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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5932746 - 06/21/13 10:22 AM

I think those are very important questions which you ask, Dave; i.e. is the stroke victim human. Are we human when we sleep.

I was fascinated by the experience of anesthesia during a surgery. The drug used was demerol. I am in one room. A nurse turns a little spigot attached to a line through the drug flows into my arm. I feel warmth in my arm. I'm commenting about the warmth...and then my next conscious awareness is of being in another room three hours later.

The philosophical question that struck me was, "Where was Otto during those three hours?"

The first response which came to me was, "Otto was not during those three hours" because he had no sensation of existence."

The second response which came to me was, "But when the monitor is turned off on my desktop computer, the monitor, and more importantly "the computer" continue to exist. By analogy, the "mind" (harddrive/internet/web) continue to exist event thought the "brain/body" has no sense of itself.

In conclusion then, to your excellent questions, I think there is reason to believe the human person continues to exist even when it lacks self-awareness.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: dyslexic nam]
      #5932757 - 06/21/13 10:30 AM

I found your statment, "it is pretty evident that intelligence/sentience/whatever should be viewed as a spectrum" useful in two regards.

First, as I said to a post by Hank, I am seeking here to get at a simpler way to express that of which we are speaking when we are speaking of extra-terrestrial-intelligences. I.e. instead of some long drawn out phrase such as sentient-intelligent-self-aware, I was wondering and hoping it would be found acceptable to just say "human".

Second, I think you get at the essence of the discussion of whether or not it is appropriate to apply the word human to all forms of sentience-self awareness-intelligence when you speak of "spectrum". If humannness is nothing more than a place on a biological-evolutionary continuum, then I agree that the word human should not be applied to other species on that continuum. But if humanness is the continuum/spectrum plus some spiritual-other-thing, then one possibility is that humanness can be correctly applied to a wide range of biologically/mechanically different entities; i.e. dolphin, machine waking up, the thing on another planet around another star, the bonobo (sp?).

Otto


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932781 - 06/21/13 10:50 AM

Not to take this thread too far off-topic, but the Bottlenose dolphins have passed what has come to be called 'The Mirror Test' for self-awareness.

They even use 'the best' reflective mirror available to inspect themselves.

Pesse (..sort of what my 5 blond sisters did when I was trying to use the bathroom to brush my teeth!) Mist


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5932784 - 06/21/13 10:55 AM

Thank you for talking with me, Joad.

Please, be so kind, as to help me reach exactness in speech. It is my hope we can find a simpler and correct way, in future posts and threads to speak of all entities sentient/self-aware/intelligent, whether terrestrial or extra-terrestrial.

You wrote, "In the context of biological evolution, the word "human" refers to a variety of simian species (including what we call the Neanderthals, after the name of the valley in which their bones were first identified), all of which are now extinct except for one: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The word "human" in this context is an entirely biological marker, with nothing to do with philosophical speculation."

I understand that many entities have had the biological term "homo" applied to them. Is it the accepted standard that all entities with the word homo in their biological assignation are also called human? e.g. homo habilis, homo erectus? If it is not the accepted standard that all homo groups are called human, what is the reason some homo groups are called human and other homo groups are not called human?

.................

Permit me to use a point in a previous discussion you and I had as grist to get at this topic. I am referring to what you chose to call "altruism" and to which I referred to as love in that greek sense of agape "love for the other for the others own sake".

Should all entities which are altruistic be called human or not?

By "are altruistic" I means actually possess a desire to do good for others; not just entities which are mechanically programmed to "ape" altruistic behaviors or those entities which instinctually mimic altruistic behaviors; nor by "are altruistic" do I mean those entities who have behaviors which appear to others to appear altruistic. I mean, to say it again and ask it again; should all beings which are altruistic, which act in ways in which their actual care for the other, for the others own sake, is evidenced, be called human?


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Pess]
      #5932808 - 06/21/13 11:08 AM

Pess,

You wrote, "He was being straight forward and the conclusion is self evident. The animal recognized himself as 'self' in the mirror. The animal also recognized the Red paint as 'non-self'"

I know you were speaking for the other gentleman, but, for discussion sake, let us assume you are of the opinion that the bonobo behavior indicates self-awareness.

Is it relevant to our discussion, in any important way, for us to acknowledge that the assignation of "self-aware" to the bonobo's behavior is being made by us (humans) who express and understand self-aware in a particular manner? Are we committing an act of anthropomorphisation in so defining the bonobo's behavior as "self aware"? If so, does this anthropomorphisation negate our judgement, or not?

