Re: Thoughts on "Origins of human thought"

H. M. Hubey (
18 Oct 1995 23:54:50 -0400

cc3265@CNSVAX.ALBANY.EDU writes:

> As far as abstract thought goes, I think we first have to agree on
>what that is.

Agreed. The problem is that I don't see much difference in what
we do and what animals do except in quantity or intensity. That
means that "intelligence" should be extended to animals instead
of sticking to the conventional view of ascribing "instincts"
to them.

This would also take care of this "race" problem without
denying it. I posted about this already to some newsgroups
but nobody caught on. It's so simple. I am writing it up
now and I will stick into a chapter of my upcoming book
on multiple scale phenomena.

>If it is merely an ability to associate objects with symbols,
>and use those symbols to refer to those objects when they are not present,
>(as my bird asks for "water") then I'd say quite a few animals may have it.

It's hard to separate the two. If human brain was disconnected at
birth from its inputs and fed, 20 years later it will have nothing.
The brain size and the connections are a function of inputs and
the inputs are sense organs. But there is certainly more to it
otherwise we could be teaching calculus to dogs.

I see this only a matter of size (or mass). We have more neurons.
Maybe it's because we have more room for it. I'd be really
curious to see what would happen to chimps whose braincases
were enlarged at birth via surgery (and maybe even had more
brain tissue or other protein material added to it) and then
brought up in an intellectually rich environment. Maybe there'd
be an appreciable increase in capability and we could see what
kinds of capabilities increase (if they do). It could be tried
with lower level animals too. It would be a way of mapping out
the brain too. (tm) :-)..

PS> If anyone does this I want credit for the idea :-)..

>However, some folks on this group have used abstract thought to refer to
>a more specialized ability to form "higher concepts," like religion, or
>perhaps other, non-physical object, elements of life. Chimps seem to have
>some of these concepts as well, but I don't know about birds.

I've read of other things in which there were speculations that
birds could count up to 3--4 or so. Other animals could
probably count higher. What really floored me was the fact
that a bird could do it, not something more intelligent.

There's much more to learn about all this.


Regards, Mark