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Instinct vs Consciousness


Ten oz
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I think our dogs have us trained as much as we have them trained.

 

Regards, TAR

 

Lol you're right!

This has probably already been said but some obvious reasons to say animals have a conscious is that they learn, listen and react and also have a kind of reasoning. To say that the latter is all instinct....

Maybe they have progressed to the point beyond our intellect and realized the things that matter the most lol....food/survival..the rest being redundant.

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@ tar, I disagree that we "instantly accept good workable ideas". History is full of the opposite. Many brilliant minds were drowned, hung, crucified, prisoned, tortured, and etc to the detriment of society. Wars have been fought and millions killed in attempts to suppress people for the worse. You say we fold them into our thinking but I cannot think of examples where that was done without first there being a centuries of strife. Sadly history and culture is written and designed by the winners of war and not by those amongst us with the best knowledge and ideas.

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Ten oz,

 

I see your point, but I was thinking in terms of things like the internet. One person's idea perhaps, but as it was instituted the good workable portions of it were instantly accepted by everybody involved and built upon.

 

Ideas, I think, can be rated as good, when they are workable, and vice-a-versa. A brilliant idea on how to solve world hunger, by eating your enemies, might be workable in one sense, and horribly unworkable in another. Did you ever notice how a good idea in one field of endeavor is often copied over and applied in an other area? That is because the idea was workable. While there is the possibility that a brilliant person can have a good idea that is "before its time" and has to wait until technology and ethics catch up with it, or perhaps political reasons, and controlling interests fight the implementation, on the whole, I will still stick with the thought, that good ideas are accepted into everybody's thinking, and bad ideas are discarded, if only temporarily, as unworkable.

 

Take our planet for instance as a real example of humans having ideas, good and bad. The people there are to please with a thought and to judge a thought for its workable features and its unworkable, for its good and bad, for to be accepted and folded in, or for it to be discarded, are the actual 7 billion plus currently here. A good idea for me, living in the suburbs of NJ, USA might be thought a bad idea to a North Korean or a Saudi Prince, but we might ALL enjoy the internet.

 

Regards, TAR


Or take bitcoin. Brilliant idea to track every transaction and verify every transaction by solving for all the others...but it takes tremendous computer resources to make a transaction, and the anonymity is currently used for criminal and terrorist transactions, since there are no entity specific records kept. Good idea or bad?


Highly workable for selling drugs and porn and bullets and bombs, and instantly accepted and built upon by dealers and scum and terrorists and gangs.

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@ tar, it is not accurate to say the internet has been instantly accepted. The majority of the population of humans on this planet live in countries that censor or out right ban the internet. And even here in the U.S. where it broadly has been accepted it isn't considered a basic right provided to all akin to public education, roads, and etc.

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Ten Oz,

 

No, you are right, my statement was too simplistic and did not take into account the various religions and political systems and institutional acceptance that any idea requires. I withdraw it as a general statement of fact, as it obviously is very layered and complex, as to what ideas are accepted and which rejected. However that goes both ways, and it would be equally wrong to consider a brilliant scientist had a valuable idea, when the idea is only valuable or workable to her, and the rest of the world has no particular use for it.

 

But to your OP.

​"If animals operate purely on instinct how does their behavior(s) evolve? If instinct is akin to a program what or who is responsible for the program?"

 

It seems that the world is complex and what an animal does, is somewhat done according to how they are wired by evolution, and somewhat done according to how the world presents itself to the animal. Similar in kind to how and why people do various things, have certain behaviors, that seem similar across the board, but include variations according to the environment the human finds herself in. Where we have ways to take advantage of solutions prior humans have found, where various other animals do not have the same communication of real world solutions found, that can be shared outside the genes, the various other animals do still have conscious awareness of each other and their environment, and can teach each other tricks on what to seek and what to avoid. Perhaps more similarities in these abilities when considering other mammals, as the senses are similar and the biology is similar and other mammals can look and learn. The young wolf can learn to hunt by doing what the older wolves are doing to run down and kill the prey, etc.

 

To this, evolution would favor abilities the mammals would have to want to learn from each other and from the environment. The behaviors evolving might not be as important as the ability to mimic successful behavior evolving is.

 

Regards TAR


perhaps, as humans evolved and learned to hunt they took successful strategies from watching wolves and lions and spiders and other predators find and trap and kill their food


various of our tools and weapons are taken from tooth and claw and quill and venom and such, which we never pursued as a species to include in our genes, but which we found we could create from the environment as if we had the scales and fangs that other lifeforms included in their genes


some lifeforms live as parasites off of others

 

sometimes we need another species to live, as in the bacteria in our digestive systems

 

evolution is not done in a vacuum, we evolve to fit the place, including to fit with other evolving species

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But to your OP.

