Intelligence in Nature

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EvilToothpaste

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Intelligence in Nature
« on: March 08, 2007, 10:20:50 PM »
Is there intelligence in nature?  Are animals intelligent?  In reacting to their environment in a way that allows them to survive, is that an intelligent reaction or an automatic "animalistic" one?  How is human intelligence different? 

Macaws, parakeets, and parrots eat very specific types of clay every morning.  This clay contains antidotes to toxins found in certain kind of fruit they eat.  How do they know to eat clay; is this intelligent behavior?

"When a honeybee dies it releases a death pheromone, a characteristic odor that signals the survivors to remove it from the hive.  This might seem a supreme final act of social responsibility.  The corpse is promptly pushed and tugged out of the hive . . . What happens if a live bee is dabbed with a drop of [this pheromone]?  Then, no matter how strapping and vigorous it might be, it is carried "kicking and screaming' out of the hive.  Even the queen bee, if she's painted with invisible amounts, will be subjected to this indignity."  Would you consider this behavior intelligent or not?

source: http://www.andeanrain.com/itin-macaw.htm
source: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors | Carl Sagan | pg.163

We will henceforth use this definition for intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge, knowledge being an awareness or understanding gained through experience.  Instinct will be considered an inborn trait or behavior usually triggered by a specific stimulus.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 03:14:04 PM by EvilToothpaste »

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2007, 06:37:00 AM »
There are two key methods of animal survival that exist in nature.

1: Learning. Many creatures in the wild can learn to cope with their surroundings. Learning is a slower process and usually requires a teacher to teach a student.

2: Instinct. The faster but much less versatile method of survival, instinct is born into every animal to some degree or another (even humans have some small amount of instinct). Some creatures are almost purely instinct (your bees for example) while others are more of a mixture between learning and instinct.

There was an old wolf in a pack being tracked by a naturalist. This old wolf was virtually useless to the pack in terms of hunting but she was still allowed to be in the pack which was unknown to science before that moment. Over the course of 3 months the pack managed to intercept a herd of caribou to within 1 mile that had been migrating east (the wolf pack was traveling west). It had been clear to the naturalist that the pack of wolves had fully intended to intercept this herd based on their behavior (they didn't stop much, and seemed to constantly adjust their direction while not exhibiting any of the normal behavior of a roaming pack). The naturalist believed that the old wolf in the pack had the experience was guiding the others, which was why she was allowed to partake in the food despite not being able to participate in the kill. To me, the ability of SOME wolves to track food from months AND miles away is a good sign of real intelligence.

Another thing to mention is that not all animals that are more based on learning are the same. Unlike instinctual animals like bee's, wolves and other such animals are very much unique in their approach to general living. In fact the only thing that really defines a "wolf pack" is that it is a group of wolves. The social structure of a pack could be completely different from another pack. In other words, instinct applies uniformly over the entire species while learning causes individuality to occur.
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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2007, 01:27:13 PM »
Bees construct complex hives and pots and engage in intricate social behaviour. Is this intelligent design? Is this intelligence? No. It is the altercation of the insects' nervous system through natural selection. Not deliberate design or behaviour with foresight, an automaton's behaviour molded by evolutionary hindsight.

Source: Design and Designoid Objects

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even humans have some small amount of instinct

Are you kidding? We are swamped with instinct! Our lives are governed for a large part by the same instinctual behaviour and emotional responses that other primates and mammals have: not only is the foundation human consciousness essentially a collection of instincts, even our most rational and careful behaviour is influenced by ancient, natural intuitions.


Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2007, 01:33:14 PM »
Bees construct complex hives and pots and engage in intricate social behaviour. Is this intelligent design? Is this intelligence? No. It is the altercation of the insects' nervous system through natural selection. Not deliberate design or behaviour with foresight, an automaton's behaviour molded by evolutionary hindsight.

Source: Design and Designoid Objects

Quote from: Wolfwood
even humans have some small amount of instinct

Are you kidding? We are swamped with instinct! Our lives are governed for a large part by the same instinctual behaviour and emotional responses that other primates and mammals have: not only is the foundation human consciousness essentially a collection of instincts, even our most rational and careful behaviour is influenced by ancient, natural intuitions.



1) You were confused by the initial post.

