The thing that makes us unique, Robert, is that we are the only species living in space and time. The only species conscious of living in space and time that is; the only one who has developed enough brain power to conceptualize the “NOTIONS” off space and time.
This makes of us an anomaly of nature since in it, all species are define by the environment in which they live while we define ours. This put the evolutionary burden on us to have it right. All other species live in the “instant” guided by their inner drives to respond to the stimuli of their environment in ways shaped by evolution. All other species are thus rational in that they affirm their antecedents. If the environment changes and there are not enough variations within the genome of a species this species is in danger of extinction. Unless a genetic error is made, which by “chance and necessity (a mutationlive in their environment as we live in our body, WITHOUT ANY CONSCIOUS REPRESENTATION, which has been my working hypothesis as a generalist of science for the last 45 years, along with Schopenhauer, but before reading about him:
In accordance with Kant’s claim, non-human animals would not be able to know objects. Animals would only know impressions on their sense organs, which Kant mistakenly called perception. Kant had erroneously asserted that full, perceived objects, not mere sensations, were given to the mind by the sense organs. Perception, however, according to Schopenhauer, is intellectual and is a product of the Understanding. Perception of an object does not result from the mere data of the senses. It requires the Understanding. Therefore, if animals do not have Understanding, in accordance with Kant, then they have only Sensation, which, Schopenhauer claimed, gives only raw sense data, not perceived objects. Wikipedia (my emphases)
Here a caveat must be made for whales, dolphins, and elephants…and chimps as we will see below. They do act as they have “understanding.” Nevertheless, because they do not have prehensile hands, they would not have the capacity to differentiate themselves from the visible reality. They would be one with it like all other animals; however, differently: their external reality would be themselves. Because they are self-conscious but do not have prehensile hands to make meaningful contact with their external reality and relate it to themselves: what they see is themselves. To support this hypothesis that to be self-conscious as we are, we both need a big brain able to create images of the environment and prehensile hands to meaningfully manipulate it, let us look at another species showing significant signs of intelligence but who are also missing an element to be conscious of themselves and of the outside world as two separate entities like we are. This species is…drum rolls…the octopus. In their case, they do have tremendous prehensile apparels to be aware of the outside world but are missing the brain power to be of themselves. That would be the reason why they can disappear into the environment because they do have sensations of the outside world but localized on their bodies, not centralized as it is for big-brain animals.
Contrary to the animals mentioned above who have big brains but no prehensile hands, making them perceive the environment as being themselves, octopuses, having no brain power but the capacity to manipulate their environment, would see themselves as being their environment. That is why they can disappear in it while “representing” it on their body like big brains can create internal images of their environment while being unable to objectify it as we do meaningfully. NB, it is indeed not easy to know what it is like to be other animals.
Another caveat must be made for elephants who possess both elements, powerful brains and somewhat prehensile trunks which contribute to create in them a special type of intelligence as no other animals has, I believe.. In their case, if they would not have conceptualized the notion of space and time, like we had to do to “objectify” reality and ourselves in it, which we needed to do to become self-conscious, it could be because they do not have a 3D vision as we do, and the bipedal mobility that we have. As for chimps they are in the middle ground. They do have both necessary elements but their hands are not agile enough to extract meaning out of what they touch and their brain are not big enough to create conscious representation.
For me, these chimps are as conscious of the “rock” and the “stick” they are using to crack open nuts or dig for food as they will be later of their teeth while eating.
I here take the opportunity to tell Goodall, de Wall, and al. in the same tone as Crocodile Dundee to Jane about knives: “…that’s a knife”
THESE AREN’T TOOLS!
THESE ARE TOOLS!
Its is indeed hard to know what is like to be another animal, but this is the best I can do for these to make them fit in my theory of universal evolution.
