9.24.2007

philosophy { What do we have that mice don't?


Who or what are we? What do we have the mice don't? What is consciousness? What is sentience? Are we blank slates or preprogrammed automatons following a complex instruction set? What separates us from animals? What sets us apart? Is my experience of reality the same as yours?

All I could come up with is Art. Everything else is just extended tool use development or organism hierarchy. Even though mice are not tool users, other animals definitely are quite crafty users.

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2 comments:

GeekGoddess said...

Now all I can think of is "Flowers for Algernon".

K

J G-W said...

What do we have that animals don't have? Well, one answer is: A frontal cortex that adds an extra layer of processing capability. And that's about it. I read a very interesting essay on language, that points out that some species of animals even have primitive language, and some animals (primates, dolphins and some birds) can actually learn and communicate in human language.

But here's my way of thinking... It's only modern humans (i.e., those of us living for the last .4% of human history) that have come to think of ourselves as separate from the animal kingdom. The vast majority of humans have viewed animals as our brothers and sisters, and have viewed the boundaries between species as fluid. We have leftovers of those ancient ways of seeing the animal kingdom in werewolf and shapeshifter stories; in fables of talking animals, animal spirits and animal gods, etc.

I'm inclined to agree with the notion that we have far more in common with animals than we have differences...