Re: reading a book

From: Dace (
Date: Wed 27 Apr 2005 - 20:52:05 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: reading a book"

    > From: Scott Chase <>
    > I wouldn't go as far as Huxley in giving humans a
    > designation of Psychozoa, but there's some serious
    > emergent order that sets us apart from other great
    > apes, although this is probably a major difference in
    > degree, not kind. Cumulative adaptions via transmitted
    > culture might be the key. Yet genetically and
    > physically we aren't too different from chimps and
    > bonobos at least. Think of all the hominid fossils
    > that would have to be renamed to reflect our taxonomic
    > similarity to other great apes. We are apes with cell
    > phones.

    It's difficult to define exactly where ordinary animal mentality leaves off and human mentality begins. As numerous researchers have demonstrated, chimps are aware of mentality. They reveal this awareness via the fact that they speculate as to what's on the minds of other chimps and then try to manipulate what these other chimps are thinking. Only the great apes appear to have this capacity. See *Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes and Humans* edited by Dick Byrne and Andrew Whiten, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.

    Though apes can think about thinking, they don't seem to exploit this ability systematically. What distinguishes humans is not our basic capacity for meta-representation but simply the fact that we follow up on this ability. In essence, an ape is a body in conjunction with a mind. A human, on the other hand, is a mind in conjunction with a body. Apes, despite their mental self-awareness, are still animals, while humans have evolved into something fundamentally different-- Psychozoa as J. Huxley puts it.

    It's not enough to have reflexive mentality. Only when the locus of self-existence shifts from body to mind does a self-contained realm of culture open up, a mental environment in which memes may compete for dominance much as animals do in the physical environment.


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