All Individual entities in nature affirm themselves, and they all do it RATIONALLY, in that they unconsciously affirm their evolutionary “antecedents.” Contrary to us, who affirm ourselves consciously but as “consequent” of evolution, thus our capacity to be fallacious in our judgments. Human knowledge is “axiomatic” (Popper). That is why we have to have our assumptions right. And at the moment all our problems are residing in the fact that the notions of space and time—which had to be unconsciously assumed by us to “objectify” (perceive} our environment when we entered the Savanna, and which are still deeply buried in our nature, since It is these notions that have been and still are unconsciously imprinted in us during the two first years of our life in the “postpartum social womb,” without which we never become complete human beings, (cf feral children)—are false:
“Lee Smolin, author of the controversial bestseller [Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe], argues that [our] limited notion of time is holding physics back [and all of us with it]. It’s time for a major revolution in scientific thought. The reality of time could be the key to the next big breakthrough in theoretical physics.” [and in all sectors of science and society since] …” There are few ideas that, like our notion of time, shape our thinking about literally everything, with major implications for physics and beyond-from climate change to the economic crisis [ and especially ‘comparative ethology’ since it is this capacity to objectify reality based on our understanding of space and time that differentiates us from the other animals].” (Lee Smolin, my emphases and brackets)
I find it weird that we readily accept that a set of DNA molecules can form a complete individual mechanically in a biological womb, all the while having difficulty accepting that adults, who unconsciously use the notion of space and time to objectify reality, would not be able to unconsciously also imprint on their progeny in a “social womb” the same essential assumptions which made them humans?
All that precede, for me, doesn’t diminish “animality” but humanity since all living entities, guided by integrative forces still unknown to us, together unconsciously create the homeostatic masterpiece of nature. While we have become ourselves an uncontrolled force destroying it while consciously drawing caricatures of life over it, while using self-serving heavy strokes of specialized knowledge, perfect for progress but individually useless for the cause of our survival.
This “guy” below is driven by the same biological “drives,” as all the other protein of the same type are, to do what needs to be done on these microtubules (their environment), thus altogether contributing to the homeostasis of life.
We are the total antithesis of this process. We have transcended evolution in that we are making culturally most of the connection between our inner drives, of which we are imperfectly aware, and the exterior stimuli, of which we are, most of the time. All the other species are determined by the environment in which they live. We define ours. It is this faculty we have acquired in evolution to become conscious of space and time that has allowed us to survive in the Savanna where we were the only species aware of living in a conceptualized environment in which we did not have any competition and still do not. The time has come for us, because of the over-perfectionism of our tools, which have become ends-in-themselves, “radical monopolies,” (Illich) which do not fulfill the need they were initially supposed to satisfy. E.g., we use to go 10 to 15 miles an hour by horses and buggies; then we invented the car; at first, it was a significant improvement. However, now that the car has become a radical monopoly—if we consider, all the mileage traveled by car in the world and divide it by all the time dedicated to transportation (time worked to buy cars, fix them, for law implementation and security, road maintenance, time lost by premature death caused by pollution, etc., etc., etc.,)—I am sure that we don’t go faster than by horses and buggies as a modern species…and even by foot as Homo in the Savanna… You will tell me that it makes our lives easier? Yea! But we survive millions of years without them, and now they are killing us in many ways.
The same with grammar. Grammar is how we use words to “crack open” concepts, which are food for thought. It is not innate as Chomsky assumes but learned by imitation at a young age by “a damn [try] after another” (Piaget). If you look at the video below, you can see that the way infants learn a language can indeed be compared to the way young chimps learn to use rocks.
And it is universal, not because it is innate ether, but because it is used to describe the same concepts in every language. Humpty Dumpty sat on the same wall and had the same great fall in every language. And, if nobody can put him together in all languages either, it is because of the second law of thermodynamics, which is also the same in all languages and not innate…
You can stop watching at 5:00 after Matsuzawa says that adult never teach :
If I would have been on Jane Goodall PhD committee I would have told her:
“This not a tool…
that’s a tool!”:
in the same tone as Crocodile Dundee: