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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Sentient, Intelligent, or Human?
      #5931700 - 06/20/13 05:23 PM

Recall the Klingon ambassador's daughter in Star Trek, The Undiscovered Country who responds to a comment about "inalienable human rights" as a racist comment because, I believe the implication was, only sentient beings from earth are human; whereas sentient beings from elsewhere are not human.

Well, I am of the opinion that whether the sentient and intelligent entity with self awareness, whether its from earth, a planet circling some star elsewhere in the galaxy, the product of a biological laboratory, or a machine/computing device that "wakes up"...I believe they would all properly be called human beings.

What do you think?


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EJN
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5931749 - 06/20/13 05:45 PM

No

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Pess
(Title)
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Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: EJN]
      #5931871 - 06/20/13 06:58 PM

Pesse (I wouldn't call dolphins 'Hu-Mans' and they fit all your criteria.) Mist

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5931894 - 06/20/13 07:25 PM

I was under the impression that the academic community is no where near consensus that dolphins have self-awareness. Also, I'm pretty sure most people would say dolphins do not freely choose; that their behaviors are constrained by instinctual patterns.

But I would be happy to be corrected and correctly informed on these matters.

Let's try this; let us say, dolphins become self-aware and make free choices. I would then say they are human.

What do y'all think?


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ColoHank
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Reged: 06/07/07

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5931945 - 06/20/13 07:59 PM

Quote:


Let's try this; let us say, dolphins become self-aware and make free choices. I would then say they are human.

What do y'all think?






A self-aware dolphin, if indeed there is such a thing, is not human. Conversely, a human who's an excellent swimmer is not a dolphin. Humans and dolphins are two distinct species.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5932026 - 06/20/13 08:47 PM

If a human being is nothing more that biological/evolutionary product called homo sapiens, then I must agree that humanness is unique to the biological species homo sapiens and that humanness will never be possessed by dolphins.

If the human being is solely the product of biology and evolution then I must necessarily agree that a human being and a dolphin are different things. If the dolphin is solely a product of biology and evolution, then even if the dolphin would develop self-awareness, free choice, intelligence it would then not be human; it would be a dolphin. This I must agree with to be logically consistent.


I believe biology and evolution is necessary for human existence. Within the universe as it is, within the human condition as it is, biology and evolution is a necessary substrate for humanness (self-awareness and intelligent free choice) to exist.


Though necessary for humanness, I do not believe biology and evolution are sufficient for humanness. I believe self-awareness, and the intelligence associated with making choices, require, in addition to a biological/evolutionary substrate, something other than biology and evolution. In my belief system, that something is spiritual.


Those who believe self-awareness and intelligent free choice are only a matter of biology and evolution, will necessarily reject my belief. Which is fine, of course. However, those who hold this position will have to deal with the philosophical issue that they believe in this position. What place does belief have in a being which is only the product of biology and evolution? How does one account for belief in a purely material being? How is belief defined in a purely material system? These philosophical questions would need to be addressed at some point.


My position has its own philosophical problem. If, as I stated, biology and evolution are a necessary substrate of humanness, what do I do with the self-aware machine whose substrate is silicon, the dolphin-having-become-aware as a result of a different evolutionary path, of the extra-terrestrial creature whose substrate is flourine based rather than oxygen based?

I see two tentative responses to this philosophical problem. The first is to assert that that particular biological evolutionary substrate called homo sapiens is the only one which will ever have humanness (self-awareness and intelligent free choice); that is, there is no self-awareness or intelligent free choice to be found anywhere else in the universe. I don't like this position, but it is logically possible from the premises having been stated.

The other tentative response to this philosophical problem is to take the position that a substrate is necessary for humanness, in addition to the spiritual component, but no particular material substrate. Tentatively, as long as the spiritual component has a substrate irregardless of what substrate it is, humanness exists once it reaches self-awareness and intelligent free choice.

As always, I would be delighted to hear responses and reactions.

Otto


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EJN
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Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932100 - 06/20/13 09:33 PM

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


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Jay_Bird
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Reged: 01/04/06

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" *DELETED* new [Re: EJN]
      #5932110 - 06/20/13 09:43 PM

Post deleted by Jay_Bird

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jg3
sage


Reged: 05/27/07

Loc: near Auburn, CA
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932135 - 06/20/13 09:55 PM

At least three things to avoid tangling up here:

1) identifying and understanding sentience, self-awareness, and intelligence, to the extent it exists in other species on Earth, and what may emerge, or be contacted or otherwise discovered, and helping them understand us,

2) what speakers of English (and other languages) might call such beings, ourselves, and "them and us" collectively,

3) ethics, rights, safety and protection, law, etc.

The easiest to make informed speculations on is the language side. Whenever new things or ideas emerge or are discovered, people come up with names for them, and one or a few get favored, generally understood, and memorialized in dictionaries. I tend to think "human" will stay reserved for Homo sapiens, and other distinguishing terms will emerge for specific other beings. If and when we need a term to collectively refer to "them" and "us", one might emerge, such as "sentient being". That also means potentially adjusting what we say or mean by "humanity" and similar terms, much as we have adjusted from a legacy of using "men" when meaning persons of both genders.

Star Trek's frequent extrapolation by analogy to human races likely stops way short of what humans (Homo sapiens) and other sentient beings and/or life forms are in for, both intellectually and ethically, if and when there's contact or emergence. Among races of humans, most of us finally recognize equality. Between dolphins and humans, most of us don't recognize equality, but can see this doesn't justify oppression or extermination.


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5932152 - 06/20/13 10:07 PM

Although I have never watched one single episode of Star trek in entirety, it sounds like they at least speculate on intelligence
Darwin said there is fundamentally no difference in intelligence and thus our uniqueness. For example a certain mammal called H. Sapiens, much to the chagrin of the creationist crowd, He reasoned the difference is the DEGREE of intelligence in species, not a divine provenance. We measure this generally in the encephalization quotient with mammals, which seems fairly accurate except at extreme opposites of the scale.
I could tell you some stories involving Killer whales that you would absolutely think I was bonkers, that are documented and true. The primate closest to us is the Bonobo. We paint a red dot on his forehead, then present him a mirror. The Bonobo immediately reaches for the red paint spot on his forehead, and looks at his finger, then tastes the paint. You can surmise for yourselves the implications of this. This seems to be somewhat in line with jg3's reasoning, and I believe this is the correct path. In Anthropology we see varying degrees of concepts and use of lexicon that make the definition of "intelligence" a somewhat gray social construct. When considering these types of questions, I try to avoid anything related to science fiction, because it can impose boundaries and limits on critical thinking skills.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5932204 - 06/20/13 10:28 PM

Good stuff everybody.

More!


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5932292 - 06/20/13 11:28 PM

You wrote, "The primate closest to us is the Bonobo. We paint a red dot on his forehead, then present him a mirror. The Bonobo immediately reaches for the red paint spot on his forehead, and looks at his finger, then tastes the paint. You can surmise for yourselves the implications of this."

I am interested, very interested to hear what you think the implications are of these behaviors.

Otto


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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932344 - 06/21/13 12:17 AM

Sunflowers are sentient; they sense sunlight and twist their stems so their heads follow its path across the sky. Shall we call them human?

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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5932407 - 06/21/13 01:09 AM

Once again, Otto, you like to play with philosophy but do not understand the necessity of philosophical rigor in defining your terms. The key term here is "human." That is a polysemous word with many different meanings in different contexts.

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.

In the context of morality/ethics, the word "human" can refer to a certain standard of behavior, which, if breached, we call "inhuman." Ironically, human beings, in the biological sense, are the perpetrators of the most inhuman behavior (in the moral sense) of any other living being.

In the religious sense (which is always detectable as your subtext, as now), "human" refers to something that has a soul. This is why Dante, as a Catholic, had to place unbaptised babies (who, not having language or much actual intelligence yet, still have souls in the Catholic system) in Limbo because their souls have not been ritually prepared for salvation. Dante tried to make Limbo a comfortable place, but it is still in the Inferno.

By biological definition, any sentient, intelligent being from another planet, not sharing the biological evolution of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is not a human being. We might treat such beings as human (which, given normal human behavior, would probably be with cruelty and injustice), but they would not be biologically human.

When biological humans are at their best (their most "human" or "humane" in the ethical sense), they (I, we) treat their pets as if they were humans (in the biological sense). This is sweet, and is a redeeming factor of our sorry species. But it doesn't make our pets human in the biological sense.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5932433 - 06/21/13 01:44 AM

That's almost exactly the response I wanted to make, Joad. To try to define sentient as "human" implies that all intelligences would be the same. I seriously doubt that could be the case. Humans have evolved intelligence in a specific social and technical environment, and our intelligence is directed towards and limited to our particular sensory and reasoning abilities. I see no reason for an intelligent being evolved under different circumstances to have a very different mode of intelligence. Fiction writers have already played with some of these ideas.

As Joad says, Otto, you seem to try to redefine words to fit your preconcieved desired conclusions, without acknowledging that those words exist in multiple contexts, and you can't just mix and match to suit your fancy. You need to get better at defining your terms, and then making sure those definitions don't conflict with meanings for them that already exist.


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932438 - 06/21/13 01:48 AM

Quote:



Though necessary for humanness, I do not believe biology and evolution are sufficient for humanness. I believe self-awareness, and the intelligence associated with making choices, require, in addition to a biological/evolutionary substrate, something other than biology and evolution. In my belief system, that something is spiritual.





Does a stroke victim who has been intellectually incapacitated cease being human?

Do we cease to be human when we sleep?


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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5932545 - 06/21/13 06:27 AM

Quote:

Sunflowers are sentient; they sense sunlight and twist their stems so their heads follow its path across the sky. Shall we call them human?




No need to start insulting flowers!


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Pess
(Title)
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Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5932608 - 06/21/13 07:59 AM

Quote:

You wrote, "The primate closest to us is the Bonobo. We paint a red dot on his forehead, then present him a mirror. The Bonobo immediately reaches for the red paint spot on his forehead, and looks at his finger, then tastes the paint. You can surmise for yourselves the implications of this."

I am interested, very interested to hear what you think the implications are of these behaviors.

Otto




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'.

Contrast this with a Cat confronted with a mirror. My Cat looks behind the mirror for the other cat.

Pesse (end of message0 Mist

Edited by Pess (06/21/13 08:00 AM)


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dyslexic nam
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/08

Loc: PEI, Canada
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Pess]
      #5932668 - 06/21/13 08:58 AM

The conversations here tend to much more interesting than some of the other interest-based forums I monitor. I have yet to see these kinds of questions arise amongst air gun afficionados, footy fans, or free divers.

Somewhat on topic - I watched a pretty neat documentary on primates, and it really outlined some of the things that should disolve the hard demarcation between "us" and "them" WRT intelligence and self awareness. Some of the skills primates exhibit - whether developed on their own (multiple, coordinated tool use) or after beign trained (understanding multi-component linguistic requests) are pretty amazing. Couple that with the obviously non-feline kind of self-awareness, and it is pretty evident that intelligence/sentience/whatever should be viewed as a spectrum, rather than a strictly divisive tool. Sure, we may be an absolute outlier amongst known species, with a signfiicant gap between us and the next closest creature on the scale, but that doesn't mean that we aren't occupying the same head space as other creatures in some important ways. The problem with this line of thinking isn't in the reasoning, it is in the consequences - because there are some aspects of our species' interaction with others that may not stand up to rigorous ethical scrutiny once you start to accept alternate underlying premises to our evolved conceptions and behaviours.

As for the OP, semantic precision aside, I think the designation of human is most appropriately applied exclusively to our species. I see no need to anthropomorphize our biological designation onto other species simply because their capacities may match (or exceed) our own in some ways that we deem significant. Without meaning any offence, that seems somewhat arrogant.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5932737 - 06/21/13 10:15 AM

Hank,

Thank you for bringing up the issue that sentience has to do with sensing.

Sentience is often used as a synonym for intelligent. That struck me strange but I went with it because it seems to be a commonly accepted use.

One of the reasons I requested comments on the Opening Question is because I tire of using a number of words to describe that of which I speak; i.e. sentient, self-aware, intelligent; and was hoping it would be appropriate to simply speak of the beings which contain these things as human, regardless of where they are or what their material substrate is.

Otto


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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)
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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
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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
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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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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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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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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
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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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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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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
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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
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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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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [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
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [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
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [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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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: EJN]
      #5933059 - 06/21/13 01:54 PM

Quote:

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.




Take sex as the most obvious example. It is dirty, wet, grimy, disgusting physical maneuver yet even the most extreme germophobes (Howie Mandel) instinctively overcome this revulsion.

Pesse (Germophobes theme song: 'Can't touch this' by M.C. Hammer) Mist


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933076 - 06/21/13 02:00 PM

Quote:

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".





Brevity and simplicity are virtues, but it really isn't necessary to distill the essence of every concept down to one word.

