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Do animals have volition II?

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50 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

"Hunting is not hunger motivated" is quite controversial and stands quite against the foundations of Rand's own thinking about consciousness and volition (Aristotle especially).

 

 

Which is an egregious context drop. You should know and can read that I referred to animals, not men's consciousness. I distinctly contrasted human's self-awareness and consciousness: "I am hungry; I must do xyz".

I have stated that animals feel hunger pangs, they are ~biological~ creatures like men, but do you really believe a lioness (non-verbally) decides "I'll go grab a nice plump wildebeest to satisfy my cravings"?

You count on a causality, by a volitional consciousness, that I can only call anthropomorphism applied to animals. You haven't accounted at all, or very little, for animal instincts. "Some kind of desire" doesn't hack it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

You should know and can read that I referred to animals, not men's consciousness.

And so did I, why did you think I was talking about anything other than nonhumans? To be more accurate, I'm saying that to claim hunting behaviors of a house cat are unmotivated doesn't make sense. 

You seem to be conflating something I already distinguished: conceptual thought versus awareness and basic choices. 

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I have stated that animals feel hunger pangs

You also said that animals are not even aware of the meaning this when they are hunting. But isn't meaning in this sense about noticing a correspondence between the awareness of hunger and the satisfaction of hunger through acquiring food? There is a meaning in that, to the degree that a correspondence needs to be established somehow

2 hours ago, whYNOT said:

You haven't accounted at all, or very little, for animal instincts. "Some kind of desire" doesn't hack it.

To go deeper would require a specific scientific discussion (and frankly, a lesson in behavioral psychology). For this discussion we only need to establish that there is something about motivations and discrimination. One or both.

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

And so did I, why did you think I was talking about anything other than nonhumans? To be more accurate, I'm saying that to claim hunting behaviors of a house cat are unmotivated doesn't make sense. 

You seem to be conflating something I already distinguished: conceptual thought versus awareness and basic choices. 

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I doubt I need here to reiterate Rand, the basic alternative for any living organism is life or death. Only one "organism" can comprehend that statement, therefore only he has the capability to choose between them, and needs to. Only man can be "motivated".

Animals' "basic choices" is a self-contradiction.

Really, one has to only closely watch and study animals. Of the many we've owned most have been rescue dogs and cats, often abandoned young - which meant scarce or none learning from and mimicking of adult animals, very little play and mock fights with others in a litter and they were given all the food and varieties of it they needed. But yet, *every* time some other small animal or bird is in the vicinity each would follow the same behavior patterns: the body and senses on maximum alert, the stealthy movements, a quivering tail, and so on, even to the same manner they dispatch their prey if caught, depending on the species: a total sense-focus on the prey to the exclusion of anything and anyone. Right, awareness, I don't argue with that.

Where did they come by that same, repeated knowledge? If observation doesn't convince one of the existence and critical importance of animals' instincts to survival, what will?

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On 5/27/2021 at 5:48 AM, Eiuol said:

The only thing new to address is the second portion of my response. If you have nothing new to add for that, then I don't have anything new to say.

You miss the enormity of the marvelous fact that animals (especially higher mammals) possess the ability to group sensory input into perceptions - automatically and by association, exactly as we do.

That I think answers your animal "motivations and discrimination".

And then, that they have instincts which we don't.

If they could do more, by a volitional consciousness, animals would be humans' equals.

You've been arguing around those and bypass the crucial point.

 

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https://youtu.be/ISVaoLlW104

This is a very informative lecture about the way we cannot merely pass off all nonhuman behavior as automatic. He talks about fixed action patterns early on, more or less instinct under common understanding of the term. These are valid, but these are not the behaviors I'm referring to when I'm coming to my conclusions about volition. I'm talking about the sort of observations he talks about starting at 1:05:00.

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My bad, more like 1:21:00. The part I pointed out before is an argument against behaviorism, but doesn't directly support what I'm saying about how we know that animals must have some degree of making decisions if they discriminate their world.

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No. I mean, the whole point of volition is that it's a kind of conscious activity or process, so either the physical acts already connect to consciousness, or the physical acts don't have consciousness associated with it (so volition would not apply of course). If we are talking about conscious processes that are not conceptual, sure, we could make the distinction between 2 kinds of volition. The important point is that perceptual discrimination needs to be active. Perceptual discrimination is how pleasure and pain become distinct and impact survival. Of course a thermometer discriminates different temperatures, but this discrimination has no impact on the future functioning of the thermometer, the capacities of the thermometer, or the existence of the thermometer.

 

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Aren't they the same thing?

"What to do physically" is a question about what to do with your consciousness, but you could distinguish "directing attention perceptually" from "directing attention conceptually". What to do physically would be both for people, but only perceptually for nonhuman animals for the most part. Physical action, or movement, would require conscious goals, noticing what to move towards. Perceptually, you need to be able to sense something to move towards as distinct from a different thing; conceptually, you would be able to add abstract reasoning and long-term thought to make further distinctions about where to move towards. Furthermore, even Rand really only says that volition is the choice to focus, so it isn't as if volition could ever be a separate ability that operates physical controls. 

