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Author Topic: ?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.  (Read 5314 times)

Offline cheryl j

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On Science Daily there was an article about stone age tools, and because of the environment and other artifacts found with them, scientists have concluded they were actually made by chimpanzees, not humans. I read another article about jealousy in dogs. If you teach a dog to do a trick for a small reward, but he sees you giving another dog a much bigger reward for that trick, he will actually stop performing until you give him the same amount, even if he's really hungry.

When I was a kid in school, they told us that language, tool making and certain emotions made us uniquely human, but more and more it seems a matter of degree. Which to me makes sense, from an evolutionary perspective. These traits couldnt have just appeared the moment we became homo sapiens.


 

Offline grizelda

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #1 on: 02/11/2011 21:18:24 »
One way of thinking would be that H. Habilus became the first human to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine due to its diet of red meat. Thus it may have been the first entity to experience happiness, caused by the dopamine, and guilt, caused by its lack.
 

Offline Supercryptid

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2011 06:28:16 »
I think animals other than humans can experience happiness and guilt (at least sorrow).

I was thinking not too long ago that the use of metaphors and idioms in language is something that seems unique to humans. It's a bit amazing that we do that at all and can actually make sense of it.

The ability to understand certain mathematically concepts (negative numbers, zero) seems to be beyond the scope of any other animal as well. I know that some animals can count, but going from that to calculus is a very large step.

What about religion? No evidence for that in animals last I heard.
 

Offline Nizzle

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #3 on: 03/11/2011 11:59:09 »
In my personal view, the thing that separates us from animals is "written, or recorded language".

This allows us to accumulate an ever increasing amount of knowledge, which in turn causes the fact that every new generation of humans doesn't have to start from scratch again.
 

Offline Airthumbs

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #4 on: 03/11/2011 18:24:21 »
Torture?  I don't know any other animals that employ this behavior.

Animal testing....

Greed.....

Unfortunately I can't think of any positive ones  :(

Space exploration...  :P although some ancient forms of bacteria may have beaten us by a few million years!

ermmmmmm..... come on there must be something good that distinguishes us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom!!



Most of the good stuff has been exploited by the animals and we are left with the nasty bits.  [:-'(]

Revenge is sweet  ;D
 

Offline Bored chemist

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #5 on: 03/11/2011 18:45:43 »
"Torture?  I don't know any other animals that employ this behaviour."
Never seen a cat with a mouse?
Anyway, at least one thing that sets us apart from the other animals this that we can ask "Is there anything that makes us distinctly human."
 

Offline grizelda

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #6 on: 03/11/2011 20:39:42 »
Hard to see how you could have religion without guilt, and vice versa.
 

Offline CliffordK

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #7 on: 03/11/2011 20:46:44 »
As BC mentioned, I've seen cats playing with live mice...  before eating them.

Whenever the garbage can got knocked over...  our dog would always display signs of guilt.  And, knowing that punishment was sure to follow.

I doubt this had anything to do with religion...  unless his 2-legged companions were "gods".
 

Offline Supercryptid

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #8 on: 03/11/2011 22:14:42 »
I'm wondering if the cat is actually deriving pleasure from the idea that the mouse is in pain (and therefore able to recognize that mice can feel pain) or if it is simply interested in chasing something that moves. Cats will also play with non-living objects.
 

Offline CliffordK

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #9 on: 04/11/2011 02:01:43 »
I would assume that many of our strongest emotions:
Love, Hate, Anger, Jealousy, Guilt, etc...  all exist somewhere in the Animal Kingdom.  Dogs can be quite selfish...  lazily eating their chow until competition shows up, at which point they scarf down every morsel.  Is there Pity?

Animals seem to have some form of communication amongst themselves, and I have seen animals apparently spontaneously designate a nanny or babysitter to watch over a group of young.

Certainly the elders in the animal world often spend time training their young how to act in the world.