Edited by ColoHank (06/21/13 02:52 PM)


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5933140 - 06/21/13 02:52 PM

I duuno about the not having instincts thing Otto, seems kinda silly to me...
If I push you off the cliff, you will grab for me, by instinct right? Your'e drowning and the dolphin comes to you, you will grab onto it, pure instinct. Instinct has driven people to drink sea water and eat each other.
We are animals, don't forget that.
I became very territorial and aggressive towards other males when I met my wife, it was weird. We like to pretend we are so high and mighty in the brain, but much of what we do is driven by instinct.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5933166 - 06/21/13 03:16 PM

The type of examples you gave, are the kind of things, Shawn, which make me think that humans do have instincts.

For example, when I noticed you lived in Tennessee, being a UK Wildcats fan I had the almost ir-resistable urge to disagree with anything and everything you said.

Seriously, I am undecided on the human and instinct thing, though, I still lean toward the not having instincts; but, to repeat, the examples you give do evidence the existence of instincts or something darn close to them in humans.

Otto


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933188 - 06/21/13 03:31 PM

.

Yes we do have "survival" instincts. One element is called the "fight or flight response". this is activated through the sympathetic nervous system, and the reaction takes place before the stimulus even has time to generate emotion. A dangerous stimuli will happen, the person will flee out of the way of a car for example, and emotion will then generate 10-20 seconds later. If you hear someone say "I did not even think about it, I just reacted", this is fight or flight response in action. Because this is happening through the sympathetic nervous system, they are not even thinking about it when a traumatic sudden event happens. So I can confirm Otto's original assumption leaning toward existence of human instinct is correct.


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shawnhar
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933202 - 06/21/13 03:42 PM

Quote:


For example, when I noticed you lived in Tennessee, being a UK Wildcats fan I had the almost ir-resistable urge to disagree with anything and everything you said.
Otto



Irony alert, my wife is UK alumni and we met close to campus. We get a Hot Brown at Ramsey's a couple times a year.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5933230 - 06/21/13 03:53 PM

Quote:


I became very territorial and aggressive towards other males when I met my wife, it was weird. We like to pretend we are so high and mighty in the brain, but much of what we do is driven by instinct.




Yes, you are correct. This is evolutionary behavior that is even in primitive neocortex of the brain. All of these behaviors you speak of are designed to give evolutionary advantage. Women also have them, it is called the "sexy son" it is a trait where a woman will mate with a guy who would be considered a philander or "swinger" the point being that all other considerations aside, the primary goal is the best chance at spreading genes of the female through the offspring. Many women are not even aware of this behavior, but this is an evolutionary instinct.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933239 - 06/21/13 03:58 PM

UND,

you said it was an "evolutionary instinct" this "sexy son" thing....

my understanding of instinct is that it is a behavior which the animal cannot choose not to do

yet many men and women become celibate by choice

Please take a moment to explain to me what I am missing; what I am failing to see as to the nature of an instinct.

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5933241 - 06/21/13 03:59 PM

Don't repeat it, but I think Bruce Pearl was cool as the coach at Tennessee.

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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933377 - 06/21/13 05:18 PM

making a choice in a social context does not rule out instinct. The behavior in question is where instinct plays.
For example, mating by H. Sapiens is instinctual regardless of social constructs. We are by biological definition:
Animalia Kingdom
Chordata Phylum
Mammalia class
Primate order
Hominidae family
Homo genus
H. Sapiens species, With left handed Amino acid chirality, and the same DNA coding protocol as cyanobacteria, a product of close to 4 Billion years of evolution from the common bacteria colonies from black smokers.
Thus we are animals, and even though we can reason there are evolutionary instincts that control or influence our behavior whether we know it or not. When we start to consider ourselves as apart from the world of nature, we start to move into one of the three zones of Philosophy:
Ethical, Ontological, or Social approach. And that is where science and empiricism become muddied... as we consider our thoughts and conscience. We can Choose the Dualist approach, such as the idea some have of spirit and body coexisting, thus ruling out animal instinct. But the primary problem with the dualist approach to human existence is how can an immaterial spirit influence a material body, and versa vice. It cannot due to conservation of energy. Thus there is only one rational conclusion, and that is we are not special, we are not of divine provenance, we are an accident, and our reality is based on the choices we make, and how we influence the world around us. I know it sounds heavy, an unsettling to some, but this is the only logical conclusion that has any evidence.


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dyslexic nam
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933393 - 06/21/13 05:34 PM

The ghost in the machine. Now you're speaking my language.

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Joad
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933410 - 06/21/13 05:45 PM

Quote:

making a choice in a social context does not rule out instinct. The behavior in question is where instinct plays.
For example, mating by H. Sapiens is instinctual regardless of social constructs. We are by biological definition:
Animalia Kingdom
Chordata Phylum
Mammalia class
Primate order
Hominidae family
Homo genus
H. Sapiens species, With left handed Amino acid chirality, and the same DNA coding protocol as cyanobacteria, a product of close to 4 Billion years of evolution from the common bacteria colonies from black smokers.
Thus we are animals, and even though we can reason there are evolutionary instincts that control or influence our behavior whether we know it or not. When we start to consider ourselves as apart from the world of nature, we start to move into one of the three zones of Philosophy:
Ethical, Ontological, or Social approach. And that is where science and empiricism become muddied... as we consider our thoughts and conscience. We can Choose the Dualist approach, such as the idea some have of spirit and body coexisting, thus ruling out animal instinct. But the primary problem with the dualist approach to human existence is how can an immaterial spirit influence a material body, and versa vice. It cannot due to conservation of energy. Thus there is only one rational conclusion, and that is we are not special, we are not of divine provenance, we are an accident, and our reality is based on the choices we make, and how we influence the world around us. I know it sounds heavy, an unsettling to some, but this is the only logical conclusion that has any evidence.




Good post.

I'd like to add the large amount of experimental evidence that makes it very clear that "mind" is an epiphenomenon of "body." Change the "body" (brain) in any way (surgically, chemically) and the "mind" (consciousness, thought) changes.

No one (and I mean no one, not even the most knowledgeable and renowned researchers*) is even close to a description of the precise connection between biochemistry (body) and consciousness (mind), and there is no point in our speculating on the question. But there is no reasonable doubt about that connection.

*This is not a criticism. In fact, the world's preeminent researcher on the biophysiology of consciousness is the first to state, with great humility, how he isn't close to any theory of consciousness. I really admire both his knowledge and his humility.


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UND_astrophysics
sage


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5933417 - 06/21/13 05:54 PM

Quote:

Quote:

making a choice in a social context does not rule out instinct. The behavior in question is where instinct plays.
For example, mating by H. Sapiens is instinctual regardless of social constructs. We are by biological definition:
Animalia Kingdom
Chordata Phylum
Mammalia class
Primate order
Hominidae family
Homo genus
H. Sapiens species, With left handed Amino acid chirality, and the same DNA coding protocol as cyanobacteria, a product of close to 4 Billion years of evolution from the common bacteria colonies from black smokers.
Thus we are animals, and even though we can reason there are evolutionary instincts that control or influence our behavior whether we know it or not. When we start to consider ourselves as apart from the world of nature, we start to move into one of the three zones of Philosophy:
Ethical, Ontological, or Social approach. And that is where science and empiricism become muddied... as we consider our thoughts and conscience. We can Choose the Dualist approach, such as the idea some have of spirit and body coexisting, thus ruling out animal instinct. But the primary problem with the dualist approach to human existence is how can an immaterial spirit influence a material body, and versa vice. It cannot due to conservation of energy. Thus there is only one rational conclusion, and that is we are not special, we are not of divine provenance, we are an accident, and our reality is based on the choices we make, and how we influence the world around us. I know it sounds heavy, an unsettling to some, but this is the only logical conclusion that has any evidence.




Good post.

I'd like to add the large amount of experimental evidence that makes it very clear that "mind" is an epiphenomenon of "body." Change the "body" (brain) in any way (surgically, chemically) and the "mind" (consciousness, thought) changes.

No one (and I mean no one, not even the most knowledgeable and renowned researchers*) is even close to a description of the precise connection between biochemistry (body) and consciousness (mind), and there is no point in our speculating on the question. But there is no reasonable doubt about that connection.

*This is not a criticism. In fact, the world's preeminent researcher on the biophysiology of consciousness is the first to state, with great humility, how he isn't close to any theory of consciousness. I really admire both his knowledge and his humility.





Thank You.


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933439 - 06/21/13 06:07 PM

Quote:

I'd like to add the large amount of experimental evidence that makes it very clear that "mind" is an epiphenomenon of "body." Change the "body" (brain) in any way (surgically, chemically) and the "mind" (consciousness, thought) changes.




I forgot to add, what you just cited is called biological reductionism, and I am a firm believer in that


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933598 - 06/21/13 07:54 PM

UND and Joad, thank you for taking time to explain in some detail and clearly what your understanding is of instinct, and of the biological and evolutionary source of those characteristics we call self-awareness, intelligence, choice.

I understand your positions are that these functions of self-awareness, intelligence, choice are the result of materialistic factors only; i.e. they are a matter of biology (evolution), chemistry, and physics; and that the human is no more than an animal of a particular line of evolutionary development.

As I understand the history of the development of the theory of evolution, the concept of instinct arose before we had any understanding of genetics at the molecular and chemical level. Fabre in the 1820s or so and Wundt in the 1870s or so defined instinct as an act without choice. In short, and for our purposes here, instinct was a term of psychological origin used to describe behaviors in non human animals. Between Wundt and today, the debate, as you know better than I, has wavered back and forth between whether or not humans have instincts. I read some guy catalogued some 4,000 human instincts. On the other hand the psychologist Abraham Maslow said humans had outgrown instincts. Back and forth.

Now, I want to press a point I made earlier and request of you a response, for my own understanding.

An instinct is defined psychologically as a behavior without cognitive choice over which the animal has no control. Using the example you gave that the “sexy thing” is an “evolutionary instinct” in humans, why then can human animals choose to not do/not give into/not be controlled by the “sexy thing” whereas the non-human animal is controlled by the instinct without exception?

Is the original, what I am calling, the psychological definition, incorrect?

If it is not incorrect, again, how does human cognition over power instinct?

thank you

Otto


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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933648 - 06/21/13 08:37 PM

Dangerous ground here. Let's just say that a lot of claims to have abrogated the sex instinct are not, um, truthful.

And a successful (and complete) repression of the sex instinct usually is paid for psychologically in some way or another. Certain forms of hysteria come to mind.

Freud is not always wrong.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5933678 - 06/21/13 08:57 PM

"And a successful (and complete) repression of the sex instinct usually is paid for psychologically in some way or another." I think I sometimes witnessed something like that when I reflect back on some of the persons I knew who chose a celibate life; not all and not many by any means, but some.

Let's by pass the "sexy thing" instinct. Choose any supposed human instinct you wish,

An instinct is defined psychologically as a behavior without cognitive choice over which the animal has no control. Using the example of your choice, why then can human animals choose to not do/not give into/not be controlled by the given instinct whereas the non-human animal is controlled by the instinct without exception?

Is the original, what I am calling, the psychological definition, incorrect?

If it is not incorrect, again, how does human cognition over power instinct?

Again, thank you for the courtesy of responding to my questions.

Otto


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933703 - 06/21/13 09:16 PM

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Any more questions?

-drl


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


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Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: deSitter]
      #5933714 - 06/21/13 09:19 PM

Forgive me. I do not understand what the poem was meant to say. If it was a response to my last post to Joad, could you tell me what you were saying...in prose.

Thank you

Otto


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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933790 - 06/21/13 10:08 PM

I'm not certain, but that has a Zen look to it, which is altogether appropriate for this topic.

At any rate, the answer to our most important questions about human being and consciousness is that "we don't know." We may never be able to know because the knowing subject is simultaneously subject and object. Talk about a "Complementarity" dilemma! Every time we think about thinking (or any mental act) we are interfering with the object of our subjective thought. We can't disassociate the two.


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Jay_Bird
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" *DELETED* *DELETED* new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933800 - 06/21/13 10:12 PM

Post deleted by Jay_Bird

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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5933930 - 06/21/13 11:43 PM

"Is the original, what I am calling, the psychological definition, incorrect?

If it is not incorrect, again, how does human cognition over power instinct?

Again, thank you for the courtesy of responding to my questions."

___________________________________________________________-





Otto,

I believe you might be oversimplifying things a little bit. Now you are talking about behavioral psychology, and we measure that through several approaches: The single trait approach, and the Many trait approach... One looks at "Why do people do that" and the other approach looks at what do people like that do?"

Research Methods used are as follows:
• Reliability
• Validity
• Research Design
• Effect Sizes

Data used is S- self I-Informant L -Life B-Behavioral Data.

Single Trait approach-
For example, I could design a test of 500 random questions, and ask several people who have records for stealing, They will tend to answer certain questions in a questionnaire similarly. I Isolate these similarities, and I can apply them to a random new set of volunteers, and pick up certain patterns of behavior, an I could then make some fairly valid assumptions about those people after they answer 500-800 T or F questions.

These are behavioral traits, and can be quantified in personalities that are extroverted, introverted, High self monitors, etc. etc. We do not really have a point in day to day behavior when "instinct" takes over .. but we do see it in fight or flight scenarios. So basically to answer your previous question, we now delve into the field of personality psychology, which I am well versed in that, but it can be very in depth. But ask away if you want.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5933967 - 06/22/13 12:16 AM

Quote:

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.




