.



You made me cry... what a beautiful story. :)

The letter kills but The Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

Non-ambiguity and non-contradiction are one sided and thus unsuited to express the incomprehensible. -Jung

#96    SpiritWriter

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

View PostAstral Hillbilly, on 09 January 2013 - 07:43 PM, said:



Yes, because we're the only living thing created in his image.

I think more than just us are in his image. I believe the earth is a reflection of heaven and all things in it. If we value all things on heaven and earth we will have a deeper appreciation for god and a better understanding about creation and how all things work together... but yes humans are truly blessed...

The letter kills but The Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

Non-ambiguity and non-contradiction are one sided and thus unsuited to express the incomprehensible. -Jung

#97    eight bits

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:30 PM

On the subtopic of animals mourning their dead, there was an unsentimental (but still touching) piece last month in this blog,

http://uncertaintist...mbers-her-dead/

The article also touches on the problems of making inferences about another species' mental states, for example, whether Neanderthals (as close to us as anyone can be without being us) really buried their dead. But the empahsis is on a dog,

Posted Image

Quote

This is Clea, an older dog, an alpha Akita. She’s asleep on her dining room rug. On the floor beside her head lies a small plush toy, brushing her cheek. It is a whimsical dragon which belonged to Alexei, her brother, litter-mate, lieutenant and inseparable companion in life, who died about a year and a half ago.

It may seem obvious what is going in the picture, but it is not. Clea cannot share her mind with me. I must be careful not to presume too much about what she is thinking, careful not to make connections between the living Clea and the dead Alexei that may not be in her mind, but only in mine.

That would be projection and unwarranted anthropomorphization. Those are bad. Then, again, so is denial. In any case, there is nobody whom Clea can tell what she feels. In this post, I argue that we should listen anyway.


Edited by eight bits, 09 January 2013 - 09:34 PM.

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#98    shadowlark

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:52 PM

View PostSpiritWriter, on 09 January 2013 - 08:58 PM, said:

Male cats do actually go from female to female.. the females stay in a certain section and make their camp, the male comes around and gets her pregnant and has other female cats waiting for them down the way. The male cat is territorial and tries to keep the area to himself, fighting off the other male cats so that each area had its own dominator... at least thats what its like in my neighborhood. The male stops coming around after the female cat gets fixed. The female seems to respect him and lets him eat first and the babies look forward to him coming around, they want to wrestle and learn from him. The daddy cat in my neighborhoods name was Panthro and he had plenty of kids and baby's mamas... you could tell they were all related too. I dont see him around much anymore... life on the street is tough for a player...

You made me cry... what a beautiful story. :)

Yes, exactly. And not only will males breed with as many females as possible, but female cats can get pregnant by more than one male at a time. It's like they'll mate with any male possible in order to pass on their genes.  So I really don't think animals who stick with one partner do it for purely biological reasons.

Sorry I made you cry :)

View Posteight bits, on 09 January 2013 - 09:30 PM, said:

This is Clea, an older dog, an alpha Akita. She’s asleep on her dining room rug. On the floor beside her head lies a small plush toy, brushing her cheek. It is a whimsical dragon which belonged to Alexei, her brother, litter-mate, lieutenant and inseparable companion in life, who died about a year and a half ago.

It may seem obvious what is going in the picture, but it is not. Clea cannot share her mind with me. I must be careful not to presume too much about what she is thinking, careful not to make connections between the living Clea and the dead Alexei that may not be in her mind, but only in mine.

That would be projection and unwarranted anthropomorphization. Those are bad. Then, again, so is denial. In any case, there is nobody whom Clea can tell what she feels. In this post, I argue that we should listen anyway.

If that's not mourning, I don't know what is. Reminds me of the Greyfriar Bobbys of the world - how else can you explain dogs standing watch over their beloved master's graves?


#99    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:59 PM

View Postredhen, on 09 January 2013 - 01:36 PM, said:

You should. This is not the philosophy forum, but we should strive to make our arguments cogent and sound.



And who sets this benchmark? Humans. This sounds like prejudice, in the broadest sense of the word.



Psychologists and ethologists both infer emotions from observed behaviour, in both human and non-human animals.This is trivial.



Self awareness does not necessarily require poetry or religious rituals. If you believe it does, can you provide any scholarly articles to support this claim?



That sounds like a tautology.



Why do you dismiss the evidence that others and myself have shown for non-human altruism? It sounds like you've made up your mind that only humans show altruism and that when we observe the same behaviour in non-humans you turn into an absolute skeptic, i.e. "we can never know what an animal is thinking" .



