Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
toastywombel

Man

Recommended Posts

I know this is a common question and that it may be a dull one. I have always wondered what separates human kind from the rest of the animals. I know as far as DNA, genetics, tissues, and what we are made of we are very similar to most animals, especially other mammals.

 

I am also aware of our ability to use the opposable thumb, talk on a higher level, and our large brains (specifically large cerebral cortex) allow for logical thought beyond that of any mammal or animal.

 

The biological differences between humans and some animals is still very small. Dolphins for example, have very large brains as well, but they seem to have no drive to manipulate the world around them and shape it into what they want. Furthermore, Chimps (like humans) use tools to fish for food, but their tool using abilities really end there. I think you guys are getting the gist of what I am saying.

 

It seems to me that there is a very fine line between humankind and some of the animals, biologically ofcourse. However, those little differences have allowed us to create an advanced civilisation unlike anything ever observed. How come it is that these little differences cause such a drastic difference between us and the other animals. If you go up the evolutionary tree I don't think there is such a jump as there is from chimpanzees to humans as far as our differing abilities.

 

I am curious as to what you guys think about why we are so different, and please don't tell me it is because we are created in God's image :doh:. I guess my question is, what gives us the drive to change the world around us, to specialise, and to not accept a specific nitch in natural world like other animals. Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

Edited by toastywombel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
and please don't tell me it is because we are created in God's image :doh:.

 

Dammit!

:D

 

This is an interesting question, toasty. I've always just thought that humanity's drive to spread was a result of evolutionary biology and all that other fancy nueroscience I know nothing about.

But my official action is to hit you over the head with the Bible until you learn. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I what gives us the drive to change the world around us, to specialise, and to not accept a specific nitch in natural world like other animals.

 

My guess is because humans are very poorly adapted to survive in anything but a very mild climate. We would all die from hypothermia (without clothes, houses, and fire) when the temperature drops below a certain point, perhaps 10C. We would die from carnivores without advanced weaponry such as the club, spear, and fire. We could very easily die from hunger without the ability to grow food via agriculture, even hunter-gatherer cultures try modify the environment to suit their food needs, and so on. We want to change the world because we must to survive in all but perhaps a few places on earth.

 

That, or possibly

we are created in God's image
Its probably one or the other ;)

 

Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

 

Why would you assume evolution has a goal? Evolution is simply change over time with the better adapted surviving. The changes to our homoerectus - like ancestor enabled us to survive by modifying our local environment via technology rather than physical modifications to our bodies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think evolution's goal is to adapt, and because of our technology we are able to adapt to nearly any environment on the planet, in some cases even outside of the planet ie) the space station.

 

You make a good point though Sh3rlock, if we did not have the ability to change the world around us we would be very vulnerable (and I think we would probably go extinct), but because we have that ability we are the greatest predator to ever live.

 

That does not answer the question fully though, what about the complex music we create, the arts, monuments. We have gone far beyond changing the world just to survive we have changed the world in many cases so it will fit our liking.

 

Its one thing to build a shelter, but the structures we create go beyond the need for just survival. They encompass that aspect, but the aspects of art and beauty as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no "up the evolutionary tree," and there is no goal of evolution (unless you count propagation), let alone an "ultimate goal." You shouldn't think in those terms, because nature doesn't work that way. (And if it did, why assume it's us? Maybe we're halfway "there." Or rather, squid are halfway there, and we're a dead end. Or horseshoe crabs are the ultimate goal, since they've been around so long without needing to change. Or whatever.)

 

As for what "separates" humans? I think you pretty much covered it. There's nothing important all that different between us and, say, chimps, except our somewhat larger brains. Where those came from, I guess is kind of a runaway reaction from a series of chance occurences. The more we can communicate with each other and the better tools we can make, the more use for problem solving and social skills, the bigger brains we get, the more we can communicate and build better tools, and so forth. We're descended from tree climbers so we have a good grip, and we have hands free to use for other things because various pressures pushed us out of the trees into a more upright existence, so to speak. And probably a bunch of other minor factors as well, I don't know. But no magic bullet.

 

And yes, chimps have culture too. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I am trying to personify evolution too much, but what I mean is that humankind seems to be the ultimately adaptable creature. I guess that is not totally true, but given a relatively short amount of time humankind can adapt to a much wider range of environments than any other animal or living thing, maybe with the exception to some microscopic life.