If this is the case then, your earlier statement of what is a "necessary but not sufficient" requirement to be designated 'human' was in error.

(Sorry if this has been addressed subsequently, I'm on the road and reading and posting in haste from the motel room)


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Otto Piechowski
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Reged: 09/20/05

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5933969 - 06/22/13 12:17 AM

What a kind invitation you gave me!! Thank you.

I just don't know how to ask the question that is in mind, after reading all you and Joad et al. said, without restating much the same thing, and then irritating folk by asking the exact same question.

But I'll try:

I recall in psychology classes being told of things were an animal could not deviate from its instincts; the chickadee cowering/hiding when any type of shadow passed over it; the pigeon starving to death while sitting on a pile of seed/food it could digest but had not been programmed by evolution to eat. From examples like that, I came to the understanding that non-human animals necessarily follow their instincts; they cannot choose not to. Another non-human animal instinct, to survive and to eat, a healthy non-human animal will always eat.

The human-animal though can choose to starve itself to death. Surely, if humans have instincts, it has the same animal instinct to survive and to eat. If the human then is only an animal of a particular evolutionary path, but still only an animal, why is it that it can ignore, go against, choose to deviate from its instincts?

Again, thank you UND. If the question can generate a straight forward simple answer, great. If there is something egregiously wrong with the way i stated the question, point that out. Seriously, do so! But it seems from what I see and what I've been taught that non-human animals cannot deviate from their instincts, but humans can deviate from their instincts (assuming they have instincts); but if humans are only animals (of a particular evolutionary path), how do they have the ability what all other animals do not have?

Otto


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MRoedel
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5933970 - 06/22/13 12:18 AM

To me, it seems that the question is: "What qualifies another creature to be considered a person?"

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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934003 - 06/22/13 12:56 AM

Quote:

What a kind invitation you gave me!! Thank you.

I just don't know how to ask the question that is in mind, after reading all you and Joad et al. said, without restating much the same thing, and then irritating folk by asking the exact same question.

But I'll try:

I recall in psychology classes being told of things were an animal could not deviate from its instincts; the chickadee cowering/hiding when any type of shadow passed over it; the pigeon starving to death while sitting on a pile of seed/food it could digest but had not been programmed by evolution to eat. From examples like that, I came to the understanding that non-human animals necessarily follow their instincts; they cannot choose not to. Another non-human animal instinct, to survive and to eat, a healthy non-human animal will always eat.

The human-animal though can choose to starve itself to death. Surely, if humans have instincts, it has the same animal instinct to survive and to eat. If the human then is only an animal of a particular evolutionary path, but still only an animal, why is it that it can ignore, go against, choose to deviate from its instincts?

Again, thank you UND. If the question can generate a straight forward simple answer, great. If there is something egregiously wrong with the way i stated the question, point that out. Seriously, do so! But it seems from what I see and what I've been taught that non-human animals cannot deviate from their instincts, but humans can deviate from their instincts (assuming they have instincts); but if humans are only animals (of a particular evolutionary path), how do they have the ability what all other animals do not have?

Otto




The difference is the development of the Neo-cortex in humans, it takes a more upper level thinking, but still communicates and interacts with the original R- complex (and basal ganglia). We have the most developed of all animals because Homo Erectus Was able to control fire, and cook meat. The cooked meat required less calories of the bodies energy budget to digest. Uncooked meat requires an energy budget of 6 hours a day chewing vs. cooked meat for the same calories delivered in Homo Erectus. This new energy from cooked meat created a rapid increase in brain size, from 800cc to around 1100 cc. That is why we have the ability other animals lack; A well developed neocortex.
Animals cannot cook ;-)


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934240 - 06/22/13 08:56 AM

As for instinct, humans are not the only creatures who can suppress instincts for social or practical reasons. Other creatures can be trained to do the same thing. Dogs can be trained to avoid chasing and killing what would normally be their prey, for example.

What we do, both in ourselves and in our service animals, is take advantage of the fact that often these instincts are in conflict with each other in different circumstances. Then we create circumstances where some instincts can be supplanted with others. None of our instincts have gone away, we've just been able through training and environmental/social manipulation to redirect them towards other goals.

Among the other instincts that have been mentioned, the drive of the human child to learn to speak is a powerful one.


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934256 - 06/22/13 09:13 AM

Quote:

This new energy from cooked meat created a rapid increase in brain size, from 800cc to around 1100 cc. That is why we have the ability other animals lack; A well developed neocortex.





That's Richard Wrangham's thesis in "Catching Fire -- How Cooking Made Us Human". My wife and I read and debated the book, and we felt that while the idea makes sense to a certain extent, he overstated his case, and made a less than compelling argument. As a nit, I would rather say that cooking enabled the continuation of a trend in human brain size expansion that was already ongoing. The consumption of raw organ meats has been popular among many human populations even after the mastery of fire and cooking, so it's not an all or nothing proposition. The real selection feedback for increased brain size was tool manufacture and the fine motor coordination required to manipulate them skilfully, and of course the complex social interactions involved in tribal and intertribal relations.

Add to that the growth of language, which is likely also a continuing trend, and the selection pressure for increased brain size has been in place for a long time. Cooking definitely made that selection easier, though.

Edited by llanitedave (06/22/13 09:14 AM)


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: MRoedel]
      #5934271 - 06/22/13 09:25 AM

Quote:

To me, it seems that the question is: "What qualifies another creature to be considered a person?"




"Person" is a better word in this case, because it's a legal and social term rather than a biological one, and its meaning is not firmly fixed.


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ColoHank
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5934288 - 06/22/13 09:37 AM

Better still, I think, would be "being," as in human being or extra-terrestrial being.

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934313 - 06/22/13 09:53 AM

UND...thank you. I understand what you have written. To summarize:

Animals have instincts which, in non-human animals almost always is the acting without cognitive choice; a behavior they cannot choose to do otherwise, cannot overcome or override.

But in those animals called humans because of dietary effects on the neo-cortical development, there has developed an ability to be aware of the instinctual urge, and to choose otherwise.

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934345 - 06/22/13 10:29 AM

My gratitude to you who patiently took the time and devoted the effort to explain to me your positions/opinions/beliefs/thoughts/understandings of what constitutes humanness and how humanness is formed.

The Opening Post was my assertion that all beings we find who possess self awareness, free choice, intelligence should be called human. And then I asked for others to respond to this assertion.


The position, most recently articulated by UND and Joad here, and others, is that the human being is an animal; nothing more, nothing less. As all other animals, the human is an animal of a particular line of evolutionary development. Because of that development, from solely material causes which have been and perhaps will be discovered in biology and chemistry and physics, man has developed the ability to have a mind and be a person; i.e. to be self-aware, to choose (perhaps freely, perhaps not), to understand, to reason. Though we do not understand fully yet, the reason for the development of this type of consciousness we find in humans (called “mind” and which includes self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning), there is no reason to assume that some other non-material or spiritual agency is needed to explain the arrival of human consciousness/mind/person-hood/personality.

An aside, but a very important aside, they have articulated that animals have instincts which, as a psychological phenomena, is biologically and evolutionary programmed behaviors which the animal cannot choose not to do. However, to class humans as just animals of a particular line of evolutionary development, it was necessary to qualify this definition of instinct in the animal called human by saying there had been brain-organ development which allowed for chosen deviation from instinctual urges.

The relevance of this human-is-an-animal-only position to the Opening Post is that if a human is a particular line of animal development on the planet called earth, then it would not be correct to call human, beings which developed self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning by some other line of evolutionary development under non-terran conditions on some other world, or by some type of human fabrication. Thus, the fabricated machine or smart program that wakes-up, the test tube developed chemical consciousness, the sentient creature on a planet orbiting a star thousands of light years away, should not be called human.

As always, if my summaries are in error in any manner, please correct them for my benefit and the benefit of the reader.


The position that the human is an animal only of a particular line of evolutionary development is a position based in part on some assumptions which cannot be proven (e.g. that science is based on the philosophical assumption called objectivism) and other assumptions, which for the sake of space and time, were not stated. These assumptions were not discussed and probably should not be nor should have been discussed as they were not directly pertinent to the Original Post.


I continue to be of the opinion/belief/understanding that humanness (self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reason) within the human condition as it exists in reality, requires a material substrate and some type of immaterial spiritual agency or addition.

For the sake of brevity I like to replace all those words, i.e. self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reasoning with the word “mind”. In my opinion/belief/understanding “mind” is not the equivalent of “brain” but does (within the human condition and perhaps elsewhere) require the organ called “brain” to manifest itself; much like the computer (harddrive/web) requires the monitor of some sort to be manifested.

I am undecided as to whether, what I am calling, the material substrate, needs to be a particular material substrate. Does it have to be biological? Does it have to be biological according to our understanding of evolutionary development? Can it be a mechanical substrate? Can it be a laboratory generated chemical substrate? Can it be a biological substrate created on a total different chemistry which might be found on some other planet around some other star; e.g. flourine based? arsenic based?

Assuming the substrate can be something other than the biological substrate of terran-evolution, because I believe the necessary component in humanness (the creation of mind/person) is an immaterial spiritual agency or addition, I am of the opinion; these two assumptions accepted, that where-ever in the universe and by what-ever biological, chemical, mechanical fabrication process the right substrate comes into existence, if mind/person is found there, that mind/person is human.


I ask that this thread not be used to discuss, at this time, the differing opinions of man as an animal only or as an incarnate spirit.

Rather, the ramifications to the Opening Post having been fully explored and stated by those holding human-is-animal-only position, I request we now explore the question of the appropriateness of calling human any entity anywhere in the universe who has (evidences) mind (self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reasoning) which has developed as the result of a spiritual agency/addition to some type of material substrate.

Thank you.

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934434 - 06/22/13 11:29 AM

In Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, the last words spoken, by Kirk, of Spock who had just died, "of all the souls I have known, his was the most human". As Kirk says these words, the camera scans to Kirstie Alley who cringes. The implication seems to be she does not consider herself human, being a vulcan; and thus questions the appropriateness of defining the half Vulcan Spock, by the name of human.

Movies, literature, can never be used as proof; but occasionally they can be used to illustrate, illuminate, articulate an idea or, this case, a conflict of ideas.

Is mind, assuming it is the product of a material substrate and an immaterial spiritual agency or addition, human regardless where or how it comes into existence?


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Reged: 02/17/10

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934525 - 06/22/13 12:21 PM

Random mutation + time + natural selection = us. E.O. Wilson has adequately (at least to my satisfaction) defined kin selection. Self-sacrifice, in this light, need not necessarily be contrary to 'instinct'. The behavioral layers on top of our lizard brains have increased the species' fitness (the Darwinian definition = w = the number of viable offspring). Richard Dawkins wasn't entirely off base, nor was Occam.

We define ourselves, and it's blatant anthropomorphism to ascribe our self-definition to anything outside our own species (that's the biological definition of species). Consequently I disagree with the premise that the word 'human', used to describe our self-defined values, is inappropriate for application to any other sentient entity.

P.S. Spock was half human. That 'hybrid' plot point was well developed. So Kirk did not apply the word incorrectly according to my definition.

Edited by WaterMaster (06/22/13 12:26 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
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Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5934559 - 06/22/13 12:38 PM

Steve,

You wrote, "Consequently I disagree with the premise that the word 'human', used to describe our self-defined values, is inappropriate for application to any other sentient entity."

Did you mean "appropriate" instead of "inappropriate"? I got a bit confused because, so far no one has argued the appellation of non-terran beings possessing mind as human to be inappropriate. Also, I got a bit lost in the double negative.

Your position then: Is it or is it not appropriate to use the word human, to describe beings possessing minds whose origin is not of earth?
Otto


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934739 - 06/22/13 02:43 PM

Quote:

Forgive me. I do not understand what the poem was meant to say. If it was a response to my last post to Joad, could you tell me what you were saying...in prose.

Thank you

Otto




Sorry, I was being a bit of a *bleep* (rhymes with tick). It's a metaphysical examination of context by Wallace Stevens called "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird". This is 13.

-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: deSitter]
      #5934750 - 06/22/13 02:51 PM

Oh...rhymes with tick....you mean the ecclesiastical pronunciation of the third person singular present tense of the verb scire (sheer-ay) meaning to know:
scit (he knows).

I've always thought of that as something of an appropriate metaphor when we get too attached to what we know: As in; "He knows scit."

Anyway, about the poem, drl: no problem.

Otto


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934780 - 06/22/13 03:06 PM


When one starts to talk about spiritual agency and metaphysics (that is not quantifiable) I cannot begin to speculate, because that is not the job of science, that is the job of philosophy. I have no idea what a "non terran" being is so I am at a disadvantage there. As far as I know there are no beings living on Earth that originated from somewhere else, unless I missed something ha ha. That would be some big news for sure.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934820 - 06/22/13 03:32 PM

Thank you UND.

You have articulated exactly why I am interested in this idea of naming all self-aware, sentient, beings with free choice, human. It saves fumbling with silly words like non-terran.

