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Author Topic: What makes us human?  (Read 3342 times)

Offline Jingle Jangle

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What makes us human?
« on: 08/11/2015 17:15:43 »
It seems clear from the paleontology that when the first modern humans arrived in Western Europe, the established neanderthal population was marginalised and eventually driven to extinction. There was some mixing, but probably on the basis that a proportion of neanderthal women were sexually enslaved by male incomers. On the basis of what has happened historically when populations meet, it would seem likely that the neanderthals were ethnically cleansed. But how could the new comers overcome a population, more muscular, better adapted to the cold? One possibility, consistent with the fact that communication disorders are the commonest sort of developmental issue, is that at the point of modern human divergence, around 175,000 years ago in East Africa, there was a macro mutation making language finitely learnable, ensuring that all descendants benefitting from the new biological character would be able to share a grammar. I hypothesise that by this mutation, the infant L1 learner expects all linguistic structures to conform to what Hagit Borer calls an 'exo-skeleton' a structure with two pairs of binary branches, one pair dominating the other. This would explain at least some of the language universals that have emerged since Noam Chomsky's first proposals along these lines. Like the fact that in their sound systems all languages contraast vowels and consonants. And in their syntaxes, all languages contrast 'content words', lexical items, or what Borer calls the encyclopedia, and 'functors' or 'functional projections' or 'non-lexical items', like the articles in the languages of Western Europe. While the forms of these category vary, with the semitic languages using vowels to express much of the syntax and morphology, with languages like modern Russian and classical Latin, expressing the idea of definiteness and prior reference mainly by word order, there is no language which is not dominated by these two sorts of contrast. A proto language without a grammar would be like the signing of the late Washoe understandable to the point of allowing discussion about the life and death of individuals but not to the point of plays on words and business contracts. A shared grammer allows a language in the modern sense. When modern humans reached Western Europe, more than 100,000 years after the original divergence, having already spread across much of Africa, they had their own not so secret weapon; they could discuss things on equal terms, military or hunting tactics, the breeding and domestication of animals and plants, technology..... Neanderthals, having diverged several hundred thousand years before modern humans, could not compete with such a population. The effect of a macro mutation of the sort hypothesised here would be obvious. The first inheritor would appear precocious as a small infant and interestingly clever as a young adult. By the unexpected discovery of Nicaraguan Sign Language, having emerged within a single school generation, it would seem likely that the first modern language would have developed between the the first beneficiary and any of his or her children who inherited the same character within 30 or 40 years from the first mutation. Chomsky proposes that the decisive genomic character is what he calls 'i-Language' as evidenced by language universals, and that learnability has to follow from this. What I am hypothesising is that it is the learnability module which leads to the universals.


 

Offline evan_au

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #1 on: 09/11/2015 09:45:32 »
Do you have any evidence for this hypothesis?
  • Perhaps differences between human & Neaderthal DNA in areas relating to speech?
  • Perhaps skull enlargement in areas overlaying speech centers?
  • Perhaps the size of nerve canals serving the mouth & tongue (hypoglossal canals)? 
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #2 on: 09/11/2015 10:38:47 »
Peering throgh the jargon, I think I agree with the fundamental hypothesis: humans compensate for physical weakness by exceptional collaboration. This takes two forms: specialisation and communication.

The Second World War was a recent example of the dominance of specialisation. Warfare advanced from hand-made clubs via segregation of battlefield functions  (archers, pikemen, cavalry) to a battle of mass-production between North American and Soviet surface factories a long way from the front line, and heavily fortified German factories within occupied Europe: brilliant tactics such as Blitzkrieg and Pearl Harbor were eventually overwhelmed by the persistent delivery of (often technically inferior) ships, tanks and aircraft on the one hand, and eventually a massive intellectual and engineering collaboration on a single bomb.

Asymmetric warfare is now flavor of the month. Guerrillas are heavy on communication and intelligence, light on weaponry, and have won every battle I can think of: Irish independence, power sharing in Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Cuba, China, Afghanistan.....   