​"If animals operate purely on instinct how does their behavior(s) evolve? If instinct is akin to a program what or who is responsible for the program?"

 

It seems that the world is complex and what an animal does, is somewhat done according to how they are wired by evolution, and somewhat done according to how the world presents itself to the animal. Similar in kind to how and why people do various things, have certain behaviors, that seem similar across the board, but include variations according to the environment the human finds herself in. Where we have ways to take advantage of solutions prior humans have found, where various other animals do not have the same communication of real world solutions found, that can be shared outside the genes, the various other animals do still have conscious awareness of each other and their environment, and can teach each other tricks on what to seek and what to avoid. Perhaps more similarities in these abilities when considering other mammals, as the senses are similar and the biology is similar and other mammals can look and learn. The young wolf can learn to hunt by doing what the older wolves are doing to run down and kill the prey, etc.

 

Also from the OP:

"I believe animals are conscious. Different minds are capable of processing information to different degrees. No animal on earth is intelligent as humans but I don't see why animals would not be conscious. The biology is the same, evolutionary process the same, and big picture the genealogy is the same".

 

I am not sure if your agreeing that animals are conscious or saying they operate on instinct. In saying animals are somewhat similar you seem to be implying animals might be conscious while at the same time ensuring elevate humans to some different level or standard. I see that as unneccessary. To identify whether or not animals are conscious we do not need to wrap the conversation in what humans are capable of.

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Ten Oz,

 

Well yes, was agreeing that animals are conscious, but not considering it a switch that is on in the case of humans and off in the case of animals. It is more a continuum as the nature/nurture controversy is. But I do think it OK and natural to elevate humans to a higher standard. Objectively, as you imply, there is no particular reason to elevate a human...but as the Dunning-Kruger effect teaches us, we are wired to elevate ourselves over others. In a certain way other species are also similarly wired and will choose their own survival over the survival of another. Like we easily grind up the seeds of grass to make flour without any concern for the particular life we destroyed to facilitate our own.

 

There is a general philosophical overview I maintain, that says its OK and natural to love your own, before including others in your feeling of self. I have built my whole worldview, since 9/11 off the understanding that there are those that will support and promote me and my way of life, and there are those that would seek to destroy my way of life. Such is the way reality is structured. And such is the way we are wired. It is OK to subjectively elevate yourself. Rational is, that if you let the bear eat you, rather then flight or fight, you will be dead.

 

Regards, TAR

Edited by tar
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No animal on earth is intelligent as humans

 

I have a fundamental issue with this statement, how are you defining intelligence?

 

I can't find any of the studies that support the following: two documentaries, 'Black Fish' and 'Ocean giants (IIRC)' suggests a whales emotional intelligence far exceeds ours, due to the relative size of that region of the brain, which is much bigger than ours.

Edited by dimreepr
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@Dimreepr you are correct. In saying we are more intelligent I am merely placating, in advance, those who I assume may attempt to argue the issue. Ultimately I don't think intelligence is all that relevant to the threads topic. More intelligent people are not more conscious. I don't see a direct connection between the two which make saying humans are more intelligent a disposal comment in context to whether or not animals are conscious.

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Ten Oz,

 

So do you think there are species more conscious than others? That is, do we use mammal consciousness as a ruler and guide with which we can elevate our class or phylum as having the "best" characteristics, and other cold blooded creatures, just don't rate.

 

Mammals are any vertebrates within the class Mammalia, a clade of endothermic amniotes distinguished from reptiles by the possession of a neocortex, hair, three middle ear bones and mammary glands.

 

​Perhaps being conscious involves what one is conscious of, and that in turn is reliant on what senses you have and how you procreate.

 

​To that, then the thread question would be is there a line to be drawn between species where it would mean anything to say that life on the other side of this line, does not know its alive?

 

Regards, TAR


side question

 

Neanderthals were shorter and smaller than humans, and they had thicker bones, shorter limbs, and a ridge above their eyes that stuck out like their teeth. They were much stronger than modern-day humans, but they weren't as smart.

 

​Do people with Neanderthal genes have different physiological needs and capabilities as opposed to humans without Neanderthal genes, to where their "instincts" and consciousness might actually diverge?

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@ tar, if were are using the title conscious as another name for self aware(concept of me, myself, & I) than one either is or is not. I don't think there are degrees to it.

 

Do we know for a fact that Neanderthals weren't as smart? Clearly they weren't as success but in evolution smart and successful aren't synonymousness.

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Ten oz,

 

I don't know how it was determined that Neanderthals were stronger than humans but not as smart, I took it as a given as it was on a definition block on my browser.

