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Old 07-06-2005, 02:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What makes us different?

What makes humans so different from the rest of the animal kingdom? Is it superior problem solving skills, intellect, tool use, murder, divine will or something else?

I think that there are a few things that make us distinct. First is our ability to not be simply the product of our environment. I can stand back and determine how I will react to various stimuli, whereas, in the rest of the animal kingdom, an individuals general attitude and behavior is determined almost exclusively by their environment. Humans are by far the most successful species at making their environment change to suit their desires and/or values.

I think our intellect also sets us apart. Our minds allow us to make and use complex tools, to understand how things work, to sympathize/empathize with others and keep ourselves from being complete slaves to our passions and appetites.

I also believe in God and that he created humans to be different and better than the rest of His creations. So I also have to say that divine will is part of what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

What do you think? Are we different? Better? Worse? What makes us different?
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Old 07-06-2005, 03:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think our ability to bind time is the magic ingredient.
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Old 07-06-2005, 04:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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frogza, I agree with the points in your post... I call it our freedom of expression. This wraps up the devine aspect as well as differentiating ourselves from the animal kingdom.
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Old 07-06-2005, 05:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The fact you could write this question....defines the answer
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Old 07-06-2005, 06:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't think we're all that different at all from other living creatures. Anyone with a pet dog or cat knows that they have distinct and real personalities, intelligence and emotion.

They simply lack vocal chords and opposable thumbs.
 
Old 07-06-2005, 06:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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and perhaps, more importantly, the unique ability or opportunity that humans have of learning from the pool of collective knowledge that is our culture.

Books are a concept unique to ourselves, without them, we'd still be eeking out a very basic existance.
 
Old 07-06-2005, 07:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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We got pretty good at out-competing homo erectus and homo ergaster for resources. Although erectus lasted far longer than any other homo genus (1.5 million years to our approximate 150,000 or so years), we were better evolved physiologically. More compact, therefore requiring less calories. Much larger brains growing faster from milennia to milennia. Our braincase also developed differently. It's actually less complex than the erectus braincase, which suggests the sapien brain retained the psychological flexibility associated with adolescence. This flexibility correlates to adaptibility.

So, to answer your question, we're different because evolution granted us certain biomechanical advantages. Or God did, if you like.

But the difference isn't as drastic as you appear to have been led to believe, respectfully. We were, at one time, surrounded by people who weren't that much different from us. Just different enough to prevent impregnation, which is what primarily differentiates one species from another. And "at one time," about 50,000 years ago, was a blink of an eye ago, as the age of the Earth is counted. In billions of years.
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Last edited by Johnny Rotten; 07-06-2005 at 07:24 PM..
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Old 07-12-2005, 07:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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opposable thumbs
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Old 07-13-2005, 09:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogza
I think that there are a few things that make us distinct. First is our ability to not be simply the product of our environment. I can stand back and determine how I will react to various stimuli, whereas, in the rest of the animal kingdom, an individuals general attitude and behavior is determined almost exclusively by their environment. Humans are by far the most successful species at making their environment change to suit their desires and/or values.

I think one of our major abilities is being able to think ahead like you said. And also, being able to improvise things as tools, weapons, etc.


but to your last question, i dont think we can compare ourselves to animals in many ways. I mean it's like comparing apples to oranges, good at different things.

[Simpson's Quote]
Lennie: In my opinion, Muhammed Ali in his prime is MUCH better than Anti-Lock Brakes.

Carl: Yea, but what about Martin Luther King Jr. against Floppy disk drives?

Moe: Oh, no, I am NOT LISTENING TO THIS AGAIN.
[/Simpson's Quote]
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Last edited by bobophil; 07-13-2005 at 09:42 AM.. Reason: spelling error
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Old 07-13-2005, 10:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobophil
I think one of our major abilities is being able to think ahead like you said. And also, being able to improvise things as tools, weapons, etc.


but to your last question, i dont think we can compare ourselves to animals in many ways. I mean it's like comparing apples to oranges, good at different things.

[Simpson's Quote]
Lennie: In my opinion, Muhammed Ali in his prime is MUCH better than Anti-Lock Brakes.

Carl: Yea, but what about Martin Luther King Jr. against Floppy disk drives?

Moe: Oh, no, I am NOT LISTENING TO THIS AGAIN.
[/Simpson's Quote]
Anyone who can use Simpsons quotes to back up their arguments wins
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Old 07-15-2005, 12:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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rofl, i bring up the simpsons in like all of my conversations.
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Old 07-15-2005, 03:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Let me paraphrase a sig I saw on this board:

Apparently we're unique, just like every other species.

Our main difference from other species is that we think that the minutiae of human behaviour are really fascinating and super and whizzo, where as other species are so small-minded and wrapped up in the minutiae of their own behaviour that they think they're the ones that are special and different.

Huh! Stupid animals!
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Old 07-23-2005, 01:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d*d
opposable thumbs
That's the truth, according to 99% of all anthropologists.
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Old 07-23-2005, 06:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I cannot believe or accept that the only difference would be opposable thumbs!

Yes, animals can have distinct personalities, intelligence, and emotion. But our methods of communication can take our ideas, values, and potential to a much broader range of methods to exist. We don't simply exist within the instinctual survival behaviours and patterns that animals opperate with.

If you take both animals and humans down to primal levels, humans are extremely complex when you consider our vulnerablilities to primal desires and fears (e.g. sexual drives and death). Much of our behaviour seems to be centred around maintaining or controling these aspects. We strive to find ways to feel secure with ourselves and our existance.

