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What is the human soul?

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?
    Uh, we are typing on an internet board about the very existence of souls.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?

    Shakespeare, the internet, nuclear weapons, submarines, supersonic jets, the David, religion, human language...

    edit* actually, Cloud said it perfectly.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?
    Uh, we are typing on an internet board about the very existence of souls.

    Okay, and? What of it, exactly? I don't see how that makes it necessarily impossible for anything not-a-human to do the same. Sure my cat can't post on the internet, but is that because it's not a human or is that because a cat's brain doesn't happen to have the requisite complexity for that kind of operation?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?
    Uh, we are typing on an internet board about the very existence of souls.

    Okay, and? What of it, exactly? I don't see how that makes it necessarily impossible for anything not-a-human to do the same. Sure my cat can't post on the internet, but is that because it's not a human or is that because a cat's brain doesn't happen to have the requisite complexity for that kind of operation?

    Both the former and the latter.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?

    Shakespeare, the internet, nuclear weapons, submarines, supersonic jets, the David, religion, human language...

    edit* actually, Cloud said it perfectly.

    Cloud said nothing of consequence, perfectly, agreed.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?
    Uh, we are typing on an internet board about the very existence of souls.

    Okay, and? What of it, exactly? I don't see how that makes it necessarily impossible for anything not-a-human to do the same. Sure my cat can't post on the internet, but is that because it's not a human or is that because a cat's brain doesn't happen to have the requisite complexity for that kind of operation?

    Both the former and the latter.

    And what leads you to believe that being human causes the necessary complexity to do that? Why couldn't something other than a human have that same complexity? Other than because you want to believe in majik, I mean.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    And what leads you to believe that being human causes the necessary complexity to do that? Why couldn't something other than a human have that same complexity? Other than because you want to believe in majik, I mean.

    I don't think that only humans could have the same complexity, we just haven't encountered them. There could be aliens in another galaxy which have discovered their ontology as well.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    VC, would you just say that humans are animals that are very successful at communicating? I was not saying that humans are super-animals, but I think that humans are certainly distinct from other animals.

    That would explain why homo sapiens are classified as distinct from other animals, yes, but saying that a giraffe is certainly distinct from other animals doesn't really say anything about souls.

    Yes, but humans are so different from any other animal. Giraffes have big ole necks to eat from trees, but humans are so categorically different from other animals that it would seem there has to be a completely unique agent in human characteristics.

    Based on what?
    Uh, we are typing on an internet board about the very existence of souls.

    Okay, and? What of it, exactly? I don't see how that makes it necessarily impossible for anything not-a-human to do the same. Sure my cat can't post on the internet, but is that because it's not a human or is that because a cat's brain doesn't happen to have the requisite complexity for that kind of operation?

    Both the former and the latter.

    And what leads you to believe that being human causes the necessary complexity to do that? Why couldn't something other than a human have that same complexity? Other than because you want to believe in majik, I mean.
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?

    VC can be incorrigibly stubborn.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?

    No I'm suggesting that you're claiming to have proven a negative. Anyway you never explained why magic is the only or best or even a very good explanation for your example.
    Podly wrote: »
    And what leads you to believe that being human causes the necessary complexity to do that? Why couldn't something other than a human have that same complexity? Other than because you want to believe in majik, I mean.

    I don't think that only humans could have the same complexity, we just haven't encountered them. There could be aliens in another galaxy which have discovered their ontology as well.

    And so they somehow evolved a soul? Uh-huh. So when do I evolve to the point where I can do a hadoken?

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?

    VC can be incorrigibly stubborn.

    Yeah I'm damned stubborn about demanding people give me good reason to believe ridiculous claims, it's a personal failing.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    VC, I think I did a somewhat adequate job of explaining how a soul deals with existence, which is not a scientific but a philosophical investigation, so it has nothing to do with evolution. However, you limit knowledge to empirical scientific facts, even when you make scientifically shoddy claims, which limits your ability to fully understand the world. You could be a little more willing to see things from multiple viewpoints.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    You assume soul, and provide no reason for assuming soul except devout belief in magic. When pressed to give a reason all you provide is "well we don't know of anything else as smart as us" and somehow that's supposed to convince me. You're claiming to have proven a negative claim, and I'm reluctant to buy into it without some kind of argument that doesn't basically amount to "you need to try acid VC!".