So it is entirely possible that a strongly organised, specialised civilisation could dominate a physically more powerful group to the extent of annihilating them, and language is the key to organisation and specialisation.
 

Offline CallMePaul

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #3 on: 12/11/2015 11:27:18 »
I agree language has had great importance for our development/domination. However, is it that that makes us human? That leads to arguments about whether we are equating human with homo sapiens,  and arguments over the relationship of neanderthals to homo sapiens (generally but not uniformly believed to be a different species). Or are we talking about all hominins as "humans"?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #4 on: 12/11/2015 13:50:03 »
We are very little different from any other mammal. There is a presumption of limited interfertility, which partly defines a species (though some politicians are alleged to have tried mating with suidae, presumably to improve the manners and intellect of the political class) but the more obvious characteristic is the desire to record things that are too trivial to remember: in this, we seem to be unique. 
 
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Offline puppypower

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #5 on: 13/11/2015 14:03:02 »
Another affect to consider can be seen with a modern human example. When you start a new job, one will often be inefficient and not know anyone. To compensate for being disconnected and inefficient, one has to muster more drive. One may have to work twice as hard due to being inefficient, if you wish to keep the job.

As you get better and better at the job and begin fit in with your peers, this drive can begin to decline. You can take more coffee breaks and text on the phone and still do your tasks. Once you reach a certain level of proficiency, one may never break a sweat again.

In terms of the Neanderthals, they were better adapted to the cold north and found a sense of lazy efficiency, where they could can survive without breaking sweat. The invaders were coming from the south and heading into the cold, which was new. This was like a new job, with a much higher level of survival drive, needed. They had to learn the new ways and did not have an in with the social network.

Since the Neanderthals were not unionized, the Neanderthals could not tell the new guys to slow down, since they make the rest of us look bad. Instead, they got out hustled. The boss; nature, selected the new guys because of their hustle.
 

Offline Jingle Jangle

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #6 on: 15/11/2015 03:38:52 »
Alan, sorry for the jargon and the bad spelling. Perhaps the most impenetrable terms that I used were 'i-language' and 'universals'. For the sake of brevity, I hoped that that linkage would be penetrable. But seemingly not. I could have referred to 'the language faculty'. But in the context that would have been too vague. Part of the i-language idea here goes a bit like this. For every language that has ever been studied deeply by native speakers including languages with no discernible relations between them, there are aspects of the grammar which could not plausibly have been taught or derived from some aspect of experience, which seem nevertheless to be quite robustly shared. And for this 'i-language', short for 'internal language', the simplest explanation is that there is something underlying the grammar which is specified by the modern human genome.

Evan, Chomsky has proposed, a number of times I think, that modern i-language must be by a very recently acquired character. But this raises the obvious question of exactly what was acquired and when. By my hypothesis i-language distinguishes anatomically modern humans from the only non modern species with whom they co-existed, namely neanderthals. So yes, my hypothesis makes clear predictions along the lines you suggest. But to my mind the best evidence is from phenomena which can be detected and measured in the living population:

A) instability in a recent genomic character, which I mentioned in my previous post;

B) co-morbidities between different areas of what is sometimes known as 'specific language impairment' poor insight into speech and language, a history of speech and language difficulties from early childhood, dyslexia;

C) non-randomness in speech defects, with common problems with common sounds, with these problems, as with S and R, taking typical forms, in similar ways in different languages;

D) the fact that in a special sort of highly structured experience it seems to be normally possible to stimulate the activity of a learnability module with what seems to be a permanent positive effect.

The characteristically poor insight into speech and language in speech disordered children and the characteristic 'grouping' of lisps and R problems are quite different from what would be expected if speech were a purely physical activity, but more easily explicable if there is an ongoing instability in a genomic character from a mutation some 6,000 generations ago.

This is assuming that anatomically modern humans and neanderthals were different species, but not so far apart that they could not breed together.