 

It just sometimes amazes me that such small biological differences can cause a plethora visual differences.

Your right, chimps do have a culture as well as many other mammals but it is not nearly as complex as ours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're rather fragile and hollow peons relative to bacteria. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more thing, when I say evolutionary tree this is an example of what I mean.treeolif.jpg

 

It is a term though, often called the Phylogenetic tree. Here is a link.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know this is a common question and that it may be a dull one. I have always wondered what separates human kind from the rest of the animals. I know as far as DNA, genetics, tissues, and what we are made of we are very similar to most animals, especially other mammals.

 

I am also aware of our ability to use the opposable thumb, talk on a higher level, and our large brains (specifically large cerebral cortex) allow for logical thought beyond that of any mammal or animal.

 

The biological differences between humans and some animals is still very small. Dolphins for example, have very large brains as well, but they seem to have no drive to manipulate the world around them and shape it into what they want. Furthermore, Chimps (like humans) use tools to fish for food, but their tool using abilities really end there. I think you guys are getting the gist of what I am saying.

 

It seems to me that there is a very fine line between humankind and some of the animals, biologically ofcourse. However, those little differences have allowed us to create an advanced civilisation unlike anything ever observed. How come it is that these little differences cause such a drastic difference between us and the other animals. If you go up the evolutionary tree I don't think there is such a jump as there is from chimpanzees to humans as far as our differing abilities.

 

I am curious as to what you guys think about why we are so different, and please don't tell me it is because we are created in God's image :doh:. I guess my question is, what gives us the drive to change the world around us, to specialise, and to not accept a specific nitch in natural world like other animals. Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

you are assuming that chimps and dolphins ARE animals.

 

what separates humans (of whatever species) from the animals is our capacity for reason. what Jung called 'directed thinking' or 'logos'. it is this capacity that leads to language

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
what separates humans (of whatever species) from the animals is our capacity for reason.

Sorry, grandpa... but the ability to reason is not limited to humans, nor is the ability to directedly think.

 

Here's a good article from 10 years ago which lays it out pretty well... and once you accept the plethora of work which has been conducted in the decade since this article was written you can more easily realize that Aristotlian concepts such as the one you've espoused above are simply false.

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,30198-1,00.html

 

 

Btw... if chimps and dolphins are not animals, then WTF are they? :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have always wondered what separates human kind from the rest of the animals. I know as far as DNA, genetics, tissues, and what we are made of we are very similar to most animals, especially other mammals.

 

Quite. We have very few unique attributes. Mostly we have a particularly useful combination of attributes other creatures have.

 

We have:

  • Multicellularity -- a near necessity for our other attributes. This allows us to use aggregates of cells to do things, which otherwise would require absurd amounts of DNA and a difficult or impossible evolutionary path.
  • A nervous system -- our nervous system can acquire and store non-genetic information. Consider that all our DNA would fit on a CD... would all your knowledge fit on one?
  • k-selected species -- ours is very much a k-selected species. An r-selected species is selected based mostly on its reproduction and can quickly populate a destroyed habitat, whereas k-selected species are selected based on their carrying capacity (how many individuals can exist at max population) and will eventually out-compete the r-selected ones. k-selected species are always better competitors and tend to have long lifetimes and slow reproduction, invest more time and/or energy in their young, etc.
  • Language -- this is an important one. Note that language is used not only to communicate, but in formal logic. We have an inherent capacity for language.
  • *Context-Free Language -- this may be unique to us, and allows us to communicate all manner of things however abstract. Likewise for thought.
  • Tool use -- not only do we use tools, but our brain treats them as extensions of our body. Tool use is very natural for us.
  • *Meta-tool -- not only do we use tools, but we make tools who's sole purpose is to make other tools. We can make tools to make tools to make tools. This is the basis of our technology, and means we have good tools, like knives as opposed to a rock. Other animals wouldn't have the patience. Or would they? Crows know enough to use one tool to access another tool that they need, which is somewhat similar.
  • *Bipedalism & hands -- yup, we can stand on two feet. Birds do that too, but whereas this frees their "hands" for flying, we free our hands for tool use. Apes and monkeys have hands, but they don't have bipedalism. There is very little point in spending all day making excellent tools if we can't carry them around with us, as it would just be a big waste of time. These two together are unique to us.
  • Social -- we are social creatures. Without our society, we would never be where we are now.
  • Culture -- we pass on traditions to others of our kind. Other creatures do this too BTW.
  • Theory of Mind -- we can understand what others are thinking -- we model their minds. In fact, we have mirror neurons, which are very cool. Other creatures have both of these aspects as well.
  • Imitation -- we are better at imitating. See this article from New Scientist. One point is that we can imitate very complicated things without understanding them at the time.
  • Intelligence -- yup, we can learn, and figure things out. That's useful. Other creatures have more intelligence in certain aspects than us, though we win hands down at abstract though. Apes for example can beat us at visual memory
  • *Formal thought -- This may be unique to us, at least to the extent that we can use it. Combined with communication, it means we can make arguments to convince other people, which is very useful for our social evolution.
  • Environment modification -- if we don't like our environment, we modify it. Other creatures do this too, the social insects for example control the temperature and humidity in their hive. The finest example is an ant-tree partnership, where the ant kills off the tree's competitors and the tree provides the ants with nesting grounds.
  • *Tame -- someone called us the self-tamed apes. Many of our attributes are similar to the changes when a species is tamed. Though we are not the only tame animals, we are the only ones who tame others.

