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Posted:And, over here, the metaphysics thread.

For all your UTOR needs . . .


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Shu
BRONZE Member since Mar 2017

Shu

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Location: Pietermaritzburg (KZN)

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Posted:bwaaaaahahahahahahahaha

never mind quiet, opinions vary, and some people just like causing shyte wif others biggrin


Regards hug

Shu
(Ice-E FyreStorm - Group Manager & Performer)

You know those people your parentals warned you about?... I'M ONE OF THEM! ubbloco
Yes, i do bite!!

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Posted:i know that opinions vary, but my problem here is that people are continually attributing to me beliefs which I don't hold, and have never implied that I hold. like the dogs/communication bit. I just wish people would bother to read a bit more carefully . . .

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:It's a common complaint on HOP; happens to me a fair bit, and NYC has been quite vocal about it happening to him.

To an extent it has to be accepted, as people do misunderstand text.

Responding aggressively never helps- it doesn't encourage the misunderstander to maker a bigger effort in future, and it creates hostile threads that end up deleted.

My approach is to try and anticipate which parts of what I'm posting are likely to get skipped over/missed and then go out of my way to ensure they don't.

For example, on the recent 'white gas accidents thread; when making the point that kero/paraffin is safer than white gas, I knew with 100% certainty that certain individuals would sidestep the point I was trying to make by saying 'well, nothings 100% safe.....' or 'if you want no risk then you shouldn't be using fire in the first place...'

So I simply put in brackets after the point I made something along the lines of 'here we're talking about trying to minimise risk, not eliminate it, as elimination is not possible.'

ie countering the irrelevant point before it is even made.

An approach like that takes extra thought, and typing, but it helps to cut down up hostility and gets you into the habit of anticipating conflict and irrelevant points.

I also believe that it tunes readers of such posts into thinking before they post, and taking more trouble to read the post they're replying to.

Certainly, I don't seem to get as wound up by this as you and NYC seem to do, so, if only for that reason, it's probably worth developing a few strategies to deal with this very common problem.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

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Total posts: 920
Posted:Sorry quiet i didn't mean to offend, I was using the word 'dumb' in the sense of 'deaf, dumb or blind' i.e we cannot understand dog language therefore we are dumb.

Personally i'm not sure you can communicate without language, but i'm pretty sure language doesn't need words, sentances etc. Just symbols like images, sounds, movements, gestures, smells and so on.

IMO if you think humans are subject to good and evil whilst animals are not then you consider humans in a rather special (some what superior) position. If not then so be it but that's definitely the impression you gave me.

Please stop saying that others aren't reading carefully. I'm sure you are fully aware that text is a feable way to communicate such ideas as these. A good example is that you use the word language exclusively to describe human style verbal communication, whereas I use the word language in a rather more broad way to describe any form of communication, ie including sign language, body language, etc. My reasoning for this is that animals have caring calls, dangers calls,, enjoyment calls and so on. I refer to this as language because one creature says something and the other creature understands that the first means eg Danger and not 'Let's go for a swim'

By positive being I simply mean one that is tending toward good things rather than one tending toward bad things. ie selfless being as opposed to selfish being, in christian terms one thats heading toward heaven not hell (although i'm aware animals don't get into heaven, hmm)

Now let's assume Aristotle is 100% correct in everything he ever said. That leads me to believe that indeed you are correct in saying that nonhumans have no language (in the verbal sense), no morals, and so on

Now lets go back to something Quiet said a little while back, and I quote:
Written by:
2. For instance, if someone thinks the Sun goes round the Earth, then they are wrong.



Now I know very little about Aristotle, but I do know one thing. Aristotle had a rather interesting way of looking at the universe, he thought that the earth was at the center of the universe, the planets AND SUN went around the earth and the stars were dots on a shell outside the outter most planet, like this:


Non-Https Image Link


Therefore our initial assumption that "Aristotle is 100% correct in everything he ever said" has been disproved by Quiet.

Hence we cannot believe everything Aristotle said to be 100% true.