And who makes the laws? Humans.



That would be nice if true. Maybe we could then do something about the exponential human overpopulation crisis.



Yes there is is, and not just from Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal.



That's your definition. And that's why we've been running around in circles on this thread.
I should have said i dont care what sort of reasoning you think it is. The reasoning is sound and logical and was not circular but i couldnt be bothered arguing that with you.

Human level self awareness is the benchmark by which to compare other forms of awareness WITH human level awareness. We are discussing if we are special and if our rweasoing and awareness is differnt to all other animlas that makes us ipso facto special (unique in fact)
It is not trivial it is the basis for this debate. One cannot infer human motivations just because other animals have human type behaviours We are the same as other animas in our evolutionary history thus we wil share many behavioural traits and thie biologicl motivators/drivers with other animals but IN ADDITION we are self aware and our behaviours can be chosen on the basis of that self awareness. It worries me that many huamns argue we are simply animals and our behaviour is predetermined, therefore we are not repsonsible for our anger hate prejudices etc.; when we CAN alter and change these emotional states by will. ALL human emotions are part intellectual and learned. They are amenable to alteration. No one is forced to be angry hating vengeful spiteful or afraid.
Infer yes based o huamn awarenes and understanding tha tis a faulty tool.

One cant argue with scientific facts. I am not prejudiced I have spent fifty years interested in human cognitive development psychology sociology linguistics and neurology I am also concerned for animlas but I am not going to make the mistake of attributing human awarenes or thought to them.  I am responsible for their welfare not they for mine.

Laws can only be applied to humans because only humans have the self awareness required to make them and to decide appropriate sanctions for behaviour  We dont charge a non human animal with murder, because it doesnt have the concept for murder and has no choice in its actions.

There is no EVIDENCE for human level altruism in animals. Observation of behaviour and human imputation is not accepetable scientific evidence for anything. Concrete physicla evidence resulting form such an awareness and or brain scans showing identicla brain activity during the commision of an act would constitute evidence As far as I am aware no such evidence exists. I would suggest it cannot, because of other animals inability to form conceptual symbolic and linguistic thought structures required to  be altruistic

I woulsd suggest my definition for altruism is both traditionaland accurate. But given the propensity for language to be hijacked by special interest groups, I am not going to insist on it.  If you think someone doing something "nice" constitutes altruism, without knowing their motivation for that act, then so be it.

I could give away al my assets to the poor ,but if i was doing so in the hope of getting to some form of heaven, then that would not be an act of altruism.

Many might see it as such, if they did not know my inner motivation. Their observation would be accurate, but their inferences flawed

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.

#100    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:16 PM

View Postshadowlark, on 09 January 2013 - 09:52 PM, said:

Yes, exactly. And not only will males breed with as many females as possible, but female cats can get pregnant by more than one male at a time. It's like they'll mate with any male possible in order to pass on their genes.  So I really don't think animals who stick with one partner do it for purely biological reasons.

Sorry I made you cry :)



If that's not mourning, I don't know what is. Reminds me of the Greyfriar Bobbys of the world - how else can you explain dogs standing watch over their beloved master's graves?
Many bird species not only have a lifetime partner but return to the precise nest every year Do you also think that represents a form of sentimentality and chosen behaviour, or do you accpet it is inbuilt into their  biology. As to the dogs behaviour. Dogs can scent cadavers deep under ground,  and many are trained to do this.They also recognise individual scents from tiny traces and are alsos used for that purpose There is a simple explanation for why  a dog might sit by its masters grave. It can still smelll traces of him.

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.

#101    shadowlark

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:29 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 09 January 2013 - 11:16 PM, said:

Many bird species not only have a lifetime partner but return to the precise nest every year Do you also think that represents a form of sentimentality and chosen behaviour, or do you accpet it is inbuilt into their  biology. As to the dogs behaviour. Dogs can scent cadavers deep under ground,  and many are trained to do this.They also recognise individual scents from tiny traces and are alsos used for that purpose There is a simple explanation for why  a dog might sit by its masters grave. It can still smelll traces of him.

Not being a biologist, I can only guess, but I would say returning to the same nest is an ingrained behaviour passed down from parent to child over generations. But choosing the same partner - don't you think that completley goes against biology/evolution and the need to pass on one's genes?

