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    (Original post by nolongerhearthemusic)
    You're defining 'superior' in human terms. You would, because you are a human. If you defined superior in terms of how successful the organism is at surviving extreme environments and reproducing extremely quickly, you would have to say that bacteria were superior to us. We're going to assume that humans are superior because we are humans.
    Agreed. Given that we are humans here, and other species can't join in the debate, my human definition of superiority wins. There are some attributes that are clearly more advanced in evolutionary terms than others. Language is one such attribute.

    I agree that there are no absolute standards with which to measure superiority (which is just a word afterall), but I strongely disagree that means we are resigned to a relativistic stance whereby we cannot use common sense and reason to state that humans are the superior, dominant, most advanced species. They clearly are.
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    (Original post by nolongerhearthemusic)
    You're defining 'superior' in human terms. You would, because you are a human. If you defined superior in terms of how successful the organism is at surviving extreme environments and reproducing extremely quickly, you would have to say that bacteria were superior to us. We're going to assume that humans are superior because we are humans.
    Well, if you think about it our language allows us to communicate ideas so that we can build things that enables us to survive in extreme environments. And as we see we reproduce quickly enough, the planet is full of us, and if it gets too full it's not beneficial for the human species, so therefor it's not necessary to reproduce faster. Humans can live in the dessert, in antarctic, we can even walk on the moon. We are able to live in many different extreme environments, so I think in that sense you could maybe still call us superior.
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    (Original post by evaki)
    Speaking of which, why did we develop our language like we did anyway? Does anyone know? From what I've heard no ones been able to find the origin of our language, I have the impression it was suddenly just there.
    (Not asking to criticize, I'm simply interested in knowing)
    There are books and books and books on the subject. I'm no expert but here's an extract which, if you're interested should allow you to develop ideas and read up further


    There are many different possible "adaptationist" explanations for the evolution of language. For instance, perhaps there was a need for improved communication between hunters at some point in the history of Homo sapiens, and oral expressions were simply the optimal way to solve the problem. More plausibly (or at least more importantly), sharing information between individuals probably conferred an extremely major advantage: groups of humans with language, or even "proto-language", could share a wealth of information about local hunting conditions, food supplies, poisonous plants, or the weather. It would be extremely beneficial to the survival of all members of the tribe if only one had to encounter a poisonous plant, rather than each member having to rediscover the fact for himself!

    It is also simple to imagine a series of "oral gestures", perhaps indicating the presence of an animal to another person by imitating the animal's cries. Steven Pinker suggests in his book The Language Instinct, "Perhaps a set of quasi-referential calls . . . came under the voluntary control of the cerebral cortex [which controls language], and came to be produced in combination for complicated events; the ability to analyze combinations of calls was then applied to the parts of each call" (p. 352).

    Another possible source of selection pressure towards better linguistic abilities is the social group. Social interactions between people with widely divergent or conflicting interests "make formidable and ever-escalating demands on cognition" (Ibid, p.368). Increasing cognitive ability could easily have focused on the improvement of language as well, since so many social interactions depend on effective persuasion.
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    (Original post by Reflexive)
    Agreed. Given that we are humans here, and other species can't join in the debate, my human definition of superiority wins. There are some attributes that are clearly more advanced in evolutionary terms than others. Language is one such attribute.

    I agree that there are no absolute standards with which to measure superiority (which is just a word afterall), but I strongely disagree that means we are resigned to a relativistic stance whereby we cannot use common sense and reason to state that humans are the superior, dominant, most advanced species. They clearly are.
    If you measure superiority in that sense, then we are flagrantly at the top in that sense. We only have a few unique features which enabled us to be so proficient at wielding tools, which at length led into the ability to develop technology etc., which include opposible thumbs, the ability to twist our forearms [pronation / supination], our bipedal gait and our very nice brain. If you consider visual acuity, muscle mass, nutritive efficiency blah blah blah, I'm sure humans would get boyed quite easily by other animals.
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    humans are best because the things we are good at are the most important
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    (Original post by cowsgoquack)
    There are books and books and books on the subject. I'm no expert but here's an extract which, if you're interested should allow you to develop ideas and read up further


    There are many different possible "adaptationist" explanations for the evolution of language. For instance, perhaps there was a need for improved communication between hunters at some point in the history of Homo sapiens, and oral expressions were simply the optimal way to solve the problem. More plausibly (or at least more importantly), sharing information between individuals probably conferred an extremely major advantage: groups of humans with language, or even "proto-language", could share a wealth of information about local hunting conditions, food supplies, poisonous plants, or the weather. It would be extremely beneficial to the survival of all members of the tribe if only one had to encounter a poisonous plant, rather than each member having to rediscover the fact for himself!