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    You assume soul, and provide no reason for assuming soul except devout belief in magic. When pressed to give a reason all you provide is "well we don't know of anything else as smart as us" and somehow that's supposed to convince me. You're claiming to have proven a negative claim, and I'm reluctant to buy into it without some kind of argument that doesn't basically amount to "you need to try acid VC!".

    I do not assume a soul. I posited existence, and the soul as that which is capable of grasping it. Since you say that we exist, it would seem that you should be able to understand that.

    Unless you don't believe in existence.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    You assume soul, and provide no reason for assuming soul except devout belief in magic. When pressed to give a reason all you provide is "well we don't know of anything else as smart as us" and somehow that's supposed to convince me. You're claiming to have proven a negative claim, and I'm reluctant to buy into it without some kind of argument that doesn't basically amount to "you need to try acid VC!".

    I do not assume a soul. I posited existence, and the soul as that which is capable of grasping it. Since you say that we exist, it would seem that you should be able to understand that.

    Unless you don't believe in existence.

    That proves capacity for rational thought, which does not prove soul.

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    AgemAgem Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?
    He doesn't even have to suggest that things other than humans have that same complexity, he simply has to suggest that it's possible.

    There is no evidence that the laws governing the physical universe behave differently for humans than any other species - humans cannot be considered eternally unique, although we are unique among the animals we already know about. Anything else is the equivalent of looking at a bunch of bodies of water and deciding that this one puddle is special, that its special-puddle-ness is inherent to its very existence, and that no other puddles can ever be like it because they aren't actually the same puddle.

    If you define a "soul" to be something only humans can have, then of course only humans can have them. But there are no human qualities that could not theoretically be replicated anywhere else, so the very notion of only humans having a "soul" seems silly.

    By the way, although it's not related to this tangent and I'm obviously not implying that these robots have souls or are anywhere where we would consider intelligent, the programming of some robots in an experiment recently evolved to the point where some of them will lie to the other robots to hoard food, and some others will exhibit somewhat altruistic tendencies, staying to die in a "poisoned" area while warning other robots away.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Oh and I certainly don't think rational thought makes us special anymore than being the ultimate waterborne killing-machine makes sharks special.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    You assume soul, and provide no reason for assuming soul except devout belief in magic. When pressed to give a reason all you provide is "well we don't know of anything else as smart as us" and somehow that's supposed to convince me. You're claiming to have proven a negative claim, and I'm reluctant to buy into it without some kind of argument that doesn't basically amount to "you need to try acid VC!".

    I do not assume a soul. I posited existence, and the soul as that which is capable of grasping it. Since you say that we exist, it would seem that you should be able to understand that.

    Unless you don't believe in existence.

    That proves capacity for rational thought, which does not prove soul.

    OK, then we can use the old aristotelian definition as "rationing animal." But is it really just rational though? Like I said before, crows can use reason to solve puzzles to get food, showing an understanding of gravity on objects. So are humans just much smarter, and can reason? Then why is religion so linked with humanity, which is, as many claim, very unreasonable? Or art?

    Reason, likewise, can only examine the phenomenological instead of the "real" or the noumenal. A materialist certainly has claims against this, but it is not "magic." You are very bad at trying to see all the sides of an argument, VC, and many things which would challenge your theses, you just resort to name calling. I hardly think that Kantian philosophy is magic, nor Heideggerian phenomenology.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Agem wrote: »
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?
    He doesn't even have to suggest that things other than humans have that same complexity, he simply has to suggest that it's possible.

