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Do animals have volition II?

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

In this context, a resort to the principle of two definitions is appropriate with the distinction drawn between volition as applied extrospectively to the observable self-initiated motion contrasted against the introspectively observable self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition.

This is actually not an appropriate time to use that principle. The second definition needs to be a narrower subcategory of the first definition, and the narrower subcategory needs to be normative. All you've done here is point out the way in which you can observe volition. That's not even enough on its own to warrant distinguishing these things as separate concepts.

If anything, Rand excluded from volition anything to do with locomotion: "his volition is limited to his cognitive processes". But this is still vague about what a cognitive process is (she doesn't really define it), and doesn't provide reasoning to help me distinguish between locomotion as a cognitive process compared to locomotion as a noncognitive process. Basically, Rand can't help us much here at all when thinking about self initiated locomotion specifically. 

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On 6/17/2021 at 11:53 PM, merjet said:

Animals have volition. Not near as much as humans, but it's still volition -- the abilities of selective attention and self-initiating locomotion (and more bodily movements).

How do you know what happens in the mind of a dog or a cougar on the prowl for prey or any other animal? Clairvoyance?   

You apparently quote Rand (no specific source stated). "Living organisms possess the power of self-initiated motion, which inanimate matter does not possess; man’s consciousness possesses the power of self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition (thinking)." Apparently you don't understand what she wrote and skipped over.

1. She wrote "living organisms", not "only humans".

2. She then leaped to volition in the form of "self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition (thinking)" by humans, skipping over how an animal's locomotion could be self-initiating.

Rand: "His volition is limited to his cognitive processes; he has the power to identify (and to conceive of rearranging) the elements of reality, but not the power to alter them."

Huh? Then how does man have the power to alter the elements of reality?

 

No skipping required. Self-initiated motion and goal-directed action, from man to amoeba is the power all "organisms" have. That is what is life.

Clear that Rand stated that all organisms possess self-initiated motion (note, ALL) while man - exclusively and additionally - has "the power of self-initiated motion in the realm of cognitive thinking".

Simplistically, one has the power to use one's mind, direct it, to order it and to apply that knowledge.

What does anybody think "a volitional consciousness" IS?

Direct volitional and mental control over reality?

Like: I want xyz, therefore my mind will create it? And am I going to wish something into or out of existence, merely with my consciousness...?

Self-evidently and ostensibly, what is done with men's consciousness transferred into ACTION, has, does and will have power over his environment.

If that volitional "power" seems lesser and trivial, remember: It is not the animals that built the zoos to keep men in. it is not we animals here who are studying and debating mankind's nature.

Edited by whYNOT
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23 hours ago, Eiuol said:

So you literally accept that there are other kinds of volition besides cognitive or conceptual. But also, why do you pick the word "physical? It sounds like you are suggesting that purposeful volition is itself nonphysical and exists as its own kind of substance. So you would have created a volition for the body, and a volition for the mind.

I assume you're being metaphorical though. Don't be metaphorical, it isn't helping.

 

One more time. Animals are motivated by instinct. By sensory perception. By biological needs and drives. By any learned/imitated behavior they picked up. (Not in any specific order of prominence, but the order likely changes with type of animal and its circumstances).

All but the first, innate knowledge, are what men also possess. And, men have cognitive action above all - and THIS is non-physical.

You are making for a dichotomy between volitional locomotion and volitional cognition in men.

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16 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

All but the first, innate knowledge, are what men also possess. And, men have cognitive action above all - and THIS is non-physical.

Literally the mind-body dichotomy. Unless you also admit that cognitive action also has physical elements.

16 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

You are making for a dichotomy between volitional locomotion and volitional cognition in men.

So, uh, yeah, you agree that animals have volition if you think there is a such thing as volitional locomotion... You aren't using the term dichotomy correctly by the way. I should just do a devil's advocate argument here instead.

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On 6/14/2021 at 9:24 PM, dream_weaver said:

A lion or a bear kills a human, animals eating farmers crops - both are generally culled to prevent repeating. While animals can not commit fraud, if volition is not the heart (or essential) of the matter in morality, then something else needs be essential to morality that only man is held to be so, or are kangaroo courts actually being pursued in this thread now?

Amusing, and it points to - without cognitive volition an animal cannot be "wrong". There's no such thing as an immoral animal, it must and can only act according to its nature, completely. If only men were as consistent to their nature. With one exception, whenever mankind interferes with its nature does an animal go rogue.

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12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Literally the mind-body dichotomy. Unless you also admit that cognitive action also has physical elements.

