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What is the human soul?

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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.

    Also somewhat skeptical.

    Skeptical of what?

    Loren Michael on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers. Read the other sentences, it helps. :roll:

    Not Sarastro on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers.

    I didn't make that assertion. I was agreeing that we are flexible, and voicing my approval of humanity on that basis. To elaborate, our ability to specialize is pretty great, especially considering that specialization begets specialization. Regardless though, my comment was emotional, not analytical. Whether we are unique and pretty flowers seems like kind of a futile argumentative discussion to be having.

    Loren Michael on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Not all of us are skeptical. This thread contains pretty conclusive evidence that not all of us are skeptical.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    BurnageBurnage Registered User 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 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.


    Looking back, I think I was actually confusing 'rational' with 'logical', although the terms can be synonyms. As far as I'm aware, there haven't been any logically valid arguments for the existence of God, ergo, a belief in God is not logically valid. Something being irrational/illogical doesn't necessarily lead to chaos, it just implies a leap in logic (such as assuming the existence of a higher being).

    Whilst animals are capable of superstitious behaviours, I haven't seen any evidence of them enacting rituals in a systematic, co-ordinated fashion, which would seem to fit the definition of a religion as humans know it. Whether animals individually have belief in God is, as you say, unknowable, but it would seem evident that they do not have religion.
    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?

    To your definition of a soul, that sounds reasonable enough, though the definition used in this thread appears to have shifted to consciousness itself.

    You said earlier that you don't consider aesthetic expression a 'bug', because it "creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences". Surely the same could be said of religion? So why do you call religion a 'bug', and call aesthetic expression logical?

    My point regarding sex was that somebody in the past (Freud) had argued that everything people do is ultimately sex related. It was in response to your comment about 'tigers not having ballgags', which I took to mean that you were saying that certain aspects of sexuality are intrinsically linked to being human.

    Burnage on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    You said earlier that you don't consider aesthetic expression a 'bug', because it "creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences". Surely the same could be said of religion?

    Nope.
    Burnage wrote: »
    So why do you call religion a 'bug', and call aesthetic expression logical?

    Because nope.
    Burnage wrote: »
    My point regarding sex was that somebody in the past (Freud) had argued that everything people do is ultimately sex related. It was in response to your comment about 'tigers not having ballgags', which I took to mean that you were saying that certain aspects of sexuality are intrinsically linked to being human.

    Uh, no, I'm saying animals tend not to have all the same things that humans invented for themselves.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    You said earlier that you don't consider aesthetic expression a 'bug', because it "creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences". Surely the same could be said of religion?

    Nope.

    Sorry, what? You think religion cannot create a pleasant, interesting, or enlightening experience?

    Burnage on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers.

    I didn't make that assertion. I was agreeing that we are flexible, and voicing my approval of humanity on that basis. To elaborate, our ability to specialize is pretty great, especially considering that specialization begets specialization. Regardless though, my comment was emotional, not analytical. Whether we are unique and pretty flowers seems like kind of a futile argumentative discussion to be having.

    Oh, fair enough. I assumed you were agreeing with Quid, and I was replying to what he wrote about uniqueness.
    Burnage wrote:
    Looking back, I think I was actually confusing 'rational' with 'logical', although the terms can be synonyms. As far as I'm aware, there haven't been any logically valid arguments for the existence of God, ergo, a belief in God is not logically valid. Something being irrational/illogical doesn't necessarily lead to chaos, it just implies a leap in logic (such as assuming the existence of a higher being).

    Whilst animals are capable of superstitious behaviours, I haven't seen any evidence of them enacting rituals in a systematic, co-ordinated fashion, which would seem to fit the definition of a religion as humans know it. Whether animals individually have belief in God is, as you say, unknowable, but it would seem evident that they do not have religion.

    I'm fairly sure 'logical' doesn't cut it either, but is a bad word to use as well, because it implys a purely human system of thought, like democracy. Rationality is like mathematics, it exists outside of the human system that explains or harnesses it. You can try to refute logic in the same manner as you might refute religion, but you cannot refute rationality, only courses of rational action.