Is it appropriate to call and consider human, any beings with whom we have contact, who have mind, i.e. who are self-aware, have will (can choose), can understand and reason, whether they are products of human evolution on earth, or the product of some other biological evolutionary path on earth (perhaps now; i.e. bonobo or dolphin; or perhaps in the distant future), or the product of some other very different chemical biological evolutionary path on the planet circling another star, or a product of a biological laboratory, or some fabricated machine or advanced smart program which becomes aware.

We've pretty well reached the conclusion, if the human is only the product of a particular line of animal evolution, then it is not appropriate to call a being with mind that arises by some other process, human.

Assuming that mind is the product of some material substrate and an immaterial spiritual agency or addition, with those assumptions having been given, is it appropriate to call any and all beings with mind, human; regardless of their origin on earth, on the planet around a distant star, in a laboratory, or a bit of smart programming?

........

You are very right; spiritual agency and metaphysics are not quantifiable. However, they do have to operate by the same rules of logical consistency as any other reasoning. Thus, someone like yourself, who is really good at math and logic, even if you don't have a-dog-in-the-fight regarding things-spiritual, can certainly give valuable comments.

Otto

Edited by Otto Piechowski (06/22/13 03:35 PM)


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934862 - 06/22/13 03:53 PM

so if humans are at the top of the scale, why did people start worshiping animals?

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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5934868 - 06/22/13 03:55 PM


Unfortunately all evidence points against spiritual agency, and is in favor of biological reductionism. Spiritual agency is the role of philosophy, and not science. I wish there were such a thing as spiritual agency, but it would be illogical to assume something like that for me personally because it is a social construct. We can observe, quantify and predict human behavior based on neurophysiology, and have gotten quite good at it. But to all the sudden make a leap in logic and try to bring in some metaphysical element into the equation really makes no sense, because there is no need to. It defies rationalism. It would be similar to studying construction of the Pyramids, and rather than calculating materials and manpower, suddenly saying aliens or an unseen force built them. There is just no need to bring metaphysics into it, because it diminishes out own intellect and is a somewhat "lazy" way to go about problem solving. If we start down that path, then metaphysics will be a part of our thinking as it was post-library of Alexandria era, and we would essentially be in the dark ages. So I really cannot comment beyond what we can verify, because it is irrational, and the realm of philosophy.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: scopethis]
      #5934871 - 06/22/13 03:59 PM

Quote:

so if humans are at the top of the scale, why did people start worshiping animals?



Why would that preclude them from worshiping animals? It cannot be denied that we are biologically the Apex predator, so the question makes no sense.
Actually the animals were symbolic of the hunt. Humans also worshiped the Venus fertility goddess. That was a human construct.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5934884 - 06/22/13 04:04 PM

Quote:

Quote:

This new energy from cooked meat created a rapid increase in brain size, from 800cc to around 1100 cc. That is why we have the ability other animals lack; A well developed neocortex.





That's Richard Wrangham's thesis in "Catching Fire -- How Cooking Made Us Human". My wife and I read and debated the book, and we felt that while the idea makes sense to a certain extent, he overstated his case, and made a less than compelling argument. As a nit, I would rather say that cooking enabled the continuation of a trend in human brain size expansion that was already ongoing. The consumption of raw organ meats has been popular among many human populations even after the mastery of fire and cooking, so it's not an all or nothing proposition.




I think you are missing the point. There is no other explanation for the rapid growth in brain size. and we are talking about cooked meat, not raw meat. raw meat takes 10 times the calories for the human body to digest, an inhibitor leaving no energy budget for brain increase over generations. If one counts the calories needed for hunting ,and then digesting raw meat, only the use of fire can explain the sudden brain increase. This happened form Homo erectus through Homo Ergaster, and there is archeological evidence in the form of fire pits in the strata to back that up. It is simply a matter of calorie counting. The lipids were already broken down by the fire, increasing calorie delivery and decreasing calorie use for digestion.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934894 - 06/22/13 04:12 PM

so is that why the human animal sacrificed non-human animals to appease the gods?

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: scopethis]
      #5934901 - 06/22/13 04:15 PM

Quote:

so is that why the human animal sacrificed non-human animals to appease the gods?




The question makes no sense in context of what the topic is, but If it makes you feel better, humans probably sacrificed more humans than animals.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5934920 - 06/22/13 04:23 PM

then if we stop eating cooked meat and become vegetarians we become less smart

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: scopethis]
      #5934937 - 06/22/13 04:29 PM

Not really, cooked Meat led to the increase in brain size, but certainly vegan diet if one is getting the calories needed will supply all that is needed, but the human brain has decreased 300 cc's in the past 24,000 years anyway, and we have moved to a much more diverse diet with the advent of the agricultural revolution. Our brains have essentially reached the max size due to how it is structured, namely myelin sheathing needed on axon to prevent loss of electrical signal. Nature has pretty much reached max potential in our case, regardless of what futurists and sci- fi writers imply with ideas of "huge brained people" ;-)

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: scopethis]
      #5935108 - 06/22/13 06:18 PM

I thought of a better way to put the idea of carnivore vs. herbivore lifestyle in the context of evolution:

Take a look at a cow and Paranthropus Boisei.

Grass ain't hard to catch :-)

Hence, niche adaptation ( too well adapted) and no evolutionary pressure.
Boisei went extinct with the loss of the Sahara pump in Africa. and Cows certainly aren't smart either ;-)


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935262 - 06/22/13 08:13 PM

UND, like Jarad and Dave and a number of others here, I really-sincerely-appreciate your conviction, the courtesy with which you express it, but especially the clarity of your explanations.

I do believe that some type of spiritual agency or immaterial spiritual addition was needed for the animal pre-human to become human. There are assumptions and experiences which lead me to this belief. Should this thread ever get to the point of me expressing some of those, I would be appreciative to read your logical analysis of any inconsistency you might find in the conclusions I draw from the assumptions made.

Now, I want to pick a bone with you, us together. Here goes, you wrote of the assumption of a spiritual agency, " It would be similar to studying construction of the Pyramids, and rather than calculating materials and manpower, suddenly saying aliens or an unseen force built them."

First of all, you used an analogy. I like that. I can get my mind around analogies.

It seems to me the analogy is a false analogy. We are pretty sure we know the engineering techniques which could have been used to build the pyramids. We are pretty sure we could build the pyramids ourselves. But we still have not been able to create life, much less human life, in the lab from mere chemicals and energies. Further, we do not yet know what the proper mix of chemistry and energies are to accomplish this.

Thus, I don't think the pyramid analogy was a good one.

What do you think of my comment about your comment? Point out to me anything you see lacking in logic and, well, just mere thinking things through.

Otto

P.S. anybody else, jump on as well


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935263 - 06/22/13 08:14 PM

UND...300 cc less? Really! And we are talking about some pre-human who was definitely part of the evolutionary line that becomes homo sapiens (us)? Yes?

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935268 - 06/22/13 08:17 PM

Quote:

Steve,

You wrote, "Consequently I disagree with the premise that the word 'human', used to describe our self-defined values, is inappropriate for application to any other sentient entity."

Did you mean "appropriate" instead of "inappropriate"? I got a bit confused because, so far no one has argued the appellation of non-terran beings possessing mind as human to be inappropriate. Also, I got a bit lost in the double negative.

Your position then: Is it or is it not appropriate to use the word human, to describe beings possessing minds whose origin is not of earth?
Otto




My apologies, for the confusion and my delay in response. I left the post in the middle and when I returned began in the middle of the sentence. What I meant to say was that I disagree with the premise that the word 'human' could be applied to any other sentient entitity. As we use it to describe out self-defined values, it is inappropriate and anthropomorphic.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935280 - 06/22/13 08:22 PM

.

Yes 300 cc less. Cro Magnon was AMH human, their brains were 1650 CC, ours is 1350.. we are the direct descendants of AMH H. Sapiens and Cro Magnon.

Spiritual agency is not science. it is a man made construct, I do not see why you keep trying to lead the conversation in that direction. To speculate on intelligence is one thing, but when we start talking about spirits, that is like conjecturing about the tooth fairy, because people do not want to look for valid evidence, the want to believe something, and only consider clues that lead them to a biased conclusion. Intelligent design tried the same half baked logic. "Well, we don't know all the answers, so it must be some mystical power" To put it politely, that is not only rubbish, but unscientific and dangerous.
The idea of some spirit is not the realm of science. and to jump to a conclusion like that is very similar to conspiracy theorists who give humans less credit than they really deserve, and do in many cases published, televised and other claim UFO's or some mystical being are responsible for the pyramids. I love astrophysics and science, but Science broke with metaphysics 300 years ago, and I am certainly not going into the dark ages to discuss spirits, fortune telling and astrology. This is the 21st century.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5935292 - 06/22/13 08:27 PM

I understand your post, Steve.

Try this...would this be acceptable to you; suppose we came up with a new word which had never been used to speak of humanity/humanness/humans. Could we then, comfortably in your thinking, apply this word to where-ever and under what-ever conditions we find "mind" in the universe; be it that product of a specific animal evolutionary path on earth called homo sapiens, be it the advanced computer programming that wakes up and displays "mind", be it the product of chemical and energy engineering in a laboratory that develops "mind", and finally, be it those beings of a totally different chemistry and evolutionary path on some planet circling some distant star?

In your opinion, is "mind" (self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning) something of which you would be comfortable giving the material substrate of that mind (e.g. human evolution or/and programming or/and lab-product or/and extra terrestrial) a common name? a common designation? indicating that they truly are remarkable and significantly alike?

Otto


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935296 - 06/22/13 08:31 PM

And though our craniums are now c. 300 cc less in volume, our brains are capable of as much and more?

Walk me through the physiology. How has that become possible? Was that what you were referring to by talking about the fat coating (myelin) thing?

Otto


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935310 - 06/22/13 08:37 PM


The Mind is a result of biological processes and dies with the death of the brain. I am not sure why people are too fearful to admit this fact. there is mo magic energy or some psychic convergence that created awareness. To speculate on other races around other stars while trying to rationalize metaphysics and "ghosts" is missing the bog picture. If we refuse to acknowledge ourselves as physical entities, then we should probably not get into the business of speculating on others.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935319 - 06/22/13 08:41 PM


Because people automatically believe in a false analogy of brain size equaling intelligence. It is not IQ it is EQ that is the way to look at it. Brain mass to body mass ratio. Neanderthals Brains were even slightly bigger than Ours (H. Sapiens/ Cro Magnon). Does it mean they were Smarter? Nope. They had not even invented the needle.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935324 - 06/22/13 08:47 PM

UND...what's EQ? Seriously, I believe your conclusion is correct; that our smaller brains work better. How is that accomplished? What is the physiology behind it? (chemistry? biology?)

Otto

Edited by Otto Piechowski (06/22/13 08:48 PM)


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935326 - 06/22/13 08:50 PM

Otto,

I suppose we could find a word, or invent one, that would apply to 'mind' wherever we found it in the universe (and I think I know where you're going with this question). I would suggest 'intelligence' or 'reasoning entity'.

My point is that we use the word human to describe ourselves. Applying the term to anything 'not us' is anthropomorphism. The values, traits, characteristics, thought processes, etc. of non-human reasoning entities is pure speculation, and while some or all of those may parallel humanity, it would likely be a mistake to consider such reasoning entities 'human'.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5935332 - 06/22/13 08:53 PM

I agree with the concern attendant to engaging in anthropomorphizing.

This discussion with you has caused me to clarify a piece of my mental wonderings and wanderings. Will "mind" always be "mind" where ever "mind" appears? And, is "mind" the summit of what biology and engineering can produce?

Speaking of individuals, of course. Communities might have other, equally valuable summits.

Otto


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5935336 - 06/22/13 08:56 PM

that quote of Hubble's you have attached to your posts, "The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons," reminds me of something once written by a neo-Thomist metaphysician named Emerich Coreth. He wrote that the ultimate effect of every correct answer to any question is that the number of unknowns is greatly increased.

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935347 - 06/22/13 09:01 PM

There are no "summits" in evolutionary biology. There are simply the dynamically various ways in which random mutation and natural selection result in species whose survival is enabled by a virtually innumerable number of morphologies. It is a common, and unfortunate, error to believe that biological evolution is a kind of pyramid leading to some sort of human summit.

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935388 - 06/22/13 09:24 PM

Joad,

Using the word "mind" to speak of self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning; do you have any thoughts about future developments/improvements/changes we might see in human "mind" in a distant future?

Do you have any thoughts of what could be possible, in the way of "mind" or beyond "mind" in places operating under possible other types of evolution?

Otto


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935426 - 06/22/13 09:54 PM

Quote:

UND...what's EQ? Seriously, I believe your conclusion is correct; that our smaller brains work better. How is that accomplished? What is the physiology behind it? (chemistry? biology?)

Otto





EQ is encephalization quotient.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935461 - 06/22/13 10:18 PM

Ah, yes, the "brain mass to body mass ratio."

Why is this ratio significant for cognitive ability increase?


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935555 - 06/22/13 11:17 PM

Quote:

Why is this ratio significant for cognitive ability increase?





Now that's a big question (probably more than a few dissertations worth). Without being familiar with recent research, my guess would be that the human brain is as big as it needs to be.

