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What is the human 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
    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?

    The foundations of all languages are the same, in terms of recursion, reflexivity, case usage. The wikipedia articles are pretty reliable and very interesting reads.

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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    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?

    The best thing that can be said about existentialist hot air is that at least it usually doesn't lead to any concrete value judgments. Except, it just did. Bravo.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    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?

    The best thing that can be said about existentialist hot air is that at least it usually doesn't lead to any concrete value judgments. Except, it just did. Bravo.

    Didn't mean it to come across as that. I was actually trying to point out a flaw in my argument.

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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    That's better, then.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Also to the Piraha -- the main problem is they do not seem to exhibit recursion and solely empirical statements. Recursion (the ability to add finite elements infinitely) is the only discovered difference between animal and human communication. The Piraha also say that if a person goes out of sight, they are out of existence and can not abstract things - there are no colors, no numbers.

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    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    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.

    Considering that you aren't, in fact, an ape, you're making an awful lot of assumptions about what an ape sees in the mirror and what they are and aren't capable of thinking.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Daenris wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    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.

    Considering that you aren't, in fact, an ape, you're making an awful lot of assumptions about what an ape sees in the mirror and what they are and aren't capable of thinking.

    Well then they certainly don't make a lot of effort to discuss this within the ape community.

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    DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Daenris wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    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.

    Considering that you aren't, in fact, an ape, you're making an awful lot of assumptions about what an ape sees in the mirror and what they are and aren't capable of thinking.

    Well then they certainly don't make a lot of effort to discuss this within the ape community.

    So now you're claiming you understand the full range of ape communication as well? Pretty much every time you post you're adding more assumptions to your argument. You still haven't presented a strong justification for why humans are categorically different from other animals. Pretty much everything you have offered is just the result of having evolved a brain that's better suited to communication and logical reasoning. While this may (arguably) put humans at the peak of the current evolutionary ladder, it is not reason enough to assume we're on some other level than just an advanced animal.

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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Daenris wrote: »
    So now you're claiming you understand the full range of ape communication as well? Pretty much every time you post you're adding more assumptions to your argument. You still haven't presented a strong justification for why humans are categorically different from other animals. Pretty much everything you have offered is just the result of having evolved a brain that's better suited to communication and logical reasoning. While this may (arguably) put humans at the peak of the current evolutionary ladder, it is not reason enough to assume we're on some other level than just an advanced animal.

    No, but as I stated about the Piraha language (I have not studied primitive communication, but I have done a little linguistic study) does not have traces of recursion - something akin to animal communication. Recursion is a necessary element to actually converse beyond indicative, functionary communication and limits performative language which allows for abstract and relational cognition.

    Which are necessary for an understanding of ontology.

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    themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    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?

    wrt to the subhumans thing, we just decide as a cuture who gets to be in the club. Any quick look at history suggests that being in the club is not a sure thing notwithstanding similarities in your DNA. wrt to the Pirahã I like the idea of a people whose language and (if you believe reports) culture are completely non-interventionist. They are like a libertarian dream culture. From what I've read they don't compel anyone to do anything. They might kill you if you "need killin" but they won't tell you what to do.

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    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.

    Sure:
    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.
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    Many dying individuals going to the same place of death is a ritual, even among humans. Even a dying dog or cat who leaves his home to die under the porch or in a rabbit hole clearly understands that death is approaching. Please to explain why early humans were aware of the concept of an afterlife from your burial ritual 'proof', but elephants are not?

    Please read your own posts, thank you come again.

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    @Podly:

    Other people are pointing out the flaws well enough, but can you really not see the absolutely massive assumptions all your points are based on? This is one of the reasons I don't like your position - it takes the "humans have a highly developed brain" truth and leads it to all sorts of bullshit assumptions (we understand ape language, we know what animals think, etc) which are totally based on the idea: "we're more clever than everything else, therefore everything else must be more stupid than us". This is as flawed as saying that because the 100m champion can run as fast as a cheetah, so can all humans, and moreover, all humans can run as fast as any animal on the planet. Even species we haven't discovered yet. It then uses biological and sociological discoveries less than a hundred years old to explain the entirety of animal existence, with absolutely no regard for the fact that if we didn't know this stuff 100 years ago, there's probably quite a lot more we don't know that will be discovered over the next 100, and the next.

    Essentially, it lacks any intellectual rigor, because it doesn't allow for the possibility of what we don't know. It is a position which seems little different to me than the old Christian "and God gave man dominion over all the beasts of the field".

