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Author Topic:   Do Animals Believe In Supernatural Beings?
onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 286 of 373 (602943)
02-01-2011 6:49 PM
Reply to: Message 282 by Straggler
02-01-2011 5:44 PM


Re: The Separation of Thought and Language
Don't be pedantic. A "sound" (e.g a spoken word) is a symbol.
I wasn't, and you are still adding to what I'm saying. I am not talking about spoken word, I mean a sound emitted from a larynx to communicate to other members of a tribe/species exactly what is happening. Some monkeys emit specific sounds for specific things, even break it down for specific threats (leopard gets a sound different from the sound made when a hawk is over head.) This is documented. That is language by definition.
Crickets emit different sounds, granted, not from their larynx, to communicate specific demands to other members of their species. That is their language.
Humans emit different sounds from their larynx to communicate different things to other members of our species. That is our language.
OK. So how much "abstract thought" is required to hold "religious" beliefs?
I would say as much as a normal human has.
OK. So how much intelligence/abstraction is required for the most basic of superstitious of beliefs?
Same as the above, as much as a normal human has. Why? because humans are the only ones with documented religious beliefs and belief in the supernatural.
This might interest you:
Temporal Lobes and God - Part 1
Temporal Lobes and God - Part 2
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 282 by Straggler, posted 02-01-2011 5:44 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 290 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 9:11 AM onifre has replied

onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 287 of 373 (602944)
02-01-2011 6:55 PM
Reply to: Message 284 by Straggler
02-01-2011 5:57 PM


Re: Mentalese Vs Communicative Languages
But why does that make abstract thought amongst (e.g.) chimps impossible?
It doesn't, but now it depends on what you mean by "abstract."
Chimps don't have written words, poetry, musical compositions, realism art, they don't have religious shrines that they worship, present offerings to, they don't pray or teach others to pray.
They do laugh, play pranks, dance to some degree, they can mimic human behavior, learn, to some capacity, sign language and things like that.
If all of it is abstract thinking, then fine, they can think in the abstract. But if the first is abstract thinking and the rest just monkey behavior, then they haven't as of yet shown evidence of think in the abstract.
So you tell me...
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 284 by Straggler, posted 02-01-2011 5:57 PM Straggler has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 288 by jar, posted 02-01-2011 7:00 PM onifre has not replied

jar
Member
Posts: 34064
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 288 of 373 (602946)
02-01-2011 7:00 PM
Reply to: Message 287 by onifre
02-01-2011 6:55 PM


Re: Mentalese Vs Communicative Languages
onifre writes:
But why does that make abstract thought amongst (e.g.) chimps impossible?
It doesn't, but now it depends on what you mean by "abstract."
Chimps don't have written words, poetry, musical compositions, realism art, they don't have religious shrines that they worship, present offerings to, they don't pray or teach others to pray.
They do laugh, play pranks, dance to some degree, they can mimic human behavior, learn, to some capacity, sign language and things like that.
If all of it is abstract thinking, then fine, they can think in the abstract. But if the first is abstract thinking and the rest just monkey behavior, then they haven't as of yet shown evidence of think in the abstract.
So you tell me...
- Oni
And, of course, how we could tell what abstract thought they were thinking.
For example, was Rodin's "the Thinker" thinking "Be sure to remember to leave the seat up. Be sure to remember to leave the seat up."

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 287 by onifre, posted 02-01-2011 6:55 PM onifre has not replied

Briterican
Member (Idle past 4036 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


(1)
Message 289 of 373 (602948)
02-01-2011 7:06 PM
Reply to: Message 284 by Straggler
02-01-2011 5:57 PM