So, uh, yeah, you agree that animals have volition if you think there is a such thing as volitional locomotion... You aren't using the term dichotomy correctly by the way. I should just do a devil's advocate argument here instead.

Also has physical elements. No, surely not! You mean humans are physical? have brains?! We have bodies?! We can move?!!

Animals, too, can motivate themselves into action?! (What some of you insist is "volition" - and free will, probably: well, not in any philosophical sense. But of course the animal initiates its own actions and responses, which gives that impression).

I don't "admit that", I've only endlessly repeated these things. 

What this is penetrating is what mind-body integration involves. This too is not automatic.

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On 6/17/2021 at 11:53 PM, merjet said:

   

You apparently quote Rand (no specific source stated). "Living organisms possess the power of self-initiated motion, which inanimate matter does not possess; man’s consciousness possesses the power of self-initiated motion

 

"The Metaphysical and the Man-Made"

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17 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

What some of you insist is "volition" - and free will, probably

if you believe this, then we agree. Your agitating against whatever is being said here probably has to do with not understanding the terms used and your bad grammar (seriously, that's a barrier to understanding a lot of what you say).

17 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Also has physical elements. No, surely not! You mean humans are physical? have brains?! We have bodies?! We can move?!!

So it doesn't make sense to say cognitive action is not physical. 

If physical is simply supposed to mean controlling your muscles and things like that, that's fine. It's not a typical use of the term though. But then we also know that animals have a primitive form of memory in terms of things like a squirrel remembering where it buried some acorns. Although not conceptual, this would still fall under this meaning of nonphysical because memory processes aren't themselves aimed at movement (although they lead there eventually)

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20 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

In this context, a resort to the principle of two definitions is appropriate with the distinction drawn between volition as applied extrospectively to the observable self-initiated motion contrasted against the introspectively observable self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition.

Such leaves the animal kingdom free to volitionally repeat their self-initiated motions generation after generation while mankind demonstrates his difference by applying volition to the self-initiated motions available to him in the cognitive realm.

Or can this be considered: volition qua man?

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

if you believe this, then we agree. Your agitating against whatever is being said here probably has to do with not understanding the terms used and your bad grammar (seriously, that's a barrier to understanding a lot of what you say).

So it doesn't make sense to say cognitive action is not physical. 

If physical is simply supposed to mean controlling your muscles and things like that, that's fine. It's not a typical use of the term though. That's a distinction between perceptual and conceptual for the most part. But then we also know that animals have a primitive form of memory in terms of things like a squirrel remembering where it buried some acorns. Although not conceptual, this would still fall under this meaning of nonphysical (again, more like non-perceptual). 

I think you fail to grasp or don't agree with what Rand wrote. From early on, the notion of "non-purposive" goal-directed action, i.e., action for most creatures which lack a knowing and directing, and purposeful, consciousness - has been the stumbling block. I have quoted Rand extensively, and don't think you can blame her bad grammar. So argue against her explanations not mine.

In short, purposive = volitional. Non-purposive = non-volitional.

An animal does all that it does (instinctively, with sensory awareness, with biological drives, in response to warnings of pain, danger, etc.) gained from evolution for the species self-preservation - NOT, with self-preservation as its purposeful intention and goal. 

It is this apparent paradox which seems to throw everyone off. This, and how animals have (automatic) percepts in common with man. Which we recognize from observation. From there to attributing animals with human volition and other human charcteristics is the next erroneous, anthropomorphic step.

 

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2 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

I have quoted Rand extensively, and don't think you can blame her bad grammar.

Your bad grammar. My arguments were formed in a way that were directed at her position, while also arguing that your positions were wrong. 

6 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

It is this apparent paradox which seems to throw everyone off.

But you agree... You already said that animals have volition.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Your bad grammar. My arguments were formed in a way that were directed at her position, while also arguing that your positions were wrong. 

But you agree... You already said that animals have volition.

Can and do insects/fish/birds/animals/etc. initiate their bodies into locomotion?  Duh.

Do men? Duh.

FOR WHAT PURPOSE? Which animal thinks: "I need to do this for my survival and well-being"?

Only the rational animal - right?

I said, and I quote: "What some of you insist is "volition" - and probably free will. Well, not in any philosophical sense..."etc.

If you read that as my agreement that is your poor comprehension at fault.

YOU say that's "volition", I have not. Nor apparently does Rand. She instead uses self-initiated motion, goal-directed action: for all life-forms.

BUT, "volitional" for only one, the life form with a volitional consciousness.

Looks to me all this is pointless arguing against proponents of reductive-materialism. For whom all life-motion is evidence of free-willed, purposeful activity, because all they see are the actions and the results, and *presume* a causal agent.