Hmmm, I might even go as far to say that in some way, humans deny life... that in my mind makes us different to animals.
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The Big 3:

1. Self Awareness
2. Opposable Thumbs
3. No Fear of Vacuum Cleaners
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:09 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Haaa, the vacuum cleaner used to make my dog run and hide under my bed! I fear them when the dust bunnies are 12 inches tall with teeth!
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Old 07-25-2005, 03:57 PM   #17 (permalink)
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were nastier!! i think so anyways
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Old 07-25-2005, 11:24 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We're bipedal.
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Old 07-27-2005, 03:23 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yournamehere
The Big 3:

1. Self Awareness
2. Opposable Thumbs
3. No Fear of Vacuum Cleaners
1. How do we know that no other animal is self-aware? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

2. Can't deny that.

3. Speak for yourself! You won't catch me going near one of them things!
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Old 07-27-2005, 07:21 AM   #20 (permalink)
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No other animal possesses the same sort of agency that humans do. Pretty much every organism has a basic stimulus-response faculty. Tickle a snail's foot and it goes back into its shell.
Above that, you have animals that are able to choose more than one respose to a particular stimulus. Basic fight or flight responses fall into this category.
Then you have agents who have objectives that they attempt to fulfill. Think of a predator that makes a variety of decisions in its quest to kill another animal.
What humans have is an awareness of purpose: "I am building a spear because it will increase my efficiency as a hunter. My objective while hunting is to kill an animal for food. I do this so that I can eat the food. I eat food because doing so is the proper response to the stimulus of hunger. Therefore, building a spear will make me less hungry."

That last kind of cognitive awareness of one's own reasons for performing a task is what sets humans appart from other animals.

Quote:
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Yeah, that's why I can never be sure that the purple devil elves aren't sneaking up behind me as I type this mescbgfcgn ffffff
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Old 07-30-2005, 11:50 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I think that there are a few things that make us distinct. First is our ability to not be simply the product of our environment. I can stand back and determine how I will react to various stimuli, whereas, in the rest of the animal kingdom, an individuals general attitude and behavior is determined almost exclusively by their environment. Humans are by far the most successful species at making their environment change to suit their desires and/or values.

I think our intellect also sets us apart. Our minds allow us to make and use complex tools, to understand how things work, to sympathize/empathize with others and keep ourselves from being complete slaves to our passions and appetites.

I also believe in God and that he created humans to be different and better than the rest of His creations. So I also have to say that divine will is part of what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
But we ARE simply a product of our environment. It's still simple cause and effect. It's just harder to follow in humans.
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Old 08-01-2005, 06:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yournamehere
The Big 3:

1. Self Awareness
2. Opposable Thumbs
3. No Fear of Vacuum Cleaners
Umm. I'm not sure about number three. I'm very afraid of Vacuum Cleaners.
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:56 AM   #23 (permalink)
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How very strange that man as pure animal is one of the central tenants of modern Satanism.

Quote:
The Nine Satanic Statements

from The Satanic Bible, ©1969

by Anton Szandor LaVey

1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!

2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!

3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!

4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!

5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!

6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!

7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!

8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!

9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
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Old 10-15-2005, 02:17 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I'm going with opposible thumbs .I think we are very animal in most ways-but I believe we may have an unrecogonized "acquisition drive "-That causes us to see something and want to do that -like flight or computers or anything else we want to acquire .
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Old 10-16-2005, 03:45 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Opposable Thumbs and Language.
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Old 10-17-2005, 01:44 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Opposable thumbs and history
the thumbs have allowed us to create tools and language has given us the ability to communicate, but it is our ability to record our progress, to create a history that has given us the ability to progress, other animals have complex communication skills, most of which we are completely oblivious to but they have no way to make a record of what they have learnt and communicate it to the next generation to create a history
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Old 10-17-2005, 05:10 PM   #27 (permalink)
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We are different because small changes in our biology have led to our complete domination of every other animal species on the planet. IMO it is therefore prudent to think of our intelligence as merely a peculiar aspect of our biology and nothing to worry one's self about.
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Old 10-17-2005, 05:27 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braindamage351
But we ARE simply a product of our environment. It's still simple cause and effect. It's just harder to follow in humans.
Sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I was thinking about this and trying to study people that I am aquainted with, as well as myself, before responding.

My first response was to refute your claim, based on people I know, including myself, that don't follow their upbringing. If I simply alowed my past and environment to determine who I am, I would likely be thief or rapist, among other things. Because I saw and was surrounded by these things since I was a child. I have also known people who came from similar or worse situations who have not become what their environment dictated.

Then I thought that perhaps who I am is a result of my past simply because my past cemented my determination to be a "good" person.

But that statement brings me back to my original point, I wanted to be a "good" person anyway. My environment didn't create that in me, at most it strenthened it. I think that there is a level of motivation that exists in people that isn't seen in the animal kingdom. Call it values, morals or something else, I think that is what makes us able to determine our own personality despite environment.
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Old 10-18-2005, 12:28 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogza
But that statement brings me back to my original point, I wanted to be a "good" person anyway. My environment didn't create that in me, at most it strenthened it.
Can you prove that your environment didn't create that drive?

There really is nothing special or different about humans from the other inhabitants of this planet. We are a product of evolution. Our pro's and our con's determined by what helped us survive.

We merely took a seperate route to solve these problems. i.e. The formation of a larger brain that allows us to create tools to solve a problem rather than the modification of our bodies over a long period of time. Because opposable thumbs become nothing if we didn't have the brain power to use them to our advantage.

Several more advantages have resulted due to our larger mental capacity, such as the use of our vocal chords for communication, and making marks in a coordinated manner to pass along knowledge. But essentially, we are nothing more than a large group of animals with a greatly evolved ability to process information.
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