 

I'm sure I missed some, but I hope this is a useful list. My point is that it is no one thing that sets us apart, but a combination of things. Take away one or two of these and we go back to the stone age. Many of them may have a common source though.

 

Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

 

No. Not only does evolution not have a goal (rather the goal is adaptation to the environment and the goalposts are always moving), but once we learn to make artificial life we will tear evolution a new one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quite. We have very few unique attributes. Mostly we have a particularly useful combination of attributes other creatures have.

 

We have:

  • Multicellularity -- a near necessity for our other attributes. This allows us to use aggregates of cells to do things, which otherwise would require absurd amounts of DNA and a difficult or impossible evolutionary path.
  • A nervous system -- our nervous system can acquire and store non-genetic information. Consider that all our DNA would fit on a CD... would all your knowledge fit on one?
  • k-selected species -- ours is very much a k-selected species. An r-selected species is selected based mostly on its reproduction and can quickly populate a destroyed habitat, whereas k-selected species are selected based on their carrying capacity (how many individuals can exist at max population) and will eventually out-compete the r-selected ones. k-selected species are always better competitors and tend to have long lifetimes and slow reproduction, invest more time and/or energy in their young, etc.
  • Language -- this is an important one. Note that language is used not only to communicate, but in formal logic. We have an inherent capacity for language.
  • *Context-Free Language -- this may be unique to us, and allows us to communicate all manner of things however abstract. Likewise for thought.
  • Tool use -- not only do we use tools, but our brain treats them as extensions of our body. Tool use is very natural for us.
  • *Meta-tool -- not only do we use tools, but we make tools who's sole purpose is to make other tools. We can make tools to make tools to make tools. This is the basis of our technology, and means we have good tools, like knives as opposed to a rock. Other animals wouldn't have the patience. Or would they? Crows know enough to use one tool to access another tool that they need, which is somewhat similar.
  • *Bipedalism & hands -- yup, we can stand on two feet. Birds do that too, but whereas this frees their "hands" for flying, we free our hands for tool use. Apes and monkeys have hands, but they don't have bipedalism. There is very little point in spending all day making excellent tools if we can't carry them around with us, as it would just be a big waste of time. These two together are unique to us.
  • Social -- we are social creatures. Without our society, we would never be where we are now.
  • Culture -- we pass on traditions to others of our kind. Other creatures do this too BTW.
  • Theory of Mind -- we can understand what others are thinking -- we model their minds. In fact, we have mirror neurons, which are very cool. Other creatures have both of these aspects as well.
  • Imitation -- we are better at imitating. See this article from New Scientist. One point is that we can imitate very complicated things without understanding them at the time.
  • Intelligence -- yup, we can learn, and figure things out. That's useful. Other creatures have more intelligence in certain aspects than us, though we win hands down at abstract though. Apes for example can beat us at visual memory
  • *Formal thought -- This may be unique to us, at least to the extent that we can use it. Combined with communication, it means we can make arguments to convince other people, which is very useful for our social evolution.
  • Environment modification -- if we don't like our environment, we modify it. Other creatures do this too, the social insects for example control the temperature and humidity in their hive. The finest example is an ant-tree partnership, where the ant kills off the tree's competitors and the tree provides the ants with nesting grounds.
  • *Tame -- someone called us the self-tamed apes. Many of our attributes are similar to the changes when a species is tamed. Though we are not the only tame animals, we are the only ones who tame others.