QEMFD

On a side note, if you are studying philosophy and have never heard of Mr. Gurdjieff then I would suggest to you have been somewhat institutionalised into a dogmatic western mode of thought, I would highly recomend reading a few books that are not on the official list.


Spherculism ~:~ The Act of becoming Spherculish.

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Posted:quote: 'Hence we cannot believe everything Aristotle said to be 100% true.'

Did I ever suggest that everything Aristotle said was 100% true? If not, then why bring it up?

And is this:

'http://skepdic.com/gurdjief.html'

the Gurdjieff of which you speak? If so, I'm hardly surprised that my *cough* insitutionalised *cough* peers, supervisors, etc, never mention him.

Analytic philosophy isn't 'dogmatic'; precisely the opposite. Nor have I been 'institutionalised' into this mode of thought: rather, I've spent the past four years attempting to become more rigorous, and more precise. There aren't any ideas which I'm not prepared to entertain, but I'm also very clear on my reasons for rejecting certain lines of thought. Do you know anything about the type of philosophy that I do?


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Posted:'G. I. Gurdjieff (1872?-1949)
George S. Georgiades was a Greco-Armenian charismatic con man who was born in Russia but made a name for himself in Paris as the mystic George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. In Russia he established what he called "The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man" (1919), which he re-established in France in 1922. It was at his Institute that Gurdjieff promoted a litany of preposterous occult and mystical notions about the universe, which he claimed he was taught by wise men while traveling and studying in Central Asia . . . '


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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

old hand
Location: New Zealand

Total posts: 920
Posted:Yep that's the one, and that skepdic site was evidently written by someone as equally narrow minded and ignorant as your good self wink For a less institutionalised view of Gurdjieff's work look somewhere like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurdjieff
br>
Written by:
Did I ever suggest that everything Aristotle said was 100% true? If not, then why bring it up?



Now maybe it's just me but your point for the last 2 pages seems to have been "Aristotle said this therefore I am right". Fortunately you yourself disproved this, as pointed out above.

You balked at the idea that Aristotle's thoughts were outdated and so I gave a particularly valid example of where his thoughts were indeed extremely outdated, even laughable.

I think his ideas about the structure of the universe (with earth at the center and everything around us) Tie in very closely to his ideas about humans being very special and all nonhumans being, well, a bit cr@p.

Both of these ideas are outdated, most humans are simply too pigheaded to see that we are only marginally different from animals and the only reason we think we are better is because of all the great things we've made, like digital watches and aeroplanes.

However, if i were a monkey I would look at humans and think how stupid they are. Look at those fools, the only animals in the whole of earths existance to destoy the planetary conditions essential for their survival, they certainly won't last long.

So as I've been saying all along it is just a matter of perspective.

As for good and evil, if humans are the only ones affected by these mystical things, would it not be fair to say that they are mearly human social constructs?


Spherculism ~:~ The Act of becoming Spherculish.

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Mr_Chutney
SILVER Member since Apr 2003

Mr_Chutney

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Posted:A bit off topic I know BUT-

Whilst some of the detail in Aristotles work may now be outdated following paradigm shifts in understanding and thinking, there can be no denial that much of the core themes and ideas found in all of Aristotles work (including the extremely impressive 'Metaphysics') still retain great relevance and insight, no mean feat for texts seeral thousand years old. Concepts such as Ousia, Entelechiea and Energeia are all phenomenally well coincieved and just because the Earth now moves around the Sun, the concept of the prime mover also makes sense (if you follow the arguments).

I'm not saying I agree with everything he wrote, I just think to deny Aristotle full-stop is way to broad and doesn't give real credit to this most brilliant of philosophers.


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Posted:re: 'Now maybe it's just me but your point for the last 2 pages seems to have been "Aristotle said this therefore I am right".'

Oh, Jesus, no. No, no, no. Yes, it is just you. You continually misread my posts: I'm making it as clear as I possibly can. I cited Aristotle twice, firstly:

'Come on, read some Aristotle: we're rational animals, dogs aren't. '

and later I credited him with being the progenitor of the virtue-ethicist movement. NOWHERE DID I CLAIM THAT ARISTOTLE WAS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING; NOR DID I CLAIM THAT IT WAS RIGHT BECAUSE ARISTOTLE SAID IT WAS. I was just pointing you toward one very sound argument and position, with an equally sound pedigree.