    My point wasn't that chaos = irrationality, it was that the attempt for rational explanation and the fact that these explanations tend to have some relation to the world we know (ie we hear things outside the campfire but cannot see them thus they are invisible ghost-beings; we see men made things, therefore a big bearded man made everything) means religion is not inherently irrational.

    The second part would be the difference between "religion" and "organised religion", which I know is a bit debatable. As I said, animals don't seem to have organised religion as we understand it. However, we do see high levels of ritual and organisation in animals, all the time - we just ascribe different motives to them. Yet we haven't ourselves decided on the motive for human religion. Is it possible that the mating dances of birds or the organisation of ants is religion to them? It is quite possible to argue that human religion is just a function of social organisation; how does that differ to ants?

    The question becomes about the motive for religion: just a superficial explanation for fulfilling some need in ourselves; is it a need in itself; is it God? And accurately defining motive for either animals or humans hasn't had much success so far. It becomes a question of belief.

    Essentially, you can prove that something has two legs. But the intangible nature of "belief" and "religion" make them pretty much impossible to prove as uniquely human concoctions unless we become omniscient.

    Not Sarastro on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    Burnage wrote: »
    You said earlier that you don't consider aesthetic expression a 'bug', because it "creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences". Surely the same could be said of religion?

    Nope.

    Sorry, what? You think religion cannot create a pleasant, interesting, or enlightening experience?

    I remain unconvinced that that is its net-effect. Sure it brings joy to a handful of crazies but so does making furniture out of people.

    Actually I'm just not interested in talking about religion.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Burnage wrote: »
    Burnage wrote: »
    You said earlier that you don't consider aesthetic expression a 'bug', because it "creates exciting/fun/pleasant/interesting/enlightening/etc and other worthwhile experiences". Surely the same could be said of religion?

    Nope.

    Sorry, what? You think religion cannot create a pleasant, interesting, or enlightening experience?

    I remain unconvinced that that is its net-effect. Sure it brings joy to a handful of crazies but so does making furniture out of people.

    Actually I'm just not interested in talking about religion.

    You think religion became popular and widespread throughout all cultures because people hated it? Religions have rarely been instituted from the top down: they usually come from the ground up. Doesn't exactly indicate something forcibly imposed.

    Churches & organised religion = forcible imposition and rule by minority, sure. Birth of & spread of religions, not so much.

    [Pre-emptive warning not to use the Catholic missionary "you're all going to hell now be miserable" example, because they were often converting people away from native religions]

    Not Sarastro on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    But the intangible nature of "belief" and "religion" pretty much impossible to prove that it is a uniquely human concoction unless we become omniscient.

    Yup.

    Also, the largely undefinable aspects of religion make talking about it [addictively masturbatory/a huge pain in the ass].

    Loren Michael on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Hahaha, probably the wisest thing said in this thread.

    Not Sarastro on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    No, actually I'm just not interested in talking about religion. Hence dismissive remarks. I know exactly why it's so popular and that "why" is all but proof of its own falsity. I'd just frankly rather expound on pleasant examples.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Sooo...

    Is heroin the window to the soul?

    Not Sarastro on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Sooo...

    Is heroin the window to the soul?

    Whatever that window is, it's apparently something I haven't tried. Why don't we ask Podly what drugs he's on and go from there?

    ViolentChemistry on
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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Oh god, can we get the ridiculously stupid notion of unique snowflake meme/tirade out of the way.
    It's overquoted, pessimistic, and stupid. It's self-aggrandizing and condescending.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Oh god, can we get the ridiculously stupid notion of unique snowflake meme/tirade out of the way.
    It's overquoted, pessimistic, and stupid. It's self-aggrandizing and condescending.

    Dude, you're the only one who's brought it up in this thread. I've seen discussions about humans being unique among other species -- not related to the "unique snowflake" that I assume you're talking about. And discussions of human beings being flexible -- also not related to that.

    Chip on your shoulder or something?

    Daenris on
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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Daenris wrote: »
    Oh god, can we get the ridiculously stupid notion of unique snowflake meme/tirade out of the way.
    It's overquoted, pessimistic, and stupid. It's self-aggrandizing and condescending.