    It is also simple to imagine a series of "oral gestures", perhaps indicating the presence of an animal to another person by imitating the animal's cries. Steven Pinker suggests in his book The Language Instinct, "Perhaps a set of quasi-referential calls . . . came under the voluntary control of the cerebral cortex [which controls language], and came to be produced in combination for complicated events; the ability to analyze combinations of calls was then applied to the parts of each call" (p. 352).

    Another possible source of selection pressure towards better linguistic abilities is the social group. Social interactions between people with widely divergent or conflicting interests "make formidable and ever-escalating demands on cognition" (Ibid, p.368). Increasing cognitive ability could easily have focused on the improvement of language as well, since so many social interactions depend on effective persuasion.
    Why not have another viewpoint by Steven Jay Gould

    Some people, Stephen Jay Gould most prominent among them, believe language to be the byproduct of other evolutionary processes, not a special adaptation that arose by ordinary natural selection acting on mutations. As Gould puts it, "Natural selection made the human brain big, but most of our mental properties and potentials may be spandrels - that is, nonadaptive side consequences of building a device with such structural complexity" (The Pleasures of Pluralism , p.11). In other words, our ancestors encountered environments which required the type of advanced reasoning only provided by a larger brain; however, language capability was not one of those functions for which the brain was selected. Instead, language is a result of exapting neural structures formerly used for other functions: "Many, if not most, universal behaviors [including language] are probably spandrels, often co-opted later in human history for important secondary functions" (Ibid).

    This view has been reinforced by the famous linguist Noam Chomsky, who argues that the brain's language capability cannot be explained in terms of natural selection. He attempts to explain the brain not through biology or engineering principles, but instead through the effects of physical laws. According to Chomsky, there may be unexpected emergent physical properties associated with the specific structure of the brain that explain language.
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    (Original post by evaki)
    I agree with you, I believe that humans are superior, because of the same reasons you specified. (although I can point out that many scientists study on the language of different animals, though they may not be as complex as ours)
    But do would you also then believe that if it should happen that some virus killed all of us then some other animals would after some hundreds of millions years have evolved into something similar to us? At least when it comes to language? Or would they probably just continue in random patterns adapting to the circumstances and just becoming the best in their fields, which does not necessarily mean they need language?

    Speaking of which, why did we develop our language like we did anyway? Does anyone know? From what I've heard no ones been able to find the origin of our language, I have the impression it was suddenly just there.
    (Not asking to criticize, I'm simply interested in knowing)
    That's a good point, and that's the absolute crux of evolution for me. Because as I said I think language is what clearly seperates us from other species. It's why are brains are much more developed because language requires such brain power. I guess evolutionists would say , if we died out, that other species would develop language like ours over millions of years. In terms of how it developed, who knows. I think if that question could be answered (if it already hasn't been) then we will know the key link that seperates us.
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    (Original post by cowsgoquack)
    There are books and books and books on the subject. I'm no expert but here's an extract which, if you're interested should allow you to develop ideas and read up further


    There are many different possible "adaptationist" explanations for the evolution of language. For instance, perhaps there was a need for improved communication between hunters at some point in the history of Homo sapiens, and oral expressions were simply the optimal way to solve the problem. More plausibly (or at least more importantly), sharing information between individuals probably conferred an extremely major advantage: groups of humans with language, or even "proto-language", could share a wealth of information about local hunting conditions, food supplies, poisonous plants, or the weather. It would be extremely beneficial to the survival of all members of the tribe if only one had to encounter a poisonous plant, rather than each member having to rediscover the fact for himself!