    Also, since you keep banging on about ontology, you have singularly failed to prove that animals aren't self-aware, because you have only used the subjective human version of "what is necessary for an understanding of ontology". There are not other routes to that knowledge...why?

    Explain the example I used above to FCNC: cats & dogs habitually leave home to die alone. They are clearly aware of impending death. If they are aware of the cessation of existence, it is not unreasonable to posit that they are aware of existence?

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    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.

    Sure:
    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.
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    Many dying individuals going to the same place of death is a ritual, even among humans. Even a dying dog or cat who leaves his home to die under the porch or in a rabbit hole clearly understands that death is approaching. Please to explain why early humans were aware of the concept of an afterlife from your burial ritual 'proof', but elephants are not?

    Please read your own posts, thank you come again.
    Cute evasive tactic, but you haven't answered the question at all.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Cute evasive tactic, but you haven't answered the question at all.

    How is it possibly an evasive tactic whenI didn't make any claims about elephant afterlives? Here is how this works: you make claims, I'm refuting. See? You & Podly are the ones claiming that the afterlife, conceptions of death & self-awareness are purely human attributes. You are the ones claiming that humans are demonstrably more special than other species. I'm just demonstrating that the facts don't quite fit your theories.

    So man up, and explain the elephants.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Not Sarastro wrote:
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud 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
    Sarastro, I think that I have laid out my foundations for my argument upon each other, which could lead to shakiness, but I don't find them to be very strong assumptions. For example, I assume that humans are the only animals that recognize the existential framework. I introduce another assumption from this, both as a reason for and a reaction to the previous posit: that ontological recognition creates existential crises. Which brings me to your death ritual question. First off, I did not know about the elephant example; it is very interesting. I would assert that, for the cats and dogs, it is a biological impulse. Corpses decay, can become nutrients quicker "in the ground," and attract possible predators.

    We see the animal rituals as "rites" because we are ritual beings. We order the world in our head according to our framework. And thus we simply assume that an animal probably recognizes it's existence. But there is no way to prove it, and I really think, Sarastro, that it is actually intellectually flawed to give them the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise, because there is no outward movement. Humans try to study animals communicate with them, etc. Animals do not have this outward communication, both intra and interspecies. It seems ludicrous to say, but animals do not have books, conversations, internwebs, anything that we can recognize and discourse and dialogue, which seems essential to a recognition of existence -- as seen in the old questions "where did we come from" and "what are we hear for?"

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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Wait, why are people talking about the concept of an afterlife in regards to the soul?

    The concept of an afterlife was a marketing innovation for early cults. I suppose the fact that humans came up with the idea of an afterlife shows that our species is clever and socially manipulative, but it doesn't say anything existential or metaphysical.

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Not Sarastro wrote:
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    Oh for fucks sake do I have to teach you English as well?

    A question is not a statement. Asking if something is a possibility does not denote belief or proof of that thing. However, denying something is a possibility does denote that you believe it is impossible. Evidence which proves it may be possible questions your assertion of impossibility. Synapses 101.

    You said: humans are unique in having burial sites, this indicates belief in an afterlife. I said: Elephants also have burial sites, explain why your reasoning doesn't indicate they believe in an afterlife.

    Answer the cocking question and stop evading your massive gaps in logic. You are the one making wild claims, you are the one who has to defend them.

    Not Sarastro on
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    AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Not Sarastro wrote:
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    It's at least as possible as it is for humans. Maybe more.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Sarastro, I think that I have laid out my foundations for my argument upon each other, which could lead to shakiness, but I don't find them to be very strong assumptions. For example, I assume that humans are the only animals that recognize the existential framework. I introduce another assumption from this, both as a reason for and a reaction to the previous posit: that ontological recognition creates existential crises. Which brings me to your death ritual question. First off, I did not know about the elephant example; it is very interesting. I would assert that, for the cats and dogs, it is a biological impulse. Corpses decay, can become nutrients quicker "in the ground," and attract possible predators.

    We see the animal rituals as "rites" because we are ritual beings. We order the world in our head according to our framework. And thus we simply assume that an animal probably recognizes it's existence. But there is no way to prove it, and I really think, Sarastro, that it is actually intellectually flawed to give them the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise, because there is no outward movement. Humans try to study animals communicate with them, etc. Animals do not have this outward communication, both intra and interspecies. It seems ludicrous to say, but animals do not have books, conversations, internwebs, anything that we can recognize and discourse and dialogue, which seems essential to a recognition of existence -- as seen in the old questions "where did we come from" and "what are we hear for?"
    Animals have important questions too:
    Where did this delicious gazelle come from and how can I get more delicious gazelles?
    Why is it hot outside? Maybe I should hide under a rock to get cool.
    When did she go into heat? "How you doin' ?" :winky:

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud 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
    Qingu wrote: »
    Wait, why are people talking about the concept of an afterlife in regards to the soul?