Re: Mentalese Vs Communicative Languages
To avoid previous confusions, and to simplify some of the terms into stricter more narrow definitions:
  • When I say "animals" I mean excluding humans.
  • When I say "religious" I do NOT mean the belief in or worship of supernatural entities, I mean it in the sense of "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects" (or in this case, non-human animals).
  • When I say "abstract thought" I mean "Thinking characterized by the ability to use concepts and to make and understand generalizations, such as of the properties or pattern shared by a variety of specific items or events."
Straggler writes:
Oni writes:
I'm saying humans have a much higher ability to think in the abstract because of our complex language, and thus internal dialogue, but not in the sense that you have to be able to speak to do it.
I agree.
But why does that make abstract thought amongst (e.g.) chimps impossible?
Perhaps I missed it, as this thread was rather cumbersome to catch up on, but I don't think Oni explicitly ruled out abstract thought in chimps. There does in fact seem to be evidence that various animals are indeed capable of abstract thought.
Examples:
Signs Of Abstract Thought Seen In Old World Monkeys
Dogs smarter than we think, study shows | Animal behaviour | The Guardian
(These and simliar stories originated with peer-reviewed journals such as Animal Behaviour and Animal Cognition).
I am not prepared to comment on the possible religiosity of animals, except to say that there is (as previously pointed out) a difference between "religious behaviour" and a belief in supernatural beings.
Death rituals are not evidence of a belief in supernatural beings. Grieving behaviour appears in some animals, but again this does not provide evidence in any belief in supernatural entities.
The instances of spirituality in the originally cited origins.net articles make no reference to God apart from a quote credited to Jane Goodall in which the term "gods" is not used in the sense of divine creators:
Goodall writes:
"If the chimpanzee could share his feelings and questions with the others, might these wild elemental displays become ritualized into some form of animistic religion?Would they worship the falls, the deluge from the sky, the thunder and lightning -- the gods of the elements? So all-powerful; so incomprehensible (Goodall 2001)
It seems that all references to religion in the article are confined to the very narrow definition of religion as provided at the start of this post: "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects" (or in this case, non-human animals).
So, to weigh in on your original questions:
Straggler writes:
Do animals exhibit belief in supernatural beings?
I see no evidence of this in anything you've linked or anything I can find.
Straggler writes:
If they do is this evidence in favour of the actual existence of supernatural beings?
Of course not. There are still people (human animals) that believe the earth is flat (The Flat Earth Society). That is NOT evidence in favour of its proposed lack of curvature into the third dimension.
Straggler writes:
Or does it point to the evolutionary origins and causes of human belief in supernatural beings?
This seems the only cogent and salient question here. There are two primary schools of thought on the evolution of religiosity: religion as an adaptation, and religion as a by-product... but that's another thread.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 284 by Straggler, posted 02-01-2011 5:57 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 292 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 1:59 PM Briterican has not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 290 of 373 (603010)
02-02-2011 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 286 by onifre
02-01-2011 6:49 PM


Basic Beliefs
You are still mistaking instinctive forms of communication with that which can meaningfully be called language.
Straggler: (**stamps hard on Oni’s foot**)
Oni: Yaaaarggh!!
CS: (**flinches instinctively then sees Oni hopping about and starts laughing**) BWAHAHAHAHA!
Here we could reasonably say that you expressed pain and that CS expressed amusement. But none of this is linguistic. If you were both deaf and languageless the behaviour, including the noises made, would be the same. If you were both prelingual 2 years olds the reaction would be essentially the same as well. Because this is not linguistic communication. There are no symbolic representations of concepts as such. Just reactive instinctive noise. Just like your clicking cricket and your yelping lemur.
Unless the "symbol" (i.e. sound in this case) consciously represents a concept I don't see how you can call it language in this context.
definition of abstract writes:
abstract
—adjective 1. Thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea. thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances:
It seems we all now agree that chimpanzees are capable of some degree of abstract thought. Hurrah!!
Oni writes:
Straggler writes:
OK. So how much "abstract thought" is required to hold "religious" beliefs?
I would say as much as a normal human has.
Neanderthals?
=OniSame as the above, as much as a normal human has. Why? because humans are the only ones with documented religious beliefs and belief in the supernatural.
Here you are potentially conflating correlation with causation.
Oni writes:
Chimps don't have written words, poetry, musical compositions, realism art, they don't have religious shrines that they worship, present offerings to, they don't pray or teach others to pray.
Agreed.
Oni writes:
They do laugh, play pranks, dance to some degree, they can mimic human behavior, learn, to some capacity, sign language and things like that.
If all of it is abstract thinking, then fine, they can think in the abstract. But if the first is abstract thinking and the rest just monkey behavior, then they haven't as of yet shown evidence of think in the abstract.
So you tell me...
If you think I am suggesting even the possibility of Christian monkeys (or anything resembling that) - then NO.
I am asking what the basic cognitive requirement for "religious" (call it superstitious if you prefer) belief is. I am suggesting that the minimum requirements are a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.
Oni writes:
This might interest you:
I can't look at these at the moment (at work). But do these suggest any reason to think chimps lack the ability to ascribe intent and a causal role to some sort of "dreamed" entity?
If they do suggest this- Then we have the answer to the question posed in this thread.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by onifre, posted 02-01-2011 6:49 PM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by onifre, posted 02-02-2011 1:06 PM Straggler has replied

onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 291 of 373 (603045)
02-02-2011 1:06 PM
Reply to: Message 290 by Straggler
02-02-2011 9:11 AM


Re: Basic Beliefs
You are still mistaking instinctive forms of communication with that which can meaningfully be called language.
Funny, I thought language was an instinctive form of communication.
Here we could reasonably say that you expressed pain and that CS expressed amusement. But none of this is linguistic. If you were both deaf and languageless the behaviour, including the noises made, would be the same. If you were both prelingual 2 years olds the reaction would be essentially the same as well. Because this is not linguistic communication. There are no symbolic representations of concepts as such. Just reactive instinctive noise.
Right, becauase we are human and have a complex language that's further along than just noises.
Unless the "symbol" (i.e. sound in this case) consciously represents a concept I don't see how you can call it language in this context.
And they do: Monkey's talk like humans
quote:
Monkeys can string sounds together to communicate just like humans do, scientists at a Scottish university say.
Experts from the University of Saint Andrews have discovered that putty-nosed monkeys in west Africa can combine two different noises to mean something different again.
The primates use their two main call types to alert each other to the presence of predators in the area.
A string of "hacks" indicates a hovering eagle, while a burst of "pyows" warns against a loitering leopard.
A sentence made up of several pyows followed by a few hacks tells the group to move off to a safer area.
Mr Zuberbuehler added: "To our knowledge, this is the first good evidence of a syntax-like natural communication system in a non-human species."
The research took three years to complete and is being published in the science journal Nature.
The publication's Michael Hopkin said: "These building blocks that they use are being strung together - you could describe them as words. This is not something I have come across before."
So, according to this particular study, they can string together sentences, that can be described as words. So that answers that, yes?
Neanderthals?
Yeah, I should have correctly stated: homo-genus instead of just human.
Here you are potentially conflating correlation with causation.
Maybe, but you'll need to show me how.
I am asking what the basic cognitive requirement for "religious" (call it superstitious if you prefer) belief is. I am suggesting that the minimum requirements are a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.
Yup. And I'm saying monkeys don't have that because we have never witnessed them exibit such religious behavior.
I can't look at these at the moment (at work). But do these suggest any reason to think chimps lack the ability to ascribe intent and a causal role to some sort of "dreamed" entity?
If they do suggest this- Then we have the answer to the question posed in this thread.
No no, they're just videos pertaining to a question you asked earlier in the thread:
Straggler writes:
I wonder if anyone has ever lost their spiritual beliefs after such injuries?
These videos where answering that question. So I thought you'd find them interesting. When you can watch them.
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 290 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 9:11 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 294 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 2:42 PM onifre has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 292 of 373 (603052)
02-02-2011 1:59 PM
Reply to: Message 289 by Briterican
02-01-2011 7:06 PM


