Animal minds Tree of life

No tree of life or of intelligence? There is no tree of compassion either

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From: An evolutionary challenge: Explaining away compassion, philanthropy, and self-sacrifice:

Animals do show empathy. But that’s part of the puzzle. Consider the monkey who rescued his electrocuted buddy. But then tortoises have been captured on film laboriously turning other upended tortoises back onto their feet.

The nature of the difficulty is apparent when we ask ourselves, what is the tortoise thinking? It is a reptile who cannot right itself, so how does it know enough to right another tortoise? When considering empathy in chimpanzees, we assume, with some justification, that the chimp who helps or shares has mental experiences analogous to those of humans. But if the famously slow-witted tortoise has such experiences as well, then there is not only no “Tree of Intelligence,” there seems to be no Tree of Empathy either. Genetic closeness to humans may not have explanatory value for humans, any more than the supposed “selfish gene” does.

For human nature, evolution appears to be an endless well from which any lesson whatever can be drawn. And “evolutionary” explanations need not be informative; they need only be fully naturalist. More.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)

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3 Replies to “No tree of life or of intelligence? There is no tree of compassion either

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    These attitudes are a puzzle whatever your perspective. If you believe that God decreed that they are virtues you face the question of why He so decided.

  2. 2
    Sebestyen says:

    These attitudes are a puzzle whatever your perspective. If you believe that God decreed that they are virtues you face the question of why He so decided.

    The difference is that if you believe in a creator you need no special “order” in which intelligence, compassion or any other trait should appear.

    Furthermore, the question why God made things in a certain way isn’t that important. The question how it works is far more relevant and will often also lead to the “why”.

    Sebestyen

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    It seems to me that both Seversky and Sebestyen are making good observations, and they are not mutually exclusive.

    The “why” from an ID position on design intent is probably unanswerable, the corresponding response from a darwinian perspective will be either to surrender to random chance or some groundless speculation about how a trait might have evolved.

    -Q

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