I asked about farming earlier... and it turns out that there are "farmer fish". 

Some animals are at least somewhat self-aware when presented with a mirror.

What humans have done is to take what is "natural"...  and take it one step...  or perhaps an enormous leap forward.  We not only make crude tools, but we make very refined tools.  We've built global communication and transportation networks...  etc.  While we have yet to interpret whale songs, we do have an extraordinarily complex language, and get exciting if we can build cross-species communication consisting of more than a dozen words.
 

Offline grizelda

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #10 on: 04/11/2011 02:28:17 »
I like chasing flies around the screen with my cursor. Drives them nuts. They even run around to the back of the laptop to see what's going on. I don't consider that we have a relationship though. "Hi, Fred, back to play tag with my cursor again? What you're not Fred? Sorry, all you flies look the same to me. Oohh, sorry again, my bad."
 

Offline Bored chemist

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #11 on: 04/11/2011 08:02:41 »
I'm wondering if the cat is actually deriving pleasure from the idea that the mouse is in pain (and therefore able to recognize that mice can feel pain) or if it is simply interested in chasing something that moves. Cats will also play with non-living objects.
If you are looking to see if it's torture you might want to think about the mouse's point of view, rather than the cat's.

Hard to see how you could have religion without guilt, and vice versa.
That's the sort of bollocks that you get from religion.
It may be hard for you to see it, but you should ask an atheist.
 

Offline Supercryptid

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #12 on: 05/11/2011 01:14:13 »
If you are looking to see if it's torture you might want to think about the mouse's point of view, rather than the cat's.
Even non-thinking entities like fire can fit the role in that case, but that's beside the point. The question is more aimed towards whether the act of inducing pain can cause psychological pleasure in animals other than humans. Even normal people can experience a degree of pleasure from it in the form of schaudenfreude (America's Funniest Home Videos comes to mind).
 

Offline CliffordK

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #13 on: 05/11/2011 04:10:44 »
Certainly a mosquito's entire role in life is to cause pain and irritation, whether the mosquito actually realizes the harm they are doing is another question.

There is a reason why the wild kingdom is called "wild".

Animals can be selfish on a number of levels...  to the point where it causes pain to their brethren.  I.E. the dominant individuals will hog the best food, leaving scraps to the others.  They certainly enjoy a good meal.  Do they "care" about the others?  Or.... in some cases, a dominant male will exclude all other males from its harem.  Pleasure in doing so?  Probably?  Discomfort for the excluded individuals?  Undoubtedly.

They may or may not have the philosophy to analyze the effects of their selfishness, or asserting dominance.  But, they certainly do cause hardship for others.
 

Offline grizelda

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #14 on: 05/11/2011 05:15:10 »
Certainly atheists can support delusions other than religion, such as the godless religion of political correctness, or communism, but most people are able to see the benefits of a science-based take on reality. That's why our neurotransmitter model has made our species so successful. That's why religion has to resort to eugenics, to keep a steady supply of victims susceptible to crackpots.
 

Offline yor_on

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #15 on: 10/11/2011 13:07:36 »
On Science Daily there was an article about stone age tools, and because of the environment and other artifacts found with them, scientists have concluded they were actually made by chimpanzees, not humans. I read another article about jealousy in dogs. If you teach a dog to do a trick for a small reward, but he sees you giving another dog a much bigger reward for that trick, he will actually stop performing until you give him the same amount, even if he's really hungry.

When I was a kid in school, they told us that language, tool making and certain emotions made us uniquely human, but more and more it seems a matter of degree. Which to me makes sense, from an evolutionary perspective. These traits couldnt have just appeared the moment we became homo sapiens.

Agree whole heartedly Cheryl. We are what the universe can mirror itself in :) all of us, and we humans better get a move on to become nicer mirrors.
 

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?Is there anything that makes us distinctly human.
« Reply #15 on: 10/11/2011 13:07:36 »

 

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