From ENST: … how did humans by means of natural selection alone develop language and sophisticated verbal communication? The answer: we didn’t. It was a product inherent in us, what Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s partner and challenger, said it was all along, an intrinsic part of human exceptionalism.
Crawford: I conclude that, since teleological concepts cannot be abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power, life is inherently teleological. It is the teleological character of life which makes it a unique phenomenon requiring a unique discipline of study distinct from physics or chemistry.
Chomsky’s insight that language is an in-born “organ” unique to humans is of obvious relevance to our understanding of why humans are exceptional.
The Smithsonian article tells us a good deal about the motivations of those who, essentially, see bonobos not as apes in need of protection but, to judge from their rhetoric, as something like an oppressed people.
They seem to have grasped that human language cannot be accounted for in Darwinian terms and they are mad about it. But it’s a fact.
It seems we need to clarify language. For, we see in the Ortho types thread: EG, 140: >> . . . Definitions of language: Webster’s: the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community. Britannica: a system of conventional spoken, manual (signed), or written symbols by means of Read More…
Well, if Homo erectus invented language, we must intensify our search for that subhuman. In any proper Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman, right? Otherwise, we re playing a game of musical chairs where, when the music stops, there ARE actually enough chairs…
But surely the most remarkable part of the story is that of all these life forms, only humans speak.
In a pop science outlet, no less. What? Weren’t chimpanzees learning to talk just last year or something? It’s almost like some people want to take language seriously now.
If human intelligence is an accidental outcropping of the animal world, a sufficiently diligent researcher may expect to find the same intelligence in many other animals. But, so the argument runs, we are too prejudiced to see it.
They’re even willing to conjecture that speech began as far back as twenty million years? So, speech could be very old so long as something like monkeys did it in the past? Despite the fact that nothing like monkeys does it today? Naturalism makes people confused.
It’s not clear how many science editors would go for the level of readability he urges scientists to strive for.
Researcher: Our brains process language with astonishing speed and ‘immediacy’, in a dynamic network of interacting brain areas. All the relevant information becomes available immediately, as we start combining the meanings of individual words, unifying the different sources of information. To speed up this process, our brain actively predicts what is coming next (for instance, we might expect ‘newspaper’ to follow ‘the editor of the …’).
“The Green Bank Conference (1961), to which Lilly introduced “Dolphinese,” was a serious science meeting. The conferees were “totally enthralled” by the idea that communicating with dolphins would open to door to communicating with innumerable types of extraterrestrial intelligence… “
Many researchers think that apes are just like us and that
we’re not doing the right things to make them start behaving that way…