 

I'm sure I missed some, but I hope this is a useful list. My point is that it is no one thing that sets us apart, but a combination of things. Take away one or two of these and we go back to the stone age. Many of them may have a common source though.

 

 

 

No. Not only does evolution not have a goal (rather the goal is adaptation to the environment and the goalposts are always moving), but once we learn to make artificial life we will tear evolution a new one.

 

I think the most advantagous genetic quirk is the god gene. I prefer to think of it as the 'unsupported belief gene' or the 'giving' gene. But it has very specific advantages over more primative versions. It makes it 'feel good' to be around others of our kind. It makes us want to work as a collective. And it makes us contemplate our 'special status' in the scheme of things. This gives us more 'reason to live' and it tends to create avenues for invention to make the collective a better place for all.

 

And I agree with what toasty said. I think there are many good reasons to conclude ( at least until further evidence refutes this ) that our species ... homosapiens ... is the best the universe can make. Out of approximately 7 billion estimated species since single cell life arose 3.5 billion years ago, only one had developed RF capability. Us. And it wasn't even really 'us'. It was entirely the efforts of .0000000000001% of the human population that brought us to this point in technological development.

 

50-60 thousand years ago ... as we started the great migration out of Africa, we were beating on drums to communicate over distances, and tending goats. Those who stayed behind are still beating on drums and tending goats. Never even invented the wheel in 50,000 years. Aztecs, Mayans, Chinese, Egyptians ... all had marvelous societies, but never developed physics, electromagnetism, chemistry ( not much anyway ) or RADIOS. Chinese had 'gunpowder' for a 1000 years and never grasped it's potential. And there had to be a billion Chinese at least during this timeframe. Yet Nobel came along and figured it out in a few minutes.

 

Yes, if not for very special conditions ... a very special geographic location ... very unique social influences ... and a very lucky mutation of our gene ... we would still not have the wheel. Well, ok. Lol. We'd have the wheel, and wonderful buildings, and artwork, and philosophy ... but no radios.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
what separates humans (of whatever species) from the animals is our capacity for reason. what Jung called 'directed thinking' or 'logos'. it is this capacity that leads to language

That is almost certainly backwards. I would venture that it is language that led to our enhanced ability to reason.

 

With language, expansion of knowledge became Lamarkian as opposed to Darwinian. Our toolset evolved very slowly over a two or three million years until about 40-50 thousand years ago. Suddenly we started making huge strides in weaponry, buring our dead, and doodling on cave walls. Whether that truly was a sudden change or was gradual is still a matter of debate. (Since I used the word "suddenly" it is rather obvious which side of the debate I stand on. Then again, I am but a potzer on this arena.)

 

Our language is what separates us from dolphins, crows, octopi, and other near-intelligent creatures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our language is what separates us from dolphins, crows, octopi, and other near-intelligent creatures.

 

I would venture you would have a difficult time backing this up, cephalopods communicate with colors, crows no doubt have a language as do dolphins. Just because they cannot speak English doesn't mean they cannot speak. It is quite possible we are not intellectually flexible enough to understand their languages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would venture you would have a difficult time backing this up, cephalopods communicate with colors, crows no doubt have a language as do dolphins. Just because they cannot speak English doesn't mean they cannot speak. It is quite possible we are not intellectually flexible enough to understand their languages.

DH said Language, not speech. You can call Dolphin's communication chirps as a language too, despite the fact we don't understand it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have always wondered what separates human kind from the rest of the animals.

I have wondered this myself many times and i came up with quite a simplistic answer that has proven true; we are not different period.

 

If you follow evolution then we are just the product of time, our actions are dictated by instinct in the same way any other animal is.

 

You ask what seperates humans from animal, i say what seperates a squirrel from a rabbit.

 

 

I really dont see any differences between us and any other creature, However it would seem to me that the foundation of this question is actually based in religion. I say this because it was religion that taut us that we are different that we are better. If you take religion out of the question you find that we are just another species that evolved to inhabit our niche in the world.