    There is no evidence that the laws governing the physical universe behave differently for humans than any other species - humans cannot be considered eternally unique, although we are unique among the animals we already know about. Anything else is the equivalent of looking at a bunch of bodies of water and deciding that this one puddle is special, that its special-puddle-ness is inherent to its very existence, and that no other puddles can ever be like it because they aren't actually the same puddle.

    If you define a "soul" to be something only humans can have, then of course only humans can have them. But there are no human qualities that could not theoretically be replicated anywhere else, so the very notion of only humans having a "soul" seems silly.

    By the way, although it's not related to this tangent and I'm obviously not implying that these robots have souls or are anywhere where we would consider intelligent, the programming of some robots in an experiment recently evolved to the point where some of them will lie to the other robots to hoard food, and some others will exhibit somewhat altruistic tendencies, staying to die in a "poisoned" area while warning other robots away.
    Did you just quote that stupid snowflake meme in a round-about way?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Agem wrote: »
    Wait, are you suggesting that other things than humans have that same complexity, with no empirical way to prove it and then you're going to call the implication that there is something "soul-like" in humans, ridiculous?
    He doesn't even have to suggest that things other than humans have that same complexity, he simply has to suggest that it's possible.

    There is no evidence that the laws governing the physical universe behave differently for humans than any other species - humans cannot be considered eternally unique, although we are unique among the animals we already know about. Anything else is the equivalent of looking at a bunch of bodies of water and deciding that this one puddle is special, that its special-puddle-ness is inherent to its very existence, and that no other puddles can ever be like it because they aren't actually the same puddle.

    If you define a "soul" to be something only humans can have, then of course only humans can have them. But there are no human qualities that could not theoretically be replicated anywhere else, so the very notion of only humans having a "soul" seems silly.

    By the way, although it's not related to this tangent and I'm obviously not implying that these robots have souls or are anywhere where we would consider intelligent, the programming of some robots in an experiment recently evolved to the point where some of them will lie to the other robots to hoard food, and some others will exhibit somewhat altruistic tendencies, staying to die in a "poisoned" area while warning other robots away.

    This is why I think biotic existence must be separated from ontological existence. Those robots have been programmed to live successfully, but I doubt if a robot could develop a consciousness that comprehended existence. If it did, I would be more than willing to grant a robot a soul.

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    AgemAgem Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Did you just quote that stupid snowflake meme in a round-about way?
    I don't know what 'that stupid snowflake meme' is, so probably not.
    Podly wrote: »
    This is why I think biotic existence must be separated from ontological existence. Those robots have been programmed to live successfully, but I doubt if a robot could develop a consciousness that comprehended existence. If it did, I would be more than willing to grant a robot a soul.
    Just so we're clear, I definitely am not suggesting that the robots here had any sort of consciousness. I just thought it was interesting in the sense of a developing artificial intelligence.

    Agem on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    OK, then we can use the old aristotelian definition as "rationing animal." But is it really just rational though? Like I said before, crows can use reason to solve puzzles to get food, showing an understanding of gravity on objects. So are humans just much smarter, and can reason? Then why is religion so linked with humanity, which is, as many claim, very unreasonable? Or art?

    Reason, likewise, can only examine the phenomenological instead of the "real" or the noumenal. A materialist certainly has claims against this, but it is not "magic." You are very bad at trying to see all the sides of an argument, VC, and many things which would challenge your theses, you just resort to name calling. I hardly think that Kantian philosophy is magic, nor Heideggerian phenomenology.

    I don't have to agree with all sides or regard them as rational or even sane in order to see them. What I'm bad at is humoring baseless claims and attempts to cop out of justifying them. Are you going to justify your assumption at all or not? I mean come on now, of course religion is closely linked with humanity, humans invented it! What the fuck is that argument supposed to prove? And what the fuck is this bullshit you're trying to allege about ideas not being real? What exactly is not real about ideas? What's not real about programs or data? And once again why do ideas require a soul?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I think an interesting one would be cloning. I'd assume a cloned human would have the same ontological existence as a non-cloned one, but if it didn't, that would open up a big can of scary worms.