    The concept of an afterlife was a marketing innovation for early cults. I suppose the fact that humans came up with the idea of an afterlife shows that our species is clever and socially manipulative, but it doesn't say anything existential or metaphysical.

    I was talking about it in terms of humans questioning what happens after death. Although I believe in an afterlife, I have not even mentioned it in terms of what happens after death.

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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Someone doesn't like the finger being pointed back at them.
    You raised a question to make a point.
    It is fair grounds for attack.
    P.S.
    It is most likely an instinctual ritual.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Sarastro, I think that I have laid out my foundations for my argument upon each other, which could lead to shakiness, but I don't find them to be very strong assumptions. For example, I assume that humans are the only animals that recognize the existential framework. I introduce another assumption from this, both as a reason for and a reaction to the previous posit: that ontological recognition creates existential crises. Which brings me to your death ritual question. First off, I did not know about the elephant example; it is very interesting. I would assert that, for the cats and dogs, it is a biological impulse. Corpses decay, can become nutrients quicker "in the ground," and attract possible predators.

    Okay, well first off I think your assumptions cause massive problems themselves, but let's move past that for a second.

    One, elephant example is obviously a problem, as is your Piraha tribe. My reaction would be that according to falsifiability, it means we don't have the right answer yet. This isn't a general theory, it's a specific question of whether other species think / believe certain things. Those two examples to me suggest that your theory is wrong, but neither do I think we know what elephants think; we just don't know yet.

    Second, my point about the instinctive impulse in cats & dogs is twofold. One they must be aware of death, even if it is not human awareness: similarly, if someone opens a car door in front of me when I am cycling, I swerve automatically before I consciously know what is happening. Reactions & instinct constitute awareness as well as rational thought. Cats & dogs might not think rationally about death, but they are certainly aware of it. Less provable, but not a wild assumption, is that if they are aware of death, they might be aware of life.

    (As you can guess, I think cogito ergo sum is an overhyped piece of bullshit. It is an extremely unsatisfactory proof of either existence or awareness in my book)
    We see the animal rituals as "rites" because we are ritual beings. We order the world in our head according to our framework. And thus we simply assume that an animal probably recognizes it's existence. But there is no way to prove it, and I really think, Sarastro, that it is actually intellectually flawed to give them the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise, because there is no outward movement. Humans try to study animals communicate with them, etc. Animals do not have this outward communication, both intra and interspecies. It seems ludicrous to say, but animals do not have books, conversations, internwebs, anything that we can recognize and discourse and dialogue, which seems essential to a recognition of existence -- as seen in the old questions "where did we come from" and "what are we hear for?"

    See above for the first bit, and note that I wasn't assuming an animal recognises its existence, but just acknowledging the possibility that it does. Not actually giving them the benefit of the doubt (though your assumptions often seem to give your theories the benefit of the doubt & try and fit exceptions into the framework, not alter the framework itself). Also, I seriously contest that animals don't have discourse and dialogue. Various scientists (particularly marine & ornithology) have outlined very complex communication between some animals. We just aren't very good at translating it yet.

    My major point remains, however, that of instinct. I'm not convinced that all your arguments for human thought, intelligence, curiosity etc, are not natural instincts of the species, which respond to the world around us. Precisely as you said about cats & dogs, creation & innovation for us may (note: MAY) be a biological instinct - sure, that instinct has given rise to a billion and one complex theoretical explanations of what it is, most of which deny that it is instinct, and most of which deny they have anything to do with biology (itself a human concept) either - but that could just be because we are so far doomed to only communicate with ourselves. It is entirely possible that the range of really understanding & communicating with other species is so vast, and the differences so great, that we are as yet incapable of thinking outside our own little box. This does not mean the box is all there is - it simply means we haven't reached the edges yet.

    All these ideas, this debate, might simply be the tiny variations in complexity of an advanced organ, ie the brain: much like the near infinite complexity of kookaburrah vocal chords that allows them to replicate almost any noise perfectly. There is nothing else about the human body which is demonstrably superior to any other species on the planet.

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Not Sarastro wrote:
    Elephants and many other animals have graveyard sites. Why doesn't that mean the afterlife is a possibility for them?

