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Are we simply animals?

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des
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2006 - 10:17 am:   

Are we simply meat-physicalities (gifted with an imaginary mind) striving to survive, one against the other?
des
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2006 - 02:58 pm:   

I may be an animal, but I ain't simple.

Matt Hughes
Black Brillion now in paperback
The Gist Hunter & Other Stories now in stores
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Neal Asher
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 09:11 am:   

Meat puppets all, read 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins. But that's not to say we don't have the brains to transcend our puppetdom.
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AT
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 02:09 pm:   

Of course we're animals, but there's no 'simply' about animals at all, nor are humans the only species with imagination.
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Anon
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 02:30 pm:   

We are not-men, we are Devo
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des
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 02:35 pm:   

humans the only species with imagination.

Some have taken this to mean that we are differentiated from the beasts by our power to imagine.

However, the mind itself is imaginary with which we imagine using this imagination.

I can imagine an imaginer who falsely imagines he has the power to imagine given the uncertainty of the I's existence by the time he gets to the end of the sentence.

We are never the same I who imagined because time has passed that particular I by.


I suspect the greatest Horror is being alive, knowing you are alive, imagining you are alive, trapped within the head you have been given for this meaningless or meaningful incarnation as 'you' ... with the double jeopardy of wanting to get out of that head so that you need no longer fear death OR wanting to preserve that head with you in it to avoid death altogether. If that is true, it is the ultimate nightmare of wanting simultaneously to exist and not to exist. Who was it cursed you with this head-trap, this double jeopardy - with no way out at all. Each avenue is the wrong one.



des



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Sue
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 07:50 pm:   

Eros must overcome thanatos. Make love not war.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 12:34 am:   

And for an encore man goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the
next zebra crossing.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 10:56 am:   

Neal, I don't think zebra crossing translates on the other side of the Atlantic. Images will arise, of some hapless pedestrian mowed down by a herd of striped horsies.

But to return to the original discussion, I'm leery of any assertion that something is simply this or that. The older I get the more I come to believe that nothing is simply something; it's always something else as well, sometimes lots of things.

Matt Hughes
Black Brillion now in paperback
The Gist Hunter & Other Stories now in stores
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des
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 12:59 pm:   

nothing is simply something; it's always something else as well, sometimes lots of things.

Like identity itself - akin to the authentication process of a Warhol work of art.
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Carole
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 03:39 am:   

Sorry, the word Warhol set me off...

I saw that programme as well Des, very interesting, especially as a lot of Warhol's work is actually about the problems of identity, particularly identity as it relates to fame - production of someone's image over and over again like a brand (even though the actual person might be completely different or dead).

It's kind of an insult to animals to compare them with us.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 05:12 am:   

It's kind of an insult to animals to compare them with us.

Yes, of course. But there is a spectrum of 'animal' that includes humans and other animals in the same section of the spectrum...and over aeons, angels and animals move up and down the spectrum, often over-lapping for a time, then moving on.

Warhol's soup can can.

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Carole
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 08:44 am:   

Men are definitely more like soup cans than animals are - the way they have replicated themselves over and over again to invade the planet, (maybe soup cans with an imagination?)

And then there's the way products of their imagination, like McDonalds or Coca Cola, have in turn replicated themselves and invaded the planet...
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Neal Asher
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 08:36 am:   

Humans have replicated themselves all over the planet because they are good at surviving, adapting and prospering. Given the opportunity any other animal would do the same, and with less regard for the consequences.
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Carole Hall
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 05:24 am:   

Yeah, but the thing is - humans are (theoretically at least) more intelligent than animals, therefore should have been more aware of the consequences of destroying the environment.

Yet you could theorize that humans have shown themselves to be only marginally more intelligent than lemmings in this area.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 06:06 am:   

So are you saying you can't see the consequences of your actions, or aren't you human?
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Carole Hall
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 07:27 am:   

Que? Well, I'm not *as* human as other people, and really only have the intelligence of a small (female) lemming.

Actually, an interesting offshoot from this is the way that in some areas they have re-introduced some predator species that were eliminated, such as wolves or bears, and the consequences are that these animals, in the time honoured way, have begun killing people, pets or farm animals, thus re-introducing the reasons why they were hunted in the first place.

Seeing and acting on the consequences of your actions can be a difficult thing to do if this clashes with immediate gratification or survival. It's probably more a question of immediate survival having been the overriding strategy for most of the past, with conservation only stepping in as a modern luxury or afterthought.

However it's also true that most of the more 'primitive' societies *do* take conservation of the environment into account, and for example would not hunt to extinction their favourite prey animal, for no particular reason.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 07:51 am:   

I rather think you are romanticising primitive societies just as earlier you were doing the same for animals - it's a typical environmentalist's rose-tinted specs view of reality. In both cases, if there are enough resources they will use them, and increase their population until something stops them i.e. starvation or disease. I don't see members of primitive societies using birth control because the supply of wombat meat is running out.
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Carole Hall
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 08:07 am:   

Yep, my rose-tinted specs are glued right onto my face - reality is just too nasty to contemplate.

What I meant was, that you don't get scenarios such as people shooting buffalo out of train windows just for fun, or animals being hunted to extinction purely for monetary profit.