 

 

Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

 

No, we are not the ultimate goal of evolution we are just another point on it. We are still evolving, you could lead an example of this by looking at our species in the medieval age as compared to our present age. we evolved from sticks and stones to steel and plastic.

 

From what i can see our next step in evolution is "cyberization", as in human integration with computer technology. If we did the research our brain could adapt to a new form of information processing. I discussed this topic in my thread "Cyberization", I could easily continue the topic, but no one wants to play ball :(

 

Anyways i rave, to answer the question- What makes us the ultimate goal? what makes us NOW the endpoint of evolution? is there not more time? if there is then is there not more evolution that we have not experienced?

 

Thank you, I hope that answered your question in as much detail as you need.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You ask what seperates humans from animal

That is *not* what toastywombel asked. In twisting his words you are doing exactly what creationists do to make a parody out of evolutionary science. What toastywombel asked was

I have always wondered what separates human kind from the rest of the animals. I know as far as DNA, genetics, tissues, and what we are made of we are very similar to most animals, especially other mammals.

In other words, he very specifically acknowledged that humans are mammals. He is asking if anything marks us as unique. that we are mammals

 

 

i say what seperates a squirrel from a rabbit.

And I say, what is the different between a duck?

 

Your question doesn't address the issue raised by toastywombel. It is off-topic.

 

I really dont see any differences between us and any other creature

You are quite alone in that regard. Language is widely regarded as unique a uniquely human capability.

 

However it would seem to me that the foundation of this question is actually based in religion. I say this because it was religion that taut us that we are different that we are better. If you take religion out of the question you find that we are just another species that evolved to inhabit our niche in the world.

Why are you trying to cast this as a religious argument? toastywombel most certainly did not do so. He did not ask what makes us better. He asked what makes us different. The naked mole rat is one of only two mammals that are eusocial. While that does not make them "better," it most certainly does make them "different." There are plenty of unique, or near-unique capabilities in the animal world. We happen to be a uniquely yammery species.

 

While people say many things about Noam Chomsky, some derogatory, none will accuse him of being strongly religious. Here is Chomsky on human language versus animal communications ( http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/chomsky.htmp):

When we ask what human language is, we find no striking similarity to animal communication systems. There is nothing useful to be said about behaviour or thought at the level of abstraction at which animal and human communication fall together. The examples of animal communication that have been examined to date do share many of the properties of human gestural systems, and it might be reasonable to explore the possibility of direct connection in this case. But human language, it appears, is based on entirely different principles. This, I think, is an important point, often overlooked by those who approach human language as a natural, biological phenomenon; in particular, it seems rather pointless, for these reasons, to speculate about the evolution of human language from simpler systems – perhaps as absurd as it would be to speculate about the “evolution” of atoms from clouds of elementary particles.

 

Language is something more than speech. People who have sustained damage to various parts of the brain can for example find themselves able to speak but do so meaninglessly (Wernicke's aphasia) or speak words but can no longer form sentences (Broca's aphasia). Speech in turn is something more than the grunts and gestures that constitute animal communication.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is *not* what toastywombel asked. In twisting his words you are doing exactly what creationists do to make a parody out of evolutionary science. What toastywombel asked was

 

In other words, he very specifically acknowledged that humans are mammals. He is asking if anything marks us as unique. that we are mammals

 

 

 

And I say, what is the different between a duck?

 

Your question doesn't address the issue raised by toastywombel. It is off-topic.

 

 

You are quite alone in that regard. Language is widely regarded as unique a uniquely human capability.

 

 

Why are you trying to cast this as a religious argument? toastywombel most certainly did not do so. He did not ask what makes us better. He asked what makes us different. The naked mole rat is one of only two mammals that are eusocial. While that does not make them "better," it most certainly does make them "different." There are plenty of unique, or near-unique capabilities in the animal world. We happen to be a uniquely yammery species.