Re: Mentalese Vs Communicative Languages
Briterican writes:
Straggler writes:
If they do is this evidence in favour of the actual existence of supernatural beings?
Of course not.
Obviously. The only reason that question was there is because it relates to the origins of this thread in the peanut gallery. Message 609
Briterican writes:
I see no evidence of this in anything you've linked or anything I can find.
Again - I am not actually claiming that there is any evidence for animal belief in supernatural beings at all. Bluegenes theory that the human imagination is the only known source of supernatural concepts is looking pretty frikkin safe. As (again) AdminMod put it this thread poses the question: "What evidence might look like and try to resolve one way or another what we can say we know about this topic."
The fact is that I seriously doubt that any animals do hold any supernatural beliefs. But I don’t think it is as obvious as everyone here seems to be insisting that they cannot do so. In fact I would speculate that the advent of such beliefs in our evolutionary past quite possibly predates modern humanity and that studying our closest living relatives might shed some light on how or why this came about. But we never really get to that because everybody is too busy telling me monkeys can’t talk.
Straggler writes:
Or does it point to the evolutionary origins and causes of human belief in supernatural beings?
Not at all. At what points in mans evolutionary past would evolution of religiosity occurred f it was an adaptation? Or if it was a by-product? Do either of these possible origins dates precede the species that is homo-sapien?
Briterican writes:
Perhaps I missed it, as this thread was rather cumbersome to catch up on, but I don't think Oni explicitly ruled out abstract thought in chimps.
If everyone now agrees that chimpanzees are capable of some level of abstract thought then all well and good. Because it has been relentlessly asserted by a few here that any capability to think in abstract terms is necessarily dependent upon (or even synonymous with) communicative linguistic ability. Oni says that isn’t what he meant. But he didn’t exactly object to anything those who were making that argument more explicitly were saying either. CS started out saying that a deaf man who knew no language didn’t think much at all for heavens sake!! Where was the objection to that? And even now we are discussing communicative language as if it were the sole indicator of any ability to think abstractly.
Briterican writes:
To avoid previous confusions, and to simplify some of the terms into stricter more narrow definitions:
If we apply the definitions you have provided then nobody sane could claim that animals do hold such beliefs. And it would probably be an act of great fantasy to even suggest that they could. But that doesn’t answer the question I am asking.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 289 by Briterican, posted 02-01-2011 7:06 PM Briterican has not replied

Jon
Inactive Member


Message 293 of 373 (603054)
02-02-2011 2:05 PM


Musings...
As my participation in this thread is waning, I'll give some parting opinions on the latest arguments presented.
Straggler says:
quote:
Straggler in Message 290:
I am asking what the basic cognitive requirement for "religious" (call it superstitious if you prefer) belief is. I am suggesting that the minimum requirements are a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.
What is so inherently 'supernatural' about imagining an agent behind some event? As I mentioned before, your thresholds are so low on the matters of 'abstract thought' and 'supernatural beliefs' that there is nothing meaningful in addressing the questions; even if we answered the questions you've asked, it wouldn't really tell us anything we could use to conclude some sort of significant similarity to what we call human 'supernatural beliefs'.
Oni says:
quote:
onifre in Message 291:
Funny, I thought language was an instinctive form of communication.
Is this claim supportable? A lot of linguists (especially of the Chomskyan persuasion) argue that there is something instinctive/native about linguistic communication; unfortunately, the evidence offered never supports the claims they make. However, even if these linguists were correct, I don't believe the the type of language instinct for which they argue is at all similar to the instinct you've raised regarding animal communication behaviors.
Briterican says:
quote:
Briterican in Message 289:
I am not prepared to comment on the possible religiosity of animals, except to say that there is (as previously pointed out) a difference between "religious behaviour" and a belief in supernatural beings.
Death rituals are not evidence of a belief in supernatural beings. Grieving behaviour appears in some animals, but again this does not provide evidence in any belief in supernatural entities.
Fully agreed! This argument has been made numerous times in this thread by jar and myself; everytime it is ignored or replied to with irrelevancies. Unfortunately, I'm sure you can expect the same reaction...
Y'all enjoy yourselves!
Jon

Check out No webpage found at provided URL: Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

Replies to this message:
 Message 295 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 2:54 PM Jon has not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 294 of 373 (603062)
02-02-2011 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 291 by onifre
02-02-2011 1:06 PM


