Re: Are we "special"?

Thomas Clarke (
5 Dec 1996 22:19:36 GMT

In article <> Doug <> writes:
>Thomas Clarke wrote:
>> Here are three statements:
>> 1. Human beings are animals subject to evolution.
>> [Nothing special there]
>> 2. Human beings uniquely among animals have language and culture.
>> [unique = special?]
>> 3. The evolutionary circumstances of human beings are non-special.
>> (ordinary, common),
>> It seems to me that 3 together with 1 implies that 2 is false.

>> So one or more of 1, 2 and 3 must be false.

>> I conclude that 3 is false, that the evolutionary circumstances
>> of human beings are special.

>Looks like #1 and #3 are not exclusive of one another and
>may be combined. Since humans are part of a superset
>called 'animals' subject to a 'process' (evolution) effecting
>all members of the superset. Thus, the process is non-special
>to any member of the supergroup.

Maybe it is my mathematicians training, but I distinguish the dynamics
from the boundary condition. The process from the preconditions.
Evolution is the process. You take the same basic finch stock
subject to evolution and put it on the Galapagos and you get an
entirely different thing from the finches that staid on the mainland.

>#2 says, IMO:

>1. that if a 'group' had language but NO culture,
> they are non-special. I have trouble with that one.

>2. that if a 'group' had culture but NO language,
> they are non-special. I don't have trouble with that one.

Please don't take the exact words of my statement as gospel.
I would pretty much agree that language is special and that
culture is special. Humans are then doubly special?
I'm not sure though that you can have culture without language,
so maybe language is primary.

>Thus, if a process that is not unique to a supergroup and
>operates on a subset of that supergroup, how can that
>subset claim to be unique by a non-unique process???

Because the boundary or initial conditions of that process
are unique to that subgroup.
Otherwise Darwin's finches are the same as the finches on the

Tom Clarke