Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Saturday, September 18, 2021, 08:19 (35 days ago) @ David Turell

Opossums
dhw: […] Oh good heavens, how would humans survive if the opossum didn’t know how to feign death?

DAVID: As usual you forget the importance of organized ecosystems. The possum has a role in its system.

Every organism has a role in every ecosystem, and according to you, every ecosystem is/was “part of the goal of evolving humans” and their food. I’m simply amazed at the idea of your God planning the opossum’s strategy 3.8 billion years ago and putting the programme into the first cells – along with programmes for every other life form and strategy for the rest of life’s history. And I find it equally gob-smacking to think of him popping in to give courses or to plant instructions for every innovation and strategy the moment his crystal ball tells him what’s coming. And I remain utterly bemused by the idea that every life form and strategy throughout the whole history of life, right from the start, including opossums feigning death, was geared to the production and feeding of humans.

dhw: The authors wrote: “We now have solid evidence of culture, morality, rationality, and even rudimentary forms of linguistic communication.” Our body form and our brains can also be traced back to our animal ancestors. In that sense we are NOT exceptional. But the degree to which we have developed our brains, our culture, our morality, our rationality and our language do make us exceptional. Why do so many people only see things in terms of left or right, black or white, right or wrong? This blinkered approach is, of course, what leads to the worst forms of extremism. NB: I know you well enough to be certain that you show respect and even love for your animals, and you are no extremist. I am simply pointing out the dangers of the blinkered approach.

DAVID: So you agree we are exceptional.

dhw: I’ve just said so. […] I am calling for a balanced view, so why have you picked on only one part of the balance?

DAVID: Our bodies are animal, but the ability of our brains is exceptional. Are animals moral? Some act that way by our interpretation/ standards. As for language, they make noises some of which have meanings. So?

I’ve just explained that we have inherited x, y and z from our animal ancestors, and in that respect we are NOT exceptional, but the way we have developed them does make us exceptional. I simply appealed for a balanced view. What are we arguing about?


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