Re: Basic Beliefs
Oni writes:
Funny, I thought language was an instinctive form of communication.
Again you are conflating the human instinct to acquire language with instinctive forms of communication such as yelling in pain. If I scream in pain every human being regardless of language will know what that expresses. If I say "That fucking hurts" to someone who only speaks Swahili it will be lost on them.
One is nothing more than instinctive communication (as per your clicking cricket) and the other requires the logical connection between symbols and concepts that can meaningfully be called "language" and which humans (arguably) have an instinct to acquire.
But if we all now agree that chimps are capable of some level of abstract thought (which was where all this language stuff started) does any of this matter?
Oni writes:
Right, becauase we are human and have a complex language that's further along than just noises.
Yes. Because we have the ability to make the logical link between symbols and concepts that abstract thought allows.
Oni writes:
So, according to this particular study, they can string together sentences, that can be described as words. So that answers that, yes?
FFS - I have been arguing that some intelligent animals (e.g. chimps) are capable of abstract thought and thus can make the logical link between symbols and concepts that lies at the root of human language all fucking thread Oni!!! Now you present evidence of this to me as some sort of refutation of my argument!!!!
Oni writes:
Yeah, I should have correctly stated: homo-genus instead of just human.
So where does homo-genus start and it's predecessor stop?
Straggler writes:
I am asking what the basic cognitive requirement for "religious" (call it superstitious if you prefer) belief is. I am suggesting that the minimum requirements are a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.
Oni writes:
Yup. And I'm saying monkeys don't have that because we have never witnessed them exibit such religious behavior.
How can you so definitely know that they don't have the basic cognitive requirement without considering what the basic cognitive requirement might be?
We constantly meet people on this board who proclaim belief in "something" based on experiencing "something". Are other intelligent animals cognitively capable of such experiences and (in basic terms) ascribing causal roles to the imagined entities in a similar manner? What cognitive abilities are at play in such cases?
"They can't because they don't" (as far as we know) isn't really an answer.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by onifre, posted 02-02-2011 1:06 PM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 296 by onifre, posted 02-02-2011 3:37 PM Straggler has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 295 of 373 (603063)
02-02-2011 2:54 PM
Reply to: Message 293 by Jon
02-02-2011 2:05 PM


Re: Musings...
Straggler writes:
I am asking what the basic cognitive requirement for "religious" (call it superstitious if you prefer) belief is. I am suggesting that the minimum requirements are a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.
Jon writes:
What is so inherently 'supernatural' about imagining an agent behind some event?
You can call it whatever your like. Your delirious need for absolute definitions of everything is just tiresome. If our closest living evolutionary relative can (in the sense of being cognitively able to) ascribe causal roles to imaginary entities (or even more amazingly - be demonstrated to do so) doesn't that tell us something deeply interesting about ourselves and the origins of the human capacity (indeed proclivity) for belief in such things?
If other creatures have the cognitive ability to hold such beliefs but don't do so why is that? How are we so different from them to the point that it is almost impossible to imagine humanity ever not ascribing causal roles to imagined beings?
Jon writes:
As I mentioned before, your thresholds are so low on the matters of 'abstract thought' and 'supernatural beliefs' that there is nothing meaningful in addressing the questions; even if we answered the questions you've asked, it wouldn't really tell us anything we could use to conclude some sort of significant similarity to what we call human 'supernatural beliefs'.
You will be pereniallly frustrated with my responses because of your own inability to ever get past the idea that the person you are talking to isn't trying to prove that animals do hold such beliefs but is simply asking questions about the possibility.
Your shortcomings are not my problem.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by Jon, posted 02-02-2011 2:05 PM Jon has not replied

onifre
Member (Idle past 3038 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 296 of 373 (603067)
02-02-2011 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 294 by Straggler
02-02-2011 2:42 PM