    It is also simple to imagine a series of "oral gestures", perhaps indicating the presence of an animal to another person by imitating the animal's cries. Steven Pinker suggests in his book The Language Instinct, "Perhaps a set of quasi-referential calls . . . came under the voluntary control of the cerebral cortex [which controls language], and came to be produced in combination for complicated events; the ability to analyze combinations of calls was then applied to the parts of each call" (p. 352).

    Another possible source of selection pressure towards better linguistic abilities is the social group. Social interactions between people with widely divergent or conflicting interests "make formidable and ever-escalating demands on cognition" (Ibid, p.368). Increasing cognitive ability could easily have focused on the improvement of language as well, since so many social interactions depend on effective persuasion.
    That's interesting enough, but I could have come to those conclusions myself just by watching animals. This is pretty much the way they communicate, do you know of anything that links the stage we can observe in animals to where we are at now?
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    other animals do have languages

    only thing that make us stand out is out thumbs
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    Language is definitely the most interesting and special thing about humans. I like the Steven Jay Gould explanation that it's a by-product of something else. So interesting!
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    (Original post by Reflexive)
    That's a good point, and that's the absolute crux of evolution for me. Because as I said I think language is what clearly seperates us from other species. It's why are brains are much more developed because language requires such brain power. I guess evolutionists would say , if we died out, that other species would develop language like ours over millions of years. In terms of how it developed, who knows. I think if that question could be answered (if it already hasn't been) then we will know the key link that seperates us.
    Actually it may surprise you to know that there is a possibility you are inverting cause and effect. The emboldened segment suggests that we required language [cause] and hence we have well developed brains [effect]. Read the excerpt of my post above; it suggests that the cause was our developed brains, and the [aleatory] effect was language.
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    "For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then one day, something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learnt to talk"

    Pink Floyd quote I had to get in there.

    Also, it raises the point that to imagine, be creative, and have a sense of 'me' we require language. If it's an evolutionary by-product, its a pretty damn handy one. All that makes us human would seem to be an evolutionary mistake. Somehow, I don't buy that.
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    Do we get to hear about 'memes' next? I can't wait :p:
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    (Original post by robinson999)
    other animals do have languages

    only thing that make us stand out is out thumbs
    haha, if Apes had computers I'm guessing they'd neg rep you right now :p:
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    (Original post by n1r4v)
    Actually it may surprise you to know that there is a possibility you are inverting cause and effect. The emboldened segment suggests that we required language [cause] and hence we have well developed brains [effect]. Read the excerpt of my post above; it suggests that the cause was our developed brains, and the [aleatory] effect was language.
    There is just as likely a possibility that you are inverting cause and effect too.
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    (Original post by evaki)
    haha, if Apes had computers I'm guessing they'd neg rep you right now :p:
    it could be if they did
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    (Original post by Reflexive)
    evolutionary mistake


    This picture is relevant on two levels.
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    (Original post by Reflexive)
    There is just as likely a possibility that you are inverting cause and effect too.
    :shifty: :doh:

    Okay I will explain to you nicely.

    I said that there is a possibility you are inverting cause and effect. Hence there is a possibility that you were right. Hence your comment is irrelevant and useless. If I said you DEFINITELY inverted cause and effect, then your comment would have some use. Otherwise, it does not.
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    (Original post by n1r4v)
    :shifty: :doh:

    Okay I will explain to you nicely.

    I said that there is a possibility you are inverting cause and effect. Hence there is a possibility that you were right. Hence your comment is irrelevant and useless. If I said you DEFINITELY inverted cause and effect, then your comment would have some use. Otherwise, it does not.
    ahaha
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    (Original post by n1r4v)
    :shifty: :doh:

    Okay I will explain to you nicely.

    I said that there is a possibility you are inverting cause and effect. Hence there is a possibility that you were right. Hence your comment is irrelevant and useless. If I said you DEFINITELY inverted cause and effect, then your comment would have some use. Otherwise, it does not.
    Don't patronise me. You wrote 'Read the excerpt of my post above; it suggests that the cause was our developed brains, and the [aleatory] effect was language.'. I was merely pointing out that the excerpt does nothing to sway cause and effect one way or the other.
 
 
 
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