54263Re: [evol-psych] kin selection suicide->do animals 'know'?
- Jun 1, 2007Jay,Yes, one can certainly describe animal actions with algorithms with some success. These are descriptions of behavior. The question we are considering (and that you are not addressing) is what goes on within the animal's mind to produce that behavior. If the algorithms do not address what goes on within the mind, that does not imply there is nothing going on. This is easily shown to be true as the same algorithmic approach can equally describe similar human behaviors, such as when a human gets hungry it goes to a restaurant. This tells us nothing about the actual mental process that results in that behavior.In simple terms, the mental process is that the human imagines a place where he can get food and imagines where that restaurant is located and imagines how to get there. All these things are symbols of the reality they represent. The human is thinking symbolically to decide on a course of action, and it is this which results in the behavior. Animals use exactly similar processes to solve real problems. Remember the rule is we must always apply the same criteria to human and animal mentality. The lion imagines the prey likely to come to the waterhole at a particular time, so it goes there to find food. This imagination is obviously not sensory reality, therefore it must be a symbol of such reality. Therefore the lion is thinking symbolically and making a rational decision. There is absolutely no way around this conclusion.I fear it is you who are the romantic, as you seem wedded to some unrealistic quasi-religious view that human minds are intrinsically different than animals'.As for Lorenz and epistemology, Wikipedia for one agrees with me that there is plenty of disagreement about whether even humans can have a priori knowledge or not. Though Lorentz had valuable early insights into animal behavior they are quite dated and often reflect the age in which he was active in which animals were considered mere instinct driven automata. Few if any philosophers would mention Lorentz as having made any contributions to epistemology. The message of his 'Behind the Mirror' has more to do with his belief that knowledge gained from our senses must be accurate, since if it were not we could not survive. I have no problem with that as a general thesis, but it has nothing to do with our discussion.EdgarOn Jun 1, 2007, at 1:46 AM, Jay R. Feierman wrote:
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