READ MY POSTS MORE CAREFULLY, DAMNIT

QUOTE: 'You balked at the idea that Aristotle's thoughts were outdated'.

I baulked at the idea that they were ALL outdated: I never said that NONE of them were. You gave ONE example of AN OUTDATED IDEA. I fully accept that there might be some; but that doesn't prove that, as you put it, 'Aristotle is soooo passe'.

I'm not quite sure what your juxtaposition of Aristotle's ideas about cosmology, and people, is supposed to show. Juxtaposition is a rhetorical tool, not an argumentative device, mate.

I'm begging you, please, stop misinterpreting me. You're either doing it deliberately or you're unable to get the point of very basic arguments, and I don't know which is worse.

A minor point: if you were a monkey, you wouldn't look at humans and think 'look at those fools', because you wouldn't have the language required to frame such a thought.

A question: do you think that there is a [moral] difference between someone who does good things naturally, because he feels like it, and someone who does good things 'because he knows that that is what is required', in other words, because his conscience tells him to, even though he's strongly tempted to do otherwise? If so, which is better?


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Posted:That Gurdjieff bloke looks like a fraud, as far as I can tell. none of the writings make much sense: if you can explain to me what is being said ANYWHERE, in ANY of them, then I'll change my mind about this. And please, there's a difference between scepticism and 'narrow-mindedness'. Sceptics are prepared to entertain all sorts of ideas, but won't accept them without good reason. Naively credulous people will adopt ideas, positions, or 'gurus' without much thought or reason.

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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

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Posted:yeah chutney, totally agree with you. I'm sure aristotle was a great thinker and much of his stuff is totally relevent today.

So chutney, did aristotle believe nonhumans were sentient? Have conscious? Were capable of making moral decisions?

If not then do you think he was correct?

Also perhaps you can shed some light on this question from earlier "As for good and evil, if humans are the only ones affected by these mystical things, would it not be fair to say that they are mearly human social constructs?"

Written by:
A minor point: if you were a monkey, you wouldn't look at humans and think 'look at those fools', because you wouldn't have the language required to frame such a thought.



I knew you'd say that, lol, but of course it's possible to think without words. Take for example a human who has no ability to use words, they still have thoughts you know.

Plus we cannot tell what monkeys think about because we don't comprehend their language.

I was mearly translating what a monkey might think into a language that I could type into this writing machine.

Is there such a big difference between monkey and man?

Could man be considered a stupid monkey because we have destroyed the planet?

Perhaps monkeys don't build aeroplanes because they have a better understanding of the environment.

Perhaps monkeys communicate using a means that we lost years ago, and can therefore cannot comprehend.

Written by:
....as far as I can tell. none of the writings make much sense



Well of course they wouldn't to you, that's why i mentioned earlier that i suspected you had be institutionalised into a certain mode of thought.


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Mr_Chutney
SILVER Member since Apr 2003

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Location: Herefordshire

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Posted:As much as I'd love to contribute, I really don't feel I have enough of a grasp on the topic in question to make specific comment smile

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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

old hand
Location: New Zealand

Total posts: 920
Posted:lol, no worries chutney, i'll ask you some other time.

But i don't really think you need a "grasp" on it to say what you feel about it, i'm sure quiet would be the first to tell you that i have no grasp on it whatsoever ubblol

It's all just so marvelously intangible, i just like checking out how people think, what they feel, what their 'gut' tells them. It's interesting to see how different people react to 'increadible' things.

Anywho, you always seemed far more diplomatic than me,

laters

m


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Posted:'Take for example a human who has no ability to use words, they still have thoughts you know.'

What makes you say that?


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Posted:Written by: spherculist


</font><blockquote><font class="small">Written by:] ....as far as I can tell. none of the writings make much sense



Well of course they wouldn't to you, that's why i mentioned earlier that i suspected you had be institutionalised into a certain mode of thought.