2) Humans have a small amount of instinct. The majority of their mental power is devoted to learning. There isn't much that a human child knows upon birth. I believe you are also confused about the meaning of instinct.
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EvilToothpaste

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2007, 01:51:31 PM »
1: Learning. Many creatures in the wild can learn to cope with their surroundings. Learning is a slower process and usually requires a teacher to teach a student.
In this case there must be an untaught teacher.  The insight required of this original teacher is what interests me most.  Of course, I suppose in the case of the macaws, eating clay could have happened by accident but regardless, the correlation between 'eating clay' and 'curing illness' is interesting. 


Let me make it clear that I am by no means suggesting "intelligent design" or any kind of design at all.  I do NOT even want to discuss that in this topic.  I would merely like to discuss the existence (or lack) of intelligence in nature. 

It seems to me that instinct is a form of intelligence, it is only "learned" on a much greater timeline (through the process of evolution). 

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2007, 02:00:40 PM »
1: Learning. Many creatures in the wild can learn to cope with their surroundings. Learning is a slower process and usually requires a teacher to teach a student.
In this case there must be an untaught teacher.  The insight required of this original teacher is what interests me most.  Of course, I suppose in the case of the macaws, eating clay could have happened by accident but regardless, the correlation between 'eating clay' and 'curing illness' is interesting. 


Let me make it clear that I am by no means suggesting "intelligent design" or any kind of design at all.  I do NOT even want to discuss that in this topic.  I would merely like to discuss the existence (or lack) of intelligence in nature. 

It seems to me that instinct is a form of intelligence, it is only "learned" on a much greater timeline (through the process of evolution). 

Instinct is a strange thing to me. I can't see how information can be stored and shared between parent and child before the child is even born.

Learning only SOMETIMES requires a teacher. In many cases, those learning are learning from first hand experience. What amazes me is the fact that those who learn something in nature, will usually teach it to their offspring and possibly even other members of their species.
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EvilToothpaste

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 02:33:18 PM »
I guess I am referring to DNA as the information comprising instinct.  After all, it is DNA that basically tells a cell how to act based on some stimulus (it's very obvious that I am no biologist, so I might steer clear of this argument).  It seems like one could argue that evolution of DNA is a kind of learning  -- given that this person knows enough about biology to support such an argument.  I am not this person, however, but I find the idea plausible and very interesting. 

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2007, 02:35:42 PM »
I guess I am referring to DNA as the information comprising instinct.  After all, it is DNA that basically tells a cell how to act based on some stimulus (it's very obvious that I am no biologist, so I might steer clear of this argument).  It seems like one could argue that evolution of DNA is a kind of learning  -- given that this person knows enough about biology to support such an argument.  I am not this person, however, but I find the idea plausible and very interesting. 

Hmm.

It is obvious that most of the instinctual creatures are Earth are smaller in comparison to learned creatures. Perhaps DNA can only deliver so much information and that is why learning has become a form of survival for progressively larger creatures.
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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2007, 02:44:45 PM »
Is there intelligence in nature?  Are animals intelligent?  In reacting to their environment in a way that allows them to survive, is that an intelligent reaction or an automatic "animalistic" one?  How is human intelligence different? 

Macaws, parakeets, and parrots eat very specific types of clay every morning.  This clay contains antidotes to toxins found in certain kind of fruit they eat.  How do they know to eat clay; is this intelligent behavior?

"When a honeybee dies it releases a death pheromone, a characteristic odor that signals the survivors to remove it from the hive.  This might seem a supreme final act of social responsibility.  The corpse is promptly pushed and tugged out of the hive . . . What happens if a live bee is dabbed with a drop of [this pheromone]?  Then, no matter how strapping and vigorous it might be, it is carried "kicking and screaming' out of the hive.  Even the queen bee, if she's painted with invisible amounts, will be subjected to this indignity."  Would you consider this behavior intelligent or not?

source: http://www.andeanrain.com/itin-macaw.htm
source: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors | Carl Sagan | pg.163