I personally think that the best research gambit right now is with respect to point D), in tight experimental conditions, with live monitoring of different areas of cortical activity.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #7 on: 15/11/2015 06:14:43 »
Quote from: Jingle Jangle
the only non modern species with whom they co-existed, namely Neanderthals
Current theories suggest that modern humans also coexisted and interbred with the Denisovans (and perhaps another archaic hominid species in Africa).

Denisovan DNA appears mainly in Australian Aborigines and Melanesians, at a higher percentage than Neanderthal DNA appears in Europeans.

Unfortunately, while we have many samples of Neanderthal DNA from fossils, we have very few samples of Denisovan DNA from fossils (unless you count the human genome as a fossil bed).

Which part of your theory predicted only 1 coexisting archaic hominid?
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #8 on: 15/11/2015 08:18:35 »
Neuroscientist VS Ramachandran has an interesting theory about the evolution of language, that areas of the brain responsible for language syntax resulted from  mutations that duplicated an area involved in the manipulation of physical objects as in tool assembly. I'm not sure how that applies to your learnability vs universals question, but you might find it useful or interesting in some way.  Here is an excerpt from chapter six of The Tell-tale Brain:

"Let us turn to the aspect of language that is most unequivocally human: syntax. The so called syntactic structure, which I mentioned earlier, gives human language its enormous range and flexibility. It seems to have evolved rules that are intrinsic to this system, rules that no ape has been able to master but every human language has. How did this particular aspect of language evolve? The answer comes, once again, from the exaptation principle - the notion that adaptation to one specific function becomes assimilated into another, entirely different function. One intriguing possibility is that the hierarchical tree structure of syntax may have evolved from a more primitive neural circuitry that was already in place for tool use in the brains of our early hominin ancestors.

"Let's take this a step further. Even the simplest type of opportunistic tool use, such as using a stone to crack open a coconut, involves an action - in this case cracking (the verb) performed by the right hand of the tool user (the subject) on the object held passively by the left hand  (the object). If this basic sequence were already embedded in the neural circuitry for manual actions, it's easy to see how it might have set the stage for subject-verb-object sequence that is an important aspect of natural language.

In the next stage of hominin evolution, two amazing new abilities emerged that were destined to transform the course of human evolution. First was the ability to find, shape, and store a tool for future use, leading to our sense of planning and anticipation. Second -and especially important for subsequent language origin, was the use of assembly technique in tool manufacture. Taking an ax head and hafting (tying) it to a long wooden handle to create a composite tool is one example. Another is hafting a small knife at an angle to a small pole to lengthen it so fruits can be reached and yanked off trees. The wielding of composite structures bears a tantalizing resemblance to the embedding of,say, a noun phrase within a longer sentence. I suggest this isn't a superficial analogy. It's entirely possible that the brain mechanism that implemented the hierarchical assembly strategy in tool use became co-opted for a totally novel function, the syntactic tree structure.

"But if the tool-use assembly mechanism were borrowed for aspects of syntax, then wouldn't the tool-use skills deteriorate correspondingly as syntax evolved, given limited neural space in the brain? Not necessarily. A frequent occurrence in evolution is the duplication of body parts brought about actual gene duplication. Just think of multi-segmented worms, whose bodies are composed of repeating, semi-independent body sections, a bit like a chain of rail road cars. When such duplicated structures are harmless and not metabolically costly, they can endure for generations. And they can, under the right circumstances provide the perfect opportunity for that duplicated structure to become specialized for a different function. This sort of thing has happened repeatedly in evolution of the rest of the body, but its role in the evolution of brain mechanisms is not widely appreciated by psychologists. I suggest an area very close to what is Broca's area originally evolved in tandem with the Inferior parietal lobule (especially the supramarginal portion) for the multi-modal and hierarchical subassembly routines of tool use. There was a subsequent duplication of this ancestral area, and one of the two new subareas became further specialized for syntactic structure that is divorced from the actual manipulation of physical objects in the world - in other words, it became Broca's area. Add to this cocktail the influence of semantics, imported from Wernicke's area, and aspects of abstraction from the angular gyrus, and you have a potent mix ready for the explosive development of full-fledged language...."
« Last Edit: 15/11/2015 08:28:39 by cheryl j »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #9 on: 15/11/2015 09:20:33 »
it's easy to see how it might have set the stage for subject-verb-object sequence that is an important aspect of natural language.
Apart that is, from Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, Irish, Arabic, Sanskrit, AngloSaxon....indeed practically all the sources of English apart from French......Otherwise, a perfectly sound hypothesis.
 