Re: Basic Beliefs
Again you are conflating the human instinct to acquire language with instinctive forms of communication such as yelling in pain.
An instictive form of communication is language, whether vaguely displayed by yelling or more acurately displayed with words. It's all the same shit.
But if we all now agree that chimps are capable of some level of abstract thought (which was where all this language stuff started) does any of this matter?
No, it started here:
Straggler writes:
Language itself is a concept.
Which it is not; it is a physical representation of reality via sounds and signs. The idea of language is a concept.
You then said:
Straggler writes:
To use language at all requires that in some basic way one understands the abstract concept that is the concept of language itself.
Which it doesn't. Because, as my evidence shows you, monkeys use language, but I doubt highly that they understand the abstract concept that is the idea of language itself. They have a very basic form of language which doesn't require that.
Now, if you concede on these two points, then we can move on.
I do agree, however, that monkeys, and apes, have some ability to think in the abstract.
I have been arguing that some intelligent animals (e.g. chimps) are capable of abstract thought and thus can make the logical link between symbols and concepts that lies at the root of human language all fucking thread Oni!!!
No, you haven't.
Of course they can make the link between symbols and physical objects, but that doesn't mean that they understands the abstract concept that is the idea of language itself. Which is what you argued.
How can you so definitely know that they don't have the basic cognitive requirement without considering what the basic cognitive requirement might be?
I don't know. But what you suggested are the basic requirements - (a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.) - is something not evidenced in monkeys.
So where does homo-genus start and it's predecessor stop?
Homo-genus - Starting with homo floresiensis, and ends with homo sapiens.
Are other intelligent animals cognitively capable of such experiences...
I don't believe humans have that capability.
You know quite well that this: "We constantly meet people on this board who proclaim belief in "something" based on experiencing "something" is total bullshit.
However, if we could provide the evidence for how humans can experience it, then we may be able to find out if other animals can. But we don't know if humans actually can, or if it's all in their imagination.
- Oni

This message is a reply to:
 Message 294 by Straggler, posted 02-02-2011 2:42 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 297 by Straggler, posted 02-03-2011 12:20 PM onifre has replied
 Message 298 by Straggler, posted 02-03-2011 12:22 PM onifre has not replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 297 of 373 (603217)
02-03-2011 12:20 PM
Reply to: Message 296 by onifre
02-02-2011 3:37 PM


What Is Language
Bear in mind that this whole what is language side topic arose because others in this thread were explicitly equating communicative language ability with any ability to think abstract thoughts at all and denying chimps any ability for abstract thought on that basis.
Oni writes:
Straggler writes:
I have been arguing that some intelligent animals (e.g. chimps) are capable of abstract thought and thus can make the logical link between symbols and concepts that lies at the root of human language all fucking thread Oni!!!
No, you haven't.
Yes I have. Absolutely I have. Indisputably I have. Did you read Message 276?
Oni writes:
An instictive form of communication is language, whether vaguely displayed by yelling or more accurately displayed with words. It's all the same shit.
No. It’s not. Do you understand the difference between acquired language and genetically transmitted forms of communication that are not linguistic? Spoken/written German or sign languages used by the deaf are examples of the former. Humans screaming when the experience intense pain or (to use your primary example) horny crickets clicking away to attract mates are examples of the latter. The latter is little different in nature to emitting pheromones as a means of communication. Aside from being audible the latter is NOT language by any meaningful definition.
In order to acquire even the most rudimentary language of the type humans excel at one has to have the mental ability to make the basic connection between a symbol and the concept that the symbol represents. This logical link is demonstrative of some basic ability to think in abstract terms. This has been my argument throughout.
Oni about chimps writes:
Of course they can make the link between symbols and physical objects..
Can a cricket make the logical link between symbols and concepts that is required for language?
Oni writes:
You then said:
Straggler writes:
To use language at all requires that in some basic way one understands the abstract concept that is the concept of language itself.
Yes — And I have repeatedly explained exactly what I mean by this. To use language at all one needs to be able to get that logical link between symbols and concepts that is the concept of language itself. And this ability is itself demonstrative of some basic level of abstract thought. This has been my consistent argument throughout.. I can refer you to numerous occasions in this thread where I have made this explicitly and abundantly clear if you want me to? Did you read Message 276
When I gave the example of my 4 year old son in that post do you really think I was suggesting that he could define language as a concept in the way you are implying? Seriously?
Oni writes:
Of course they can make the link between symbols and physical objects..
If you agree that chimps are capable of making the logical link between symbols and concepts in some basic way I am utterly bemused as to why you have been disagreeing with me about their ability for some basic level of abstract thought?
On writes:
but that doesn't mean that they understands the abstract concept that is the idea of language itself. Which is what you argued.
Making the logical link between symbols and concepts is the concept of language itself in the most basic form that I have quite clearly been talking about.
Do you really think I am saying that one needs to be able to define, or understand in some academic sense, the concept of language before they can use language? When I gave the example of my 4 year old son in do you really think I was suggesting that he could define language as a concept in the way you are interpreting what I said? Seriously? When I was arguing that chimps could learn simple some sign language do you think I was suggesting that they can engage in a debate about what language is or go off and write wikipedia entries on the nature of language as a concept? C’mon Oni
Oni writes:
Straggler writes:
I have been arguing that some intelligent animals (e.g. chimps) are capable of abstract thought and thus can make the logical link between symbols and concepts that lies at the root of human language all fucking thread Oni!!!
No, you haven't.
Yes I have. Absolutely I have. And I will quote myself extensively to show you this if you still doubt it?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 296 by onifre, posted 02-02-2011 3:37 PM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 304 by onifre, posted 02-03-2011 10:56 PM Straggler has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 298 of 373 (603218)
02-03-2011 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 296 by onifre
02-02-2011 3:37 PM