    Dude, you're the only one who's brought it up in this thread. I've seen discussions about humans being unique among other species -- not related to the "unique snowflake" that I assume you're talking about. And discussions of human beings being flexible -- also not related to that.

    Chip on your shoulder or something?
    Uh, I was referring to Sarcastro's comment about unique and pretty flowers. Freudian slip slash insecurity much?
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers. Read the other sentences, it helps. :roll:
    That. It's arrogant and condescending to think each human doesn't have their own unique experiences and beliefs to bring to the table of life.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers. Read the other sentences, it helps. :roll:
    That. It's arrogant and condescending to think each human doesn't have their own unique experiences and beliefs to bring to the table of life.

    I prefer to be condescending. It makes me and others work harder at it. And by others I mean emo teenagers, jesusfuck - it's lame before you get there. Be original and invent the next 5 year's meme.

    electricitylikesme on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Uh, I was referring to Sarcastro's comment about unique and pretty flowers. Freudian slip slash insecurity much?
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers. Read the other sentences, it helps. :roll:
    That. It's arrogant and condescending to think each human doesn't have their own unique experiences and beliefs to bring to the table of life.

    1. Avatar.

    2. Table of life. Wonderful. "Could you pass the genome please? Humanity, stop throwing atoms at your mother!"

    3. Sure, every human is unique. So is every marmoset, wallaby or angelfish. I don't see how this distinguishes the human species as being unique among other species, except insomuch as it is definitionally unique.

    Yes, that each being & species is unique is a shatteringly obvious tautology. Discussing either individuals or the human race, however, anyone who mentions it usually means we are more [sic] unique than other species. That there is something demonstrably more brilliant about us than anything else. They don't actually mean "unique", they mean "special" or "better". That was what Quid was leaning towards: we're different unique compared to other species.

    This is a pretty arrogant & self-centered view of the universe. Also, what did you think I was suggesting, that we are all cloned automatons? Anyone with a basic understanding of biology realises that we are each unique. Whether individual humans being definitionally unique has any value whatsoever, or produces serious differences in beliefs or behaviour, is pretty debatable. Show me an idea or behaviour unique to one human being?

    (And for my quota of arrogance and condescension for the day, you really need to work on communication skills & cut down on the buzzwords, because those two posts were barely understandable.)

    Not Sarastro 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
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

    Congratulations, you've discovered that humans can do a lot of things some animals can't do and can do them better than those animals that do. The same can be said of a lot of animals. So what?

    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
    Podly wrote: »
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

    Congratulations, you've discovered that humans can do a lot of things some animals can't do and can do them better than those animals that do. The same can be said of a lot of animals. So what?

    You're comparing apples to oranges and refusing to follow common sense. It is so obvious the human beings traits are so categorically different from every other animal that I really do not know how to delineate it further.

    An angelfishes ability to see underwater or Birds of Paradise's elaborate mating rituals can in no way compare to the empire state building or Hamlet, and to but them on the same level is, in my mind, inconceivable.

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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

    Congratulations, you've discovered that humans can do a lot of things some animals can't do and can do them better than those animals that do. The same can be said of a lot of animals. So what?

    You're comparing apples to oranges and refusing to follow common sense. It is so obvious the human beings traits are so categorically different from every other animal that I really do not know how to delineate it further.

    An angelfishes ability to see underwater or Birds of Paradise's elaborate mating rituals can in no way compare to the empire state building or Hamlet, and to but them on the same level is, in my mind, inconceivable.

    Categorically different? Are you mad? Come on, Poldy, there is essentially no categorical difference between human traits and other animal traits. The absolutely *only* categorical difference I would even entertain is self-awareness, and even then, it's dubious when one examines some of the smarter non-human animals (apes, dolphins, etc).

    Artistic expression, such as the writing or performing of Hamlet, relies fundamentally on categorical traits that are shared by humans and other non-human animals - observation, improvisiation, and communication. I will grant you that our methods may be more developed or sophisticated than the competition, but are you going to try and tell me a squid can't observe, a bird can't improvise, and whales can't communicate? Of course they can, but the level of sophistication isn't there to allow a squid or a bird or a whale to write Hamlet.