 

While people say many things about Noam Chomsky, some derogatory, none will accuse him of being strongly religious. Here is Chomsky on human language versus animal communications ( http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/chomsky.htmp):

When we ask what human language is, we find no striking similarity to animal communication systems. There is nothing useful to be said about behaviour or thought at the level of abstraction at which animal and human communication fall together. The examples of animal communication that have been examined to date do share many of the properties of human gestural systems, and it might be reasonable to explore the possibility of direct connection in this case. But human language, it appears, is based on entirely different principles. This, I think, is an important point, often overlooked by those who approach human language as a natural, biological phenomenon; in particular, it seems rather pointless, for these reasons, to speculate about the evolution of human language from simpler systems – perhaps as absurd as it would be to speculate about the “evolution” of atoms from clouds of elementary particles.

 

Language is something more than speech. People who have sustained damage to various parts of the brain can for example find themselves able to speak but do so meaninglessly (Wernicke's aphasia) or speak words but can no longer form sentences (Broca's aphasia). Speech in turn is something more than the grunts and gestures that constitute animal communication.

 

you seem to be misinterpreting my post, i did not try in anyway to bring this convorsation into religion, nor did i attack this post with religion.

when i stated what seperates a duck from a squirrel i am referring to how is are they different, then compare that model with a human and a goose or a rhino or a chiwawa. language is inherently NOT a human unique trait, most if not all animals communicate in some form or another. Ants communicate via scent trails and vibrations, bee's use scent trails and dancing. Bears use vocal communications, body language and scent. I really dont see how our communication is Unique against other species. If anything i would think that our nonusage of Scent communication techniques makes us slightly underdeveloped compaired to the other animals. Of course this list does not take into account all animals nor does it take into account animals of other Kingdoms such as amphibions or aquatic animals.

Your example of brain damage can easily be refuted by damaging the communication centers of an animal's brain and reintroducing it to a colony or some similar type action.

 

But like i said before, Humans really are not unique in any way, we are just like any other animal subjected to evolution and its rules in accordance with the all seeing-governing factor, Time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zolar V wrote ... in part:

 

I really dont see any differences between us and any other creature, However it would seem to me that the foundation of this question is actually based in religion. I say this because it was religion that taut us that we are different that we are better. If you take religion out of the question you find that we are just another species that evolved to inhabit our niche in the world.

 

Toasty wrote:

 

Are we the example of the ultimate goal of evolution?

 

Zolar wrote:

 

No, we are not the ultimate goal of evolution we are just another point on it. We are still evolving, you could lead an example of this by looking at our species in the medieval age as compared to our present age. we evolved from sticks and stones to steel and plastic.

 

From what i can see our next step in evolution is "cyberization", as in human integration with computer technology. If we did the research our brain could adapt to a new form of information processing. I discussed this topic in my thread "Cyberization", I could easily continue the topic, but no one wants to play ball :(

 

Anyways i rave, to answer the question- What makes us the ultimate goal? what makes us NOW the endpoint of evolution? is there not more time? if there is then is there not more evolution that we have not experienced?

 

Sorry for butting in again.

 

Zolar, I think you are not looking at all the evidence. You make the flawed but understandable assumption that because we have 'evolved' this far in (x) years, we will continue to do so over the next (x) number of years. And the evidence was clearly in front of you. You say that we are " ... just another species that evolved to inhabit our niche in the world."

 

Yes, we are. And this is where it ends. In our niche. Just like bacteria, or viruses, or plankton, or t rex, or crocs, or birds, or ants, or squirrrels, or sharks, or, or .......

 

Let's look at sharks. I use them a lot to illustrate my point. We know they have existed virtually unchanged for around 350 million years. They have no technology. And they never will in that form. They are content in the evolutionary sense to cruise the oceans and kill stuff. It will never change as long as the oceans exist. They will never build radios. Ants will do the same. As long as they have no need to evolve further, they won't. Whether the 'mutations' simply stop, or mutated babies die immediately. I don't know. But ants are not going to build a radio. Ever.

 

You may have not noticed something else. America is a perfect example. We are fast turning into a bunch of ignorant sloths glued to our tv's or computers, focused on nothing but the mundane. Check the different forums at facebook, or myspace ... or any number of sites. Look at the numbers of people on the goofy stuff, versus the number on serious. This site is an exception because it focuses on science. But compare numbers from this site to all the non-science sites. 50 million talking about ghosts and near death experiences and American Idol, and Tiger Woods ... and God. A few thousand talking serious science. You do the math ....