 

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39 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

YOU say that's "volition", I have not. Nor apparently does Rand. She instead uses self-initiated motion, goal-directed action: for all life-forms.

One, trust me when I say that your grammar is bad. Of course I have poor comprehension, that's what happens when what I read has bad grammar.

Secondly, I'm just going to remind you that you agreed with the paragraph you quoted about perception earlier, and I told you how that paragraph was already using terms for volitional activities. 

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 for volitional activities. 

Volition, n.: Exercise of the will; power of willing.

The total definition my dictionary supplies. Then it seems, Rand's use of volitional is exact, uncontroversial and non-idiosynchratic.

Seems like you need to either prove the existence of animal "power of willing" - or - give up on applying "volitional" loosely or even metaphorically, to animals. What's it to be? There's no compromise or equivocation possible.

What I believe your and other behaviorists' argument achieves is nothing less than a subtle undermining of man's free will, by trying to elevate animals to the level of volition. The outcome is hugely more obvious in people's behavior lately, a surge of determinism, along with the collectivism and racism caused by it. 

Is it determinism you support? 

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17 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Or can this be considered: volition qua man?

Given the efforts to foist the point here, the anthropomorphic explanation continues to provide the most salient grasp. 

Years ago I discussed with someone about plant growing toward the sun as evidence for having a sense organ. Sometime a conclusion gets in the way being able to keep the final arbiter's say on the matter in perspective.

What's the philosophic payoff on this matter? 

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Both humans and other vertebrates have a nervous system. The nervous systems of different species have a multitude of similarities. "In vertebrates [the nervous system] consists of two main parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists mainly of nerves, which are enclosed bundles of the long fibers or axons, that connect the CNS to every other part of the body. Nerves that transmit signals from the brain are called motor nerves or efferent nerves, while those nerves that transmit information from the body to the CNS are called sensory nerves or afferent. Spinal nerves are mixed nerves that serve both functions. The PNS is divided into three separate subsystems, the somatic, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems. Somatic nerves mediate voluntary movement" (my bold). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervous_system

"The somatic nervous system (SNS), or voluntary nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of body movements via skeletal muscles" (my bold). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_nervous_system

A voluntary action is one done by choice, i.e. volitionally. 

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3 hours ago, merjet said:

Somatic nerves mediate voluntary movement

As some clarity to the scientific fact here, it isn't to say that philosophy pertaining to free will is dependent on neuroscience. Voluntary movement, essentially locomotion, is an everyday observable fact. Or whatever you call it. Those are the movements that scientists talk about in this context. If anything, because of the context, and the greater amount of knowledge involved than Rand about animal behavior and neuroscience, it is perfectly advisable to use a different and better definition. Locomotion cannot be explained by simple stimuli or reflexes, not even on the neural level. It is an active process, not a reactive process, so voluntary is an effective (and therefore true) way to talk about locomotion. It doesn't invalidate anything she said about conceptual consciousness, and should even help distinguish why it is that a conceptual volition is so much more powerful than a concrete bound volition. 

 

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21 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

the anthropomorphic explanation continues to provide the most salient grasp. 

I agree to the extent "anthropomorphic" means attributing human attributes to animals when based in reality. Humans perceive, pay attention selectively,  locomote, and otherwise move body parts. So do other animals. Identifying the similarities and differences is pertinent. Identifying similarities is not cavalier anthropomorphism. Despite whYNOT's wild accusations, nobody here has attributed a human-like volitional conceptual consciousness to other animals.

Ayn Rand claimed that man has a volitional consciousness (VoS and Galt's speech). Her saying a volitional conceptual consciousness would have been more accurate, and construing her claim as 'nonhuman animals have no volitional capacity whatever' is absurd. For example, a lion or other cat scans its surroundings, notices some movement in its peripheral vision, and then turns it head to bring where the movement occurred into focus. That is moving part of its body to selectively pay attention to identify whatever moved. A fox or a jackal moving its ears to better pay attention to where a sound came from and what made it is a similar kind of volitional action.

   

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Locomotion cannot be explained by simple stimuli or reflexes, not even on the neural level. It is an active process, not a reactive process, so voluntary is an effective (and therefore true) way to talk about locomotion. It doesn't invalidate anything she said about conceptual consciousness, and should even help distinguish why it is that a conceptual volition is so much more powerful than a concrete bound volition. 

It should also help us to acknowledge the extent of concrete bound  volition (to percepts rather than concepts), which I take the lion or cat moving its head and the fox or jackal moving its ears to be. 