    It's at least as possible as it is for humans.

    Precisely. That's the inescapable conclusion that FCNC's argument comes to given those examples, but apparently he's not honest enough to admit it.
    FCNC wrote:
    It is most likely an instinctual ritual.

    Well great. But why is that an instinctual ritual, but in humans it's evidence of some higher form of reasoning which encompasses lofty ideas such as gods and death? Your only reason for thinking the latter is that you are human. Your reasoning has absolutely no argument or proof that elephants don't believe in an afterlife; only your arrogant assumption that we are different and superior asserts that.

    For all you know, there might be some elephant somewhere telling another elephant that humans are overrated and all this brick & mortar stuff is instinctive nesting, like ants; and that other elephant is saying, "well, perhaps we elephants aren't as all-knowing as we believe...

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    PS I'm also slightly shocked that Podly and perhaps FCNC had apparently never heard of elephant graveyards, which every 5-year old I've ever met has known. I think you might want to learn a bit more about the animal kingdom, perhaps go out into the field and experience a bit of it, before you start opining about them lads.

    Not Sarastro on
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    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    No, I have heard of them. Are you a fucking biology major?
    Probably not.

    What the heck said:

    For all you know, there might be some elephant somewhere telling another elephant that humans are overrated and all this brick & mortar stuff is instinctive nesting, like ants; and that other elephant is saying, "well, perhaps we elephants aren't as all-knowing as we believe...

    Yeah, I'm done.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Wait, why are people talking about the concept of an afterlife in regards to the soul?

    The concept of an afterlife was a marketing innovation for early cults. I suppose the fact that humans came up with the idea of an afterlife shows that our species is clever and socially manipulative, but it doesn't say anything existential or metaphysical.

    I was talking about it in terms of humans questioning what happens after death. Although I believe in an afterlife, I have not even mentioned it in terms of what happens after death.
    It seems that everyone is putting too much weight on your point, then. Humans wonder what happens after death. Cats wonder what's on top of the windowsill. Whether or not other animals have the symbolic language and brain wiring necessary to frame the specific concept of an "afterlife" is immaterial

    Are you saying that the capacity for curiosity denotes a soul?

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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    For all you know, there might be some elephant somewhere telling another elephant that humans are overrated and all this brick & mortar stuff is instinctive nesting, like ants; and that other elephant is saying, "well, perhaps we elephants aren't as all-knowing as we believe...

    Yeah, I'm done.

    See, you don't like wild assumptions & speculation when directed at you, do you? Next time think of the elephants! Somebody please! Think of the elephants!. But nice to know you don't have any arguments against it. Good, glad to be of service and point out that your assumptions are totally unfounded and unproven.

    Also, you should be so good as to edit this:
    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.

    Because as has been shown, clearly that doesn't make us unique.

    Not Sarastro on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    For all you know, there might be some elephant somewhere telling another elephant that humans are overrated and all this brick & mortar stuff is instinctive nesting, like ants; and that other elephant is saying, "well, perhaps we elephants aren't as all-knowing as we believe...

    Yeah, I'm done.

    See, you don't like wild assumptions & speculation when directed at you, do you? Next time think of the elephants! Somebody please! Think of the elephants!. But nice to know you don't have any arguments against it. Good, glad to be of service and point out that your assumptions are totally unfounded and unproven.

    Also, you should be so good as to edit this:
    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.

    Because as has been shown, clearly that doesn't make us unique.
    I don't really understand what your argument is, Not Sarcastro.

    We are very probably the only animal with a conception of an afterlife. If you want to assume that elephants have a concept of an afterlife because they have graves, then we can discuss any number of other concepts that are certainly unique to us, such as "electromagnetism," the "theory of evolution," or "Baskin Robbins."

    Other animals can obviously grasp certain concepts. But not nearly as many concepts as human beings can grasp. Whether "afterlife" is a concept which extends across non-human species is about as relevant of a discussion as whether "society" or "friend" are such concepts.

    Qingu on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Other animals can obviously grasp certain concepts. But not nearly as many concepts as human beings can grasp. Whether "afterlife" is a concept which extends across non-human species is about as relevant of a discussion as whether "society" or "friend" are such concepts.

    The point is that we may argue that only because we cannot grasp some concepts that animals can grasp.

    You seem to be postulating a Venn diagram with one big circle for all the knowledge there is, that we humans can understand, but with little circles inside it for what some animals can understand. I'm saying that animals might have circles of their own outside ours, but we can only recognise those parts which overlap with our own.

