Animal minds Culture Darwinism Mind

How abstraction differentiates humans from animals

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At: This is a case study in Darwinism beyond ridiculous, I noted

“Monogamy” and “sibling co-operation” among humans are terms that are meaningful only among humans. They depend on the recognition of abstractions like “marriage” and “family.” Humans often do things, in recognition of relationships, that are not in their survival interests.

It is not the same as in beetles and birds.

commenter goodusername writes in response:

I don’t think they’re claiming that the terms “monogamy” and “sibling co-operation” has any meaning to beetles.

And I think people would care for their partners, and siblings would care for each other, even without “recognition of abstractions like ‘marriage’ and ‘family.’”

No. First, when people make inferences about human relationships by referencing beetles and birds, they are implicitly claiming that reason makes no difference. The genius of naturalism has been to get the idea implicitly accepted through the drenching firehose of pop science, without serious evaluation.

After that, even preposterous ideas will seem to make sense. And we shall see stranger stuff yet, be sure of it.

More to the point, abstract ideas necessarily govern human relationships.

Animal species are not “monogamous” in the sense of having a concept of and making a choice for monogamy. Some species’ obligate manner of life requires monogamy (Canada goose) and other species’ way of life either does not require it or even discourages it (deer). None of them think about it, ever.

In the same way, concern for one’s siblings/children is socially reinforced among humans as an abstract idea. It is not necessarily an emotional attachment, and may not be an “evolutionary advantage” either. Henry II (Peter O’Toole) speaks for many when he says, at one point in Becket, that the proverb that “blood is thicker than water” was invented by undeserving relatives.

But everyone knows that Darwinian evolution is true, so the facts must be wrong.

See also: Nearly half of Americans now think that humans are not special

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2 Replies to “How abstraction differentiates humans from animals

  1. 1
    goodusername says:

    No. First, when people make inferences about human relationships by referencing beetles and birds, they areimplicitly claiming that reason makes no difference.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t “reason’ my way into caring about my loved ones.

    Animal species are not “monogamous” in the sense of having a concept of and making a choice for monogamy.

    Agreed, and no one is suggesting that they do.

    Some species’ obligate manner of life requires monogamy (Canada goose) and other species’ way of life either does not require it or even discourages it (deer). None of them think about it, ever.

    Again, agreed.

    In the same way, concern for one’s siblings/children is socially reinforced among humans as an abstract idea. It is not necessarily an emotional attachment, and may not be an “evolutionary advantage” either.

    Emotional attachment is certainly a part of it. I daresay that I would care about my sister even if society didn’t tell me that I should care about my sister.

  2. 2
    News says:

    goodusername at 1: Australian philosopher David Stove asked, “But how did you know she was your sister?” Someone had to tell you that. Always, abstraction.

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