the question of alleged human "superiority"

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by parmalee, Jul 19, 2009.

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  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    after perusing a number of threads, i noticed a curious trend amongst many members of this forum: the tendency to allege that humans are somehow superior to all other animals. yet in nearly all of these instances, no effort is made to substantiate this claim. i find this tendency rather odd on a science forum.

    homocentrism/anthropocentrism is rampant in most avenues of human culture and this is not wholly unfounded; after all, we are human. however, it seems misplaced when disciplines are striving towards a meta-understanding, so to speak, of the world we inhabit - and considerable progress to steer away from anthropocentrism has been made in the fields of philosophy, ethology, etc. while still acknowledging the inescapable necessity to anthropomorphize by virtue of the very inability to transcend our own human minds.

    and so i am curious as to how one goes about substantiating this claim that humans are superior - i am not especially interested in those qualities and attributes which make humans unique: every animal is unique in some fashion. moreover, i think fraggle rocker has articulated this aspect quite well elsewhere:

    www (dot) sciforums (dot) com/showpost.php?p=2222379&postcount=23

    that said, please kindly refrain from citing such claims as: animals lack sapience, animals lack language, animals lack reason, animals lack the ability to form moral/social contracts with others, etc. these claims are highly contentious at best, wholly without validity at worst. (stephen pinker does not hold the patent for the definition of "language.")

    anyhow, this is my first post and so i apologize if i've placed it in the wrong sub-forum or have somehow violated any of the rules of the forum.
     
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  3. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    Welcome to sciforums!

    I believe that Fraggle did a good job of summing up where human superiority lies. Certainly most people do not believe that humans are superior in all areas in competition with other animals - just try to outrun a cheetah.

    I believe it is not necessary to substantiate the claim for human superiority in intelligence [with the possible exception of claims regarding other related hominids such as neandertals, for which there are lots of threads].
     
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  5. Super Dominican Banned Banned

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    And what of the mochine? A mochine already beated man in chess game, perhaps in future mochine will defeat man at dominoes also.
     
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  7. The Esotericist Getting the message to Garcia Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I guess therein lies the rub eh? It's a values judgment, and all people I suppose are entitled to their own values. I guess it all depends on how you define "superior."

    One of the forum's most valued members just had a thread a day or two ago where he cast a wide net, judging many members, claiming his and his close "click's" vast intellectual superiority over many here. And then asked why others who did not measure up to his standards would presume to stick around fouling up the waters. . . as if they were. . . animals or some such thing.

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    I refrained from commenting; as the the one (unassumingly) simple thing, I would like to achieve above all else, is to respect others, and not judge them. For there is one thing that is more important than knowledge and intelligence, and it is wisdom.

    For although I greatly admire and respect this particular member, it is clear, as much genius and intelligence as he possesses, he has posted a brilliant thread that screams essentially, "why? what is it all about?" and it leaves no doubt, that great intelligence can be possessed while at the expense of lacking WISDOM.

    And so it is, with the point you raise here. Many a person can very intelligently make the observation of the vast technological, cultural, and other advancements our species has over all other earthlings, that COULD define our species as "superior." But then, what would be the definition that they would be using to define us as "superior?" My guess, is that this person would be working from a definition that doesn't stem from the experience lived and of a life that is not yet the possessor of great WISDOM.

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  8. Enmos Staff Member

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  9. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Heidegger often argued that scientists and theologians not only do not think, but can not think by virtue of their respective stations in life (What is Called Thinking?. Thought is the domain of the philosopher, although Heidegger avoids this term in favor of "thinker." Theology, while it's concerns are often ontological, necessarily builds upon certain presuppositions which negate the possibility for "real" thinking (which requires a sort of "primal leap" (Ursprung) from such trappings); the concerns of science (in a very positivistic sense) are wholly ontic and there is no place for thinking which is non-representational and non-discursive: ontology is by definition beyond (meta) the reach of science. How this relates to intelligence should be obvious: for many definitions of intelligence, the ability to think is a fundamental attribute.

