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What distinguishes humans is that we can contemplate the future?


From Martin Seligman and JohnTierney at the dying New York Times:

We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? Various answers have been proposed — language, tools, cooperation, culture, tasting bad to predators — but none is unique to humans.

What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation. Other animals have springtime rituals for educating the young, but only we subject them to “commencement” speeches grandly informing them that today is the first day of the rest of their lives. More.

In short, what distinguishes humans is that we are not just animals. No wonder the New York Times is dying. This sort of fantsy-pantsy is getting seriously ridiculous.

See also:  Naturalism and the human mind

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D @ 6: bravo!
I agree. Another thing- we lie, lie, lie, to other members of our species. And when we are done, we lie some more. Oh and we murder our children before they are born. Does any other species do that? Andrew asauber
D @ 6: bravo! AnimatedDust
Obviously one thing that tells humans apart from other animals is that only humans are capable of saying stupid things like the referenced NYT article. My children's dog and cat would have never imagined that kind of nonsense. Also only humans could design places like Auschwitz for other fellow humans. Only humans could build nuclear or chemical weapons that can destroy everything, including humans. Dionisio
Polistra, their designer obviously has that sense, er, rather down to a science. Lol AnimatedDust
Leaving aside the wildly obvious anticipatory abilities of every mammal and bird, let's go a little deeper. If plants couldn't anticipate the future, why would they form buds in the winter and flowers in the spring and seeds in the fall? None of those creations are worth the trouble without an understanding of the future. polistra
Also, we're not frightened by vacuum cleaners. Axel
I wish those types of media would shut down and save trees. It's all becoming totally stupid and they don't need to do it anymore. News
Do they waste ink and paper to print that kind of archaic pseudoscientific hogwash (a.k.a. low grade bovine excreta)? Anyway, what else is new? Nonsense remains nonsense regardless of who says it. Did they ever hear of the expression IMAGO DEI ? Apparently not. Poor things. That's what makes the difference: Imago Dei. That's all. That's what confers us all dignity, even before we are born. That's why human life is priceless, even before we are born. We were made to be good, but we chose not to. That's why this world is so messed up. Dionisio

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