I'm not trying to be trite. Evolutionary biology is a complex science, and it's hard to explain natural selection in just a few hundred words. I hope it will suffice to say that it appears as if a bigger, or perhaps even better brain, at this point in our evolutionary history and in our current ecology, does not offer a selective advantage. But that is an entirely different discussion...


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5935563 - 06/22/13 11:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Why is this ratio significant for cognitive ability increase?





Now that's a big question (probably more than a few dissertations worth). Without being familiar with recent research, my guess would be that the human brain is as big as it needs to be.

I'm not trying to be trite. Evolutionary biology is a complex science, and it's hard to explain natural selection in just a few hundred words. I hope it will suffice to say that it appears as if a bigger, or perhaps even better brain, at this point in our evolutionary history and in our current ecology, does not offer a selective advantage. But that is an entirely different discussion...





You nailed it. Hence the 300 CC decrease in the past 24,000 years. Since the brain uses 24% of the bodies energy budget, no need to have a bigger brain, and actually it has streamlined a bit.

Excellent job
.
.
.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935600 - 06/23/13 12:04 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

This new energy from cooked meat created a rapid increase in brain size, from 800cc to around 1100 cc. That is why we have the ability other animals lack; A well developed neocortex.





That's Richard Wrangham's thesis in "Catching Fire -- How Cooking Made Us Human". My wife and I read and debated the book, and we felt that while the idea makes sense to a certain extent, he overstated his case, and made a less than compelling argument. As a nit, I would rather say that cooking enabled the continuation of a trend in human brain size expansion that was already ongoing. The consumption of raw organ meats has been popular among many human populations even after the mastery of fire and cooking, so it's not an all or nothing proposition.




I think you are missing the point. There is no other explanation for the rapid growth in brain size. and we are talking about cooked meat, not raw meat. raw meat takes 10 times the calories for the human body to digest, an inhibitor leaving no energy budget for brain increase over generations. If one counts the calories needed for hunting ,and then digesting raw meat, only the use of fire can explain the sudden brain increase. This happened form Homo erectus through Homo Ergaster, and there is archeological evidence in the form of fire pits in the strata to back that up. It is simply a matter of calorie counting. The lipids were already broken down by the fire, increasing calorie delivery and decreasing calorie use for digestion.




The assumption that cooking is responsible for the increase in brain size carries with it the assumption that the ONLY thing keeping brain size down was the lack of cooked food. But this isn't necessarily true. Bottlenosed dolphins don't cook their fish, yet they have very large brains, with highly complex cerebral folds.
(You could argue that their brain to body mass ratio is still smaller than that of humans, but factoring in the amount of poorly enervated blubber that dolphins carry reduces that difference considerably -- an average bottlenose dolphin has a brain to body mass ratio not that far below a very obese human).

Also, domestic dogs have been eating cooked food now for tens of thousands of years, but though they have very quickly evolved some pretty distinctive and diverse forms during that time,there's no evidence they've experienced any selection for larger brains relative to their wild relatives. If anything, domestic dogs have smaller brains and less intelligence than wild wolves.

So there has to be another explanation than cooking for increased brain size, especially since this increase began prior to the advent of cooking.

Another point being missed is that even with cooking, meat makes up a minority of human calorie intake in most populations. Cooking may be more important for releasing nutrients from vegetables such as roots and grains than it is for meat. And here's where Wrangham's argument is the strongest, since this behavior seems to have allowed the selection of smaller, weaker jaws and teeth, with extensive chewing no longer such a necessity. And collecting plant food generally expends fewer calories than hunting, so the calorie count you mentioned isn't necessarily valid.

There are other ways that a preference for meat could have been used by evolution to enable larger brains. We could have evolved a more efficient digestive system similar to that of specialized predators, to get more out of the meat we eat. Raw meat need not require excessive energy to digest if the biology is focused on and specialized for that particular food type. But we didn't. We retained a hybrid, omnivore's digestive system.

As I said before, and as you pointed out in your post, there's no argument that the use of fire enabled the rapid development of large brains, because it enabled the more efficient absorption of nutrients from the food available. But it could have alternatively enabled the the evolution of many other physical features besides brain size, if they were already being selected for -- larger size, faster running, greater physical strength, to name three. Enabling is not selecting, and cooking didn't select for larger brain size, and therefore did not cause it in any evolutionary sense. The selection pressure for larger brains came from elsewhere, and cooked food simply removed impediments to it. But had that selection pressure not already existed prior to cooking (as it apparently does not in dogs), then the extra available calories would have not been more likely to enable larger brain size than the enhancement of any other trait.

At best, what cooking did was accelerate an already existing trend. If that selection pressure had remained over time, the well-developed neocortex would have appeared without cooking, just a bit more gradually, and with other adaptations in the digestive system to enable it.

Edited by llanitedave (06/23/13 12:12 AM)


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935610 - 06/23/13 12:11 AM

Trying to stay away from anything political or controversial, I'll simply say that "natural selection" is ineluctably tied to sexual selection. Larger brains, under the conditions of current human society, do not lead to the selection of larger numbers of sexual partners, or larger numbers of offspring. It is the gene pool that governs biological evolution, and intelligence is no predictor (unless it is a negative predictor) of an individual's contribution to it.

I do not expect any further growth in the size of the human brain.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5935614 - 06/23/13 12:13 AM

I never said the lack of cooked food kept the brain size small, I said that cooked meat Was responsible for Homo Erectus. and that is pretty much the scientific consensus. period. There is no doubt that uncooked meat caused a slower brain increase.. but not like cooked.
If you can cite where this larger brain size came from, an alternative explanation, I will be happy to listen. Because in any caloric study that I have done in evolutionary psychology, there is no other way to account for the calories, and yes, calories are needed for brain mass. Brain sizes do not increase from thin air. The brain development also came from having to catch the food, and the creative ways that were needed to achieve this. Like I pointed out using Boisei as an example. Boisei was a herbivore and an evolutionary dead end. You cannot dispute that fact. If you can show me where those extra calories came from, I am all ears. But I seriously doubt you will be able to do that. The Body uses 24% of it's energy budget alone just to think. Growing 500 cc's in brain size so quickly through simple evolutionary pressure? I promise you that is not plausible.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935616 - 06/23/13 12:18 AM

The conditions of current human society are pretty ephemeral, and I would hesitate to attribute any long-term significance to it one way or the other.

Anyway, it's very possible that "natural" selection with respect to human evolution may be nearing its end. With the mastery of the genetic code (and the removal of patentability for existing human genes), it's highly probable that future human evolution will be a result of deliberate selection.

"Intelligent Design" is certainly no explanation for our evolutionary past, but it may indeed be a valid concept for our future.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935617 - 06/23/13 12:19 AM

"The Body uses 24% of its energy budget alone just to think."

I didn't know that.

Pardon me, folks, but I am going to go now and get rich selling millions of copies of my new book . . .











wait for it . . .













you know it's coming:










The Thinking Man's Diet.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5935622 - 06/23/13 12:24 AM

Quote:

The conditions of current human society are pretty ephemeral, and I would hesitate to attribute any long-term significance to it one way or the other.

Anyway, it's very possible that "natural" selection with respect to human evolution may be nearing its end. With the mastery of the genetic code (and the removal of patentability for existing human genes), it's highly probable that future human evolution will be a result of deliberate selection.

"Intelligent Design" is certainly no explanation for our evolutionary past, but it may indeed be a valid concept for our future.




You make a good point, but there is the problem of scale to consider. The deliberate selection that may indeed appear in our near future will most probably be limited to a very small number of affluent people. Meanwhile, there will be over seven billion people who will not be deliberately selecting their genetic inheritance. The ratio of the deliberately selected to the ordinarily selected will be too large to make up.

But, quite frankly, I don't give human life much more than a century or so, at the most, so the discussion is moot as far as I'm concerned.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935627 - 06/23/13 12:31 AM

Quote:

I never said the lack of cooked food kept the brain size small, I said that cooked meat Was responsible for Homo Erectus. and that is pretty much the scientific consensus. period. There is no doubt that uncooked meat caused a slower brain increase.. but not like cooked.
If you can cite where this larger brain size came from, an alternative explanation, I will be happy to listen. Because in any caloric study that I have done in evolutionary psychology, there is no other way to account for the calories, and yes, calories are needed for brain mass. Brain sizes do not increase from thin air. The brain development also came from having to catch the food, and the creative ways that were needed to achieve this. Like I pointed out using Boisei as an example. Boisei was a herbivore and an evolutionary dead end. You cannot dispute that fact. If you can show me where those extra calories came from, I am all ears. But I seriously doubt you will be able to do that. The Body uses 24% of it's energy budget alone just to think. Growing 500 cc's in brain size through simple evolutionary pressure? I promise you that is not plausible.




But boisei was not a human ancestor, and it's dietary habits are pretty much irrelevant to ours. As I mentioned, the increase in brain size began before cooking, and therefore cooking could not have supplied the selection pressure for it. Certainly the social cooperation required for group hunting would have played a role in this selection pressure -- but it can't be the sole explanation either. Wolves and wild dogs are extremely sophisticated social group hunters, yet their brain sizes do not seem to have increased significantly in the time they've been in existence, and that time is longer than human ancestors have been hunting. Human behavior is complex in ways other than hunting, and there are a number of possible triggers for selection in human intelligence that don't relate to it.

It's not incumbent on one criticizing a hypothesis to advance an alternative explanation. It's the hypothesis being presented that is subject to criticism; refutation and falsification are just as valid in the absence of an alternative as in the presence of one. A valid alternative to a falsified theory is "I don't know".


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935637 - 06/23/13 12:36 AM

Joad, you wrote, "But, quite frankly, I don't give human life much more than a century or so, at the most,..."

Please say more. Why do you say that? What do you mean? etc.

Otto


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5935638 - 06/23/13 12:36 AM

Boisei was a Branch, and you are correct, a distant cousin, but an evolutionary dead end. and you are right, the pressure began before cooking. But we must consider an energy budget once again.. without cooking Homo erectus would have spent 6.2 hours per day just eating, and that is not counting it;s body breaking down the lipids. My point is, that there is no other way to account for this energy other than cooking. Even evolutionary pressure needs to get that energy from somewhere, it cannot come anywhere else that anyone can account for, no magic energy drink, etc. That energy through caloric intake must have come from somewhere.

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Joad
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935644 - 06/23/13 12:41 AM

There are some who think that the expiration date, which they call "Nightfall" after an Asimov story, is going to in 2045 or thereabouts. I don't think it is going to be anything so precise as that.

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935646 - 06/23/13 12:43 AM

Quote:

Quote:

The conditions of current human society are pretty ephemeral, and I would hesitate to attribute any long-term significance to it one way or the other.

Anyway, it's very possible that "natural" selection with respect to human evolution may be nearing its end. With the mastery of the genetic code (and the removal of patentability for existing human genes), it's highly probable that future human evolution will be a result of deliberate selection.

"Intelligent Design" is certainly no explanation for our evolutionary past, but it may indeed be a valid concept for our future.




You make a good point, but there is the problem of scale to consider. The deliberate selection that may indeed appear in our near future will most probably be limited to a very small number of affluent people. Meanwhile, there will be over seven billion people who will not be deliberately selecting their genetic inheritance. The ratio of the deliberately selected to the ordinarily selected will be too large to make up.

But, quite frankly, I don't give human life much more than a century or so, at the most, so the discussion is moot as far as I'm concerned.





I've thought about the "have's vs have nots" aspect of human genetic enhancement pretty extensively, and some of the implications are not pretty. But nothing's cast in stone yet, and while at first, the non-selected percentage of humans will be overwhelmingly large, it's very possible that over time that ratio will began to even out. Especially if the "enhanced" individuals are seen as having practical advantages in life, the choices will be to either prevent more enhanced individuals appearing, or to force the "spread of the wealth". Either way will lead to major social upheaval.

The primary beneficiaries of this technology from an evolutionary standpoint will be the descendants of those who have left the Earth and have made their homes among the asteroids and comets. They will have the advantage of:
1. Smaller populations that can be consistently modified population-wide, and
2. Genetic and cultural isolation that will allow these changes to fix, while minimizing conflict with other outside groups.
3. Larger numbers of population centers that imply a tremendous diversity of modifications between colonies.

At my most pessimistic, I still give the species a lot more time than you do. However, there's a limit. If we don't at some point develop practical and relatively compact fusion power plants, I suspect that as a civilization, at least, we'll be eventually doomed.


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Joad
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5935674 - 06/23/13 12:57 AM

It isn't worth arguing about (I mean in the sense of coming up with debate-worthy arguments). My sense is that Nightfall will not be in our lifetimes and there is nothing that anyone can produce in a debate that has any particular weight.

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935676 - 06/23/13 12:58 AM

Quote:

Boisei was a Branch, and you are correct, a distant cousin, but an evolutionary dead end. and you are right, the pressure began before cooking. But we must consider an energy budget once again.. without cooking Homo erectus would have spent 6.2 hours per day just eating, and that is not counting it;s body breaking down the lipids. My point is, that there is no other way to account for this energy other than cooking. Even evolutionary pressure needs to get that energy from somewhere, it cannot come anywhere else that anyone can account for, no magic energy drink, etc. That energy through caloric intake must have come from somewhere.