    If you want to treat humans as an exceptional case, you are going to have to do a far better job than saying we build stuff and farm. Such things may be true, but our ability to do those things is not a result of any categorical difference between us and our other animal cousins.

    saggio on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

    Congratulations, you've discovered that humans can do a lot of things some animals can't do and can do them better than those animals that do. The same can be said of a lot of animals. So what?

    You're comparing apples to oranges and refusing to follow common sense. It is so obvious the human beings traits are so categorically different from every other animal that I really do not know how to delineate it further.

    An angelfishes ability to see underwater or Birds of Paradise's elaborate mating rituals can in no way compare to the empire state building or Hamlet, and to but them on the same level is, in my mind, inconceivable.

    Actually you're assuming an apple where there are only oranges and not explaining why the supposed apple is not in fact an orange. It is not "so obvious" to me that being good at thinking is categorically different from being good at killing or being good at hiding or being highly poisonous. Not in this context anyway. All I see here is a species whose survival is dependent on their strongest trait and that trait as a result evolving due to it's necessity for the species' continued survival. You haven't shown me anything else, just claimed it and then yelled at me for not immediately accepting an assumption you're apparently unable to validate.

    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
    saggio wrote: »
    If you want to treat humans as an exceptional case, you are going to have to do a far better job than saying we build stuff and farm. Such things may be true, but our ability to do those things is not a result of any categorical difference between us and our other animal cousins.

    They are if you say that they come from an existential framework, rather than a biological one. They are not biological impulses. Sexual neuroses, religious sensibilities, aesthetic desires, the possibility of love, mathematics - these do nor arise from Biological impulses. Biological impulses are based upon not dying and passing on your genes. Your existence, frankly, means nothing as long as you reproduce. And this is not to say that biological being is bad. Like stated before, apes live a very successful biological life - besides the whole human predation thing. They have communities, communicate, can even use basic tools and recognize their being - biological self awareness. But the do not have existential self awareness. This ontological discovery leads to the opposite of the biological impulse: we care more about preserving ourselves and our existence, even at the expense of our genes. It leads to all the things that humanity is known for. It leads to communication. We must communicate with other far more intricately, because how do you express ontological crisis in language which is manly used to talk about the movement of your prey? It leads to art. Most early English poems in our possession deal with the theme of eternity through art. Even Beowulf centers around the theme of living on past your death. It lead to society, so that this land will be the land of King So-and-So.

    This is not to say that humans lack biological impulses. More often then not, our immediate, empirical actions are the result of this biological nature. Humans are different because their being is tied into biological being and existential being. And this is the categorical difference.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Actually you're assuming an apple where there are only oranges and not explaining why the supposed apple is not in fact an orange. It is not "so obvious" to me that being good at thinking is categorically different from being good at killing or being good at hiding or being highly poisonous. Not in this context anyway. All I see here is a species whose survival is dependent on their strongest trait and that trait as a result evolving due to it's necessity for the species' continued survival. You haven't shown me anything else, just claimed it and then yelled at me for not immediately accepting an assumption you're apparently unable to validate.

    Ahh, I can see what you are saying now. Ok, let me ask you a question. Do you think that animal's are successful solely because of their DNA, e.g., a the most successful shark was predestined for this success by his DNA? Do you feel the same about humans, e.g. the smartest person was predestined by smart genes?

    I would say that an animal is only as successful as its DNA, while a person's DNA is, in general, a starting advantage or disadvantage. (The old "human willing" thesis.")

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Actually you're assuming an apple where there are only oranges and not explaining why the supposed apple is not in fact an orange. It is not "so obvious" to me that being good at thinking is categorically different from being good at killing or being good at hiding or being highly poisonous. Not in this context anyway. All I see here is a species whose survival is dependent on their strongest trait and that trait as a result evolving due to it's necessity for the species' continued survival. You haven't shown me anything else, just claimed it and then yelled at me for not immediately accepting an assumption you're apparently unable to validate.

    Ahh, I can see what you are saying now. Ok, let me ask you a question. Do you think that animal's are successful solely because of their DNA, e.g., a the most successful shark was predestined for this success by his DNA? Do you feel the same about humans, e.g. the smartest person was predestined by smart genes?