 

The fact is, we are not the strong, and healthy DRIVEN men and women of our recent ancestors. The brave pioneers are dead. It is no longer survival of the fittest. It is survival of everyone, no matter how flawed. Our test scores continue to drop nationally, and school boards keep lowering the bar, no matter how much money is thrown into education. The joke is "No child left behind." A more accurate assessment is "EVERYONE left behind."

 

You talk of cybernization as the next great 'evolutionary step'. I don't agree. Technological step, yes. It may make us think faster ... crunch bigger numbers ... and 'repair' damaged pieces ... and allow us to live longer ( hopefully, thousands of years longer ), but we will never be able to change the laws of physics. We will never develop into some 'super' race teleporting around the house, or the universe. We will never develop telkinesis or telepathy either because the real universe in which we live doesn't allow such things to occur. Should we develop technologies that allow electronic transmissions of our thoughts to machines or other humans, the situation will only worsen for us, as it will only make us lazier.

 

We are now 'devolving'. Our race has found it's niche, entirely on the backs of about 1000 homosapiens ( out of maybe 100 billion so far ) .... and we will devolve until we no longer fit comfortably in our niche. Then that will cease ... and we will just 'cruise the ocean killing stuff'. Lol. For as long as we have a niche to exist in. Hopefully, if we are very lucky ... we will be as successful as the shark, and last for 350 million years in this form.

 

So we ARE the peak of evolution. At least for this planet. Oh sure, we will invent lots of cool new things ... but none that violate physics.

 

But this is not a bad thing. It's no worse than the sharks, or the ants. Life is good.

Edited by pywakit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
you seem to be misinterpreting my post, i did not try in anyway to bring this convorsation into religion, nor did i attack this post with religion.
If religion is not an issue, why did you mention it? Let's leave religion out of this, please. To make this very clear: We are apes. I am not attacking evolution.

 

The issue here is are there any characteristics that are unique to humans? Uniqueness implies not just a difference of degree, but a difference of kind. In other words, an emergent property.

 

language is inherently NOT a human unique trait, most if not all animals communicate in some form or another. Ants communicate via scent trails and vibrations, bee's use scent trails and dancing. Bears use vocal communications, body language and scent. I really dont see how our communication is Unique against other species.

You are talking about animal communications. Linguists have long recognized a huge gulf, a difference of kind, between animal communications and human language. A couple of recent articles:

 

Derek C. Penna, Keith J. Holyoaka, and Daniel J. Povinellia, Darwin's mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2008), 31:109-130.

preprint: http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Penn-01062006/Referees/Penn-01062006_bbs-preprint.htm

Over the last quarter century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences as “one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin 1871). In the present target article, we argue that Darwin was mistaken: the profound biological continuity between human and nonhuman animals masks an equally profound discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. To wit, there is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (PSS) (Newell 1980). We show that this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture alone can explain. We propose a representational-level specification as to where human and nonhuman animals' abilities to approximate a PSS are similar and where they differ. We conclude by suggesting that recent symbolic-connectionist models of cognition shed new light on the mechanisms that underlie the gap between human and nonhuman minds.

 

David Premack, Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity, Proc Natl Acad Sci (2007), 104(35):13861–13867.

PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1955772/

Microscopic study of the human brain has revealed neural structures, enhanced wiring, and forms of connectivity among nerve cells not found in any animal, challenging the view that the human brain is simply an enlarged chimpanzee brain. On the other hand, cognitive studies have found animals to have abilities once thought unique to the human. This suggests a disparity between brain and mind. The suggestion is misleading. Cognitive research has not kept pace with neural research. Neural findings are based on microscopic study of the brain and are primarily cellular. Because cognition cannot be studied microscopically, we need to refine the study of cognition by using a different approach. In examining claims of similarity between animals and humans, one must ask: What are the dissimilarities? This approach prevents confusing similarity with equivalence. We follow this approach in examining eight cognitive cases—teaching, short-term memory, causal reasoning, planning, deception, transitive inference, theory of mind, and language—and find, in all cases, that similarities between animal and human abilities are small, dissimilarities large. There is no disparity between brain and mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are in speculations, aren't we?

Well

what separates human kind from the rest of the animals

I figure it is a little spark in our brain.

Basically we are beasts. Independetly of our technology level, we are still acting as beasts. As countries & as individuals, in a less measure I hope.

