Re: reading a book

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Tue 26 Apr 2005 - 14:14:42 GMT

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    Kate Distin wrote:
    > 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.).

    Do macaques (or whatever they were) wash anything else? Do our pecking birds peck anything else? (etc. etc.) Somebody wheel out the hardcore ethologists from somewhere...

    Would that blur the boundary even more?

      Chris Taylor (
      HUPO PSI: GPS --

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