Intelligence is the wrong word, as it is a very general term that can be applied to any sort of cognitive capability; insects are intelligent, while most likely not in any way self aware. Anyway, this topic has no conclusive general agreement in science or biology (as far as I know), but I believe that it is most prevalently agreed (though observation, not exact testing) that animals (mammals, birds, and reptiles) do have a level of self awareness. Animals do follow instinct as a prime determinant of behavior and life practice, meaning dictates by inhibitions rather than conscious self aware decision. They live their lives according to what their instinctual senses tell them to do, creating a structured system of habitat, mating, etc. for each animal species; this ensures their survival and evolution, while self awareness is a risk as it could lead to rejection of positive and vital natural mechanisms. At the same time there are outliers; freak animals that seemingly choose to live differently, pioneers of their species that bring it to a new level -- I think these are animals that gain control of their own cognition, wrenching themselves free of instinct (while still using it as a guide, rather than master). I think all animals are self aware, but not to a level where they have any desire to control their own actions, not to a level where they have any reason to, so they follow instinct (as doing so brings them satisfaction anyway).

I remember hearing from a visiting biologist in school that animals follow instinct 99% and reason 1%. While I consider that a bit too far in the terms of absolutist irrationality, it does touch upon the nature of animal behavior. They follow instinct primarily, while still being self aware and reasoning to an extent. Their reasoning is not developed enough to gain control, so it remains a simple passive function of their consciousness; not a master function.

Now, instinct is not just an innate sense. It is not born fully developed in any animal, and must be cultivated by learning. Wolfwood separated the two, but I say they are intertwined. Instinct is simply unconscious inhibitions of the lesser reason, the unconscious self that pulls the strings of the conscious self. These unconscious inhibitions are effected by experience and memory, as well as born innate sense, as such when an animal learns something it is ingrained in it's unconscious mind -- which has complete control over the animal. The animal for the most part does not consciously use the information that it has learned, simply by following instinct; aside from the rare occurrences where an animals conscious self awareness takes control.

Though, I do think that there are also some aspects of animal life which are always at least partially under the control of the self aware creature; primarily social interaction (at least with some species). Biologists can't deny the obvious affection some creatures show for each other, particularly primates, parrots, & dolphins, which is entirely out of the natural "norm" of instinct -- it is not something that is basely "positive" to the thriving and survival of the species, rather a whimsical pleasure of the individual animal. Some species of animals are known to take mates for life, and never take another mate if their mate dies -- an obvious fundamentally irrational concept; this obviously can't be the work of instinct, rather self aware thought, emotion.

So basically I say animals are fundamentally controlled by instinct, while possessing self awareness that does not command their behavior except in some ways, and also feeling emotion and the like (aspects of self awareness). I also say that some species have a greater level of this (this is obvious), such as primates.

Now, humans are, as far as we know, the only species on the planet that is not slave to instinct, but rather controlled mostly by reason (self awareness). Our instinct still exists (though sadly we do not pay attention to it, and I think are destroying it as species), but our reason rules. We are able to tap into our instinct, and should, as using it as a guide can only be positive. Humans, unlike animals, do not heed instinct as a control of their behavior. Some individuals use "instinct" as an excuse for "natural" indulgent behavior (hedonism), or actually become slave to it in a way; but this is not the positive heeding of instinct as animals do, rather it is the choice to indulge in hollow pleasures of inhibition (sex, etc.) -- a conscious choice. Animals do not have sex for pleasure, though they do take pleasure in it -- they do it for the good that is in sex, reproduction. Humans have the capability of reasoning on a greater level, using self awareness for grand aims (such as sex for love), but instead seem to for the most part lower ourselves to the level of animalistic reasoning (sex for pleasure -- unhealthy melding of reason and instinct/inhibition, that twists both). Though that is going is a little off track from the topic, it has to do with instinct vs. reasoning. Humans are controlled by reasoning, intelligence as you put it, but currently seem slave to inhibition even with that; rejection of our nature for hollow aims. Anyway, as humans are animals (that evolved from lower castes of animals) it is only logical to assume that the lower castes that are the same basic type of creature (mammal) will at least have the same aspects of cognition -- just to different and lower/higher degrees. So yes, animals, I am quite sure, are "intelligent."
How? when? and whence? The gods give no reply. Let so it is suffice, and cease to question why.


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EvilToothpaste

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2007, 04:49:57 PM »
You have many interesting ideas there, Erebos.  I am skeptical of your claim that instinct is not an innate ability, though, and you really don't give any examples.  Instinct is, by the very definition of the word, an unlearned innate behavior. 