Offline puppypower

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #10 on: 15/11/2015 12:49:08 »
One type of human language that is more fundamental than spoken and written language is our visual language. For example, say I gathered people who can speak all of the earth's many languages. I then place a bird, in the middle, so all to see. We will all see the same bird, however, each person might make a different sound to express what they see; language. We can prove this by taking a picture and then have all pick the bird out of a lineup.

Visual language is more fundamental, since it directly expresses the photons that reflect off the object, and reach the brain. Cultural language is more arbitrary since the sounds being used by the various languages to express the bird, are not universal, and may not even be a sound a bird will make. The never heard a bird say the sound "bird". Who made that up? Cultural language is less objective and less universal, and more subjective and more cliquish. It departs from the natural languages of the brain. There may have been a transition language that was as close to natural as possible, but subjectivity ended that; urban dictionary.

The natural languages of the brain are connected to our sensory systems; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Hot pepper will taste hot to all. Cultural languages will have a variety of sounds to expresses this. One may even use natural body language, like charades, to express the heat in conjunction with the sounds of language.

Cultural language has the advantage of making it possible us to express what we experience with the natural language, to another person, who is not there for direct data. If I see a bird singing in the tree, and there is nobody there to see or hear it, cultural language allows me to convey what I saw. Language makes use of the imagination, where sounds will trigger similar visual and audio memory. But this may not be accurate 100%.

Language can also be used to misrepresent what was seen. I can claim the bird had four wings and made a noise like a lion. Language, by being subjective, can cause people's mind to drift away from the objectivity of natural instinct, into fictional worlds. Rhetoric does this.

The inventions of language allowed humans to share information which is useful for culture, but it also caused human subjectivity to increase, resulting in departure from the natural ways. The repression of natural instinct connected to the natural languages, due to language, led to repression and unconscious content appearing in the imagination.

This repression content, that might appear in the imagination, might be attributed to the spirits of the woods and air. This  will then help us focus our attention on nuance. If we subjectivity sense the spirit of the tree is here, we will look  to find it, noticing new things. Repression content would   subjectivity leading the imagination to deeper objectivity.

For example, even though the first science may have used God type explanations, it was the god affect in the imagination, due to language repression, that was making them aware. The god Helios, through the imagination, make people aware of the sun's movement, with language able to create the subjectivity needed so the group can see this, by inducing the repression through language.

As a modern example, the concept of space-time uses space, which is the formless void between things and time which is a metal construct to express the universe. We overlay a grid system, void of substance, to help us to notice tangible things. This will surprise those who assume space-time is a real thing composed to two not things. It is done with language.
« Last Edit: 15/11/2015 13:05:01 by puppypower »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #11 on: 15/11/2015 17:47:00 »
it's easy to see how it might have set the stage for subject-verb-object sequence that is an important aspect of natural language.
Apart that is, from Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, Irish, Arabic, Sanskrit, AngloSaxon....indeed practically all the sources of English apart from French......Otherwise, a perfectly sound hypothesis.

I think his use of English was mainly illustrative. He is after all Indian, and Hindi is a S-O-V language. Even English monkeys with word order, as in passive voice or verb phrases or gerunds. "The cracking of coconuts will be done by me." That sentence seems to imply a little more, that perhaps others will do the finding or eating of coconuts, but I will be cracking them. Where as semantics deals with the substitution of symbols, like a vocalization or marking, for the object itself, syntax tells us the relationship between things, and I don't think there's any language where it would be unclear whether the coconuts are cracking me but I'm not a linguist. 

