Back to David's theory of evolution of abstract thought (Evolution)

by dhw, Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 08:01 (35 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A thought experiment about abstract (concrete) thinking using this study:
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-tropical-songbirds-survive-drought.html

DAVID: The authors give no proposed reasoning by birds for this observation. It could be reasoned the birds knew food would be scarce so they purposely reduced their reproductive activity for less mouths to feed. That is abstract/conceptual thinking. OR with the drought causing food scarcity energy levels were reduced in the parents and they didn't feel like expending the energy sex required. A concrete reaction to the senses in their bodies. Apply that to bees biting leaves to produce earlier flowering. Perhaps my thinking will become obvious.

dhw: Not to me, I’m afraid. I understand your alternative explanations for the birds, but your first, “abstract” version raises the question of how the birds knew that food was going to be scarce.

DAVID: They didn't 'know' the future. I apologize, I misspoke. I meant to say they experienced food scarcity, ate less, and therefore had less sex. Reduction in reproduction did not require conceptualization.

That was the second hypothesis, which was meant to illustrate concrete thinking. The first, crystal-gazing one was meant to illustrate abstract thinking.

dhw: The first bee OBSERVED the flowering of the bitten plant. She didn’t have a crystal ball. She simply remembered what she had done and linked concrete cause to concrete effect, although without doubt either she or her buddies would have tried again a few times before it became an established strategy. I am still bewildered by your belief that leaf-biting demands “the same degree of conceptual thought that we use”, and I stand by the previous article’s definition of concrete as “particulars” and abstract as “universals”. But regardless of definitions I also stand by my belief that our fellow animals, birds and insects are perfectly capable of linking concrete cause to concrete effect. We had agreed to differ on this, so I don’t know why you have reopened the discussion.

DAVID: Because as in the bold, I am convinced conceptual thought is required for the bees. And I'll keep trying to convince you, when I see other examples to make the point.

Please don’t. We have already agreed that regardless of definitions, the difference between us is that you do not think bees are intelligent enough to link concrete cause to concrete effect, whereas I do.


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