    No and no.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Ahh, I can see what you are saying now. Ok, let me ask you a question. Do you think that animal's are successful solely because of their DNA, e.g., a the most successful shark was predestined for this success by his DNA? Do you feel the same about humans, e.g. the smartest person was predestined by smart genes?

    I would say that an animal is only as successful as its DNA, while a person's DNA is, in general, a starting advantage or disadvantage. (The old "human willing" thesis.")

    Not in the slightest. Why would an animal's entire success depend on it's DNA? Certainly DNA can provide animals (including humans) certain traits that will make it easier for them to survive and flourish, but why would you assume that for an animal this is entirely based on DNA? The most successful shark is most successful because it has good traits for the situation it's in, because it acts best in the situations it's presented with, and maybe because it thinks outside the box a bit and finds a better hunting ground than other sharks.

    The same is true of humans. Certain genetic traits can make it easier (or harder) for a human to survive and be successful, but it's nowhere near the whole picture.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Uh, I was referring to Sarcastro's comment about unique and pretty flowers. Freudian slip slash insecurity much?
    That we are all such unique and pretty flowers. Read the other sentences, it helps. :roll:
    That. It's arrogant and condescending to think each human doesn't have their own unique experiences and beliefs to bring to the table of life.

    1. Avatar.

    2. Table of life. Wonderful. "Could you pass the genome please? Humanity, stop throwing atoms at your mother!"

    3. Sure, every human is unique. So is every marmoset, wallaby or angelfish. I don't see how this distinguishes the human species as being unique among other species, except insomuch as it is definitionally unique.

    Yes, that each being & species is unique is a shatteringly obvious tautology. Discussing either individuals or the human race, however, anyone who mentions it usually means we are more [sic] unique than other species. That there is something demonstrably more brilliant about us than anything else. They don't actually mean "unique", they mean "special" or "better". That was what Quid was leaning towards: we're different unique compared to other species.

    This is a pretty arrogant & self-centered view of the universe. Also, what did you think I was suggesting, that we are all cloned automatons? Anyone with a basic understanding of biology realises that we are each unique. Whether individual humans being definitionally unique has any value whatsoever, or produces serious differences in beliefs or behaviour, is pretty debatable. Show me an idea or behaviour unique to one human being?

    (And for my quota of arrogance and condescension for the day, you really need to work on communication skills & cut down on the buzzwords, because those two posts were barely understandable.)
    Good news everyone, I do possess a basic understanding of biology. Each human possesses a genomic code with a varying length of repeats called a Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. Each RFLP is unique to each human being. Yes, we are "more" unique than other species. Albino dwarf tree frogs are not ideating about the conception of a universe. There is evidence that various other "homo" species even possessed burial rituals and certain ceremonies, implying that the concept of an afterlife was real, even to them. So yes we are fucking unique. Are there stupid, idiotic humans that are complacent and more than happy to work at McDonalds (Not even an insult or a bad desire) without considering the duality of man? Yeah. We are special and we are better than other species. We possess more potential than any other species, and still we can fuck it up and be snuffed out in an instant. I'm not sure what you are getting at, but the pariah argument is also pretty dumb. Yes, you are a king of reason, suffering among the unwashed masses.
    Instead of typing paragraphs and using popular phrases like "tautology" try proposing an original idea.
    Oh wait, you can't because no one has original ideas. That's why the internet, modern science, relativity, the evolution of language, the automobile, the polio vaccine, the Hubble telescope, the space shuttle, the helicopter, the microscope, the concept of gravity, the perception of time, and every other idea don't exist. :roll:

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Of course it's going to be self-centered! Human's are not like any other animal. Frankly, we are pretty shitty animals, what with destroying the world and all. Humans are pretty well evolved for their function, as any cursory reading of physical anthropology will tell you. But there is something more: as humans we communicate, we question, and we seek to evolve; all of this is reified in culture and art and every vestige of human existence.

    I can understand how the arrangement's of bird's nests might be an amazing display of art to them, but existential relativism is a pitfall of posits that can never be affirmed. We have a system of communication that is so far from any other animal's that I really don't think they should enter into the question until they move up to our sophisticated level of communication, instead of us trying to go down to theirs.