Otto


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932824 - 06/21/13 11:20 AM

Quote:

Pess,

You wrote, "He was being straight forward and the conclusion is self evident. The animal recognized himself as 'self' in the mirror. The animal also recognized the Red paint as 'non-self'"

I know you were speaking for the other gentleman, but, for discussion sake, let us assume you are of the opinion that the bonobo behavior indicates self-awareness.

Is it relevant to our discussion, in any important way, for us to acknowledge that the assignation of "self-aware" to the bonobo's behavior is being made by us (humans) who express and understand self-aware in a particular manner? Are we committing an act of anthropomorphisation in so defining the bonobo's behavior as "self aware"? If so, does this anthropomorphisation negate our judgement, or not?

Otto





It is hard to have these kinds of discussions unless you are willing to rigidly define your concepts.

You can't define it one way, get an answer, then change the definition and come at it from another angle.

If self aware is defined as the ability to recognize that a representation of something (such as a picture or mirror image) is a representation of oneself..and further, if one can note that a change in that representation can be perceived as a non-self change (ie: paint spot on forehead) then I would say that particular species is self-aware.

The definition of 'Human' I find more interesting. It is easy for our armchair and professional philosophizers to point to a dog and say it is obviously does not fall into the 'Human' category. But what would they say if we bring back a Neanderthal or Cromagnum man from frozen DNA someday?

Are these also 'Humans'?

How extensive a genetic move do we need before we cross into a Non-Human category?

Convergent evolution will probably make aliens in a similar environment look like us to some degree. Legs are really good for locomotion and we need to walk upright with grasping appendages to use tools.

I always wondered about the Gorn on Star Trek with their claw-like appendages. Didn't that make tool using a bit awkward for a space-faring race?

Pesse (just say'n) Mist


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Pess]
      #5932837 - 06/21/13 11:30 AM

What you just wrote, Pess, I was thinking about that when I wrote, but I didn't want to clutter my thoughts too much.

Let us imagine there is an extra-terrestrial entity. It is called an Ophiate, and it just happens to live on a planet circling the star we call rho Ophiuchus. It has had self-awareness, intelligence, free choice for a billion more years than we. It has advanced so much that its current level of self-awareness, intelligence, free choice is a tiny part of its total mind and mind-functions. What we humans call self-awareness no more adequately expresses an Ophiate's mind-function then to call Alois Chapman's fast ball, a toss.

So, here is Dave and Otto watching an Ophiate do what it does mentally, we say its behaviors evidence self-awareness; but our description, like the descriptions of those confined to Flatland are so terribly limited that our description of the Ophiate's behavior as "self-aware" is totally inadequate to describing what it actually is doing.

Does a similar barrier of accurate description and definition also exist between us, humans, and the seemingly similar behaviors of the bonobo?


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shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932841 - 06/21/13 11:34 AM

Quote:

Thank you for talking with me, Joad.

Please, be so kind, as to help me reach exactness in speech. It is my hope we can find a simpler and correct way, in future posts and threads to speak of all entities sentient/self-aware/intelligent, whether terrestrial or extra-terrestrial.

You wrote, "In the context of biological evolution, the word "human" refers to a variety of simian species (including what we call the Neanderthals, after the name of the valley in which their bones were first identified), all of which are now extinct except for one: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The word "human" in this context is an entirely biological marker, with nothing to do with philosophical speculation."

I understand that many entities have had the biological term "homo" applied to them. Is it the accepted standard that all entities with the word homo in their biological assignation are also called human? e.g. homo habilis, homo erectus? If it is not the accepted standard that all homo groups are called human, what is the reason some homo groups are called human and other homo groups are not called human?

.................

Permit me to use a point in a previous discussion you and I had as grist to get at this topic. I am referring to what you chose to call "altruism" and to which I referred to as love in that greek sense of agape "love for the other for the others own sake".

Should all entities which are altruistic be called human or not?

By "are altruistic" I means actually possess a desire to do good for others; not just entities which are mechanically programmed to "ape" altruistic behaviors or those entities which instinctually mimic altruistic behaviors; nor by "are altruistic" do I mean those entities who have behaviors which appear to others to appear altruistic. I mean, to say it again and ask it again; should all beings which are altruistic, which act in ways in which their actual care for the other, for the others own sake, is evidenced, be called human?



Nope, dolphins and apes have demonstrated altruism.
There are cases of dolphins saving drowning people. Free-will behavior, there is no benefit for the dolphin, it sees a struggling human and helps it, self-aware, sentient, altruistic behavior, not "human" behavior. Elephants clearly morn their dead but we don't call it a funeral.