    Now to take this a step further, Douglas Hofstadter "proves" this claim for Heidegger! In Godel, Escher, Bach (I believe, I do not have a copy at hand), Hofstadter relates a curious anecdote from his childhood. Douglas' uncle was the noted translator of Heidegger, Albert Hofstadter (Poetry, Language, Thought). Albert would often give young Douglas translations of Heidegger's writings to peruse throughout his adolescence. Hoftstadter confesses that to this day, he still cannot understand a damn word of Heidegger!

    Obviously I'm being facetious (somewhat!), but this does illuminate a facet of intelligence which people often overlook: some people are quite bright in certain regards, but complete idiots in others. Giftedness in a certain area eclipses another wholly different yet equally important aspect of "brilliance." I'm often quite surprised when I discover that a person whom I consider pretty smart reveals him/herself to be wholly incapable of understanding a certain Continental thinker, say Deleuze or Lyotard. But it's just because that's where I'm coming from and it proves a considerable obstacle to not be so self-centered!

    I would suggest that it's not really all that meaningful to claim that humans are more intelligent than non-humans as the very definition of such a notion is perspectival and based upon valuation. For instance, suppose a lion has developed some "mad skilz" and can kill 50 gazelle in one fell swoop. Do you think the other lions are saying: "Wow! He's fuckin' brilliant!," or do you think they're saying: "What a fucking dumbass: he's never gonna eat all those gazelle and he wasted all that time developing and executing that technique when he could have been just lying about pontificating like the rest of us."?

    What is said for intelligence can also very much be said for wisdom, although I too place much more import upon wisdom. Of course, if one considers wisdom to be "knowledge, understanding, experience, discretion, and intuitive understanding, along with a capacity to apply these qualities well towards finding solutions to problems," (sorry, that came from wikipedia) then how could anyone suggest that humans are more wise than non-humans? Well, I suppose someone could, but I daresay he'd be pretty short on wisdom.
     
  10. EndLightEnd This too shall pass. Registered Senior Member

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    Death is the great equalizer, and everything dies eventually(or ceases to exist in its present form). Everything is equal because its all the same damn thing.
     
  11. Enmos Staff Member

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    Isn't it about what's left behind ?
     
  12. EndLightEnd This too shall pass. Registered Senior Member

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    I will be dead, it will be up to those people. Ill do my best not to mess things up for them, but often the path we take to avoid things leads us to them.
     
  13. Enmos Staff Member

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    Why are you only talking about the people that are left behind ? Do you think they are superior to other lifeforms ?
     
  14. EndLightEnd This too shall pass. Registered Senior Member

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    No, but they have a higher value in my life (and other peoples) then say a rock or tree.
     
  15. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    Humans are superior, but don't think of it as a "just 'cause" kind of thing.

    Humans are superior in that we really are superior; we're the best suited to survival. We're able to think, reason, use technology, and understand and be aware of our own evolution.

    In terms of survival, humans are superior.
     
  16. Enmos Staff Member

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    That's subjective.
     
  17. Enmos Staff Member

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    Really ? They have yet to prove that. Try again in a few million years.
     
  18. EndLightEnd This too shall pass. Registered Senior Member

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    What about this conversation isnt subjective? Its not like aliens are coming down and telling us we are, in fact, superior.

    Im siding with nature on this one, everything dies for a reason.
     
  19. Enmos Staff Member

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    I thought the implied question of the OP was whether or not humans are, objectively seen, superior to all other forms of life on Earth.

    The answer is, obviously, no.
     
  20. EndLightEnd This too shall pass. Registered Senior Member

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    I agree, but I would add we are no less either.
    Its just a matter of which way you tip the scales. Nature balances itself out.
     
  21. Enmos Staff Member

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    :shy:

    Objectively, no.
    But according to our own standards, yes. Surprisingly.
     
  22. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    The proof is all around you; what other species erects cities, factories, statues, sculptures, art, music, philosophy?

    Human beings not only survive, but thrive. And in the future when we can enhance ourselves, we will thrive even more.

    The only real threat to us is ourselves.
     
  23. Enmos Staff Member

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    So the survival abilities of a species are not measured in time then ? For instance how long a species lasts before it goes extinct ?
     
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