    I still hold that this is because human existential framework allows for ontological questioning. Humans "be" in the same way that animals do, but they also exist.

    Oh dear fucking god you are really pushing the boundaries of pretention.

    Just three things, in reverse order:

    1. Existental relativism blah blah posits blah. Only accepting things that you can confirm is a pitfall of idiocy. Even in absolute terms, I'm just as impressed by the technology of bat or whale communication as I am human, sorry. I'm just as impressed by the efficiency of ant or bee communication. Sure, we can talk over long distances, but often we might as well just be talking to a wall.

    Also - a bird's nest might be great art to them, well the Taj Mahal might be a fucking eyesore to them too? How oh dear god how are you trying to argue any absolutes in the most blatently fucking subjective subject on the planet, even within our own species? Even I don't try to argue that Mozart is objectively the best thing around ever, though it seems pretty obvious to me, because clearly others disagree, and there is no points scale in music.

    2. Why 'of course' it must be self-centered? Pretty sure you don't accept self-centeredness as a given or something to accept anywhere else within the species, why so when comparing different species? Why not retain a bit of humility rather than masterbatory self-congratulations for (by the way) achievements totally unrelated to you except by a few strands of DNA?

    3. You've been watching the Matrix too much. Humanity is not a virus.

    4. Humanity has a defined function apparently. Do tell.

    And look, I managed to make my point perfectly clear without even going near words like "ontological".

    PPS As VC pointed out, you are also claiming something obvious which clearly is not. Explain how human traits are so categorically different. Explain how our single specialised trait isn't just: advanced brain, which allows all the other things you are talking about.

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Oh wait, you can't because no one has original ideas. That's why the internet, modern science, relativity, the evolution of language, the automobile, the polio vaccine, the Hubble telescope, the space shuttle, the helicopter, the microscope, the concept of gravity, the perception of time, and every other idea don't exist. :roll:[/SPOILER]

    Vision:
    the Hubble telescope, the microscope,
    Communication: the internet, the evolution of language
    Travel: the automobile, the space shuttle, the helicopter, the concept of gravity, the perception of time, relativity
    Death: the polio vaccine
    All of the above: modern science

    All of those ideas come from basic realities we see around us. One can perfectly well argue (and many have) that they are simply responses to the world we see, which we are able to do in a way that other animals are not (see: brain). Original ideas, or progressive rational leaps? Nobody thought of flight before they saw a bird. Nobody wondered about space before they saw stars. Einstein didn't come up with special relativity without knowing about Gallileo and Newton. If you want a unique trait which is a better sell than 'ideas', then try curiosity. Ideas respond to function or need. Curiosity is doing something just for the hell of it, just wondering what will happen, and is arguably more important than 'ideas', because it creates them - but you can't argue this, because curiosity is not a uniquely human trait.

    Is responding to our environment in a unique way any more amazing than a shark smelling blood in the water from miles away? Is human language more outstanding than a kookaburrah song? A cat has a pretty good concept of gravity, that's why it twists in the air as it falls. Is all the accumulated scientific method of trial and failure which led to the polio vaccine, the passed-on knowledge of what a vaccine itself does, particularly different to an animal instinctively knowing which medicinal plants to eat when sick?

    We are very good at thinking about things, and sometimes good at solving them. But explain why our thinking & problem solving isn't just an instinctive reaction to the world around us, like the cat reacting to gravity? The wonderfulness of wondering about the universe is your concept; there isn't anything objectively good about it. Even if it allowed our survival by planting colonies to escape the destruction of Earth, how is that functionally different to a bird migrating south for winter? Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them? Why doesn't that make elephants special?

    Like Podly, your arguments are based on so much assumption, and your only apparent argument seems to be: but obviously we're great!

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Humans are animals. They evolved from primates. They are not biologically distinct from animals, and share almost the same genetic code as their primitive ancestors. They have unique, genetic characteristics which allow for their biological success; for instance their upright, bipedal structure allows for a great number of positive traits: the skin is able to cool better, and is less taxing on the body, giving the ability to travel long distances; freedom of upper limbs allows for humans to manipulate tools; the head is supported by the spine, allowing for increased frontal lobe development. Chomskian studies have shown that human language is a potential in our DNA -- all languages [except for possible exception in Brazil. (The interesting thing is that the defining difference in the Piraha language is that there is no reflexivity, no ability to talk about existence and relation... it's as if it weren't...human?)]seem to have an underlying grammar and thought process. Mating rituals are part of most highly evolved animal's sexual life, and primates exhibit abilities to forgive and, as stated before, recognize the self.