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: EJN]
      #5932862 - 06/21/13 11:47 AM

Quote:

Humans have developed the ability to play heavy-metal rock.
That makes them unique in the universe.




ROFL - "Who was this genius they called Ozzie???" (alien archaeologist)

-drl


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5932867 - 06/21/13 11:48 AM

Permit me a fuzzy term, "real-altruism" as compared to "apparent altruism".

I am told that smart programming is getting so good, one cannot tell if the voice he hears on the phone and with-which-he-thinks-he's-communicating is a real person or just a very good bit of programming.

Assuming smart programs have gotten that good, if we are not able to tell if the phone voice is real or not?

Would we have to hold a very substantial and long conversation with the phone-voice to know it was a person or not, and with the animal to know if it were altruistic or not in order to determine "person" and "real altruism"? And if holding a long conversation is necessary to determine the "real altruism", what can we definitively say if the animal...cannot communicate with us?

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932878 - 06/21/13 11:56 AM

Time for me to take my frail anthropod body and brain outside to do battle with the lawn.

I can't wait to get back and read the thoughts shared here while I am absent about the OP which is, is the word "human" adequate to refer to any and all entities which exhibit that constellation of behaviors/abilities we call self-awareness, intelligence, free choice?

Later, all.

Otto


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932907 - 06/21/13 12:20 PM

Quote:

I was fascinated by the experience of anesthesia during a surgery. The drug used was demerol. I am in one room. A nurse turns a little spigot attached to a line through the drug flows into my arm. I feel warmth in my arm. I'm commenting about the warmth...and then my next conscious awareness is of being in another room three hours later.

The philosophical question that struck me was, "Where was Otto during those three hours?"

The first response which came to me was, "Otto was not during those three hours" because he had no sensation of existence."



That was my experience when I had surgery. I asked about it, demerol & sodium
pentathol cause amnesia. You were there, you just don't remember.


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shawnhar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932911 - 06/21/13 12:22 PM

Quote:

Permit me a fuzzy term, "real-altruism" as compared to "apparent altruism".

I am told that smart programming is getting so good, one cannot tell if the voice he hears on the phone and with-which-he-thinks-he's-communicating is a real person or just a very good bit of programming.

Assuming smart programs have gotten that good, if we are not able to tell if the phone voice is real or not?

Would we have to hold a very substantial and long conversation with the phone-voice to know it was a person or not, and with the animal to know if it were altruistic or not in order to determine "person" and "real altruism"? And if holding a long conversation is necessary to determine the "real altruism", what can we definitively say if the animal...cannot communicate with us?

Otto



Fuzzy indeed...
2 days ago I came across a car off the road in a deep ditch, I stopped and helped the guy out of his car and asked if he was ok and needed help.
You would need to apply the same logic to me as the dolphin. I don't care about that guy, didn't matter who he was, didn't think about it, just responded by instinct. Does that mean it was not "real" altruism? Do we have to have a conversation to determine if I really cared, and if I don't, is it just "apparent" altruism like the dolphin?


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dyslexic nam
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/28/08

Loc: PEI, Canada
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932948 - 06/21/13 12:50 PM

Quote:

Permit me a fuzzy term, "real-altruism" as compared to "apparent altruism".

I am told that smart programming is getting so good, one cannot tell if the voice he hears on the phone and with-which-he-thinks-he's-communicating is a real person or just a very good bit of programming.

Assuming smart programs have gotten that good, if we are not able to tell if the phone voice is real or not?

Would we have to hold a very substantial and long conversation with the phone-voice to know it was a person or not, and with the animal to know if it were altruistic or not in order to determine "person" and "real altruism"? And if holding a long conversation is necessary to determine the "real altruism", what can we definitively say if the animal...cannot communicate with us?

Otto




Recognizing that we are straying a bit off topic here, I think that introducing this concept of altruism into the mix is re-muddying the waters that were just beginning to clear up - in part (I think) because the concept of altruism is itself fraught with some philosophical questions.

Consider - we normally judge someone to be acting altruistically if s/he does things for others without any reasonable expectation for compensation or reward. Thus, to an outside observer they appear to be doing something 'for its own sake' or for the benefit of the other/recipient. But, presumably, they get some sort of positive personal feeling (or avoid a negative personal feeling) when they do these acts that externally appear to be motivated by altruism. It is reasonable to assume, I think, that people who do charitable work feel that it is worthwhile, and derive some sort of personal satisfaction knowing that they are therefore spending their time in worthwhile pursuits. But does this substantially change the nature of the act, or at least impact the idealized notion of 'altruism'?