Oh, wonderful. So if I can't understand it, it's because I've been 'institutionalised.' Is there any distinction on your account between meaningful prose and meaningless gabble? If so, how do we find it out?


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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

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Posted:I'm just saing that you are subject to your surroundings. ie if you had been born in say, India, studied philosophy your whole life, done your 3 degrees and what not. You quite possibly would understand it. Because it tends to be closer to 'eastern' teachings than 'western' ones.

It's kinda like a christian saying hinduism is all a load of rubbish because it doesn't make any sense (which is what the christians did when they first went there to india, because the temples were covered in scenes from the karma sutra and so on). Whereas most christians i have met are that religion because there parents are that religion. So if they were born in india, they would understand and believe hinduism and think that christianity was a bit odd. (Of course there are also christians who are that way because it's the closest thing to their beliefs and a good choice for them)

You seem to think you have an objective opinion on many matters quiet but i'm just suggesting that your opinion is as subjective as everyone elses and influenced by your surroundings.

As for 'Thinking without words' ~ "A picture paints a thousand words" ~ We are westeners and apparently think in 'words' (although i'd say i think more in images and feelings).

But take for example Chinese ideograms (caligraphy). It's my understanding (and i'm open to correction on this) that the chinese don't only have words in a sense, but that each ideogram is a picture which has an entire kind of legend associated with its creation. So whereas in the west we have a single letter with little meaning, the chinese have a single ideogram with a huge ammount of meaning associated with it.

All I'm saying is that words are not a necessity for thinking, they are useful for certain types of thinking, but thinking in images and emotions can be just as useful.

Besides that, there must have been a time before human words. So did humans think back then? Were they conscious? When exactly did Good and Evil appear? Did Good and Evil exist before humans created language?


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Posted:quote: 'Besides that, there must have been a time before human words. So did humans think back then? Were they conscious? When exactly did Good and Evil appear? Did Good and Evil exist before humans created language?

i) Humans may have thought back then, if they had a language-like (i.e. compositional, productive, etc.) representational system. Because to think, you need to represent things, and you need to be able to manipulate those representations in systematic manners. Such a system constitutes a language.
ii) Conscious - I dunno, I'm not to sure about how this should be analysed. But I think that the answer is the same as for 'thought'.
iii) Good/evil apply as soon as humans develop a faculty of reason - that is, as soon as (i) is fulfilled.
iv) And this is (I am suggesting) cotemporaneous with the emergence of language.

remember, there's a difference between 'words' and 'language'. Just because we don't think in 'words', doesn't mean that thought doesn't rely on language.

//

My opinion is NOT just 'as subjective as everyone else's'. I've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about and revising my opinions. I can give good justificatory reasons for my beliefs, and the explanatory reason for why I hold these beliefs is the *same*. There is a sharp contrast between this, and someone who believes e.g. that there is a God because their parents told them so. Don't you think?

I've also spent a great deal of time reading 'eastern' philosophy. Some of it (in fact, quite a lot of it) I find comprehensible, plausible, and well-argued. Buddhist teachings on personal identity are a paradigm case of this. So it's not just that 'it's eastern, so my westernised mind can't handle it'. My worry is that there isn't anyone on the planet who could explain Gurdjieff's 'teachings' in a way which would render them comprehensible and plausible - although maybe you could correct me. But purveyors of patent nonsense are not uncommon: why think that he isn't one of them?


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The Tea Fairy
SILVER Member since Jul 2004

The Tea Fairy

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Posted:Hmmm, this whole debate is very interesting. I don't study philosophy so I'm staying away from most of the debate. I do study anthropology and communication though, think you all need to look again at the following definitions...