He is just speculating, but it's also based on similarities or proximity of brain structures. I like the duplication and expatation idea, because as he says, it does seem to occur a lot in evolution, like the function of feathers for thermo-regulation before they became useful for flight. To me, it's a more persuasive idea than many, like, say, Steven Pinker's, which basically says that when brains get big and complex, language inevitably poofs into existence.
« Last Edit: 15/11/2015 18:35:48 by cheryl j »
 

Offline puppypower

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #12 on: 15/11/2015 20:33:57 »
The visual language is universal in the sense we will also see the same thing, regardless of cultural language; red bird on the chair. The philosophy of science comes back to the universal language in the sense that a theory needs to be reproducible in any lab, regardless of where that lab is. It needs to be seen not just told. Science wants to see the data. Language is subjective and arbitrary in the sense any of sounds or noises can be agreed upon to represent something.

Language adds subjectivity to the objective languages of the brain. We all can see the bird on the table. What makes us unique are the unique noises we can use to represent this. These sounds can help represent what we see, but they can't supply all the visual sensory input data that seeing can provide. There is loss in terms of data transfer. The language will attempt to induce a parallel in the memory, which itself may or may not be an accurate representation of the unique visual event.

Being human is about being less than naturally perfect via language. However, language connects us and allows the team to more than the sum of its parts. We each become less, but since language also allows us to form a team which i  more than the sum of the parts, the team can help the less than perfect human, rise to new levels.

If you look at smart phones, these are useful for social integration. But constant use of smart phone will atrophy the ability of many people to be self sufficient in many retro ways, such as writing complete sentences of driving cross country without a cell phone or GPS. The individual is worse off, if we remove the phone, due to atrophy, but better off if we all have the cell phone due to the team affect.

Since we all have DNA and the DNA is very conservative, the natural part of the brain is still there. The subjective part, due to language, is not the same as the DNA part that is connected to natural instinct. Modern humans, since about the time of civilization, have formed a secondary subjective center; ego, that is separate from the primary center; DNA.
« Last Edit: 15/11/2015 20:36:16 by puppypower »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #13 on: 16/11/2015 02:42:24 »
Puppypower, I'm not sure you consider visual perception a form of language. How is it by itself a shared form of communication? I'm assuming you don't mean art, but the actual sensory experience itself. It's seems like a big stretch of the normal definition.

I'm not sure what you mean at the end here :"Since we all have DNA and the DNA is very conservative, the natural part of the brain is still there. The subjective part, due to language, is not the same as the DNA part that is connected to natural instinct. Modern humans, since about the time of civilization, have formed a secondary subjective center; ego, that is separate from the primary center; DNA. "

Are you saying that because languages do not use the very same words or grammar, language does not have a biological basis? That ego or the self has no biological basis?
There's a lot of evidence that they do have neurocorrelates, even if there are subjective elements. The most obvious one being that genetic defects, brain injury like strokes or complications of brain surgery, can cause very specific kinds deficits in both language and even the experience of self.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #14 on: 16/11/2015 04:09:26 »
Here is a related article: Motor functions of the Brocas region
http://web.mit.edu/HST.722/www/Topics/Speech/Binkofski%202004%20Motor%20aspects%20of%20Broca's%20area.pdf

Abstract
Brocas region in the dominant cerebral hemisphere is known to mediate the production of language but also contributes to
comprehension. This region evolved only in humans and is constituted of Brodmanns areas 44 and 45 in the inferior frontal gyrus.
There is, however, evidence that Brocas region overlaps, at least in part, with the ventral premotor cortex. We summarize the
evidence that the motor related part of Brocas area is localized in the opercular portion of the inferior frontal cortex, mainly in area
44 of Brodmann. According to our own data, there seems to be a homology between Brodmann area 44 in humans and the monkey
area F5. The non-language related motor functions of Brocas region comprise complex hand movements, associative sensorimotor
learning and sensorimotor integration. Brodmanns  area 44 is also a part of a specialized parieto-premotor network and interacts
significantly with the neighboring premotor areas.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #15 on: 16/11/2015 10:44:49 »
To me, it's a more persuasive idea than many, like, say, Steven Pinker's, which basically says that when brains get big and complex, language inevitably poofs into existence.
That's obviously nonsense, as anyone who has studied bird calls will know. It's interesting that species like nightingales with tiny brains seem to have a more complex language than large mammals. And if language means "communication by symbolism" it's pretty clear that bees are as linguistically adept as the United States Air Force  when it comes to specifying a target location.
 

