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Are humans special?


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#46    redhen

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 05:36 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 01 January 2013 - 01:57 AM, said:

Non self aware animals without complex linguistic ability cant be altruistic because they cant formulate or conceive of the symbolic act of altruism.

You need to conceive of a symbolic act before you perform it? When someone dives in a river to rescue another, does he first have to conceive of some kind of symbolism?

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What appears altruistic has an individual or species benefit  that adds to their evolutionary fitness. It is not a conscious, weighed choice which they voluntarilly make.

I submit there is no self interest or benefit in some of these lab tests. It seems to be simple empathy, something that many species share. And it doesn't involve language or abstract cognitive processes.

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Are you really suggesting, in making a comparison between humans and other animals for example, that when an animal kills another of its kind, even one as close to us  in mental capacity as a dolphin or an ape, we charge it with murder and give it due process of law.

I have never proposed assigning human or legal rights to non-human animals. I hold that that they only need one right, the right not to be property. Yes. I'm an abolitionist.

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They must be given some rights, as we do for human children, but that is discretionary and also complicated by the differences in species. Should no human kill  another species and  eat its meat? If so, should no other animal eat meat either.

What I learned from just one year of college philosophy; the devil's in the details. :)


#47    Jinxdom

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:56 AM

Yeah very but not in a way that is good. We as a species are special like the short bus. We are the only species conscientiously capable of suicide just because they gave up, Animals will commit self-sacrifice for other things like protecting their pack or their children, but suicide not so much. Some know when they are close to death will leave or be left behind to not trouble the pack. Some other effects make it look like animals commit suicide(Like some fungus,virus,bacteria infections) but for the most part other then that they don't.

So yeah we are special all right.... just not in a good way.


#48    King Fluffs

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

I do not believe we are special.


#49    Mr Walker

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:21 PM

View PostThe Silver Thong, on 01 January 2013 - 05:19 AM, said:

Polution, war, genocide, starvation while we throw millions of lbs of food away everyday while others starve. 3 cent pills that can save millions of not given away. We are scum and to think this planet is better for having us is a joke. This planet will spit us out and move on.
You are a human being. Do you honestly feel this way about yourself? As an afterthough, if you consider human's scum, does that give you a moral liberty, even obligation, to treat them as such?

Edited by Mr Walker, 02 January 2013 - 11:42 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.

#50    ciriuslea

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:35 PM

I personally feel leaving religion aside that the smallest particle is just as important as the greatest force,


#51    Mr Walker

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:37 PM

View Postredhen, on 01 January 2013 - 05:36 AM, said:

You need to conceive of a symbolic act before you perform it? When someone dives in a river to rescue another, does he first have to conceive of some kind of symbolism?



I submit there is no self interest or benefit in some of these lab tests. It seems to be simple empathy, something that many species share. And it doesn't involve language or abstract cognitive processes.



I have never proposed assigning human or legal rights to non-human animals. I hold that that they only need one right, the right not to be property. Yes. I'm an abolitionist.



What I learned from just one year of college philosophy; the devil's in the details. :)


Yes you need to consceive of a symbolic act before you perform it,  (that's what a symbolic act is)or you are simply acting on biological imperative not conscious choice. Altruism is not, and cannot be, a biological imperative, or it is not altruism. Altruism is a conscious choice, by definition.

Even to think of the idea requires the ability to do so. Hence humans observe acts of biological imperativism in animals and attribute to them human motivations, such as conceived and chosen  altruism.


With non sapient animals there is always a biological or genetic imperative. Any behaviour has an evolutionary purpose or it would not exist. In social animals acts of "kindness" may ensure membership of a group and enhance survival, for example. These reciprocal behaviours can be learned, in social conditioning, but they are not chosen consciously, as a free gift with no thought of reward.  Only a creature aware of its conditioning, biological imperatives etc., can consciously choose to overide them, seeking a philosophical, moral or ethical, result/outcome, which they have created as a  desirable construct in their mind.


I am not sure what you mean by property. Are you suggesting no human has a right to decide the destiny of any animal, and so we should not only not eat them, but not care for them as pets or companions? That animals should only exist in a natural state? What about mosquitoes?

Edited by Mr Walker, 02 January 2013 - 11:38 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.

#52    Agnostist

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:13 AM

View PostDarkwind, on 30 December 2012 - 04:44 AM, said:

Called the multi-verse, I know about it.  I always thought the idea of a multi-verse made a lot of sense. Things aways seem to come in multiples. Why wouldn't the Universe. Welcome to UM.
Absolutely right Darkwind, the multi-verse theory is something really extraordinary and its plausible thank you :D


#53    GreenmansGod

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 02 January 2013 - 11:37 PM, said:




With non sapient animals there is always a biological or genetic imperative. Any behaviour has an evolutionary purpose or it would not exist. In social animals acts of "kindness" may ensure membership of a group and enhance survival, for example. These reciprocal behaviours can be learned, in social conditioning, but they are not chosen consciously, as a free gift with no thought of reward.  Only a creature aware of its conditioning, biological imperatives etc., can consciously choose to overide them, seeking a philosophical, moral or ethical, result/outcome, which they have created as a  desirable construct in their mind.