Those calculations assume, I think, our existing digestive system and its efficiency, or lack of it. Enhanced digestive efficiency is a possible evolutionary path that could supply more calories from food.

"Breaking down lipids" is an enzyme-mediated process, is it not? We don't have the same suite of enzymes that other carnivores do, and therefore our breakdown process is less efficient. Cooking essentially plays the same role in our digestion as specialized enzymes do in dedicated predators.

Again, I agree that cooking allowed the increase in our brain size to proceed faster than it otherwise would have, but my nit is with the claim that cooking was the cause of our brain size.

As an analogy, had I lived 200 years ago, I could have ridden on horseback to a town 50 miles away. Two hundred years later, I can get to the same destination much more quickly in my car. But if I wanted to go to town, neither the horse nor the car were the cause of my arrival at that destination. They affected the timing and manner of my arrival, but the cause of that journey either way could have been the same need for a sack of flour.


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Joad
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5935685 - 06/23/13 01:03 AM

I think that the concept of a biofeedback loop obtains here. A growing brain enabled the mastery of fire and the cooking of food in the first place, and then the cooking of food provided a fast track energy conservation source that headed off the evolution of a more efficient digestive system in favor of a growing brain.

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935698 - 06/23/13 01:13 AM

I think I've said something like this once before here. It's 1 in the morning (EDST) and a bunch of us are here talking about this stuff we talk about.

We don't have lives, do we?

Otto


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935700 - 06/23/13 01:14 AM

Quote:

It isn't worth arguing about (I mean in the sense of coming up with debate-worthy arguments). My sense is that Nightfall will not be in our lifetimes and there is nothing that anyone can produce in a debate that has any particular weight.




Ah, there's your mistake... wanting a weighty debate. Such is not our fate.


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Joad
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935717 - 06/23/13 01:24 AM

Quote:

I think I've said something like this once before here. It's 1 in the morning (EDST) and a bunch of us are here talking about this stuff we talk about.

We don't have lives, do we?

Otto




Well, I'm sort of on vacation, and the book I planned to read instead tonight turned out to be too aggravating to bother with.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935727 - 06/23/13 01:34 AM

Nightfall....that was the one where beings on a planet lived in a globular cluster, right? And on one occasion all the bright stars were not visible and they saw the night sky and it caused madness of some sort?

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935731 - 06/23/13 01:43 AM

So, here I am, listening to Clair de Lune over and over on this night of the nearest full moon or whatever the hell they're calling it in the popular press, and the thought crossed my mind while I'm reading all of your heavy stuff, much of which goes over my head...the idea came to me to take my OIII filter, put it on my 90mm short tube achro and see if I can see the Veil Nebula.

Not much chance, right? (in an urban area too)


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UND_astrophysics
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5935733 - 06/23/13 01:43 AM

I got a few images from my reflector and Canon Rebel woohoo!

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #5935754 - 06/23/13 02:01 AM

You'll never guess what I just saw with the OIII on my 90mm short tube? The full moon through an OIII filter!!! (Yeah, the Veil Nebula...not much luck.)

OK, y'all are so smart; try your 1300 cc craniums on this one. So, I look at the moon with the 90mm F5.6 with a 24mm 68 degree hyperion eyepiece. I put in an OIII filter and see a beautiful green moon. Then I take out the OIII and put in the Hydrogen alpha filter and see an equally pretty blue moon. Then I put the OIII and Hydrogen alpha together, put them in the scope, and I see a white moon with a red haze around it. Why white?


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5935970 - 06/23/13 08:24 AM

Quote:

It is a common, and unfortunate, error to believe that biological evolution is a kind of pyramid leading to some sort of human summit.




exactly. I have been saying that for years. While evolution may be pyramidal in the sense of emergent intelligence, the species known collectively as humans are just a passing biological container for the current level of intelligence. Indeed, it would have been a mistake for the dinsaurs to 'think' they were the be-all end-all of evolution during their reign.

I am fairly sure intelligence will continue to evolve and 'outgrow' its current biological container.

I suspect that the next grand step in the evolution of intelligence may be in the area of AI. In effect, we are the inventors of the species that will superceed us. It will be difficult to compete with an essentially eternal brain that can think a hundred orders of magnitude faster than the human brain can process information. Also, the available information can be 'instantly programmed ina new born AI brain and not reuire 18 years of prgramming input such as a biological brain requires.

I firmly believe there are intelligent aliens zipping around the galaxy who look at Earth like we would look at a planet where life has not advanced much past the Ameoba stage: " Yeah they are on their way but not worth our effort yet to contact."

Pesse (We are the masters of our own demise) MIst


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? or "Sapient" new [Re: Joad]
      #5936148 - 06/23/13 10:33 AM

The advent of cooking meat is ably documented in an essay entitled A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig, by Charles Lamb (1775-1834). At least I think that's the way it must have happened...

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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5939800 - 06/25/13 01:29 PM

My gratitude to you who patiently took the time and devoted the effort to explain to me your positions/opinions/beliefs/thoughts/understandings of what constitutes humanness and how humanness is formed.

The Opening Post was my assertion that all beings we find who possess self awareness, free choice, intelligence should be called human. And then I asked for others to respond to this assertion.


The position, most recently articulated by UND and Joad here, and others, is that the human being is an animal; nothing more, nothing less. As all other animals, the human is an animal of a particular line of evolutionary development. Because of that development, from solely material causes which have been and perhaps will be discovered in biology and chemistry and physics, man has developed the ability to have a mind and be a person; i.e. to be self-aware, to choose (perhaps freely, perhaps not), to understand, to reason. Though we do not understand fully yet, the reason for the development of this type of consciousness we find in humans (called “mind” and which includes self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning), there is no reason to assume that some other non-material or spiritual agency is needed to explain the arrival of human consciousness/mind/person-hood/personality.

An aside, but a very important aside, they have articulated that animals have instincts which, as a psychological phenomena, is biologically and evolutionary programmed behaviors which the animal cannot choose not to do. However, to class humans as just animals of a particular line of evolutionary development, it was necessary to qualify this definition of instinct in the animal called human by saying there had been brain-organ development which allowed for chosen deviation from instinctual urges.

The relevance of this human-is-an-animal-only position to the Opening Post is that if a human is a particular line of animal development on the planet called earth, then it would not be correct to call human, beings which developed self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning by some other line of evolutionary development under non-terran conditions on some other world, or by some type of human fabrication. Thus, the fabricated machine or smart program that wakes-up, the test tube developed chemical consciousness, the sentient creature on a planet orbiting a star thousands of light years away, should not be called human.

As always, if my summaries are in error in any manner, please correct them for my benefit and the benefit of the reader.


The position that the human is an animal only of a particular line of evolutionary development is a position based in part on some assumptions which cannot be proven (e.g. that science is based on the philosophical assumption called objectivism) and other assumptions, which for the sake of space and time, were not stated. These assumptions were not discussed and probably should not be nor should have been discussed as they were not directly pertinent to the Original Post.


I continue to be of the opinion/belief/understanding that humanness (self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reason) within the human condition as it exists in reality, requires a material substrate and some type of immaterial spiritual agency or addition.

For the sake of brevity I like to replace all those words, i.e. self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reasoning with the word “mind”. In my opinion/belief/understanding “mind” is not the equivalent of “brain” but does (within the human condition and perhaps elsewhere) require the organ called “brain” to manifest itself; much like the computer (harddrive/web) requires the monitor of some sort to be manifested.

I am undecided as to whether, what I am calling, the material substrate, needs to be a particular material substrate. Does it have to be biological? Does it have to be biological according to our understanding of evolutionary development? Can it be a mechanical substrate? Can it be a laboratory generated chemical substrate? Can it be a biological substrate created on a total different chemistry which might be found on some other planet around some other star; e.g. flourine based? arsenic based?

Assuming the substrate can be something other than the biological substrate of terran-evolution, because I believe the necessary component in humanness (the creation of mind/person) is an immaterial spiritual agency or addition, I am of the opinion; these two assumptions accepted, that where-ever in the universe and by what-ever biological, chemical, mechanical fabrication process the right substrate comes into existence, if mind/person is found there, that mind/person is human.


I ask that this thread not be used to discuss, at this time, the differing opinions of man as an animal only or as an incarnate spirit.

Rather, the ramifications to the Opening Post having been fully explored and stated by those holding human-is-animal-only position, I request we now explore the question of the appropriateness of calling human any entity anywhere in the universe who has (evidences) mind (self-awareness, free choice, understanding, reasoning) which has developed as the result of a spiritual agency/addition to some type of material substrate.

Thank you.

Otto


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5940035 - 06/25/13 03:59 PM

after reading all that I think I am losing my mind and becoming non-human...

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Jay_Bird
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5940300 - 06/25/13 07:05 PM

I think there is too much simplification in the summary, before moving on to the new terms of discussion.

The simple animal-instinct = not human
vs.
not-instinct = human

...is a binary argument where there may not be a binary choice.

All mammals wrap a new outermost brain structure, first developed to process signals from primitive mammal's sense of smell, around an inner core of "reptilian" brain structure which is present in humans and seems to be the seat of much instinct and raw emotion. This new outer layer 'cortex' is most developed in primates, and above all in humans.

If the sum of all our consciousness is "mind", are you implying that separates us from animals as an inside the wall/outside the wall division? The wall may be more a series of steps where one step up is subtle but a gap of many steps is clear-cut. Many of the pieces of "mind" are found in animal consciousness (as I said in deleted post, there is a great body of work in this area that speaks to this question unless you exclude it by seeking to draw this discussion to a divine distinction). Some birds and mammals count and learn shapes and colors, make tools, defer gratification, and communicate symbolically with human scientists. Are they also self-aware? For some, hard to say, but there is little doubt about self awareness from long term 'language' experiments done with a few primates. Animal/Human is a blurry boundary; even Aesop, etc. folklore allude to this with anthropomorphic birds and mammals, but 'a scorpion is always a scorpion'. Some aspects of Mind (I'll concede not all aspects) including suppression of pure instinct, are not restricted to H. Sapiens or even to larger genus Homo. You don't seem to explore or acknowledge this.

If we call ourselves, or the combined properties of "mind" we possess, Human, then do we include H. Sapiens 'man who knows' and also 'neander valley man' and also ancient 'upright man'?

or is 'sapient' ~ 'knowing' more what we are trying to describe in ourselves, or in AI, or in some alien we may encounter?

It boils down to picking which word.

Since other beings electrical or biological that share your definition of "mind" will be the start of a larger set with that shared characteristic (which in more inclusive interpretations may prove to have junior members already present on earth), why would we name that larger set after ourselves?

Maybe we intend it as an inclusive compliment, a nice sentiment, but we might want to ask their thoughts on the matter when the time comes.

That's more space than I wanted to use. Otto, I still think you are trying to lead us to a religious conclusion that I might enjoy discussing with you in another venue, perhaps to your surprise, but which may be out of place here.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5940363 - 06/25/13 07:42 PM

Jay, thank you for taking this topic on.

I think the consensus was that humans do have instincts. I'm not sold on that, but I think that was the consensus.

You wrote, "Otto, I still think you are trying to lead us to a religious conclusion that I might enjoy discussing with you in another venue, perhaps to your surprise, but which may be out of place here."

I might be fooling myself, but I really don't think I am trying to push a religious/spiritual conclusion/discussion on this particular thread which I started. I think, I may be pushing a political consideration, though. I'll get to that in a minute.

To steal a phrase from the new Star Trek movie, I see my role here as reminding all "You pointed eared *BLEEP*" there is a God and He/She/It probably loves all of you who have a "J" or a "D" in your name/nickname/avatar-name.

I was trying to throw in a little light heartedness there.

Anyway, I am interested in knowing peoples opinions about whether or not "mind" (i.e. self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning) is some type of biological/engineering summit and, if so, would it be appropriate to consider all beings with mind; to be fundamentally the same.

If we think they who possess mind are fundamentally the same, then to save wordiness, perhaps we could just call them all "humans" or "pointed eared *BLEEP*" or "the Js and Ds"; whatever.

The political consideration, considering how horrible humanity has tended to treat groups of humans it considered sub-human in different eras of colonization; might it cause us to be a bit more willing to treat a bit more kindly, those with "mind" with whom we one day make contact, if we considered all with "mind" fundamentally the same?

Otto

Edited by Otto Piechowski (06/25/13 08:02 PM)


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5940397 - 06/25/13 08:10 PM

Quote:

...considering how horrible humanity has tending to treat groups of humans it considered sub-human in different eras of colonization; might it cause us to be a bit more willing to treat a bit more kindly, those with "mind" with whom we one day make contact, if we considered all with "mind" fundamentally the same?

Otto




A nice sentiment, but in some ways too optimistic, I fear. "Man's inhumanity to man", as it has been labeled, is not restricted to those that one group might considere 'subhuman'. We have been perfectly willing to slaughter brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends, spouses, and parents by the millions, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Acknowledging the essential kinship of our fellow humans, much less those creatures that don't aspire to humanity, is not going to decrease our rapaciousness.