Offline Thebox

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #16 on: 16/11/2015 11:23:09 »
Our ability of a higher state of consciousness makes us human,
 

Offline puppypower

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #17 on: 16/11/2015 13:06:04 »
Puppypower, I'm not sure you consider visual perception a form of language. How is it by itself a shared form of communication? I'm assuming you don't mean art, but the actual sensory experience itself. It's seems like a big stretch of the normal definition.

I'm not sure what you mean at the end here :"Since we all have DNA and the DNA is very conservative, the natural part of the brain is still there. The subjective part, due to language, is not the same as the DNA part that is connected to natural instinct. Modern humans, since about the time of civilization, have formed a secondary subjective center; ego, that is separate from the primary center; DNA. "

Are you saying that because languages do not use the very same words or grammar, language does not have a biological basis? That ego or the self has no biological basis?
There's a lot of evidence that they do have neurocorrelates, even if there are subjective elements. The most obvious one being that genetic defects, brain injury like strokes or complications of brain surgery, can cause very specific kinds deficits in both language and even the experience of self.

Visual perception uses the light that reflects off objects as the letters of its alphabet. For example, the light reflecting off the cat allows us to see and know this is a cat. The reflected light is like the letters, words, sentence and paragraphs of a visual language. There are three primary colors from which endless colors can be mixed. There are also textures and patterns as part of that language.

Spoken language uses sound and written language uses light that reflects off of, or around symbols, to represent things, actions, etc.  The direct visual language is more accurate and more  universal than spoken and written language. If I say to you, I saw a black cat, the sounds will trigger the image of a black cat, from your visual memory. But this may not be the exact black cat I saw, because this is an approximation. The words will trigger the image of a black cat but all blacks cats are not the same in terms of a direct visual experience. The more words you use the closer you may become. The visual language is fast and this direct experience may occur in an instant.

The inner self is the center of the human personality. It is connected to the DNA and natural instinct. I call the inner self the primary center, which humans have in common with animals. This center is both software and hardware dependent; firmware. The inner self makes use of various sensory based languages; photon alphabet, sound wave alphabet (running water), emotional/sensory tone alphabet (feeling in my heart), taste and smell alphabet, etc.

If I eat something, my enjoyment is a natural reaction to a good food story that the brain interprets from a range of tastes and smells. I may not be able to put that experience into words in such a way that I can induce the same feeling in another. They will need to taste it form themselves to trigger the inner self with its own language.

Because cultural language is an approximation, language helps to induce a center that is different from the inner self. I can this secondary center the ego. The ego then creates a potential with the inner self. This can become conscious as the feeling tones of subjectivity.

Subjectivity is what gives us choice and willpower since it allows us to depart from the inner self, even if we think we are on the same page, due to inner feelings. Language adds a subjective gap that compounds, adding continuous potential to the inner self, which then adds currents from the inner self o lower potential. This can be subjectively interpreted by culture and language to mean something else. The fanatic gains his drive/potential from the inner self by narrowing down reality to a subjective stance that can be formulated with language.

What is human, in the sense of being different from animals, is the subjectivity created by cultural language. Animals also have language, but their language is not extensive enough to develop a secondary center that is stable. The stable secondary is unique to humans and appears shortly before the time of civilization; paradise, but solidified with civilization and the invention of written language; fall from grace/natural instinct.

If all we had was spoken language, the brain would forward integrate memory; time will change how we remember. We will not be able to relate as well, with the same ideas having less subjective impact over time. The secondary comes and goes, being dissolved and reformed anew. Once you write the same stuff down, there is a way to review the source information so it does not change, naturally. The dam to the inners is maintained longer.