Let me point this discussion in a slightly different direction with another excerpt from Carl Sagan's book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

Quote
There's a thump on the window and you look up.  A moth has careened headlong into the transparent glass.  It had no idea the glass was there: there have been things like moths for hundreds of millions of years, and glass windows for only thousands.  Having bumped it's head against the windo, what does the moth do next?  It bumps it's head against the window again.  You can see insects repeatedly throwing themselves against windows, even leaving little bits of themselves on the glass, and never learning a thing from the experience.

Clearly there's a simple flying program in their brains, and nothing that allows them to take notice of collisions with invisible walls.  There's no subroutine in that program that says, "If I keep bumping into something, even if I can't see it, I should try to fly around it."  But developing such a subroutine carries with it an evolutionary cost, and until lately there were no penalties levied on moths without it.  They also lack a general-purpose problem-solving ability equal to this challenge.  Moths are unprepared for a world with windows. 

If we have here an insight into the mind of the moth, we might be forgiven for concluding that there isn't much mind there.  And yet, can't we recognize in ourselves -- and not just in those of us gripped by a pathological repetition-compulsion problem -- circumstances in which we keep on doing the same stupid thing, despite irrefutable evidence it's getting us into trouble?

I find it fascinating to think that we, as humans, are possibly banging our heads up against something that we just can't see.  Maybe it's a Flat Earth?   :o

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2007, 06:02:24 PM »
It is an interesting note. But it takes a lot more to throw a human into a bad habit then just a clear window and a shiny on the other side.
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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2007, 03:13:42 AM »
Erebos, your post is meaningless without sources to back it up.  You make far too many assertions without providing any evidence that what you claim is the case.  In all serious discussion you are expected to provide sources.

I think the clear message from this debate so far is that we need to decide on a definition of "intelligence" before providing answers.

I would also say that the scientific evidence from neurologists and evolutionary psychologists like Marc Hauser and Stephen Pinker (and also Daniel Dennett, although he is more of philosopher) shows that humans are largely instinctual and predictable in their behaviour.  Of course that's not my assertion, but rather the conclusion they've made from looking at the evidence.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/hauser.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/pinker.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/dennett.html

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2007, 02:33:01 PM »
Erebos, your post is meaningless without sources to back it up.  You make far too many assertions without providing any evidence that what you claim is the case.  In all serious discussion you are expected to provide sources.

I think the clear message from this debate so far is that we need to decide on a definition of "intelligence" before providing answers.

I would also say that the scientific evidence from neurologists and evolutionary psychologists like Marc Hauser and Stephen Pinker (and also Daniel Dennett, although he is more of philosopher) shows that humans are largely instinctual and predictable in their behaviour.  Of course that's not my assertion, but rather the conclusion they've made from looking at the evidence.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/hauser.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/pinker.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/dennett.html


That is an absurd conclusion.

Give birth to a child and keep that child separate from any other human contact. The child will seek out parents of some sort (some have been known to seek parenting from dogs and wolves) or they simply die on their own. If you provide everything the child needs to survive EXCEPT for parental contact, the child grows up retarded with pieces of their brain completely missing.

Do the same thing to a great white shark baby and you get completely different results.

Humans have very little instinctual drive in them. Most of that revolves around procreation (I don't think humans need to be taught at all how to have sex). As for them being predictable, yeah I'll give them that. But predictability isn't an indication of instinct. It is entirely based on the observer.
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Miss M.

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2007, 02:37:17 PM »
I think that animals do have a degree of intelligence. I mean, my dog knew that a suit meant that Grandad was NOT going for a walk and she ignored him lol. But she went wild when he was putting his walking boots on.

Chimpanzees have been found to be making tools out of sticks for 'hunting'. A sign of intelligence? I think so...
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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2007, 02:39:59 PM »
I think that animals do have a degree of intelligence. I mean, my dog knew that a suit meant that Grandad was NOT going for a walk and she ignored him lol. But she went wild when he was putting his walking boots on.

Chimpanzees have been found to be making tools out of sticks for 'hunting'. A sign of intelligence? I think so...

Well no one disputes that animals are intelligent to a degree. We are more or less discussing the differences between instinctual and educational animals.

I doubt chimpanzees are born knowing how to make spears for example.
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beast

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2007, 02:44:50 PM »
Marc Hauser is an ethologist at Harvard University. He received a BS from Bucknell University and a PhD from UCLA. Currently, Hauser is a Harvard College Professor, and Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, and Biological Anthropology. He is the co-director of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Program at Harvard, Director of the Cognitive Evolution Lab, and adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Education and the Program in Neurosciences.