 

However, I also had read somewhere that the nasal passage and smelling apparatus were superior in the Neanderthal, to where, to your point, they may have been more successful at tracking or finding prey and avoiding predators. But since humans seem to have wiped out Neanderthals, I would maybe guess that in the long run the humans outsmarted the Neanderthals, and their physical strength was not successful in seeing them victorious over human smarts.

 

But although I am not sure what happened on an encounter by encounter basis between the humans and the Neanderthals, and how interbreeding affected the dynamics, I am guessing that somewhere along the line there was a situation where the one species thought themselves superior to the other and thought it best to proceed without the other on the planet, perhaps. Maybe some other dynamics, disease or adaptability issue was involved, but it seems possible that humans became the dominant species on the planet by finding ways to neutralize the threat to survival posed by any and all other species.

 

As to me, myself and I being a yes or no consideration, I am thinking you might be wrong, and it instead is a continuum. The ability to put yourself in other people's shoes, allows one to develop a theory of mind, and to be self aware and to converse with unseen others and imagine that they have a mind like your own and can think thoughts that will affect their behavior toward you and so on...but other animals may have similar brain components as we have, and mirror neurons and the like, that allow them to put themselves in other Zebra's shoes. They might not be aware of being a person, but they might be completely aware of being a Zebra. I am thinking of fish schooling, and plains animals herding and pack animals hunting and such. They must each have some facility that allows them to put themselves in each other's shoes. We are related to other mammals and have some of the same brain parts, I do not know that you could draw a line on being conscious although you could probably draw a line on having human consciousness.

 

Regards, TAR


Maybe human farts and BO were so distressingly awful to the Neanderthals that they lost the will to survive. :eek:

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@ tar, there's numerous threads on this very site questioning how to define Intelligence. Is it the ability to learn, the sum of knowledge, imagination, or etc? You are right that it is commonly thought that humans were smarter. I am just not sure I believe such assumptions to be empirical. Humans were obviously more successful and had obtained more knowledge. Was it because they were more well traveled and genetically diverse or was it because to an individual there brains were more capable; I do not know.

 

The ability to imagine how others think and feel is empathy. One does not need empathy to be conscious in my opinion. If one did than sociopaths aren't conscious.

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Ten Oz,

 

Perhaps that is what we call it, but I was thinking more specifically about the portion of the brain Rebecca Saxe is studying that develops at the age of 3 or 4 that seems to be responsible for having a theory of mind about yourself and others. In some way this seems to me to be WHY we are conscious. And this ability to be aware of a mind, is something that not all living things have. At least even humans don't fully have it until the age of three or four. A two year old is conscious, but according to Rebecca Saxe's work, they do not put themselves in other people's shoes or make moral judgements until this part of the brain begins to develop to its full operational status.

 

https://spectrumnews.org/news/profiles/rebecca-saxe-fine-tuning-the-theory-of-mind/

 

This facility evolved in us. One could easily argue it evolved for survival reasons, and made us able to think as a group, thus enhancing our knowledge and problem solving abilities by an additive amount, if not a multiplicative amount. It might exist in rudimentary form in other mammals.

 

Regards, TAR

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@tar, per your theory of mind contributing to consciousness wouldn't that imply humans aren't conscious till the age of 3-4yrs old? If Sax's theory of mind is a requirement for consciousness that anyone with damage or under development the TPJ region of the brain potential isn't conscious. People with autism may not be conscious. I don't believe that is the case. I believe infants are conscious.

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Ten oz,

 

Well I do have a little logical bind there in the theory, if the TPJ is responsible for consciousness, how does a 2 year old achieve consciousness before the TPJ functionality is operational. Well I am not sure how exactly that works, but I am thinking that a less than 3 year old, while perhaps not having the moral discussions with oneself possible after the TPJ gets going, is still capable of a rudimentary theory of mind. Knows who mama is and understands from experience it is better to please mama than to make her mad...and such. So I would imagine the TPJ is not absent, just not developed as it will be after a few years. I think I remember Dr. Saxe saying the TPJ continues to develop right into adulthood and never actually stops developing.

 

There is a term in evolution and fetal development that I forget but that says there are analogs between how the fetus develops and how we as a species developed. That is things like a little tail and webbing between the fingers and toes and such, that may have been actual characteristics of our ancestors, are seen in stages of the fetal development, where they manifest and then morph into the next stage, reminiscent of the evolutionary trail. In this way, perhaps the development of the TPJ as the child grows might be analogous to its importance and development in the evolutionary path.

 

But to the thread title, instinct vs consciousness, I have to think that consciousness did not just pop up all of a sudden, and it make sense to try and model a progression, where various senses form, and the ability to match the senses to build a model of the place, and then facilities emerging, like mirror neurons, and TPJ where the consciousness of seeing and smelling an hearing and feeling and tasting becomes more human like. as facilities for language and sharing thoughts and experiences developed. Not much evolutionary work has been done on the human consciousness in the last 5 or 10 thousand years, but a lot of functional knowledge and experience sharing has gone on. This would say to me. that we were probably nearly as smart 10000 years ago as we are today. That is, our brains were ready to learn about the world and share the experience with other humans.