As an example, say you took a course in college where there are no notebooks, no note taking and no text books. It is all done by lecture and hearing. Since we all learn at different levels there  will be divergence in terms of what each person gets out of the class. Also everyone will forget sooner than if we could study.

Once we add written language; notes and textbooks, the class can converge through self study and repetition, with the memory reinforced for longer term storage; carved in stone. The ego center begins to form and persist through language traditions. The primary is conservative and is still there but it is less conscious. The animal never looses track of the primary but humans began to lose track in favor of subjectivity.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #18 on: 16/11/2015 15:01:22 »

Visual perception uses the light that reflects off objects as the letters of its alphabet. For example, the light reflecting off the cat allows us to see and know this is a cat. The reflected light is like the letters, words, sentence and paragraphs of a visual language. There are three primary colors from which endless colors can be mixed. There are also textures and patterns as part of that language. Spoken language uses sound and written language uses light that reflects off of, or around symbols, to represent things, actions, etc.  The direct visual language is more accurate and more  universal than spoken and written language. If I say to you, I saw a black cat, the sounds will trigger the image of a black cat, from your visual memory. But this may not be the exact black cat I saw, because this is an approximation. The words will trigger the image of a black cat but all blacks cats are not the same in terms of a direct visual experience. The more words you use the closer you may become. The visual language is fast and this direct experience may occur in an instant.


Well, yes, we receive information about the world  through our senses, and the form that information takes could be considered a kind of language or code. But the whole point of language in the conventional sense of the word, is that it frees you up from the here and now. I can tell you about the bird I saw yesterday, or the one I hope to see tomorrow, without having to wave it in your face so you know what I'm all excited about. And written language frees you up from having to be in the same physical place as the person you are communicating with, or even the same century. That is why I wouldn't really call sensory perception a shared language.

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The inner self is the center of the human personality. It is connected to the DNA and natural instinct. I call the inner self the primary center, which humans have in common with animals. This center is both software and hardware dependent; firmware. The inner self makes use of various sensory based languages; photon alphabet, sound wave alphabet (running water), emotional/sensory tone alphabet (feeling in my heart), taste and smell alphabet, etc.

If I eat something, my enjoyment is a natural reaction to a good food story that the brain interprets from a range of tastes and smells. I may not be able to put that experience into words in such a way that I can induce the same feeling in another. They will need to taste it form themselves to trigger the inner self with its own language.

Philosophers call that internal subjective experience derived from sensory experience qualia.
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Because cultural language is an approximation, language helps to induce a center that is different from the inner self.  I can this secondary center the ego. The ego then creates a potential with the inner self. This can become conscious as the feeling tones of subjectivity.

Subjectivity is what gives us choice and willpower since it allows us to depart from the inner self, even if we think we are on the same page, due to inner feelings. Language adds a subjective gap that compounds, adding continuous potential to the inner self, which then adds currents from the inner self o lower potential. This can be subjectively interpreted by culture and language to mean something else.


The subjective part of experience is already there, with language or without. It's there because our nervous systems are not connected and I can't feel what you are feeling.
Language doesn't create the gap, it narrows it. Not completely, but I have a much better idea what you are feeling if you cry out in pain, grimace, tell me about it, or describe it in an email.
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What is human, in the sense of being different from animals, is the subjectivity created by cultural language. Animals also have language, but their language is not extensive enough to develop a secondary center that is stable.


I think the sense of self probably existed before language., and there's evidence that other primates, and a few other animals have a sense of self and a Theory of Mind when it comes to others. I think the self evolved from simpler systems that recognize a boundary between an organism and the outside world, and systems that monitor actions, compare it to expected outcome, and make adjustments, as well as systems that monitor internal sensations. I also think it evolved from systems that evaluate the social behavior or reactions of others, and the organism essentially turns this analysis on itself. But I would agree that language probably enhances the experience of self, as we hear ourselves speak and think about it.