Hauser is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a science medal from the Collège de France, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has published approximately 200 articles in major research journals as well as six books, including Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think (New York, Henry Holt, 2006) and Moral Minds: How Nature Designed a Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (New York: Harper Collins/Ecco, 2006). His work has frequently been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and he makes frequent appearances on various NPR shows, as well as television and international radio.


Steven Pinker Pinker received a first class bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from McGill University in 1976, then went on to earn his doctorate in the same discipline at Harvard in 1979. Pinker is currently the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard having previously been director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in 2005. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv and McGill.


Daniel Dennett gave the John Locke lectures at the University of Oxford in 1983, the Gavin David Young Lectures at Adelaide, Australia, in 1985, and the Tanner Lecture at Michigan in 1986, among many others. In 2001 he was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize and gave the Jean Nicod Lectures in Paris. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987. He was the co-founder (1985) and co-director of the Curricular Software Studio at Tufts University, and has helped to design museum exhibits on computers for the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Computer Museum in Boston. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.



All bios from Wikipedia.

Wolfwood, you may choose to dismiss the work of three of the most influential contemporary scientists of our time and claim that their scientific findings are "absurd" but personally I'm going to look at the actual evidence, and base my conclusions off the evidence, and the hundreds of pieces of work published by those three seems just a little more convincing than your unsourced opinions.

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Miss M.

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2007, 02:51:10 PM »
hmm I think there is some basis in what Wolfwood said:
Quote
If you provide everything the child needs to survive EXCEPT for parental contact, the child grows up retarded with pieces of their brain completely missing.

when doing research for my essay on Wide Sargasso Sea, (a novel) I found that Freud had a theory that: When, as infants, we see ourselves in the mirror,  we know somehow that it is ourselves, and as we grow up, we try to identify with that Other...and there was something else, but I had to delete it from the essay cause of the word count.

But if a child does not have proper maternal contact, it grows up fragmented, as it's sense of identity is missing.

*sigh* I'll try to find the link...I might actually have it saved somewhere.

I did...on reading it, I thought: "hmm actually, this probably has little relevance" but since I've mentioned it and found it, I thought I'd post it anyway. It's quite interesting really.


Quote
At some time between six and eighteen months, the baby sees its image, generally in a mirror, and realises that what it is seeing is somehow itself. This recognition causes great confusion and ‘libidinal dynamism’ (Lacan, 1977) as the pre-linguistic infant struggles with its first identity conflict.
With the boundary-formation of identity comes separation, and the image is perceived as distinct Other. Separation also creates a sense of loss and a lifelong desire to regain the jouissance of the connected wholeness.
The image seems to be perfect, an ‘imago’ (Lacan, 1949), an ‘ideal ego’ that is appealing, to be loved and emulated in an enduring narcissistic fantasy. The perfect other also creates envy and dislike and hence further confusion and tension between these polar opposites. It also may seem to be asking questions or making demands of the child who may wonder what it wants and what it will do.
An early sense of jubilation at recognizing its wholeness is followed by a fear that the infant will regress to its previous state of being in 'bits and pieces'. The mirror does not reflect feelings and 'lies' about the apparent independence of the image that the baby does not have.
This misrecognition or méconnaissance (Lacan, 1949) is compounded when, in taking the subject position of the image and looking back on its actual self, the baby contrasts what it sees with the ‘ego ideal’. This casts itself as imperfect and inferior, thus exaggerating the difference and cementing the trauma of imperfection and self-loathing and the desire to become the unattainable ideal (Leader and Groves, 2000).
The desire for the connected whole and the desire for individual perfection represent a tension between non-identity and identity that is perhaps related to Freud’s death and life drives.
Within the ‘imaginary order’ of this stage, the child continues to build its self image, oscillating between alien images and fragments of the real body. From surreal paranoia, the ego starts to emerge as an unconscious construction. Somewhat wittily, Lacan called this the ‘hommelette’ : the little man, made out of broken eggs. When a baby sees itself in a mirror, it both recognizes itself and misrecognizes itself. The image seems to be psychologically integrated and physically coordinated in a way that the baby does not feel.
Adults still feel uncomfortable about themselves as integrated and whole individuals. Self-images continue through their lives to cause narcissistic fascination and/or discomfort in that the image somehow does not look like 'me'.