The essential of volition I would say is attention.

Edited by Eiuol
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On 5/31/2021 at 12:27 AM, Eiuol said:

My bad, more like 1:21:00. The part I pointed out before is an argument against behaviorism, but doesn't directly support what I'm saying about how we know that animals must have some degree of making decisions if they discriminate their world.

That they can and do discriminate their world is given and in keeping with Rand: "It's [an animal and its perception] actions are not single, discrete responses to single, separate stimuli, but are directed by an integrated awareness of the *perceptual* reality confronting it".

So must one deduce from an experiment this awareness of perceptual reality includes awareness of self? Is that the conclusion?

Naturally an animal and monkey, is automatically aware of physical sensations - and where they are physically located - as a lion will lick its paw when hurt by a thorn. 

It is quite remarkable and uncontradictory that certain specie could perceive that a mirror image of it is not (e.g.) another monkey, which human infants can equally discriminate, apparently. By ¬learned and self-mimicked behavior¬ it can perceive and automatically accept that an action (like pulling a face) is faithfully repeated in the mirror.

Monkey-see-monkey-do is a well-known truism. As well do many animals learn physical actions by mimicking their adults.

But how does that discern the conscious "self"? "This is *me*". 

I believe their conclusion is a stretch too far by animal behaviorists.

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What are you asking? The most he would be saying is that "in these experiments about self-awareness, the animals are at least aware that they exist as distinct from other things". 

By the way, mimicry is one of the most complex type of behaviors, as far as the type of mimicry we are discussing. Only pretty complex higher animals with social lives even have this capacity. It isn't "many animals". Learning from an adult is different than mimicking an adult. In many animals, they don't even have adults to mimic. True mimicry (not just "learning from someone else") is about reapplying a distinct observed behavior, particularly with the awareness that the other thing has awareness. It seems like your notion of "automatic" is simply "determinate behavior". Determinate, as in knowable by the law of identity. This would be the wrong attitude.

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8 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 True mimicry (not just "learning from someone else") is about reapplying a distinct observed behavior, particularly with the awareness that the other thing has awareness.

Mimicry are perceptually imitated or emulated activities. The "learning" is a misnomer, merely the seeming effect observed from a human p.o.v. There is not an ~intention~ of learning. Or of teaching, for that matter.

Monkey see...

"Awareness that the other thing has awareness" -  humanizes animal behavior and is completely misguided. I question the self-awareness of any animals; and THAT is the prerequisite for "other"-awareness. Perception ("a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of...) doesn't rise to self-awareness. Notice ~automatically~.

Where animal behaviorists - with some pseudo-science - were headed and been trying to validate is animal EMPATHY. I think that's where this debate began and is heading. A capacity of emotion many and most will suggest, that is superior to man's and what men should extol/learn from/return to/etc. .

When the animal's capabilities are exaggerated, sentimentalized and otherwise misidentified, people are not elevating animals, they diminish them through mysticism (and devalue what is incredible about the existence of sentient life). In the same way and for an unstated purpose that they deliberately diminish and negate man's consciousness.

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4 hours ago, whYNOT said:

The "learning" is a misnomer, merely the seeming effect observed from a human p.o.v.

I don't know what to say, you are just using the terms wrong. Learning is still the best concept here, it simply means the acquisition of behaviors, behaviors that are by definition not innate. And the mimicry I'm talking about is, for example, a bird imitating the song of its mother. There is a trajectory of development for the bird when learning the song including cognitively that can't be explained by referring to the perceptually automatic process (like the capacity to hear).

4 hours ago, whYNOT said:

humanizes animal behavior and is completely misguided.

I don't think you believe me when I say that automatic stimuli-response explanations fail to explain any complex behavior. 

4 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Where animal behaviorists - with some pseudo-science - were headed and been trying to validate is animal EMPATHY.

More like vegans. People who study animal behavior are usually good about keeping the head on straight and doing good research.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

I don't think you believe me when I say that automatic stimuli-response explanations fail to explain any complex behavior.

Someone reminded me today about elephants and their legendary (and researched) capacity of memory, i.e. a higher than most level of automatic "retention" and "integration". It got me thinking about some apparently inexplicable behaviors of animals. "Complex behavior".

I thought of an elephant which for nor visible cause turned on a human who looks after it.

We can hardly know all the sense-associations formed in its brain going back to as a calf, let's say, it was chained up and beaten every day by its trainer/handler. Just say, there was always present the scent of cooking smoke, the rattling of its chains, the regular sight of its handler in orange clothing with a cane and subsequent pain on its trunk. A grouping of senses, and a perception. Skip 10 years and an otherwise docile adult elephant suddenly flies into a rage and attacks a keeper who looks after it humanely. The inferred cause, some random recurrence of events and associated stimuli: the rattling sound, an old familiar scent, the color orange, and a man carrying a broom, associated with memory of pain, could probably cause its "inexplicable" actions. (Maybe only a few of those stimuli were necessary to set off a response).