As for the dogs, yes they have good noses, but if it were merely a case of them smelling their master underground, why don't you hear more examples of dogs doing this?  Why aren't graveyards full of dogs wandering around trying to track down the scent of dead humans? Why did Hachiko return to the train station every day for 9 years after his master's death when his master's body clearly wasn't there?  Why did Constantine return to the site of the accident that killed his human family for 7 years?  They clearly weren't there and any scent would have long dissipated. Why did my cat Tonks mourn for her friend for months and then the night she died, only respond to the mention of his name?  Like I said, just because we don't speak their language, doesn't mean they don't have language.


#102    redhen

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:26 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 09 January 2013 - 10:59 PM, said:

Human level self awareness is the benchmark by which to compare other forms of awareness WITH human level awareness. We are discussing if we are special and if our rweasoing and awareness is differnt to all other animlas that makes us ipso facto special (unique in fact)

As far as we know. This is the Unsolved Mysteries website after all. Ok, I'll grant you that we are the only living species unique in this respect. But not special, as in from another galaxy.

Quote

There is no EVIDENCE for human level altruism in animals. Observation of behaviour and human imputation is not accepetable scientific evidence for anything. Concrete physicla evidence resulting form such an awareness and or brain scans showing identicla brain activity during the commision of an act would constitute evidence As far as I am aware no such evidence exists.

Latest of a string of findings; http://www.livescien...ells-found.html

The abstract with experiment diagrams http://www.nature.co...ll/nn.3287.html
(poor monkeys, why do they have to keep doing these lab experiments just to prove the commonsensical)

Quote

I would suggest it cannot, because of other animals inability to form conceptual symbolic and linguistic thought structures required to  be altruistic

There's your prejudice again, and your limited sense of the word altruism.

Quote

I could give away al my assets to the poor ,but if i was doing so in the hope of getting to some form of heaven, then that would not be an act of altruism.

Agreed.

p.s. looking at other coverage of the same report I see some interesting editing. Some are shortened summaries or highlights but others seem to have a slant. For example this Catholic site printed it almost verbatim but left out these lines near the bottom; "Platt speculates that this region may operate similarly in humans and may encode vicarious experiences when others are happy or sad."

Edited by redhen, 10 January 2013 - 02:51 AM.


#103    ranrod

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:59 AM

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

Is the human animal, God's greatest creation?

Looking at this again and seeing the responses this is getting, the topic is really asking people what their belief systems are and how humans are seen in them.  However, by saying "God's greatest creation", it seems to imply the context applies to the Yahweh belief system (and sytems derived from it).
In the Yahweh belief system humans are certainly special.  As others mentioned, Yahweh created man in his image.  Not being an expert, I'm not sure were angels fall in the equation, but I don't think anyone knows.  As far as earthly creatures, 'yes' we are the most special in that system.  Genesis seems pretty clear about us.  Which is why our scientific progress leading us to find exactly how insignificant we are (and how inaccurate those ancient writings are) should be a cause for worry for those religious institutions.
If Yahweh is taken out of the equation, it depends of the belief system.  For an atheist, there might be nothing special about any animal. Matter reorganizing itself into a virtually infinite number of ways is bound to find a sentient form - not to say that form is any better than any other.  All that species seek is to propagate their gene pool.  Bacteria might outlive us.
For most major religions in history humans are considered very special.  The epitomy being Karmanauts - the whole universe is created specifically for Karmanaut.  As Karmanaut I can corroborate this fact.
Arguing how humans are seen in my belief system with someone with another is the same as comparing apples to oranges.
In the belief system I'm most impartial to, the universe as a simulation (which is still atheistic), there may be nothing special about humans, it's impossible to tell.



#104    Rlyeh

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 05:56 AM

View PostAstral Hillbilly, on 09 January 2013 - 07:43 PM, said:

Yes, because we're the only living thing created in his image.
Where does the Bible say we're the only living thing created in his image, besides what is his image?


#105    eight bits

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:43 AM

Mr Walker

Quote

As to the dogs behaviour. Dogs can scent cadavers deep under ground,  and many are trained to do this.They also recognise individual scents from tiny traces and are alsos used for that purpose There is a simple explanation for why  a dog might sit by its masters grave. It can still smelll traces of him.

Full marks for explaining what isn't in dispute, that the dog has found the right place.

Accepting your explanation, then the dog also knows that the person is dead. So, we are left with what is in dispute: why the dog stations himself or herself. Apparently, you aspire to do this explaining without attributing mental states to the dog, mental states which are fairly comparable with those we know about because we experience them in times of grief or remembrance.

To be perfectly candid, I don't even see any point to the attempt, much less agree that dogs lack mental states, some of them comparable with my own.

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