The mirror phase was defined in 1936 by Jaques Lacan, a post-Freudian psychoanalyst, who explained how the imaginary misrecognition 'situates the agency of the ego, before its social determination, in a fictional direction.'
The mirror separates us from our selves. In order to recognize myself, I have to be separate from my self. Thus identity as a notion I can consider appears.
The mirror image is the basis of Lacan's 'ideal ego', which is a subsequent destination for striving. The 'ego-ideal' is where the subject, within the symbolic order, looks at themself from the position of the perfect ideal ego, consequently seeing one's life as imperfect, vain and useless. Narcissism is thus rooted in the adoration of the perfect image.
Althusser used the mirror principle to explain how ideology is used to reflect both the subject and others and how the mirror of ideology implant received social meaning in the imagined relationship between the person and their existence. The individual thus recognizes themself as an autonomous subject.
The more general notion of mirroring has been taken up by others, such as Winnicott, who saw mirroring occurring in the loving gaze of the mother. The gaze of the good-enough mother does not reflect her own defences but rather a confirmation of the varying moods that the baby is presenting to her.
Modern media utilizes the Lacanian fascination with the image, showing us pictures into which we are invited to project ourselves.
This has been criticized, for example in the lack of consideration of the internal processes that allow misrecognition to take place. For the infant to recognize itself in the mirror, it must already have a sense of self. The development of the self thus may be already well under way.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2007, 02:55:59 PM by Maus »
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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2007, 02:56:43 PM »
The surgeon who performed surgery on my moms leg fucked the job up royally and when she got a second opinion about the operation, she was notified of 7 different mistakes that that surgeon had made during the operation.

A lot of education doesn't really make you smarter, it just makes you more educated. The fact that they required that much education should have told them that humans have a very small percentage of instinctual knowledge in comparison to their educated knowledge.

If you take any one of those brainy scientists and stick them in a situation such as the middle of the wilderness. They would have no clue how to survive without the proper education. They would have to learn how to do so or die trying.
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beast

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2007, 05:08:22 PM »
Sources?

One of the things Steven Pinker demonstrates is that our ability to learn language is instinctual; we have a natural instinct to learn language. 

You can read all about this in his book; The Language Instinct

http://www.amazon.com/Language-Instinct-Steven-Pinker/dp/0060976519

You're looking at this issue from a very shallow level.  Sure nothing has the instinct to do surgery, including humans, but the neurology that has led us to do surgery, speak, go to school, build societies, have morals, all appears to be instinctual; we naturally learn, we naturally see patterns, we naturally socialise etc.

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2007, 05:09:18 PM »
Intelligence is relative. A person cannot quantify intelligence though, because it consists of so many fields. Intelligence is found everywhere, as all creatures possess it; even if it is nothing but "instinctual."

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beast

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Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2007, 05:29:41 PM »
source?

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2007, 05:50:30 PM »
Sources?

One of the things Steven Pinker demonstrates is that our ability to learn language is instinctual; we have a natural instinct to learn language. 

You can read all about this in his book; The Language Instinct

http://www.amazon.com/Language-Instinct-Steven-Pinker/dp/0060976519

You're looking at this issue from a very shallow level.  Sure nothing has the instinct to do surgery, including humans, but the neurology that has led us to do surgery, speak, go to school, build societies, have morals, all appears to be instinctual; we naturally learn, we naturally see patterns, we naturally socialise etc.


That is also absurd.

You have to LEARN language in order to survive in a world that revolves around verbal communication. LEARN IT.

You are not born with the knowledge to communicate with others. The only instinctual form of communication that humans have is Empathy or the ability to pick up on emotion. Humans do NOT need language to co-exist with one another any more then a pack of dogs do. In fact there was a child found in an urban area who had essentially been raised by dogs. After years of therapy and rehabilitation he was able to speak and understand the English language and he is able to understand dogs but he can't converse with them as he would another human being. Our ability to converse with one another is a complicated thing but is not vital to our survival on any scale as far as mother nature is concerned. It is a convenience that is only vital for our development as a social animal.

And my point regarding my mom's leg surgery was to point out that no amount of education will turn an idiot into a genius. All it does is put idiots into a position to fuck up harder.