That said, humans also have amazing and sometimes unexpected powers of empathy, and will go far out of their way to rescue, protect, and assist creatures of almost every species, including their own.

Calling entities 'human' when they are not is not going to change the way we treat them. Valuing, whether personally or through ideological or cultural motivations, the ethical treatment of other entities regardless of their origins, is what will make a difference.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5940429 - 06/25/13 08:28 PM

I poorly worded the distinction I was trying to make. Not that humans lack instincts - we're full of them. At our best we restrain them and do not live in constant thrall to territoriality, aggression, fight or flight, lust, etc. The other part of what I meant by challenging a binary choice of animal/human is that actions 'above' or independent from pure instinct are not limited only to humans but are a part of what we see in some animal minds. Part of the general discussion of a "spectrum of mind" or "small steps not a wall" comparing human and animal consciousness.

Apparently we need both a cortex and a conscience to control 'base' instincts, as Dave points out.

The last point you and Dave make Otto is something like an appeal to equal rights and due process for others with "Mind". I'm not sure that even a majority of humans on earth enjoy that now, in the 21st century.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5940606 - 06/25/13 10:39 PM

Quote:

Anyway, I am interested in knowing peoples opinions about whether or not "mind" (i.e. self-awareness, choice, understanding, reasoning) is some type of biological/engineering summit and, if so, would it be appropriate to consider all beings with mind; to be fundamentally the same.





Otto,

Unfortunately I don't have time to address all of your summary, because I agree you've over-simplified. I will, however, take a moment to address this comment of yours from a subsequent post.

It seems to me that the premise I've quoted above is either naive, or the height of hubris. First, no evolutionary biologist worth his salt would ever consider the word 'summit' to be appropriately paired with any biological phenomena (and I suspect an engineer would have the same to say about AI). Natural selection and evolution are dynamic processes. If you understand this beautiful, basic fact of life, then the assumption that we would be on a par with any speculative 'mind' is hubris.

Some days I'm pretty sure my dog is smarter than me.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5940661 - 06/25/13 11:23 PM

Thank you, Steve.

Two people now have reacted strongly to the word summit.

I am curious; would you imagine evolutionary development is capable of a quantitative improvement over or compared to human mind, or do you imagine evolution is capable of a qualitative improvement over human mind?

If qualitative; any suggestions about what a qualitative improvement over human mind would be?

Otto


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Ravenous
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5940960 - 06/26/13 07:01 AM

First you need to define "improvement". Without bias to what you, as a human, regard as improvement.

Difficult, isn't it...


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5941075 - 06/26/13 09:03 AM

Quote:

Some days I'm pretty sure my dog is smarter than me.




Humans are probably one of the least specialized species. We are generalists which makes us not particularly excel at anything. However, our intellect and subsequent ability to create and use tools allows us to compete against specialized species.

One on one a human would have no chance against a Tiger competing over a slab of meat. But with the proper tool (high powered rifle) we are able to successfully compete.

Pesse (That's the thing. Dogs are very smart at being a dog.) Mist


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shawnhar
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5941115 - 06/26/13 09:40 AM

Quote:


One on one a human would have no chance against a Tiger competing over a slab of meat.




You would have no chance against a squirrell! (and they are small, cute n furry with bushy tails) When we were kids I saw my friend grab one, he went to the hospital. We are nothing without our tools compared to anything with claws and teeth.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5941252 - 06/26/13 11:06 AM

Quote:

First you need to define "improvement". Without bias to what you, as a human, regard as improvement.

Difficult, isn't it...




Well said. Evolution is directionless.

Quote:

I am curious; would you imagine evolutionary development is capable of a quantitative improvement over or compared to human mind, or do you imagine evolution is capable of a qualitative improvement over human mind?





That depends.

Evolution is not causal, it's the result of mutation and ecological factors which drive differential reproduction. That being said, if we substitute the word 'change' for 'improvement', I can address your question from an evolutionary biologist's perspective.

Quantitative change is, perhaps, easier to deal with. I can imagine that there might be circumstances wherein larger (or smaller) brains might be selected for, though as addressed so ably by UND previously, larger brains come with a substantial energy cost. Brains might also become more (or less) complex, in any of dozens of physiological or morphological ways (neuron density, increased cortical area, etc.). Qualitative change may also be considered in physiological terms. For example, a change in neurotransmitter efficiency might be considered qualitative (although it would also be quantitative).

If you're asking whether I think we might evolve to be smarter (or whatever term you wish to apply to describe 'improvement'), I would have to say, 'That depends.' Physiological and morphological changes might very well 'improve' the phenomena you're calling 'mind', but what form that improvement might take is the realm of science fiction.


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5941260 - 06/26/13 11:10 AM

Quote:

Quote:


One on one a human would have no chance against a Tiger competing over a slab of meat.




You would have no chance against a squirrell! (and they are small, cute n furry with bushy tails) When we were kids I saw my friend grab one, he went to the hospital. We are nothing without our tools compared to anything with claws and teeth.




Yeah, squirrels are good with nuts.

Pesse (I sometimes wonder why they don't try to collect my neighbor) Mist


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5941285 - 06/26/13 11:28 AM

Quote:

Well said. Evolution is directionless.




Not sure I agree with the totality of that statement. Evolution encompasses a number of subset rules.

Random genetic mutation is directionless. The mutations occur spontaneously without reference to the outside environment. (Although I could argue about certain environmental exsposures causing organisms to suffer specific higher probability mutations..but that's another argument).

However, Natural selection IS directed in that forces actively select which mutations are passed on.

We even have directed artificial selection that has lead to a new species of Fruit fly.

So, I would say, genetic mutation is non-directional but evolution as a whole does tend to be directional--in the direction best suited for a particular niche.

Just saw World War Z with Brad Pitt last night, While I rated the movie 'D' for dumb, it did kinda touch on this aspect of selection as the way the Zombie virus was 'particular' about the way it spread..and also which turned out to be its Achilles heel.

Pesse (It was still a dumb movie though.....) Mist


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5941636 - 06/26/13 03:40 PM

Pondering the imponderable...

There's a cartoon in the current (7/1) issue of The New Yorker which somehow reminds me of this thread:

Two Buddhist monks are seated side-by-side in a monastery courtyard, and one asks the other, "Would you rather be attacked by a horse-size duck or fifty duck-size horses."


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ColoHank
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5941641 - 06/26/13 03:44 PM

Except the second monk doesn't respond to the query by asking the first to define what he means when he says "attacked, or "duck," or "horse."

Or "fifty," for that matter.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5941693 - 06/26/13 04:14 PM

"Pondering the imponderable", so you said, Hank.

Interesting, is it not, that this imponderable thread has generated over a thousand views and over a hundred replies.

"I realized science couldn't answer any of the really interesting questions. So, I turned to philosophy. I've been searching for God ever since." Bud Chantillas, mission surgeon, Red Planet.


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5941798 - 06/26/13 05:29 PM

"One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead men stood up to fight.
There were forty mutes to yell 'Hurray!'
And six blind men to see fair play.
Back to back they faced each other,
drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise
and ran to save those two dead boys.
And if you don't believe it's true,
go ask the kangaroo, he saw it too."

Pesse (eom) Mist


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ColoHank
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5941840 - 06/26/13 05:57 PM

Quote:

"I realized science couldn't answer any of the really interesting questions. So, I turned to philosophy. I've been searching for God ever since." Bud Chantillas, mission surgeon, Red Planet.




Fictional characters say the darndest things.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5941982 - 06/26/13 07:00 PM

You are, of course, correct. Movies can not be used as proof of anything. At best, occasionally, they illustrate, illuminate, explain ideas or the conflict of ideas, and on occasion, display a new idea from the contrast of two conflicting ideas.

One of the best examples I have seen of a new idea created by the portrayal of two other contrasting, but related, ideas was the montage of scenes from Battleship Potemkin of the crew writhing in protest on the deck and the maggots feeding on a rotted carcass.

Edited by Otto Piechowski (06/26/13 08:39 PM)


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5942709 - 06/27/13 09:13 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Well said. Evolution is directionless.




Not sure I agree with the totality of that statement. Evolution encompasses a number of subset rules.

Random genetic mutation is directionless. The mutations occur spontaneously without reference to the outside environment. (Although I could argue about certain environmental exsposures causing organisms to suffer specific higher probability mutations..but that's another argument).

However, Natural selection IS directed in that forces actively select which mutations are passed on.

We even have directed artificial selection that has lead to a new species of Fruit fly.

So, I would say, genetic mutation is non-directional but evolution as a whole does tend to be directional--in the direction best suited for a particular niche.

Just saw World War Z with Brad Pitt last night, While I rated the movie 'D' for dumb, it did kinda touch on this aspect of selection as the way the Zombie virus was 'particular' about the way it spread..and also which turned out to be its Achilles heel.

Pesse (It was still a dumb movie though.....) Mist




I'd go with "yes and no", and the current favorite, "it depends" on direction in evolution. While there's no denying natural selection, it's not the totality of evolutionary change. Many mutations are detrimental to an organism, a few are beneficial, and a great many (perhaps the majority, but certainly a significant percentage) are neutral. These neutral mutations, not being eliminated by selection, tend to randomly accumulate in the gene pool, and can lead to not only genetic diversity, but in small isolated populations can drive speciation events as well, as they become fixed in the population under no other influence but that of chance. Genetic drift is probably behind as much if not more evolutionary change as natural selection itself.

Over time, some of these formerly neutral mutations can become beneficial or detrimental as the outside selection environment changes, but many of them are simply invisible to selection.


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5942722 - 06/27/13 09:20 AM

Quote:

.... but many of them are simply invisible to selection.





Pesse (Until they get their turn at bat...) Mist


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shawnhar
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5943056 - 06/27/13 12:46 PM

Quote:

Quote:

.... but many of them are simply invisible to selection.





Pesse (Until they get their turn at bat...) Mist



Or their turn at the teet!
I heard being able to digest cow's milk was extremely rare back in the day.


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5943226 - 06/27/13 02:36 PM

evolution is caused by the environment

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EJN
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5943423 - 06/27/13 04:55 PM

Quote:

evolution is caused by the environment




Not necessarily. Mutations can be caused by substitution of different
tautomeric forms of the bases (purines & pyrimidines) in DNA when
replicating, as well as replication errors which involve the addition
or deletion of a base in the sequence.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5943708 - 06/27/13 07:48 PM

Quote:

evolution is caused by the environment




As EJN said, not necessarily. Evolution can occur in the absence of environmental change, via genetic drift. Further, even when a species is forced to adapt to a changing environment, it's not always predictable what direction that adaptation will take. For example, consider a mammal in a tropical environment that grows colder. To adapt to the cold, there are several solutions to the problem available. The population can grow longer warmer fur. It can grow fatter for insulation. It can grow physically larger. It can increase its metabolism to generate more body heat.

None of these potential solutions is exclusive to the others, and all of them are going to carry incidental consequences -- which adds to the unpredictability of the future.

So what IS the relationship between the environment and evolution? Exactly how do you define *cause* under such conditions? It's there, but it's not amenable to glib or simple statements.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5943797 - 06/27/13 08:49 PM

Well, to be precise, mutation and genetic drift are the grist upon which natural selection works, over generations via differential reproduction, to result in evolution. Certainly, neutral genes get carried along, but they, too, are grist - waiting for their turn at bat, as Pess put it (and with my apologies for mixing metaphors).

Earlier, when I spoke of evolution being directionless, I was referring to the evolutionary biology paradigm of n-dimensional ecological space. Since evolution is a destination, the 'direction' it has traveled can only be determined by looking backward. We can examine physiology and morphology and make hypotheses about why a particular adaptation might have resulted in differential reproduction (w, Haldane's quantification of 'fitness'). See this for a cool new example of this.

And, of course, evolution can occur without changes in environment (sexual selection is a good example of this). Actually, this can bring us back on topic - what might be the selective advantages of 'mind'?

Edited by WaterMaster (06/27/13 09:11 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5943891 - 06/27/13 10:11 PM

This is not a response to anyone in particular, thought the use of "quick reply" always seems to get attached to the last to post.

Anyway, you "pointy eared *BLEEP*" are so good at parse-ing words and focusing on the connotative and secondary words stated; let's try this one...are there any quantitative or qualitative changes in human-kind you would not expect to see from the parameters and limitations you are aware of in evolutionary biology.

Drawing, seriously now, on your scientific acumen, I would be very interested to hear if there are specific quantitative and qualitative changes to human-mind you would suspect are never possible; changes which others who haven't thought much about it, like myself, would be surprised to hear and then, once we get the gist of it, would say, "yah, that makes sense".

Otto


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5944007 - 06/27/13 11:29 PM

Quote:

Drawing, seriously now, on your scientific acumen, I would be very interested to hear if there are specific quantitative and qualitative changes to human-mind you would suspect are never possible...




Otto, you're asking us to speculate on the impossible. I don't think I can do that 'seriously'.


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5944043 - 06/27/13 11:56 PM

Quote:

This is not a response to anyone in particular, thought the use of "quick reply" always seems to get attached to the last to post.

Anyway, you "pointy eared *BLEEP*" are so good at parse-ing words and focusing on the connotative and secondary words stated; let's try this one...are there any quantitative or qualitative changes in human-kind you would not expect to see from the parameters and limitations you are aware of in evolutionary biology.