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    BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Are you going to justify your assumption at all or not? I mean come on now, of course religion is closely linked with humanity, humans invented it! What the fuck is that argument supposed to prove?

    - Animals are rational
    - Humans are a rational animal
    - Religion is inherently irrational
    - Humans invented religion
    - Ergo, humans have an irrational aspect to them

    Close enough, Podly?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    Are you going to justify your assumption at all or not? I mean come on now, of course religion is closely linked with humanity, humans invented it! What the fuck is that argument supposed to prove?

    - Animals are rational
    - Humans are a rational animal
    - Religion is inherently irrational
    - Humans invented religion
    - Ergo, humans have an irrational aspect to them

    Close enough, Podly?

    Actually, I wasn't thinking of that, but that is a pretty interesting point. I was just thinking of how no other animals have religion, and it is so intrinsically linked to humanity. The marxist critique (not the opiate of the masses) of power is a pretty good explanation, but I tend to lean more to the unfathomablity of existence as the explanation for religion's genesis. Art too. There isn't a very logical reason for aesthetics, yet art has seemingly always existed.

    These things seem antinomious with the idea of humans as very rationally successful animals.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    I was just thinking of how no other animals have religion, and it is so intrinsically linked to humanity.

    Which of course makes perfect sense. I mean tigers don't have ballgags either.

    Edit:
    Podly wrote: »
    There isn't a very logical reason for aesthetics, yet art has seemingly always existed.

    What? "Because it creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences" isn't logical?

    irt Burnage;
    More complicated systems tend to have more room for bugs, yes. And?

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    BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    I was just thinking of how no other animals have religion, and it is so intrinsically linked to humanity.

    Which of course makes perfect sense. I mean tigers don't have ballgags either.

    irt Burnage;
    More complicated systems tend to have more room for bugs, yes. And?

    Didn't Freud say something along the lines of human sexuality being the main thing that elevates us above animals?

    If you wish to think of religion, art, music, literature, and all other non-rational past-times as 'bugs' in our mental systems, then feel free. I would find it difficult to be convinced by that line of reasoning, however, until we know exactly what our mental 'system' consists of.

    VC, just a question, but what are you using as the definition of 'soul'?

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    AgemAgem Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    For the record, Freud was a loon, and humans are far from the only animals with an interest in sex beyond the amount necessary for procreation. There are homosexual animals, some primates in particular are notoriously promiscuous, and I mean the whole "competition by physically attacking members of your own species to attract the opposite gender" thing suggests that even if some animals aren't thinking about it on the same level humans do, there is a system of "sexuality" to the mating process beyond "Oh crap, I have to procreate. Hey, there's a male/female! Hooray, biological imperative fulfilled!"

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    BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Agem wrote: »
    For the record, Freud was a loon

    Oh, I'm well aware of that. I was merely mentioning him to make the point that somebody's argued the point that VC made half-mockingly.

    I'd suggest that homosexuality and promiscuity in animals pale in comparision to the levels of debauchery that humans achieve fairly frequently, but I don't think it's hugely pertinent to the conversation.

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    I was just thinking of how no other animals have religion, and it is so intrinsically linked to humanity.

    Which of course makes perfect sense. I mean tigers don't have ballgags either.

    irt Burnage;
    More complicated systems tend to have more room for bugs, yes. And?

    Didn't Freud say something along the lines of human sexuality being the main thing that elevates us above animals?

    If you wish to think of religion, art, music, literature, and all other non-rational past-times as 'bugs' in our mental systems, then feel free. I would find it difficult to be convinced by that line of reasoning, however, until we know exactly what our mental 'system' consists of.

    VC, just a question, but what are you using as the definition of 'soul'?

    Something beyond consciousness and self-awareness that serves as an ultimate identity-device. And I don't think aesthetic expression is a bug at all.

    And your "point" that I'm arguing that everything people do is for sex is, what? I mean where are you even getting that?