I believe we are getting our meanings behind the word instinct mixed up. Instinct knowledge attained at birth. Various animals know how to survive from the day they are born and will probably never learn anything new in their entire existence.
Quote from: BOGWarrior89

I'm giving you five points for that one


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beast

  • 2997
Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2007, 06:48:16 PM »
So Steven Pinker is wrong?  You've still provided no evidence that what you say is actually the case, just your unsophisticated assumptions.

Because you have not read the book, or understand what Pinker is demonstrating, your argument is ridiculous.  Nobody is claiming that we instinctively can speak language.  What Pinker scientifically demonstrates is that we instinctively learn language.  What these scientists demonstrate through scientific research is that the foundation of our behavior is mainly instinctual.  Our instincts lead to us learning.  Obviously somebody not exposed to human language would not be able to learn it. 

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2007, 02:37:01 PM »
So do birds and dolphins and other such communicating animals go to school before they can talk to each other?

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EvilToothpaste

  • 2461
  • The Reverse Engineer
Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2007, 03:12:43 PM »
We will henceforth use this definition for intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge, knowledge being an awareness or understanding gained through experience. Instinct will be considered an inborn trait or behavior usually triggered by a specific stimulus. 

Regardless of whether or not some behavior is instinctual, can instinct be considered a form of intelligence? 

Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2007, 03:14:45 PM »
Fish are in schools.

That was far too clever for you. Who are you and what have you done with the real Dann?

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beast

  • 2997
Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2007, 05:30:32 AM »
We will henceforth use this definition for intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge, knowledge being an awareness or understanding gained through experience. Instinct will be considered an inborn trait or behavior usually triggered by a specific stimulus. 

Regardless of whether or not some behavior is instinctual, can instinct be considered a form of intelligence? 

So what Stephen Pinker has demonstrated with his work is that we have an inborn trait to acquire knowledge.  We instinctively learn things.  We don't need to be told to learn things, especially language when we're young, we just naturally do it.  This is what those scientists I've mentioned have demonstrated, that most of what we do and how we react is based on naturally evolved instincts.  That's not to say that me learning how to play chess is an instinct, or what I'm writing now is an instinct, but that the deeper reasons that led me to do those things are essentially instinctual.  Me learning how to play chess is the cause of many instincts; an instinct to learn, probably an instinct to appear in some way attractive (in this case intelligent).  While we're clearly capable of conscious thought, the scientific evidence shows that our conscious thoughts are representations and based upon instincts.  It is clear that Wolfwood is talking about a completely different level of explaining actions than I am.  He is talking about the direct cause, while I am talking about the deeper cause.  Instead of dismissing the work of some the greatest living scientists, you should try to understand it.

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beast

  • 2997
Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2007, 05:32:08 AM »
There is this fantastic article from the New York Times magazine that I saw at edge.org that I think is very relevant to this subject.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/11/magazine/11Neurolaw.t.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

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Raist

  • The Elder Ones
  • 30590
  • The cat in the Matrix
Re: Intelligence in Nature
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2007, 11:00:42 AM »
Erebos, your post is meaningless without sources to back it up.  You make far too many assertions without providing any evidence that what you claim is the case.  In all serious discussion you are expected to provide sources.

I think the clear message from this debate so far is that we need to decide on a definition of "intelligence" before providing answers.

I would also say that the scientific evidence from neurologists and evolutionary psychologists like Marc Hauser and Stephen Pinker (and also Daniel Dennett, although he is more of philosopher) shows that humans are largely instinctual and predictable in their behaviour.  Of course that's not my assertion, but rather the conclusion they've made from looking at the evidence.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/hauser.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/pinker.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/dennett.html


That is an absurd conclusion.

Give birth to a child and keep that child separate from any other human contact. The child will seek out parents of some sort (some have been known to seek parenting from dogs and wolves) or they simply die on their own. If you provide everything the child needs to survive EXCEPT for parental contact, the child grows up retarded with pieces of their brain completely missing.

Do the same thing to a great white shark baby and you get completely different results.

Humans have very little instinctual drive in them. Most of that revolves around procreation (I don't think humans need to be taught at all how to have sex). As for them being predictable, yeah I'll give them that. But predictability isn't an indication of instinct. It is entirely based on the observer.

What about the instinct to learn? Not all instinct are survival instincts. Also wouldn't you call seeking out a parent an instinct?