    This isn't outside the realm of possibility. For every human concept such as electromagentism, there's a bat who sees by echo-location or a cat's sixth sense. There are plenty of things that we see animals can understand, which we cannot; we can reason what those might be, and imagine what they might be like - but then animals may have their own reasoning for why the metal thing moves towards the other metal thing when it buzzes.

    PS The elephant / graves example was only a reply to the stupidity of FCNC asserting that humans were unique because we have burial rituals which indicate belief in an afterlife. I'm not actually arguing that elephants wonder about pachyderm Valhalla.

    Not Sarastro on
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    The point is that we may argue that only because we cannot grasp some concepts that animals can grasp.

    You seem to be postulating a Venn diagram with one big circle for all the knowledge there is, that we humans can understand, but with little circles inside it for what some animals can understand. I'm saying that animals might have circles of their own outside ours, but we can only recognise those parts which overlap with our own.

    This isn't outside the realm of possibility. For every human concept such as electromagentism, there's a bat who sees by echo-location or a cat's sixth sense. There are plenty of things that we see animals can understand, which we cannot; we can reason what those might be, and imagine what they might be like - but then animals may have their own reasoning for why the metal thing moves towards the other metal thing when it buzzes.
    Aha. I agree with this.

    At the same time, I think that human beings can grasp more concepts, and concepts of greater symbolic complexity, than other animals. We have bigger brains and we can communicate with each other better than any other animal. I'm not saying there's any fundamental distinction, just that it's a matter of degree, and we're far along to one side of the spectrum.

    Qingu on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Yes, I agree with the big brains bit, we are definately very far along that bit of the spectrum, but just debate the all-powerful superiority of reason and intelligence as opposed to other forms of specialisation. Generally, the most intelligent people recognise the limits of their knowledge, thus should we as a species. The self-congratulatory "we got Shakespeare & Michelangelo nah nah nah nah" argument is rather hollow to me.

    (and I disagree that we are top dogs at having better communication. More methods of communication, perhaps, but much good it does sometimes - as these forums demonstrate)

    PS Just realised I'm also channeling a philosophy book I read n million years ago, I think by a bloke called Thomas Nagel, called: What Is It Like To Be A Bat, which outlined these basic problems of consciousness etc. Pretty good & short introduction to these concepts if I remember right.

    PPS Must have been an chapter in a book, here it is in article form: http://members.aol.com/NeoNoetics/Nagel_Bat.html

    Not Sarastro on
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    zakkielzakkiel Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Wait, why are people talking about the concept of an afterlife in regards to the soul?

    The concept of an afterlife was a marketing innovation for early cults. I suppose the fact that humans came up with the idea of an afterlife shows that our species is clever and socially manipulative, but it doesn't say anything existential or metaphysical.

    Oh no. Surely you're not that clueless about ancient religions.

    zakkiel on
    Account not recoverable. So long.
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    The Nagel article isn't really arguing that bats have more concepts than we do, or access to concepts that we don't have, but just that their phenomenal life (in terms of what it's like to be them) is impossible for us to understand. It takes more steps to go from saying that they have a different phenomenal life to saying that they must have access to other concepts.

    MrMister on
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    themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    The Nagel article isn't really arguing that bats have more concepts than we do, or access to concepts that we don't have, but just that their phenomenal life (in terms of what it's like to be them) is impossible for us to understand. It takes more steps to go from saying that they have a different phenomenal life to saying that they must have access to other concepts.

    And you can push Nagel to the point of subjectivity. I expect that I probably experience the same pain people who look and act like me do. I don't know they do. This goes back up the thread a ways to the robots.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

    Path of Exile: themightypuck
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    The Nagel article isn't really arguing that bats have more concepts than we do, or access to concepts that we don't have, but just that their phenomenal life (in terms of what it's like to be them) is impossible for us to understand.

    Yes, which is precisely what I was arguing.

    Look again, I never argue that they do have more concepts than we do, just that our inability to understand those concepts must leave us open to the possibility that they do. The argument from the other side so far has taken it as a given that humans de facto have more concepts than other species. This is an unproven (perhaps unproveable) assumption.

    Not Sarastro on
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    IloroKamouIloroKamou Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    It seems ludicrous to say, but animals do not have books, conversations, internwebs, anything that we can recognize and discourse and dialogue, which seems essential to a recognition of existence -- as seen in the old questions "where did we come from" and "what are we hear for?"