 

Instinct and consciousness are not, under this idea at odds, or found over here and not over there. It makes more sense to me, if we accept we have the evolutionarily built equipment to be conscious humans, and in that sense, instincts, though pretty much gone from humans, because of socialization, are still built in, and we cannot be other than human in our consciousness because of the wiring we have.

 

Regards, TAR

Embryonic Recapitulation is the evolutionary theory that embryos reconstruct evolutionary forms in the development of the organism. This is often stated as "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.".

It is the theory that a human embryo's development appears to represent the different stages in evolutionary development

Edited by tar
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But to the thread title, instinct vs consciousness, I have to think that consciousness did not just pop up all of a sudden, and it make sense to try and model a progression, where various senses form, and the ability to match the senses to build a model of the place, and then facilities emerging, like mirror neurons, and TPJ where the consciousness of seeing and smelling an hearing and feeling and tasting becomes more human like. as facilities for language and sharing thoughts and experiences developed. Not much evolutionary work has been done on the human consciousness in the last 5 or 10 thousand years, but a lot of functional knowledge and experience sharing has gone on. This would say to me. that we were probably nearly as smart 10000 years ago as we are today. That is, our brains were ready to learn about the world and share the experience with other humans.

 

Instinct and consciousness are not, under this idea at odds, or found over here and not over there. It makes more sense to me, if we accept we have the evolutionarily built equipment to be conscious humans, and in that sense, instincts, though pretty much gone from humans, because of socialization, are still built in, and we cannot be other than human in our consciousness because of the wiring we have.

 

Regards, TAR

Life had a progression? Molecules had to create minerals which in turn contributed to RNA and etc. However something either is alive or not. There is no degrees where things are kinda sorta half alive or superduper extra alive. Bacteria is alive and crystals are not. Where most the distinction for consciousness be less binary? Amongst things which are self aware there is obviously many degrees of introspection and knowledge obtainment. However even at the lowest possible degree of introspection awareness still must exist which means consciousness is present.

 

I don't need to catch a fish to be fishing and the size of fish others catch don't easre the fact Ihad a pole over the side and hook in the water.

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Ok, perhaps we can make a distinction between consciousness and human consciousness.


but I would not say life and consciousness are automatically bound together as one idea


to that I would ask, "is a string of DNA aware of itself?"

is a virus alive? Is it self aware? It probably does not have a fully functioning TPJ or any ears or eyes and probably was not told bedtime stories by it parents

 

So what do you figure it is conscious of?


Just conscious of being a pattern of amino acids? How?

Edited by tar
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Ok, perhaps we can make a distinction between consciousness and human consciousness.

but I would not say life and consciousness are automatically bound together as one idea

to that I would ask, "is a sting of DNA aware of itself?"

is a virus alive? Is it self aware? It probably does not have a fully functioning TPJ or any ears or eyes and probably was not told bedtime stories by it parents

 

So what do you figure it is conscious of?

I didn't say life and consciousness were bound together. Rather I was just using life as an example of something which required a complicated process to arrive at yet is still binary in existing or not.

 

Forward from conscious all minds are different. Turn the light on in individual living rooms and each room will be different. I am only attempting to go far as the light. Is the light on in animals; yes or no. The room which that light illiminates is a different conversation.

Edited by Ten oz
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If we accept/presume all living things are conscious, then most people implicitly accept degrees of consciousness. [Most] people think nothing of squashing the life out of a mosquito, whereas [most] people would not squash the life out of another person.

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Just to take a very different tack from the current direction of the discussion, back to the thread title.

 

Instinct v consciousness.

 

Many argue in philosophy that our understanding (perhaps not the right word but I am equating this with consciousness) is entirely due to and conditioned by what we sense.

 

Of course we also possess what is called the autonomic nervous system which conditions what we see and our reactions to it.

 

The ground pushes against your feet, but are you conscious of that push?

 

This contradicts the simplistic view that our knowledge that supports our consciousness is what we sense.

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If we accept/presume all living things are conscious, then most people implicitly accept degrees of consciousness. [Most] people think nothing of squashing the life out of a mosquito, whereas [most] people would not squash the life out of another person.

True but is that conditioning or because those things we squash are not conscious and we inherently know that? People raised killing cows think nothing of killing cows. Fishermen who are accustom to killing whale do so without a second thought. I think it has more to do with what a person is conditioned to. I think regardless of intelligence the majority of people in the U.S. would kill anything which was a habitual nuisance. People kill people when being inconvienced muchless a mosquito which we can all agree is habitual a nuisance.

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