That's not to say that primitive societies would not do this, given the chance - but they mostly do not have the technology anyway. Also, it's simply common sense - if you are reliant on say, the buffalo for food, why would you kill them all?
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richard morgan
Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 - 09:36 am:   

>>if you are reliant on say, the buffalo for food, why would you kill them all?<<

Sheer short sighted stupidity, I would think. Or, to put a less inflammatory name to it, a basic failure to perceive the long term consequences of short term actions (Invading Iraq, anybody? Now THERE'S primitivism in action).

It seems pretty clear (see Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" et al for this) that primitive societies of humans hunted most of the fauna of the Americas and Australia to extinction - huge numbers of large edible mammals and birds disappeared from these continents at approximately the same time humans arrived - coincidence? I (and Diamond) think not.

Also, there's the extinction of trees on Easter Island - I think those guys would count as "primitive" too. Diamond's book "Collapse" has detail on this and a number of other examples of short term thinking bringing down civilisational structures. In general, I think I'm going to weigh in with Neal here - primitive societies don't seem any better at managing their environment than advanced ones. The only difference is, they have the excuse of ignorance and we don't.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 - 03:25 pm:   

Regarding the buffalo ... wasn't it a case of "yo guys, get me some skins -- the more rotting buffalo there are the more starving indians..."

Richard, bugger off with your Iraq stuff - on the whole you're preaching to the converted here.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Saturday, May 20, 2006 - 05:57 am:   

Ooops, excuse the 'bugger off' ... I was a bottle of wine under at that point.
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richard morgan
Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 04:19 am:   

pisshead

:-)
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richard morgan
Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 04:44 am:   

actually, the iraq mention was more by way of a balancing point - that's to say that primitive societies fuck up by not having enough long range imagination to beat their basic visceral urges, but perhaps we shouldn't feel too superior about this, because so do modern societies where such visceral thinking is extolled as more worthy than "considered" behaviour. (eg: We're going to Iraq because Saddam Hussein is a BAD MAN, we're going to KICK SOME ASS and MAKE THE IRAQIS FREE)

In fact Anglo-Saxon culture seems to be particularly prone to this - apparently, English is the only language in Europe to rejoice in the sayings "too clever for his own good" and "too clever by half" - most other cultures seem to think that being clever is a good thing.

Now there is perhaps an understandable reaction here against previous academic and professional exclusionism, allied quite closely in the UK to the old class system - but when it reaches the pitch where only 25% of Americans are aware that Evolution is as firmly established in scientific terms as basic chemistry, where schools (in the UK too, now) are teaching that the Earth is only six thousand years old, never mind what all those stuck up ivory tower so-called experts say, and where a man can be elected President of the most developed nation on Earth by playing up how much dumber he is than his opponent...well, then I'd say the time has come to seriously address what our cultural problem with learning is.
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Neal Asher
Posted on Thursday, May 25, 2006 - 02:54 am:   

Richard, I doubt the percentage of Americans unaware of evolution's scientific credentials has ever been any less than 25%, or that schools there are much worse in that respect than they ever were. As for religious schools in Britain ... how long have we had Catholic schools?

But thinking about addressing the cultural problem with learning I quickly become mired:
very many people find learning too difficult or are simple not prepared to make the effort, and find it easier to sneer at it than accept their own stupidity. Does this become a cultural problem when the largest proportion of a culture is like that? Maybe not since in the past learning was admired. Does it all stem from the lib/left ideas of equality, "I may be fick, but I'm your equal." (No you you fucking ain't, mate) and the fact that people with such lunatic ideas have been screwing over our education establishments for the last fifty years?
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richard morgan
Posted on Saturday, May 27, 2006 - 03:35 pm:   

there might be some currency in the leftist weirdo teacher angle - certainly there've been some fucking stupid classroom ideas out of that camp, Initial Spelling Alaphabet being the one that comes immediately to mind. But this kind of baseless trendy shit went over twice as big in France during the same period, and they haven't come away similarly scarred against intellectual thought - so that can't be the whole story.
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Alexander Astrophysique
Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2007 - 11:03 pm:   

What an amazingly loaded question. So full of a priori assumptions as to make any philosopher worth their salt reach for the nearest stout object. Or, in this particular case, physicist.

In the first place, no one bothered to define what an animal is. Say let's start from there.

Animal. Could it be that's related to the latin animus? Animated? Animated by breath? Could be!

By that definition alone, are not animals?

Why yes, yes we are.

Then, the thinking man, would come to the rather obvious conclusion that there's nothing simple about animals. When you consider the complexity of it's molecularbiological makeup...no.

Nothing simple there at all.

Then one comes to the concept of divine nature. Well and good. So, one thinks. Where is the difference? Anyone with half a brain who has spent any sort of time with animals is fully aware that 'animals' are capable of cognitive reasoning and problem solving, have an awareness of their own mortality, have emotions, are more than experience programmed bio-mechanoids with a certain pattern of stimulus response mechanisms.

One is also aware that the differences largely boil down to opposable thumbs, a greater degree of all the above, and...humour. Apparently. Maybe dog's and horses tell jokes far too subtle for us to pick up on, but I doubt it.

So. Back to divinity. If all life has the spark of the divine, what seperates humans from the rest?

Well. One theory is that humans are the same, but more so. That far form being the only divine creatures on the planet, they are 'simply' the most divine.

The Chinese say it's due to humans being the most upright between heaven and earth, and for all I know, they're quite correct.

But in future, please consider the wisdom of the Venetian School of Philosophy, and first define your terms before you discuss anything.

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