    Let us start from this recognition. Is what the ape sees in the mirror the equivalent of a human looking in the mirror: do they see themselves the same way? In the bare minimum biological description, humans and primates do not appear to be too different: communities, tools, self-awareness. Sure, humans may grow their own food and have the most complex language ever conceived, but it basic premise appears to be the same -- tools help for food "harvesting," and the community is actualized by the potentiality of language in our DNA. But what this ape does not see is relationship. He sees himself as Ape #23423483248 or even Harold T. Ape, who gets to sleep under the banyan tree. He recognizes himself as the realization of his genetic code, a growth from the genetic stream, a specific ape, a specific being, a living, biotic being. Humans also see this. Humans are perhaps even more biologically successful from a reproductive and resource control standpoint. But humans also see more in the mirror. Humans, in every action that they do to one varying degree or another, operate on another level, working in the definitive function: existing. It is this existence that allows the human to see in the mirror, history, politics, power, art, beauty, and love. It is this existence that allows a human to look in the mirror and say "one day I will die." The ape may know death. The ape does not know what it means to cease to exist.

    We can only look at this from a self-centered point because the purpose of this thread is inquiry to the human soul. Subjectivity is not desired in interhuman inquiry, because the relativism will never find truths, and we can come to understand other human existence. However, we will never be able to know what existence is like without knowing what existence is like as a human. It is what Heidegger termed existentiell -- we must analyze being through the relationship of humans to the world, because we can never get objectivity in any relationship.

    This looking into the mirror and viewing things ontologically and existentially is what illustrates the essential human function: to actualize existential potentiality. Humans must realize all ontological possibilities, which will lead to a fully realized human life: love, art, community, public duty - all are things that are possible because of ontological realization. To be human is to live biologically, but oppose the biological drive to power. Humans have an ontological recognition, which allows them to live in just and right relationships with all ontic beings. It leads to human and environmental ethics, law, religion, etc.

    To end, I would like to preemptively address a possible criticism - that all of this simply stems from the reflexive properties of the human brain. I think it is intellectual dishonest to limit and define the above as that, because it leads to reductionism which leads back to the first living genetic beings. Ontological awareness was allowed by the brain's structure, just as language was allowed by genetic possibility, but both things are subsistent of their own right.

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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    That was all very pretty and self-congratulatory and all but no one is disputing that humans are capable of more complex thought than apes. What's being disputed is whether or not that proves soul, which you still haven't backed up. Of course you did manage to introduce yet more unfounded assumptions, that humans know what it is to cease to exist, that humans are capable of viewing themselves objectively, that there is apparently some secret recipe for a "whole" human life (which adorably implies that people who aren't as pretentious as you are less human than you and I'm curious what exactly you think that justifies), oh and you claim to have shared with us the meaning of life, which is also cute.

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    AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    "Highly evolved"?

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Oh wait, you can't because no one has original ideas. That's why the internet, modern science, relativity, the evolution of language, the automobile, the polio vaccine, the Hubble telescope, the space shuttle, the helicopter, the microscope, the concept of gravity, the perception of time, and every other idea don't exist. :roll:[/SPOILER]

    Vision:
    the Hubble telescope, the microscope,
    Communication: the internet, the evolution of language
    Travel: the automobile, the space shuttle, the helicopter, the concept of gravity, the perception of time, relativity
    Death: the polio vaccine
    All of the above: modern science

    All of those ideas come from basic realities we see around us. One can perfectly well argue (and many have) that they are simply responses to the world we see, which we are able to do in a way that other animals are not (see: brain). Original ideas, or progressive rational leaps? Nobody thought of flight before they saw a bird. Nobody wondered about space before they saw stars. Einstein didn't come up with special relativity without knowing about Gallileo and Newton. If you want a unique trait which is a better sell than 'ideas', then try curiosity. Ideas respond to function or need. Curiosity is doing something just for the hell of it, just wondering what will happen, and is arguably more important than 'ideas', because it creates them - but you can't argue this, because curiosity is not a uniquely human trait.