    That's because it is ludicrous to say that animals are incapable of conversation. Your pretension is honestly staggering, are you at all familiar with the animal kingdom? Our inability to translate animal communication says nothing about their capacity for it, and everything about the shortcomings of our grasp of the field of linguistics, universally.

    Take, for example, a bird found in sub-Saharan Africa known as the honey guide. This is one of the few birds that is capable of digesting wax, and thus feeds on the wax found in bees nests. However, it is incapable of breaking open the nests itself to obtain the wax, and so will use specific calls to lead badgers, baboons, and humans to the bees nest. After the mammals have taken their fill of honey, the bird will feed off the wax and remaining larvae.

    Another example would be the Vervet monkey, which produces different alarm calls depending on the predator present. Clearly this would indicate some cognitive function, otherwise one type of alarm call would be sufficient and the monkeys would all react accordingly. Instead, these calls warn other monkeys against specific dangers, allowing them to interpret these calls and adjust their behaviors accordingly.

    Christ, even a simple google search on animal communication can provide numerous counter-examples to your wild assumptions about the animal kingdoms capacity for language.

    IloroKamou on
    "There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts."
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    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Yes, which is precisely what I was arguing.

    Look again, I never argue that they do have more concepts than we do, just that our inability to understand those concepts must leave us open to the possibility that they do. The argument from the other side so far has taken it as a given that humans de facto have more concepts than other species. This is an unproven (perhaps unproveable) assumption.
    Nah. The diversity of our technology shows pretty conclusively that we grasp more concepts than animals.

    One way of thinking about technology is that a piece of technology is a hardened idea. A stick becomes a piece of technology when an idea is applied to it—such as "use this to dig out termites from a tree." Chimps do this. A stick can become another piece of technology if you bite off the end of it and use it as a spear. Chimps also do this while hunting small monkeys. Crows use twigs and other natural objects as pieces of technology as well.

    But no animals except us go beyond that. You can chalk it up to bodily limitations (no opposable thumbs or upright posture) but I don't think that's really convincing, it's certainly not the whole story. By far the simplest explanation is that we have evolved brains capable of conceiving more uses, more ideas and concepts, which are then applied to more various and complex forms of technology.

    This eventually creates a feedback loop where technology such as writing and codexes helps speed the conceptualization and spread of new technology—hence human society. But it doesn't look like any other animals have brains capable of reaching this point where there is a feedback loop between technology and conceptualization of new technology.

    Qingu on
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    Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Nah. The diversity of our technology shows pretty conclusively that we grasp more concepts than animals.

    One way of thinking about technology is that a piece of technology is a hardened idea. A stick becomes a piece of technology when an idea is applied to it—such as "use this to dig out termites from a tree." Chimps do this. A stick can become another piece of technology if you bite off the end of it and use it as a spear. Chimps also do this while hunting small monkeys. Crows use twigs and other natural objects as pieces of technology as well.

    But no animals except us go beyond that. You can chalk it up to bodily limitations (no opposable thumbs or upright posture) but I don't think that's really convincing, it's certainly not the whole story. By far the simplest explanation is that we have evolved brains capable of conceiving more uses, more ideas and concepts, which are then applied to more various and complex forms of technology.

    This eventually creates a feedback loop where technology such as writing and codexes helps speed the conceptualization and spread of new technology—hence human society. But it doesn't look like any other animals have brains capable of reaching this point where there is a feedback loop between technology and conceptualization of new technology.

    I think...I'm going...to cry.

    See whole pages of arguments demonstrating that we can't prove what we don't know; this is essentially no different to "can't prove a negative". We cannot prove that animals don't understand more concepts that us, because we don't understand animal concepts. Whatever wonderful and infinite variety you think technology has, whatever glowing and congratulatory tones you describe it in, you do not know that animals don't understand a thousand times that because you do not know what animals understand.

    You say there are things that we understand that animals do not understand. Similarly, you can only claim by observation to know the things we understand, which animals also understand. This does not preclude the possibility of things animals understand that we do not understand.

    You cannot estimate quantity of something you don't know exists.

    Not Sarastro on
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    AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Yes, which is precisely what I was arguing.

    Look again, I never argue that they do have more concepts than we do, just that our inability to understand those concepts must leave us open to the possibility that they do. The argument from the other side so far has taken it as a given that humans de facto have more concepts than other species. This is an unproven (perhaps unproveable) assumption.
    Nah. The diversity of our technology shows pretty conclusively that we grasp more concepts than animals.

    I'm feeling a Douglas Adams quote coming on.

    Adrien on
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