From: Kate Distin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue 26 Apr 2005 - 13:07:44 GMT
Chris Taylor wrote:
> Okay so this is linked to my vague point about imagination: Is it simply
> the case that this ability to recontextualise a pattern, and to exploit
> serendipitous accidents (either in the world, or internally) is much
> more advanced in us, but no different in kind; or is there more?
> Is it the ability to deconstruct and recombine disparate parts that is
> the key (fish genes in tomato iyswim), or can 'lower' forms do that too,
> but again to a less advanced (=speedy?) degree?
> Maybe we can think of 'living' ~memes as 'beginning' in a similar way to
> the kinds of piggybacking genetic elements that exploit the copying
> machinery of the nucleus (something that is still really poorly
> understood actually, as we can't really get stuck in until we know how
> genomes work). For instance a simple one Keith touched on is bird song
> -- for some passerines, the more songs you know, the better
> (reproductively speaking). This is I'd assume an indicator that (1) your
> brain works better than okay, which is a good telltale for genetic
> fitness and (2) you are a cluey lil' bugger that has lived long enough
> to pick up lots of tunes (and other behaviours?). But what of the songs
> themselves? They are alive by a Shannon/Bianchi+Hamann-style definition...
> Cheers, Chris.
I have two separate (and slightly conflicting) intuitions about this.
The first is that the apparent continuum between human and non-human
culture implies to me that the specifically human abilities are more
advanced rather than very different in kind.
But on the other hand there *does* appear to me to be a difference in
kind: the metarepresentational instinct is not apparent in any other
species. I've suggested that it emerged on the back of the language
instinct - although it ironically freed us from being tied only to
natural languages, enabling us also to construct alternative
representational systems (of written notation, etc.).
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