Just because men can't explain all the perceptual causes of complex behaviors by animals, doesn't mean there weren't any causes. You'd have to be privy, impossibly, to the many unobserved sense-associations an animal has automatically made. We can't mind-read and analyze the psychology of an animal. We can come closer to understand total animal behavior by knowing their basic capacities. And observation. Perceptual awareness, "learned" behavior, and instincts or innate knowledge together cover most of that area.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't know what to say, you are just using the terms wrong. Learning is still the best concept here, it simply means the acquisition of behaviors, behaviors that are by definition not innate. And the mimicry I'm talking about is, for example, a bird imitating the song of its mother. There is a trajectory of development for the bird when learning the song including cognitively that can't be explained by referring to the perceptually automatic process (like the capacity to hear).

 

Where we get crossed wires. "Learning" is limited to a volitional consciousness. Put another way, a volitional consciousness learns. It -actively- chooses to integrate new knowledge. An animal lacks volition so doesn't learn. Instead it (some) can imitate behaviors.

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1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

"Learning" is limited to a volitional consciousness.

You also don't seem to believe me that learning, within the field of psychology, doesn't mean what you think it means. It doesn't have to do with volition.

1 hour ago, whYNOT said:

It got me thinking about some apparently inexplicable behaviors of animals. "Complex behavior".

What are you talking about? No one said anything about inexplicable behavior. Your example is also not what I'm referring to as complex behavior. That would actually be a pretty simple behavior.

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

What are you talking about? No one said anything about inexplicable behavior. Your example is also not what I'm referring to as complex behavior. That would actually be a pretty simple behavior.

"Complex" is what to men seems complex and/or inexplicable. Once understood a posteriori, yes, it becomes "simple".

So I presented an imaginary cause for one particular behavior to illustrate a point.

You are on the one hand, overly-complicating, and on the other over-simplifying how animals behave - and why they do.

Which is clearly why you arrived at their 'volition', as the main, or only possible explanation for complexity. 

There is an unknown universe of what a particular animal has in its brain, what motivates its behavior. From its senses onwards. When one identifies their nature and knows their functions ("mechanisms") one has a starting point. Apply any "complex behaviors" (as you and scientists know them) to that functionality and I think there will be found most explanations.

Simply, bring together the biologist and the objective philosopher. The study of animal behavior plus biology can't alone account for behavior in animals.

[Further, there is insight into human behavior to be found, since we have sense-perceptions (and emotions, much simplified) in common.]

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 

More like vegans. People who study animal behavior are usually good about keeping the head on straight and doing good research.

No, again missed my argument. Not empathy (like vegans) towards animals; animals' (supposed) empathy to one another. As the standard and model for how humans should behave to each other. This has been significant HUMAN behaviorism, lately. You cannot have missed the trend. (You know, "kindness and love to others - just like animals do" etc.,etc.). What has generally resulted - primacy of sensations. I feel therefore I am.

I have no opposition to vegans, up to the point they want veganism foisted on everybody. I too think that animals should not be inhumanely treated - rationally.

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An interesting spokesperson for volition, this Robert Sapolsky is.

Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky sees things differently. He's opposed to the concept of "free will." Instead, he believes that our behavior is made up of a complex and chaotic soup of so many factors that it's downright silly to think there's a singular, autonomous "you" calling the shots. May 24, 2017

Add a parrot to this regiment. The ability to hear sound is automatic. The ability to listen requires the ability to process the sound. Or try this with sight. The ability to see is automatic. The ability to look requires volition.

A parrot hears the sound and is capable of replicating, or imitating, it.

As a correctional aside, without going back into the thread to cite it directly: the primary choice, to focus or not, is an aspect of volition not a basic manifestation of it.

I think of a whippoorwill using a broken wing act to distract attention from where its nest lay when it is approached. How many of the creatures observing the act are distracted from where the nest lay and follow the whippoorwill until it flies off. How many creatures see this 'ruse' for what it is?

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

As a correctional aside, without going back into the thread to cite it directly: the primary choice, to focus or not, is an aspect of volition not a basic manifestation of it.

In what way is that a correction? Isn't any manifestation of some activity the same as an aspect of that activity? I think of manifestations as those aspects which are part of the nature of something, the causal nature and explanation of something (rather than simply descriptions). 

But in any case, the choice to focus is an essential aspect.

1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

I think of a whippoorwill using a broken wing act to distract attention from where its nest lay when it is approached. How many of the creatures observing the act are distracted from where the nest lay and follow the whippoorwill until it flies off. How many creatures see this 'ruse' for what it is?

Are you actually asking, or are you implying something? Because this is an example of the kind of complex behavior I've been referring to where it only works because the other animal is tricked, while some animals are not (usually the more intelligent animals like ravens can figure out tricks of all kinds, even those from humans). Complex because of the huge range of factors involved that all must be taken into consideration for us to see what makes for effective action.

 

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The primary difference is that the ability to focus is not necessarily indicative of volition.

Of course, many cat lovers believe it was the cat that had maneuvered man into feeding and providing shelter for felines around the globe.

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

The primary difference is that the ability to focus is not necessarily indicative of volition.

How can focus ever not require choice? Who has made that argument before?

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