Re: Basic Beliefs
Oni writes:
But what you suggested are the basic requirements - (a basic concept of causality and intent combined with an ability to imagine (or perceive if you think such things exist) some sort of agent to ascribe these roles to.) - is something not evidenced in monkeys.
Which isn’t evidenced? A basic concept of cause and effect? A basic concept of intent? Or an ability to imagine/dream?
Oni writes:
I don't believe humans have that capability.
We know humans have these subjective/religious experiences. Even if you and I can agree that any such experience is due to factors internal to the mind rather than the actual existence of imaginary somethings.
Oni writes:
However, if we could provide the evidence for how humans can experience it, then we may be able to find out if other animals can.
Then we are back to something like the god helmet for chimps. Which is kinda where you and I started out in this discussion.
Oni writes:
Starting with homo floresiensis, and ends with homo sapiens.
Firstly — On what basis do you make this seemingly arbitrary distinction? Secondly - What do you say to those who suggest that chimpanzees should be re-classified to homo genus?
Link
Link writes:
Historical classification schemes, based on physical similarities such as bones, argued that chimps and gorillas were each other's closest relatives, and that both were closely related to orangutans to the exclusion of humans.
However, with the advent of molecular techniques to compare similarities in our DNA starting in the 1960s, most experts have come to accept the fact that humans and chimps are most closely related. Studies indicate that humans and chimps are between 95 and 98.5 percent genetically identical.
Derek E. Wildman, Goodman, and other co-authors at Wayne State argue in their new study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that given the evidence, it's somewhat surprising that humans and chimps are still classified into different genera. Other mammalian genera often contain groups of species that diverged much earlier than chimps and humans did, said Goodman. "To be consistent, we need to revise our definition of the human branch of the tree of life," he said.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 296 by onifre, posted 02-02-2011 3:37 PM onifre has not replied

jar
Member
Posts: 34064
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 299 of 373 (603220)
02-03-2011 12:37 PM


Limits to understanding other's beliefs.
Before we can even do more than create fantasies about non humans beliefs in supernatural beings, it might be worthwhile to look at some limits related to critters far closer to us than even chimps.
{some images from Wikipedia}
Now these are all creations of people very much like us, people we would call 'modern humans' and some likely very recent. Yet looking at the images I still see no way to tell what 'beliefs' prompted the paintings.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

Replies to this message:
 Message 300 by Straggler, posted 02-03-2011 2:29 PM jar has replied

Straggler
Member (Idle past 153 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 300 of 373 (603255)
02-03-2011 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 299 by jar
02-03-2011 12:37 PM


Re: Limits to understanding other's beliefs.
I agree. But knowing the nature of humanity as we do it would be rather remarkable if these people didn't believe in some sort of "gods". And whilst we cannot know it is hardly beyond the realms of speculation to think that these might be representations of those beliefs. In fact one could argue that it is even quite likely.
Now as far as we can see there is nothing similar to even suggest animal belief in such things. But if we did find such things being done by our very close evolutionary cousins (e.g. chimps) it seems to me perfectly legitimate to speculate that they too are doing something quite similar to that which humans are know to be highly prone to doing.
It would at least raise the question of whether or not they are cognitively capable of such beliefs. Which may be possible to research further in terms of neuroscience etc.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 299 by jar, posted 02-03-2011 12:37 PM jar has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 301 by jar, posted 02-03-2011 2:37 PM Straggler has replied

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