Re: another brain question

Paul Myers (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 21:20:23 -0400

In article <5468ur$>, (Deana
Weibel) wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm working on a cultural anthro degree, but I have a bio
> question. Simply put, are there any researchers out there who
> believe that the human brain is a product of evolution in the same
> way that, say, hands and eyes are? I'm interested in animal
> intelligence, and it seems to me that the complexity of human
> thought could not have arisen through spontaneous generation,
> meaning that structures of similary complexity and capacity should
> be present in the brains of certain animals (apes, certainly, but
> what about elephants, African grey parrots, whales?). I realize
> scientists want to avoid anthropomorphizing the animals they study,
> but I don't understand how a large gap could actually exist. Taking
> Binti the gorilla as an example, how could some scientists ascribe
> her "rescue" of a human child as instinctual and not intelligent,
> when gorillas must _learn_ parenting behavior and don't _have_
> instinct to guide them when they're not taught? How can we have a
> reasonable idea of non- human intelligence when attempts to compare their
> intelligence to that of humans are considered unscientific? I guess
> the main question I have is why are animals often studied as
> complicated machines? If we recognize certain shared physical
> attributes, such as warm-bloodedness, general organ structure, etc.,
> why are the more "mind"-oriented capacities of the brain considered
> _not_ shared? Are they not also biologically based?
> This has nothing to do with my research, but I'm curious if
> anyone has any information.

You've made some colossally incorrect assumptions here.

1. Biologists DO believe the human brain is a product of evolution.
It IS no different than a hand or parrot brain or whatever in that

2. Similarly, we DO (for the most part) think that the "mind" is a
a product of the biological properties of the brain. Of course,
there are philosophical arguments about this latter point, but the
general assumption in approaching the physiology of the brain is
that it IS fundamentally similar to that of any other organism.

Paul Myers Department of Biology Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122