As for this little spark in our brain, if it vanishes, Humanity bye-bye.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If religion is not an issue, why did you mention it? Let's leave religion out of this, please. To make this very clear: We are apes. I am not attacking evolution.

It seems to me that the question of "why are humans unique" seems to me to stem from a original concept that religion taught us. That is that we are in fact unique or different form other things to begin with. Hence i said previously that this question seems to stem from a religious concept. Or it may not actually be a religious concept, however it could have been incorporated into our religions due to religion and religious centers to also be your scholarly and schooled peoples. Whatever the case may be, I don't believe that We as Humans are so unique or different from any other animal.

I believe that we are unique for being human in the same way a squirrel is unique against any other creature.

The issue here is are there any characteristics that are unique to humans? Uniqueness implies not just a difference of degree, but a difference of kind. In other words, an emergent property.

In short I have to say probably. There is some characteristic that humans possess in the same probability that squirrels or dolphins have a characteristic that is unique to them. I do wonder though, if we were to give other animals a longer time to evolve would they begin to question their origins the same way we question ours?

You are talking about animal communications. Linguists have long recognized a huge gulf, a difference of kind, between animal communications and human language. A couple of recent articles:

 

Derek C. Penna, Keith J. Holyoaka, and Daniel J. Povinellia, Darwin's mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2008), 31:109-130.

preprint: http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Penn-01062006/Referees/Penn-01062006_bbs-preprint.htm

Over the last quarter century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences as “one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin 1871). In the present target article, we argue that Darwin was mistaken: the profound biological continuity between human and nonhuman animals masks an equally profound discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. To wit, there is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (PSS) (Newell 1980). We show that this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture alone can explain. We propose a representational-level specification as to where human and nonhuman animals' abilities to approximate a PSS are similar and where they differ. We conclude by suggesting that recent symbolic-connectionist models of cognition shed new light on the mechanisms that underlie the gap between human and nonhuman minds.

 

David Premack, Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity, Proc Natl Acad Sci (2007), 104(35):13861–13867.

PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1955772/

Microscopic study of the human brain has revealed neural structures, enhanced wiring, and forms of connectivity among nerve cells not found in any animal, challenging the view that the human brain is simply an enlarged chimpanzee brain. On the other hand, cognitive studies have found animals to have abilities once thought unique to the human. This suggests a disparity between brain and mind. The suggestion is misleading. Cognitive research has not kept pace with neural research. Neural findings are based on microscopic study of the brain and are primarily cellular. Because cognition cannot be studied microscopically, we need to refine the study of cognition by using a different approach. In examining claims of similarity between animals and humans, one must ask: What are the dissimilarities? This approach prevents confusing similarity with equivalence. We follow this approach in examining eight cognitive cases—teaching, short-term memory, causal reasoning, planning, deception, transitive inference, theory of mind, and language—and find, in all cases, that similarities between animal and human abilities are small, dissimilarities large. There is no disparity between brain and mind.

 

If an animals brain or rather communication parts of the brain were as big as ours would they not use or evolve the same amount and variety of communication skills we possess?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a very difficult time in seeing anything humans do as "different" that sets us apart from any other animals. Yes there are differences but only in degree. There is nothing humans do that an animal doesn't do in some way to a lesser extent. Humans are obviously more complex in many ways than most animals and at this time that complexity is unique, but I see no reason our level of complexity could not be evolved by other species, Neanderthals would seem to indicate it can happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems to me that the question of "why are humans unique" seems to me to stem from a original concept that religion taught us.

Then why do atheists ask the same question? Please keep religion out of this!

 

Whatever the case may be, I don't believe that We as Humans are so unique or different from any other animal.

That is a religious belief in and of itself.

 

I do wonder though, if we were to give other animals a longer time to evolve would they begin to question their origins the same way we question ours?

 

If an animals brain or rather communication parts of the brain were as big as ours would they not use or evolve the same amount and variety of communication skills we possess?

That is a different question. Whether Neanderthals had the gift of gab is an open question. They do appear to have the same mutation to the FOXP2 that is in part responsible for our ability to speak. Suppose we die off, or suppose we simply never existed. Would some other animal eventually have evolve the same capabilities that we have? I suspect so. It did happen once, after all.

 

This is very similar to the question of whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. The answer to that is almost certainly yes. There is no way to tell, however, if the odds against are enormously large.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.