Definition
communicate
verb
1 [I or T] to share information with others by speaking, writing, moving your body or using other signals:
2 [I] to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and help other people to understand them:

Definition
language [Show phonetics]
noun [C or U]
a system of communication consisting of sounds, words and grammar, or the system of communication used by the people of a particular country or profession:

Definition
word (LANGUAGE UNIT) [Show phonetics]
noun [C]
1 a single unit of language which has meaning and can be spoken or written:

Communication, in it's most simple sense, is having a thought or message e.g. 'I want some sweets too!', encoding that message into socially/group constructed signs and symbols e.g. words, a picture, gazing longingly whilst rubbing stomach, then passing these signs on to be decoded by the reciever, who then gets the message 'I want some sweets'. Lots can and does go wrong in communicating (as you all know in this thread!), things are not encoded and decoded properly, or the symbols used don't always mean the same things to the sender and reciever.

Language is a 'system of communication' we have developed. It allows us to communicate and share very complex and abstract thoughts. I'd have to agree with Quiet that animals do not have language as it is defined above, but I do think they have systems of communication which are just as complex, perhaps allowing for 'rational thought'.

What is baffling me here is this connection that has been made between the ability to use language and the capacity for reason and rational thought. I believe the ability to think abstractedly and rationally preceded language, otherwise we would have never been able to develop such an abstract system of communication.

My argument, I guess, is that it is not language that gives us rationality but rather communication. Quiet says above that we need a 'language-like representational system' in order to think... but ALL systems of communication can be viewed as just that! Even in the body language of animals, messages are encoded into certain calls or gestures, as taught from parent animal to child, the gestures and calls are symbols that represent things, they are used systematically to communicate and are understood by other members of the species to mean certain things.

We tend to think of our own language as more 'advanced' communication than this, but I think animals' systems have the potential to be just as complex, perhaps more, because they are not just vocal... perhaps they comprise of a number of different things at once? e.g. I know that all manner of information about a dog can be found out by other dogs through it's pee, not just the scent or pheromones but where the dog pees, when it pees there, how often, what direction it aims in e.t.c. all add up to give messages to other dogs. That's just pee, there's all the barking, growling and body movements too. There are all manner of things animals can and do use as representations of thoughts and feelings, constituting a 'language-like' system of representation which is systematic, productive and compositional. Look at the way bees dance to give directions to other bees.

Well, that's my 2cents, rip it up all you like. Also, an anthropologist would argue that yes, it is impossible to be more 'objective' or less 'objective' than anyone else, because after all's said and done we can only ever 'truly' see the world through our own eyes on our own terms. But then, anthropology is a very confusing, um, science. smile


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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

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Posted:Ah tea fairy, you have the words to describe what i've been tangled up in through this whole thread.

In the definition of language above I totally agree with you, in the sense that nonhumans don't use human words, sentances etc.

I was refering to Language in the sense of body language, sign language and so on. Which you would define as 'another form of communication'.

I remember ages ago discussing poi as a form of language, with words like (3 beat weave) and sentaces like (weave combo) and so on.

I also agree that there's simply no way of telling if our form of communication is more of less advanced than any nonHumans. IMO We just perceive it as more advanced because it's the one we have developed and comprehend.

Totally agree that we cannot express anything more or less objectively than anyone else. Because everything we have to go on, all science, philosophy, etc has been experienced by subjective humans, recorded, then interpreted by subjective humans again.

I'd suggest that human communication and language isn't actually very good, there's just so much ambiguity.

Ants use a system of pheromones i believe, which allows them to act as 1 organism. Primates use a similar system. I'm thinking that this is a form of communication that humans have lost to a large extent. Perhaps that's why another form of communication, vocal, has taken it's place. But who's to say we couldn't discuss the same thoughts and emotions through other nonVocal forms?

Written by:
What is baffling me here is this connection that has been made between the ability to use language and the capacity for reason and rational thought. I believe the ability to think abstractedly and rationally preceded language, otherwise we would have never been able to develop such an abstract system of communication.



yep, spot on i think.

m


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quiet


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Posted:'What is baffling me here is this connection that has been made between the ability to use language and the capacity for reason and rational thought. I believe the ability to think abstractedly and rationally preceded language, otherwise we would have never been able to develop such an abstract system of communication.'

Not so: it's quite easy to see how a very simple communcation system (such as monkeys using certain kinds of hoot to signal e.g. food, enemy, and so on) can gradually evolve into a complex one, and this doesn't imply any sort of 'rational mind' required to _construct_ the system. The system evolves, rather than being designed; as such, the capacity for abstract thought need not precede it.