Think of someone who gives money to a homeless person. On its face this appears to be an act that we would normally define as altruistic. No direct reward or benefit to the giver appears to flow from the act of giving. But what if the giver's emotional characteristics are such that a failure to give would result in significant feelings of guilt? Or, that they derive great personal pleasure knowing that they have done a charitable act and helped out a fellow human (there's that word again). If we think of altruism as a form of action in which there is no personal reward, then this act of giving may not necessarily be viewed as a form of altruism (traditionally understood), but as yet another form of self-interest - albeit with a different set of underlying personal preferences that are met or fulfilled by the act of giving.

If this is the case, then altruism may be better understood as simply another form of self-interest, where a kind of sympathetic preference set motivates one's self-interested behaviour. One could argue that this is still a very desirable trait in social animals, and that it results in the same kind of informal social safety net that helps society advance, but is some very real and significant ways it changes our understanding of altruism. The concept would be something qualitatively different from the idea that someone's actions are solely or primarily motivated out of a self-LESS sense of duty.

I am not sure what this has to do with the definition of human, but that thought has been percolating for a while, and this seemed like an opportune time to purge. Carry on.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5932960 - 06/21/13 12:56 PM

I appreciate you using the phrase "just responded by instinct" in response to my terms and phrases which were "fuzzy indeed"

I lean toward the opinion humans don't have instincts. I understand the word instinct as a behavior over which one has no control. I remember when doing research on one of my graduate theses on evolution that Darwin had this sentence which went something like, animals cannot deviate from their instincts even when do to do so would be to there benefit, and humans do not respond instinctually even when to do so would be to there benefit. It was forty years ago, so don't hold me too tight to this one, but its close.

Anyway, I believe you did not respond to the accident instinctually, you responded out of choice; free choice. Now that choice may have been for many different reasons, some laudatory, some noble, some not so much. Would it not take a conversation for an observer to determine which it was?

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: dyslexic nam]
      #5932969 - 06/21/13 01:01 PM

I really appreciate this conversation, though, as you, I suspect it can get off topic very quickly.

You wrote, "Think of someone who gives money to a homeless person." When I originally had this conversation with Joad, the example I used was that of a street living alcoholic giving a drink of booze from his own bottle to a gutter drunk who was so besotted he could not raise his own head." Really gets messy about whether it was altruistic or not.

I like to use the word love, in the fourth Greek sense of the term (i.e. agape: love for the other for the other's own sake) instead of altruism, because I think there is doubt in many persons minds about whether an act can be altruistic or not.

Assuming that love (as above defined) exists; would such a loving behavior indicate humanness?

Otto


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: EJN]
      #5932981 - 06/21/13 01:10 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I was fascinated by the experience of anesthesia during a surgery. The drug used was demerol. I am in one room. A nurse turns a little spigot attached to a line through the drug flows into my arm. I feel warmth in my arm. I'm commenting about the warmth...and then my next conscious awareness is of being in another room three hours later.

The philosophical question that struck me was, "Where was Otto during those three hours?"

The first response which came to me was, "Otto was not during those three hours" because he had no sensation of existence."



That was my experience when I had surgery. I asked about it, demerol & sodium
pentathol cause amnesia. You were there, you just don't remember.




I too found this an amazing experience - or non-experience. The deepest most prolonged sleep carries still an awareness of time as having passed - general anesthesia literally stops the clock and out is followed immediately by in. Very curious.

-drl


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932983 - 06/21/13 01:10 PM

Quote:

I lean toward the opinion humans don't have instincts.



I disagree. Just watch the reaction of guys in a bar when a fabulous
babe walks in.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? [Re: deSitter]
      #5933044 - 06/21/13 01:49 PM

Glad you added that drl. I don't think I've had sodium pentathol, but I would like to have that experience as well.

Permit me to add this detail...I had a very compelling reason to stay alert during the demerol experience. Just as the nurse is turning the spigot which sent me into never land, the moment she was turning she looked me in the eye, without a smile, and said, "My son was your student."

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" [Re: EJN]
      #5933051 - 06/21/13 01:52 PM

In moral theology classes, we were taught the distinction between "being entertained by an idea" and "entertaining an idea". We were taught "custody of the eyes"; meaning, once I recognize I'm lusting, I then have the choice to turn my eyes and attention away.

Which bears interestingly upon your disagreement to my idea that humans don't have instincts.

On the one hand that initial reaction seems instinctual. On the other hand the choice, once the realization is gained, appears to be non-instinctual.

///

Another thought...unless the choice to act otherwise is an instinct. Hum?

Otto


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