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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    On all the unique shit that humans can do like art and religion and videogames:

    I agree with the people who have pointed out that our "uniqueness" in this respect is, in one sense, nothing to write home about. There is a species of angelfish that lives in cave waterfalls, adapted to cling to the bare rock walls with their mouths and filter food that flows down—they are the only species able to survive in this way. Just because a species has a unique capability does not mean anything metaphysical.

    I think what really strikes people about human uniqueness is that our capabilities are so diverse. Individual animal behavior and adaptations can be pretty awesome, but for the most part they are one-trick ponies. Humans, on the other hand, produce all kinds of weird shit and have in fact remade the face of the earth with our technologies and societies.

    People look at this diversity and feel the need for an explanation. The "soul"—defined here as a metaphysical object or force, rather than just pure consciousness—seems to be a popular explanation, but I fail to see how it explains anything. I also fail to see why we need any explanation for the diversity of human behavior and technology when we have a perfectly good naturalistic one: learned behavior.

    Many animals and most mammals learn behaviors. Our brains are capable of learning and teaching more behaviors than any other animal. These learned behaviors are selected for based on their ability to replicate themselves in other humans' brains. They also mutate within individual human brains who pass them down into other brains (Chinese telephone). Selection + mutation = an evolutionary process, and evolution is simply the best and most elegant way to explain any sort of diversity. (Note that evolutionary ideas, like "survival of the fittest" actually predate Darwin and were used by early capitalistic thinkers in economic theories—the broad idea of evolution has never been limited to biological phenotypes).

    The reason humans have art and science and religion and all this weird shit while other animals have nothing beyond a few tools and rudiments of social culture is because our brains have evolved beyond a critical level to learn and pass on behaviors. (Along with our evolved ability to vocalize and walk upright, freeing our hands for gestures and tool use.) Early humans were barely different than chimpanzees. But gradually and increasingly throughout our history, learned behavior—or ideas, or memes, or whatever you want to call them—evolved. This evolution brought about complex ideas about culture, deities, tools, language, and technology. And it's completely natural—no metaphysical spirit required.

    Qingu on
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    Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    You assume soul, and provide no reason for assuming soul except devout belief in magic. When pressed to give a reason all you provide is "well we don't know of anything else as smart as us" and somehow that's supposed to convince me. You're claiming to have proven a negative claim, and I'm reluctant to buy into it without some kind of argument that doesn't basically amount to "you need to try acid VC!".

    I do not assume a soul. I posited existence, and the soul as that which is capable of grasping it. Since you say that we exist, it would seem that you should be able to understand that.

    Unless you don't believe in existence.

    What?

    What the fuck?

    I know you've just started on the magical voyage into post-modernist filth but there's no excuse for this.

    What is the freaking argument here?

    It seems to be a fairly clear case of hiding banality behind profundity. Which is to say - if we are to take your argument at the most generous reading, then essentially you're arguing that things exist and there is something which is capable of comprehending this fact . Or in other words simply acknowledging the existence of what would regularly be termed consciousness.

    Qingu's poetic phrasing allows you to equivocate between the "soul" in the magic sense, and "soul" in the poetic sense, meaning consciousness. When pressed you're arguing for the true but trivial, but your exposition on the subject relates to the interesting but false (or if I'm being very generous, unsupported) metaphysical interpretation.

    Apothe0sis on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    I think what really strikes people about human uniqueness is that our capabilities are so diverse. Individual animal behavior and adaptations can be pretty awesome, but for the most part they are one-trick ponies. Humans, on the other hand, produce all kinds of weird shit and have in fact remade the face of the earth with our technologies and societies.

    We are incredibly flexible.

    That's pretty goddamn sweet.