Drawing, seriously now, on your scientific acumen, I would be very interested to hear if there are specific quantitative and qualitative changes to human-mind you would suspect are never possible; changes which others who haven't thought much about it, like myself, would be surprised to hear and then, once we get the gist of it, would say, "yah, that makes sense".

Otto




As for natural-type impossible changes, I'd say there are quite a few. One would be for feathers to sprout from our limbs. Remember, evolution can only work with the genes it already has, and it doesn't go back to start with a state that has been long left behind.

I would also expect that our broken vitamin C gene will never mutate back into a functional state. At least not a state of producing vitamin C.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5944061 - 06/28/13 12:14 AM

Now that's cool. The human genome once made it possible for the human being to produce its own Vitamin C?

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5944146 - 06/28/13 01:58 AM

The mammal genome has the vitamin C gene, but in higher primates, the gene is broken.

The Genetics of Vitamin C Loss in Vertebrates


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5944633 - 06/28/13 11:31 AM

Quote:

Quote:

evolution is caused by the environment




As EJN said, not necessarily. Evolution can occur in the absence of environmental change, via genetic drift. Further, even when a species is forced to adapt to a changing environment, it's not always predictable what direction that adaptation will take. For example, consider a mammal in a tropical environment that grows colder. To adapt to the cold, there are several solutions to the problem available. The population can grow longer warmer fur. It can grow fatter for insulation. It can grow physically larger. It can increase its metabolism to generate more body heat.

None of these potential solutions is exclusive to the others, and all of them are going to carry incidental consequences -- which adds to the unpredictability of the future.

So what IS the relationship between the environment and evolution? Exactly how do you define *cause* under such conditions? It's there, but it's not amenable to glib or simple statements.




I'm not sure I get this line of thought.

If you have a religiously static environment you still get evolution. That environment will select what gene expressions work best to date, not necessarily what work best out of all possible combinations.

So despite a never changing environment some mutations will occur at random that work 'better' than what has worked for eons and thus the new characteristic will allow that species to out compete its brethren which may have dominated for eons.

Changing environmental conditions only select for genes that may have previously had no particular competitive value before the change or may have been detrimental before the change.

A prime example comes to mind. Moths in an industrialized city were light colored and almost invisible to see against the light colored bark of trees and thus hard for predators to see. Occasionally a mutation for dark coloration in the moths was expressed but these expressions were 'eaten' and removed from the gene pool rather quickly because they were silhouetted against the light tree bark.

With industrialization 'soot' began accumulating on the tree bark and the trees turned dark brown/black. The drak moths now were very well camouflaged while the white, dominate moth, was silhouetted.


In a very short time the dark mutation became the dominant moth species.

Pesse (There is no good or bad, there only is what is.) Mist


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5944706 - 06/28/13 12:23 PM

One day, as I was walking into the school where I had taught, I saw a moth on the exterior brick wall; about the size of a deck of playing cards. I was stunned by what I saw. So stunned I took it to the biology teacher for display to students if he so chose.

The moth had exactly the same appearance as a tree leaf; of light green color, but the same delicate and complex appearance of veins on a leaf. Had this moth decided to be in the respective tree, I could have touched it with my nose and not seen it.


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Ravenous
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5944719 - 06/28/13 12:35 PM

Quote:

If you have a religiously static environment you still get evolution.



Think of sexual selection. Male peacocks have elaborately oversized tail feathers, which are probably quite dangerous to own in the wild; their ladies are drab brown, but have a liking for overly decorated males.

I'm not sure how a cycle like that starts, but once it does, selection occurs even if the environment is unchanging and the original creatures are well adapted to it. The male gets to father more chicks if he has the right plumage; the female's male chicks are more likely to be successful if she selects the right male herself.


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Pess
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5944930 - 06/28/13 02:46 PM

Quote:


Think of sexual selection. Male peacocks have elaborately oversized tail feathers, which are probably quite dangerous to own in the wild; their ladies are drab brown, but have a liking for overly decorated males.

I'm not sure how a cycle like that starts, but once it does, selection occurs even if the environment is unchanging and the original creatures are well adapted to it. The male gets to father more chicks if he has the right plumage; the female's male chicks are more likely to be successful if she selects the right male herself.




Good thing human men wear clothes.

Pesse (Otherwise, I shudder to think what selection pressures might be brought to bare.....) Mist


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5945067 - 06/28/13 03:45 PM

yep, god made people naked and then covered them up..decisions, decisions, decisions....

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shawnhar
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5945158 - 06/28/13 04:44 PM

Well, I guess if you believe in that silly sort of thing...
We aint got no fur man, had to do something...
REAl people almost never wear clothes.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5945478 - 06/28/13 07:52 PM

Evolution is the result of differential reproduction. That is, the genotype that produces the most viable offspring has a higher relative fitness. The 'reason' for this differential can be, literally, anything.

Even in a 'static' environment (there's not really such a thing, but we can make the assumption for illustrative purposes), competition for resources (food, light, water, mates, refugia, etc.) is a constant selective pressure. Any competitive advantage (conferred by difference in genotype) will result in differential reproduction. The moth example mentioned above is the 'textbook' illustration of natural selection (and in this case, differential predation resulted in differential reproduction). Competition can also result in radiative speciation, as in Darwin's finches, where competition for food was the primary selective force. Peacocks, or any 'showy' bird is a great example of yet another selective pressure (and evolutionary biology is rife with stories of 'runaway' sexual selection).

Natural selection works on individuals, evolution occurs on the population level. As I used to tell my second year ecology students, "It's all about your baby's babies, baby".

And, we're getting way off topic.

But now that we've discussed selective pressure a little, I'll ask my question again: What might be the selective pressures that result in the appearance of 'mind'?

Edited by WaterMaster (06/28/13 07:57 PM)


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Pess]
      #5945566 - 06/28/13 08:53 PM

Quote:


I'm not sure I get this line of thought.

If you have a religiously static environment you still get evolution. That environment will select what gene expressions work best to date, not necessarily what work best out of all possible combinations.

So despite a never changing environment some mutations will occur at random that work 'better' than what has worked for eons and thus the new characteristic will allow that species to out compete its brethren which may have dominated for eons.




While this is true, it's not the whole story. A genetic variation can fix within a population even in the absence of selection. That's the basis of genetic drift. Mutations come and go. Some increase in the population merely due to the chances inherent in reproduction, and some decrease. Occasionally a variation will increase to the point where it achieves critical mass, and finds itself monopolizing its particular gene, for no apparent reason. This happens most often in small, genetically isolated populations that are more sensitive to random changes. It would be like a mutation for a front-tooth gap occurring in an individual member of population that until then had all gapless front teeth. If, for reasons totally unrelated to the gap, that mutation succeeds in replicating for a few generations and becomes established, it's possible that eventually ALL the members of that population will have the gap, and the hapless gapless gene would have simply been snuffed out.

That's evolution, but it's not selection. It's actually pretty common.


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Otto Piechowski
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5945775 - 06/28/13 11:01 PM

The very pronounced gap between my two front teeth is genetic?

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5945791 - 06/28/13 11:14 PM

That depends on whether you got them for Christmas.

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Mister T
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5946053 - 06/29/13 07:25 AM

or from Hockey!!

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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Mister T]
      #5946805 - 06/29/13 03:49 PM

if all this mutation/evolution stuff is true, how much longer do we have to wait before our ape cousins start acting like us??

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5947367 - 06/30/13 12:02 AM

There's no reason why they ever should. Three million years ago "humanity" was an empty niche. Now it's filled.

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5947986 - 06/30/13 12:43 PM

It is also possible 3 million years could produce another sentient hominid branch (kind of like us). Current "human" progress will destroy the current ape habitat. They already have serious enviornmental pressure, they may get smart or die off.

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Mister T
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5948022 - 06/30/13 01:02 PM

how long does evolution go forward before it goes into reverse??

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: Mister T]
      #5948931 - 07/01/13 12:11 AM

There is no forward or reverse. The only "direction" in evolution is towards adaptation to current conditions. But there's no advance prediction as to what those adaptations will be.

Or whether they will succeed.

Edited by llanitedave (07/01/13 12:15 AM)


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5949099 - 07/01/13 04:17 AM

gills on humans would be nice

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5949175 - 07/01/13 07:06 AM

agreed

but sometimes human behavior suggests otherwise


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5949253 - 07/01/13 08:41 AM

Quote:


But now that we've discussed selective pressure a little, I'll ask my question again: What might be the selective pressures that result in the appearance of 'mind'?



I might get ridiculed for saying this, but I suspect it's just the peacock's tail again. I'm not qualified to say this (not having a personality of my own) but I guess that "personality" (let's call it that) is a mere selection pressure for courtship.

Communication and learning skills for a social animal are a useful survival tool, emotions like empathy for our offspring and partners are ancient instincts, but our relatively advanced personality traits originally were (in my opinion) just another random criterion used in selecting a mate. We also imagine they make us more likely to survive in the future - that's debatable - but their origins must have been much more grounded.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5949290 - 07/01/13 09:09 AM

Quote:

There is no forward or reverse. The only "direction" in evolution is towards adaptation to current conditions. But there's no advance prediction as to what those adaptations will be.

Or whether they will succeed.




Well it seems obvious to me Humans have been evolving in reverse for maybe 100 years now. By this I mean the fact that so many could not survive without machines and medicines created by "modern" culture, yet they continue to add to the gene pool. This weakens us as a species, not being mean here, nature doesn't know what cruel is, we made that up. In reality, the fitest survive and spread genes, but humans have found ways around that...for now.


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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5949528 - 07/01/13 11:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

There is no forward or reverse. The only "direction" in evolution is towards adaptation to current conditions. But there's no advance prediction as to what those adaptations will be.

Or whether they will succeed.




Well it seems obvious to me Humans have been evolving in reverse for maybe 100 years now. By this I mean the fact that so many could not survive without machines and medicines created by "modern" culture, yet they continue to add to the gene pool. This weakens us as a species, not being mean here, nature doesn't know what cruel is, we made that up. In reality, the fitest survive and spread genes, but humans have found ways around that...for now.




I would disagree with this, as it's based on an incorrect view of what "fitness" means. "Fit" only means able to survive and reproduce successfully given an existing environmental context. It does not necessarily mean stronger, faster, smarter, or even more robust immune systems. The fact that "humans have found ways around that", and continue to find ways around all their physical disadvantages, is exactly what makes them "fit".

It may well be that we eventually reproduce ourselves into unfitness when we've depleted all the resources that sustain our society and technology, but that will have little to do with whether we need glasses and iPhones to survive now.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5949889 - 07/01/13 03:25 PM

Well that's where we differ, I believe the culture of I-phones and planes and grocery stores is a false construct that has separated this culture from the true path of evolution and made us ill prepared to face the adversity nature will surely throw at us.
I can't help but think our dependence on tech is an evolutionary weakness.


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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5949942 - 07/01/13 03:50 PM

I agree..most humans (not all) in modern societies have lost the ability to survive in the wilderness...

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: scopethis]
      #5950112 - 07/01/13 06:11 PM

And sadly, many wilderness areas have lost or are losing their ability to survive the human onslaught.

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llanitedave
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5950149 - 07/01/13 06:37 PM

Again, and I can't repeat it often enough, there is no "true path of evolution". The false construct is the idea that there is some manifest destiny, of which "true path of evolution" is one version. All biological entities are ill-prepared for anything nature throws at them that's not part of their adapted landscape. The species that survive adversity the most reliably are the adaptable generalists, and humans are simply among the best at that.

Edited by llanitedave (07/01/13 06:39 PM)


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scopethis
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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5951448 - 07/02/13 02:38 PM

Humans don't adapt to the environment, they change it to suit their needs...and then ruin it....

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Re: Sentient, Intelligent, or Human? new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5951487 - 07/02/13 03:06 PM

Quote:

Again, and I can't repeat it often enough, there is no "true path of evolution".




Indeed. Natural selection is not teleological. Therefore, it is always doing just "good enough". As the joke goes, if you are reading this, your parents were winners.


Interesting thread.
A few comments.

Bonobo and Common Chimpanzees are equal distant from us, genetically.

Instinct in the modern sense of the word, means in the wetware, rather than learned. Instinct is a "built in" inclination, as opposed to a learned one. Further, in complex creatures, it is not beyond control, but rather an inclination.

The world altruism as used a ways back appears to have been used as a moral term. "Altruism" in science, such as ethology, is not doing something for another of no benefit to self. It is more like the concept of cooperation, and is generally classified in three forms: Kinship, Contingent, and Reciprocal.

African elephants passed the mirror test last year.

Natural selection has not slowed at all at the genetic level in humans in recent times. Actually, it appears to have sped up. Thart would make sense, given the rapid change we are making in our biogeophysical and social environments. Check out the pages on this in the newish book: "Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization."
Since we started doing agriculture, there have been over 300 basic changes now shared by nearly everyone.
The fasted changing one is increasing lactose tolerance in adults. Second biggest change area in current "rapid" mode is the genes associated with melanin/melanocytes/melanogenesis.


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