Human evolution language

Neurosurgeon: We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses

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From neurosurgeon Michael Egnor, reflecting on Tom Wolfe’s new The Kingdom of Speech at Evolution News & Views:

I have argued before that the human mind is qualitatively different from the animal mind. The human mind has immaterial abilities — the intellect’s ability to grasp abstract universal concepts divorced from any particular thing — and that this ability makes us more different from apes than apes are from viruses. We are ontologically different. We are a different kind of being from animals. We are not just animals who talk. Although we share much in our bodies with animals, our language — a simulacrum of our abstract minds — has no root in the animal world. More.

No, language has no root in the animal world, as such, but the entire naturalist project (nature is all there is and humans are merely animals) depends on treating it that way, even if the results are ridiculous. Even if we are informed that pigeons, dolphins, and orangutans have the rudiments of human speech.

Trust us, it’ll get crazier. A lot is at stake.

See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

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2 Replies to “Neurosurgeon: We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses

  1. 1

    “…the entire naturalist project (nature is all there is and humans are merely animals) depends on treating it that way, even if the results are ridiculous.”

    Amen!

  2. 2
    leodp says:

    Recently in France I toured caves where ancient humans painted pictures on the walls near the end of the last Ice Age. Wooly Mammoths predominant. They made hand prints by splattering paint over their hands against the cave walls. I commented to the tour guide, “So one difference between humans and animals is that the humans were drawing pictures of the animals, and not the other way around”. The guide responded, “Well certain apes can recognize some geometric shapes, like circles and triangles”. — Yes, but only after extensive contact with human trainers. Even that is not the same as drawing pictures, and even that is not natural or innate to them. The difference between humans and animals is in kind, not just degree. Heresy, I know. But obvious heresy.

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