I think our social behaviors are also a genetic imperative.  We seek out and live in social groups and battle other social groups. It is an instinct for us to do that. You see it in chimps.  That is why it is so hard to do away with war.   With everything there are exceptions, even in animals. The thing with animals who live in social groups the ones who don't get pick off by predators or starvation.

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#54    Mr Walker

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:30 AM

View PostDarkwind, on 03 January 2013 - 11:14 AM, said:

I think our social behaviors are also a genetic imperative.  We seek out and live in social groups and battle other social groups. It is an instinct for us to do that. You see it in chimps.  That is why it is so hard to do away with war.   With everything there are exceptions, even in animals. The thing with animals who live in social groups the ones who don't get pick off by predators or starvation.

Oh certainly many human drivers are biological . Eg the fear/flight physiological response But in humans they are not imperatives, because we can consciously recognise them and ignore them or reset/redirect them.   And in fact fight or flight in huamns is a counter productive driver compared with,  for example, negotiation and or threat assessment.

The whole system of human law and order is based on this. We can make choices NOT to act as a non aware animal does. Not to rape, to kill, to steal,  to take another mans wife etc. Those terms cannot even be applied to other animals .

Humans do not have to fight with each other or to go to war. In fact we have good reason not to, because of our ability to destroy ourselves so efficiently. Also we do not have to compete for resources. Our technologies enable us to exploit/utilise resources, trade them,  store them and  utilise them so efficiently, that scarcities are  avoidable  in a way which is not the case in the natural order of things. If we go to war or fight over resources, that is a choice, not an imperative. Other animals simply do not have such choices. Often they must fight or die from starvation.

There is no evidence that advanced social behaviours in human are genetic although our genes give us a propensity for certain things and an abilty to do certain things.  We learn social behaviours through social evolution.

Other animals do this as well, especially animals such as apes and chimps, which are only about 100000 years or so from modern human abilities. But human's ability to think, and thus to learn, has advanced our social evolution far beyond that of other primates.

Logic philosophy theology and many other forms of human thought enable us to construct increasingly complex social interactions. This is also facilitated by human abilty to use language involving complex symbolic concepts and constructs.

Edited by Mr Walker, 03 January 2013 - 11:39 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.

#55    GreenmansGod

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:45 AM

You say non self aware but there are a lot of animals out there who are self aware, like dolphins, whales, great apes,  many types of monkeys and some birds.  I think they have the potential to develop to the level we are at through evolution. In the case of whales and dolphins they might already be there. They just don't do technology, but they do have complex communication skills we just don't understand as yet.

Edited by Darkwind, 03 January 2013 - 11:46 AM.

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#56    Mr Walker

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

View PostDarkwind, on 03 January 2013 - 11:45 AM, said:

You say non self aware but there are a lot of animals out there who are self aware, like dolphins, whales, great apes,  many types of monkeys and some birds.  I think they have the potential to develop to the level we are at through evolution. In the case of whales and dolphins they might already be there. They just don't do technology, but they do have complex communication skills we just don't understand as yet.
None are at anything like a human level of self aware sapience. This has been shown through scientific studies. The most advanced adult animals fall behind humans when humans reach about 4 years of age and continue their brain growth and cognitive devlopment.

It is becoming clearer that, without both language, and the abilty to manipulate tools, (which many scientists believe are  connected skills because the abilty to think in linguistic terms facilitates the abilty to see how tools can be used) the evolution of self aware sapience is severely limited.

NOW the real point is what this means. To me it means that our abilities give us great responsibilities and duties, which no other animal has,  towards our environment, and especially other living creatures in it.  We are quite capable of destroying most life on earth, or of making it a natural environmental paradise (or balanced ecosystem). That capacity, and our recognition of it,  must inform our attitudes and behaviours in everything we do. We must ALL learn to tread lightly on our planet and reduce our personal ecological footprint to the minimum required to live healthily and sustainably.

Ps yes i agree that several other animals are close to an evolutionary breakthrough to human level sapience. I would like to see us assist in this uplift using a variety of means which might even include genetic engineering to facilitate the ability to speak, but certainly could include other forms of enhancement and education.

However it is almost certain tha the next human level self aware sapience on this palnet will be a human created artifical intelligence. That will occur within my life time. Uplifting other animal species to sapience will probably take much longer because the task is more complex and difficult, and more ethically confronting.

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.