    Loren Michael on
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    roastghostroastghost Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I've always thought self-awareness is a product of our reasoning power. To me it's absolutely a mechanical product of brain function. That doesn't make it any less wonderful. But self awarenes does correlate with higher function. Apes seem to have some idea of "self". Young children can't concieve of points of view other than their own. Normal human beings can talk about their point of view with the insight that there is a world outside of that POV. Clever people start questioning what that point of view is. Sneaky people slip flattery into their posts. ;)

    I could be wrong. For example, self awareness could be a quirk of an independent and specialised function of the brain, not a general product of higher reasoning. I don't know of any area which if knocked out would eliminate the individual's self awareness, but it could exist. Don't some hallucinogenic drugs errode the sense of individuality to some extent, leading to a feeling of oneness with the universe? Doesn't meditation? I'd argue that this is an interruption of general brain activity, but I really don't know.

    I wonder if at first self-image just developed as a feedback mechanism that helped an organism plan for the future. Higher function monitors itself. We use the same functions to make decisions and to analyse those decisions. This is like the strange loop in the OP, right? Maybe not, because I don't think I fully understood the explanation and the parallels to mathmatics. It seemed to be over intellectualising the issue to me. I'll give the book a try and see if I agree with it.

    roastghost on
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    BlutrasereiBlutraserei Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Shinto wrote: »
    titmouse wrote: »
    Church wrote: »
    Wait wait wait we're not just fancy chimpanzees?

    We are Dire Chimpanzees.

    I laughed so hard. You've won the thread.


    I almost puked. Titmouse, I love you.


    Sorry for the late, non-contributive post, but it deserved credit. I may even sig it.

    Blutraserei on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    BTW, Heidegger uses Deisen in the same way that I use soul, but he uses BEING as a general ontological term, whereas Existence is the unique characteristic of Deisen's ontological intension.

    Podly on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Burnage wrote: »

    - Animals are rational
    - Humans are a rational animal
    - Religion is inherently irrational
    - Humans invented religion
    - Ergo, humans have an irrational aspect to them

    Close enough, Podly?

    Actually, I wasn't thinking of that, but that is a pretty interesting point. I was just thinking of how no other animals have religion, and it is so intrinsically linked to humanity. The marxist critique (not the opiate of the masses) of power is a pretty good explanation, but I tend to lean more to the unfathomablity of existence as the explanation for religion's genesis. Art too. There isn't a very logical reason for aesthetics, yet art has seemingly always existed.

    These things seem antinomious with the idea of humans as very rationally successful animals.

    Alternatively Burnage, religion is an attempt to apply rationality to areas where no other attempts have succeeded. If religion was inherently irrational, it would posit chaos, that stuff just happens at random and there is no reason or cause for it. Instead it tries to create a framework to explain aspects of the world that cannot be explained otherwise. Up until the birth of science, religions were responsible for the foremost thinkers, academics and rationalists on the planet.

    Don't confuse "provable" with "rational".

    And Podly, I'm not entirely sure how you are so convinced that animals don't have some form of religion. Perhaps not organised religion with churches and tithes, but ye olde pre-civilisation paganism was pretty inscrutable too. A bloke stranded on an island with no church or religious artifacts at all may still believe in God. But there is no way to read his mind, and if you don't speak his language, no way to understand what may well be prayers. Same is possible for animals.
    Art too. There isn't a very logical reason for aesthetics, yet art has seemingly always existed.

    No logical reason at all. I'm sure the social popularity of music, dancing, etc; the communicative & popular aspects of art, theatre, film; these provide no logical basis for continuance. And artists have never been exactly unpopular with women either.

    Not Sarastro on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    I think what really strikes people about human uniqueness is that our capabilities are so diverse. Individual animal behavior and adaptations can be pretty awesome, but for the most part they are one-trick ponies. Humans, on the other hand, produce all kinds of weird shit and have in fact remade the face of the earth with our technologies and societies.

    We are incredibly flexible.

    That's pretty goddamn sweet.

    Also somewhat skeptical. You could argue that we do have one trick, and it is the brain. Just so happens that one trick allows a lot of other tricks. This isn't exactly unique - the single trick of flight allowed a massive number of other abilities and behaviours in terms of moving environment, location, hunting, nesting and so on.

    Not Sarastro on
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