« Last Edit: 16/11/2015 15:09:54 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Jingle Jangle

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #19 on: 23/11/2015 02:39:00 »
Evan, I did not know about modern human ancestors having interbred with Denisovans. My ignorance. Thank you. I mentioned the interbreeding only because it seems to me important to recognise that the modern human genome is not in some sort of watertight biological compartment. By my theory / hypothesis (call it what you will), modern i-language from perhaps 175,000 years ago has not been compromised by occasional episodes of probably abusive interbreeding with less developed hominid species including neanderthals and denisovans. This interbreeding must have produced fertile offspring. Or it would have left no trace in the DNA. But no part of my hypothesis says anything about interbreeding. In retrospect I shouldn't have mentioned it.

As a candidate for a language learnability module, I hypothesised an exoskeletal double branching, with one branch dominating the other, as a macro mutation, because this is in the syntax literature, though not as a macro mutation.

The purpose of my first post and the follow up was a question about the idea of a macro mutation. There was a deliberate question mark in my title. And in offering a possible answer, I meant no more than a question again. Going into question mode, I think that biologists are skeptical about macro mutations? A macro mutation is only possible as the effect of one DNA rearrangement of the DNA? Might there be a model for this in botany at least in those plants which direct growth North South one year and East West the next? Or might there be a better / simpler / more direct model elsewhere in biology? For a cognitive structure such a branching perhaps represents the limit of macro mutational possibility? Is such a macro mutation possible?
 

Offline tkadm30

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #20 on: 24/09/2016 00:21:34 »
Love is what defines a human from animals. Without love, there would be only primal instincts. Our higher consciousness must be guided from love to find happiness and wisdom. Thus, science must not ignore love. Loveology is the study of love. There can be only one love which makes humans uniques; This love comes from your mother since you were born. I think it is the duty of humans to share this love through your existence. As a scientific person I'm not quite sure "God" exists, but entirely convinced that love do exist in its most pure form.

 

« Last Edit: 24/09/2016 10:34:02 by tkadm30 »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #21 on: 24/09/2016 14:03:21 »
You have clearly never lived with a dog, or watched a kangaroo look after its joey. Or indeed any other bird or mammal, whether a solitary female, paired for life or living in a herd.

What distinguishes humans behaviourally from practically every other species is irrational hate. Especially that which comes from faith.
 

Offline tkadm30

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #22 on: 24/09/2016 14:16:58 »
You have clearly never lived with a dog, or watched a kangaroo look after its joey. Or indeed any other bird or mammal, whether a solitary female, paired for life or living in a herd.

What distinguishes humans behaviourally from practically every other species is irrational hate. Especially that which comes from faith.

I disagree. I own a dog and I can feel my love to her. However there's no evidences that love exists in other species. This thing called love is a human feeling that we export to other creatures.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #23 on: 25/09/2016 17:28:05 »
A lot of science is about things you can't see, like most of the electromagnetic spectrum or the mechanism of evolution, but we infer the existence of such things from the evidence of what we can see.

Now you mentioned
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This love comes from your mother since you were born.
as being uniquely human. Having dealt with human mothers that reject their children, and animal mothers that treat not only other mothers' children but even the young of other species as their own, I am impelled to ask you exactly what you mean by this, and how you have observed it in humans but not in any other species.
 

Offline tkadm30

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #24 on: 25/09/2016 18:19:55 »
A lot of science is about things you can't see, like most of the electromagnetic spectrum or the mechanism of evolution, but we infer the existence of such things from the evidence of what we can see.

Love is intrinsic to human nature. You can learn to hate, but then you're repressing your own love.

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Now you mentioned
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This love comes from your mother since you were born.
as being uniquely human. Having dealt with human mothers that reject their children, and animal mothers that treat not only other mothers' children but even the young of other species as their own, I am impelled to ask you exactly what you mean by this, and how you have observed it in humans but not in any other species.

Mothers who reject their own childrens must not consciously love themselves. I believe they are either rejecting their own childrens for survival purpose or because of mental disorders. 

Love is essential to the development of consciousness and is passed on by mothers since you were in the womb. It is this feeling that makes us humans, because without love there would be no consciousness.
 

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Re: What makes us human?
« Reply #24 on: 25/09/2016 18:19:55 »

 

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