#57    Mr Walker

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:42 PM

It would appear that chimpanzees may be closest to human awareness, in part because they have the same part of a brain (brocas)which makes language possible.

i am wary of the  claimed demonstrations of romantic love, altruism and  other human level actions claimed in this wiki article,  (I dont think a chimp has any  mental symbolic construct for the idea of romance,  and ive never seen one read shakespeare)because they are based on human observation and attribution, thus imposing a humanocentric pov on the chimp's behaviours. (How on earth anyone can tell that a chimp is enjoying the natural beauty of a sunset without doing a brain scan at the time is beoyond me)

The same with mourning.  Chimps appear to mourn but show none of the neandertal or cromagnon indicators of mourning, such as burying the dead with ceremony or recognition of a spiritual aspect to life, by adding grave goods to a burial. They seem more about australopithecus africanus level of sapience.


Recent studies have shown chimpanzees engage in apparently altruistic behaviour within groups.[40][41] Some researchers have said chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members,[42] but a more recent study of wild chimpanzees found that both male and female adults would adopt orphaned young of their group. Also, different groups sometimes share food, form coalitions, and cooperate in hunting and border patrolling.[43] Sometimes chimpanzees have adopted young that come from unrelated groups. And in some rare cases, even male chimps have been shown to take care of abandoned infant chimps of an unrelated group, though in most cases they would kill the infant.[citation needed]

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Chimpanzee
Evidence for "chimpanzee spirituality" includes display of mourning, "incipient romantic love", "rain dance", appreciation of natural beauty such as a sunset over a lake, curiosity and respect towards wildlife (such as the python, which is neither a threat nor a food source to chimpanzees), altruism toward other species (such as feeding turtles) and even "animism" or "pretend play" in chimps cradling and grooming rocks or sticks.[44]
Communication

Chimps communicate in a manner similar to human nonverbal communication, using vocalizations, hand gestures, and facial expressions. Research into the chimpanzee brain has revealed chimp communication activates an area of the chimp brain in the same position as Broca's area, a language center in the human brain.[45]

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.

#58    Paranoid Android

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

View PostDarkwind, on 03 January 2013 - 11:45 AM, said:

In the case of whales and dolphins they might already be there. They just don't do technology...
And it's a good thing too.  Considering their environment if you whacked a circuit board and asked them to start welding parts together I have a feeling the results would be.... errm, shocking :ph34r:

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#59    GreenmansGod

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 03 January 2013 - 12:18 PM, said:

Ps yes i agree that several other animals are close to an evolutionary breakthrough to human level sapience. I would like to see us assist in this uplift using a variety of means which might even include genetic engineering to facilitate the ability to speak, but certainly could include other forms of enhancement and education.

I guess you didn't see planet of the apes. :o

Here is a list of animals found to be self aware.
http://listnation.bl...self-aware.html

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#60    redhen

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:04 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 02 January 2013 - 11:37 PM, said:

Yes you need to consceive of a symbolic act before you perform it,  (that's what a symbolic act is)or you are simply acting on biological imperative not conscious choice. Altruism is not, and cannot be, a biological imperative, or it is not altruism. Altruism is a conscious choice, by definition.

That's debatable. Many philosophers and scientists deny that pure altruism even exists.

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Even to think of the idea requires the ability to do so. Hence humans observe acts of biological imperativism in animals and attribute to them human motivations, such as conceived and chosen  altruism.

I don't think you need specific cognitive abilities to exhibit altruistic acts. The wiki article on animal altruism begins with "Altruism is a well-documented animal behaviour," and then goes on to list numerous examples of these acts.

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With non sapient animals there is always a biological or genetic imperative.
The examples above show altruistic acts exhibited by non-sapient beings. Self awareness or self consciousness doesn't seem to be a requirement.

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I am not sure what you mean by property. Are you suggesting no human has a right to decide the destiny of any animal, and so we should not only not eat them, but not care for them as pets or companions? That animals should only exist in a natural state? What about mosquitoes?

Yes. All things being equal, we don' need to consume animal flesh or milk. The exceptions are for those stunted human societies that are still living in the Stone age. http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

Under the general wiki entry on altruism there is a sub-section labelled; "
Evolutionary explanations

Main articles: Altruism in animals, Evolution of morality, and Evolutionary ethics"

So we see a long history of people trying to explain altruism in evolutionary terms. This seems to be a valid territory for explanations, since the alternative would be special creation, i.e. Adam and Eve.

If homo sapiens sapiens is "special", what about homo sapiens neanderthalis? What were they, chopped liver? What about homo ergatser, homo erectus, etc. etc.?

Can you show me a clear and distinct point when one archaic hominid became "special?" I submit there is no such point, it is a continuum like other aspects of macro-evolution. And morality is just one more such trait that has evolved.





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