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And still, "physical" volition persists (as the argument for animal volition). Which was entirely covered, when one understands her, by self-generated, self-directed action - goal directed action - self-initiated motion - by Rand. 

The actions to life which every life-form has and must have, by definition.

So what "volition" is left to mankind, one which distinguishes his nature apart? 

Using volition for every act by any creature (like a Covid virus attaching itself to a host) devalues the concept of "volition" and makes it mundane. Then:

'Equality' of all living things, all under equal 'volition'. Which in practice inverts to equal determinism.

THIS is the form of the concrete-bound, anti-metaphysical assault on man's volitional consciousness, and one effect of growing skepticism, determinism and anti-individualism.

Edited by whYNOT
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1 hour ago, merjet said:

 Her saying a volitional conceptual consciousness would have been more accurate, and construing her claim as 'nonhuman animals have no volitional capacity whatever' is absurd. For example, a lion or other cat scans its surroundings, notices some movement in its peripheral vision, and then turns it head to bring where the movement occurred into focus. That is moving part of its . 

If any reader of Rand doesn't get "goal directed action" for including lions and cats, and covering -all- the rest, and thence take all physical motions of life as metaphysically given, then yes, he is going to want every specific instance/action, one by one, of animal and human motion addressed and explained. And claim every one as - volitional. Why did the zebra cross the road? Why did the hawk fly up and not dive down?

Take that, e.g. animal turning its head, as granted, given and explained by a goal-directed action according to its nature - and move on. Insist on blanket volition/free will for every life-form and these arguments become extended into the ridiculous.

 

Edited by whYNOT
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27 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Using volition for every act by any creature (like a Covid virus attaching itself to a host) devalues the concept of "volition" and makes it mundane.

 

5 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

every specific instance/action, one by one, of animal motion addressed and explained. And claim every one as - volitional.

Nobody else here has claimed such nonsense. You just fabricated it on another of your irrational rants. 

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Despite whYNOT's wild accusations, nobody here has attributed a human-like volitional conceptual consciousness to other animals.

 

Nobody here, maybe. But who's "here" is not everybody elsewhere. Anthropomorphism is pretty rife in articulated attitudes, tales and movies, etc, and sometimes it is understandable: "Look, they do -this- just like we do!" (- Feel pain, mate for life (a few), care for their cubs, hunt for their food, etc,etc.) but is a naturalist fallacy projected onto animals from human behaviors and subjectivity.

And you badly misrepresent me. I have never accused anyone of attributing a volitional consciousness onto animals. Of course, not. Just of attributing 'animal volition' onto animals, whatever that's supposed to mean (action-orientated, it simply turned out: they move too...).

Edited by whYNOT
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17 minutes ago, merjet said:

 

Nobody else here has claimed such nonsense. You just fabricated it on another of your irrational rants. 

Nothing of this topic and ideas exist in isolation from other ideas. Look outside of the box.

 

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2 hours ago, merjet said:

It should also help us to acknowledge the extent of concrete bound  volition (to percepts rather than concepts), which I take the lion or cat moving its head and the fox or jackal moving its ears to be. 

Or to think of it another way, when people refuse to think conceptually, they become concrete bound, more animal like. They don't lose their capacity to make choices, but their ability to make choices is wildly reduced and diminished.

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On 6/19/2021 at 7:13 AM, whYNOT said:

Volition, n.: Exercise of the will; power of willing.

 

The dullest, most extreme concrete-bound person knows that he is 'exercising his will' (and his physicality), and knows the outcome, when he violently attacks someone, murdering them. He might not understand much, but he knows he was responsible. He has awareness of his guilt.

In contrast, does the lion premeditate: "I am willing my actions to kill that other lion"? Knowing in advance his intended act and the probable effect afterwards?

He simply attacks, that's his nature.

The man goes to prison for premeditated murder. The lion, we accept, is only doing what comes naturally. (By some instinctive response, over a lioness or territory or over a carcass, one might surmise).

Perhaps the murderer would try justify in self-defense: "I just acted! (identical to lions in the wild) - I didn't know what I was doing, so I should be exonerated just like you do with wild animals".

So no. Everyone ¬implicitly¬ understands that animals don't have volition, the power of willing, nor have the conception of outcomes of their acts. Everyone knows every human has, and must be judged only by that standard, whether he is conceptual-minded or not.

No one can seriously advocate judging a man and an animal by the same moral standards, let alone, legal. By logic, if one attributes 'physical' volition (self-initiated motion) to animal and man, one should. This blending of volition among the species, including men and animals equally, also doesn't do any favors for either.

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