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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Location: Ohio, USA

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Posted:To pull from Chomsky here...

Communication is only a transfer of meaning from one mind to another. Language is only one way to achieve this. Language, in the strict sense, is much more confined than mere communication. Both are propositional, that is they both try to get something across, but language requires more. Concatenation, arbetrariness, etc... I could go into all that, but its easier just to give a link so here: http://cas-courses.buffalo.edu/classes/psy/segal/2472000/LanguageStructure.htm
br>
Also from Chomsky, its interesting to note that there seem to be language universals, that is specific universal elements to language structuring / grammer. Granted thats all human language, but if he is right, ALL language is structured the same way, and thus requires a specific biological brain structuring / mental framework from which it arises... essentially, you have to think in a specific way to develop language. Not to communicate mind you, but to develop language.

But to say that language is a necessary first step in rational thought is rediculous... and I say that of course, because I think its rediculous to claim (as Aristotle did) that what sets us apart from all other animals is that we are rational and they are not. I think its quite clear that this is not the case, and I'll specifically sight behaviorist research in this. Animals learn, and that requires an ability to reason about their world.

But as I said, to use language as we're talking about requires the being to think in a certain way. I am unclear about what faculties exactly are required. However, I think it is clear that chimps have these abilities, and even apes, in the use of sign language. They are an easy example of rational beings.

Sign language is a language as it does entail a syntactical grammer or sorts, even if it is physical.

Here's one of Chomsky's works for anyone interested... I havnt read the whole thing, but it deals with a lot of interesting stuff on language, and some of his views on competing theories. (from around 1970 though)
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/chomsky.htm


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Posted:Chomsky is wicked. However, you've got something wrong:

quote: 'Animals learn, and that requires an ability to reason about their world.'

Not so at all. Associative conditioning (like Pavlov's dogs) is specifically a-rational, but is a very good way of learning about the environment. There's no reasoning involve; dogs just associate certain sounds (like the bell) with certain events (e.g. dinner), and respond accordingly (e.g. salivate). The same goes for operant conditioning - that is, the mechanism whereby you train a dog to respond to commands.

If you don't believe me, then watch a simple neural network learn stuff. It doesn't engage in reasoning, but it does learn.


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Monkey of the Void


Monkey of the Void

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Location: Adelaide, South Oz

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Posted:Dr Monkey in da house.
Greetings fellow simians.
I am not going to answer any of these questions as you sound like you are all having too much fun.
From things said previously in relation to 'nstitutionalised' methods of thought and communication, I would encourage you to look at the work of Feyerabend and Popper on paradigm change within scientific communities. It could open up new avenues of thought for y'all.
Love from Monkey.
Peace Bananas.


Beware the Rampaging Monkey...

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Posted:Who are we to judge which beings are rational and which aren't? We can't even agree on a 'rational' thought process as to conclude whether animals have a conscience or not.

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Icer
SILVER Member since Apr 2005

Icer

just a shadow of my former self...
Location: Christchurch

Total posts: 205
Posted:pavlovs dogs are a very bad example of learning. when we bring animals into the debate, we should really use the great apes (chimps, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans). they have the shown the abilty to learn. not just sign language (which several chimps and gorillas learnt, but failed to establish proper syntactical rules), but also planning, and an abilty to recognise other animals as seperate individuals. they has been lots of research on this, some of the findings are discussed in a BBC doc 'the demon ape' (or something like that).

theres prolly not much more i can add to this debate without gettin off topic or causign alot more issues. but its fun to read along.
ps: i second everything tea fairt said (but then, im an anthropologist too so, that helps create my subjective view of things)


It took a while, but once their numbers dropped from 50 down to 8, the other dwarves started to suspect Hungry.

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Posted:people more often than not are talking shite 99.9% of the time...
even if they convince themselves that its logical, reasonable or rational. Even to a crow its offspring are bright, there i go again...
off talking shite. Bye guys bye


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