    Is responding to our environment in a unique way any more amazing than a shark smelling blood in the water from miles away? Is human language more outstanding than a kookaburrah song? A cat has a pretty good concept of gravity, that's why it twists in the air as it falls. Is all the accumulated scientific method of trial and failure which led to the polio vaccine, the passed-on knowledge of what a vaccine itself does, particularly different to an animal instinctively knowing which medicinal plants to eat when sick?

    We are very good at thinking about things, and sometimes good at solving them. But explain why our thinking & problem solving isn't just an instinctive reaction to the world around us, like the cat reacting to gravity? The wonderfulness of wondering about the universe is your concept; there isn't anything objectively good about it. Even if it allowed our survival by planting colonies to escape the destruction of Earth, how is that functionally different to a bird migrating south for winter? Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them? Why doesn't that make elephants special?

    Like Podly, your arguments are based on so much assumption, and your only apparent argument seems to be: but obviously we're great!
    Wait, let's answer your ridiculous questions.
    Please, tell the thread viewers why elephants are special and why the afterlife is a possibility for them.
    You can't make inane statements as counter-points and then validate them by adding a question mark.

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    themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    [except for possible exception in Brazil. (The interesting thing is that the defining difference in the Piraha language is that there is no reflexivity, no ability to talk about existence and relation... it's as if it weren't...human?)]s
    Now that is something that is interesting. Drives people like Steven Pinker up a tree.

    themightypuck on
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    Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    [except for possible exception in Brazil. (The interesting thing is that the defining difference in the Piraha language is that there is no reflexivity, no ability to talk about existence and relation... it's as if it weren't...human?)]s
    Now that is something that is interesting. Drives people like Steven Pinker up a tree.

    From what I understand it's something of a beat up from the anti-Chomksy crowd. There's apparently a lot of good research underway and proposals as to how to explain it all in the appropriate framework.

    Still, it is interesting. But wouldn't necessarily be a huge issue for Pinker et al, afterall, even if a few, isolated, languages are not part of the Universal Grammar, so what? The huge majority of languages exhibit the properties of UG and that has to be explained.

    Apothe0sis on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    [except for possible exception in Brazil. (The interesting thing is that the defining difference in the Piraha language is that there is no reflexivity, no ability to talk about existence and relation... it's as if it weren't...human?)]s
    Now that is something that is interesting. Drives people like Steven Pinker up a tree.

    From what I understand it's something of a beat up from the anti-Chomksy crowd. There's apparently a lot of good research underway and proposals as to how to explain it all in the appropriate framework.

    Still, it is interesting. But wouldn't necessarily be a huge issue for Pinker et al, afterall, even if a few, isolated, languages are not part of the Universal Grammar, so what? The huge majority of languages exhibit the properties of UG and that has to be explained.

    How specific do these rules of "universal grammar" go? Just far enough to be able to talk about the concepts and ideas that we're able to talk about? Because that could then be pretty easily explained by necessity and the fact that humans built language. It wasn't there before we made it. Nearly every culture has spears historically too, does that really raise any confounding questions?

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    [except for possible exception in Brazil. (The interesting thing is that the defining difference in the Piraha language is that there is no reflexivity, no ability to talk about existence and relation... it's as if it weren't...human?)]s
    Now that is something that is interesting. Drives people like Steven Pinker up a tree.

    From what I understand it's something of a beat up from the anti-Chomksy crowd. There's apparently a lot of good research underway and proposals as to how to explain it all in the appropriate framework.

    Still, it is interesting. But wouldn't necessarily be a huge issue for Pinker et al, afterall, even if a few, isolated, languages are not part of the Universal Grammar, so what? The huge majority of languages exhibit the properties of UG and that has to be explained.

    It certainly doesn't refute the universal grammar, which seems to be almost factual by now. However, it provides an interesting counterpoint to my argument - how could I rectify my explanation with a group of people who cannot talk about it? Would they be some sort of subhumans?

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