Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

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mattb
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Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby mattb » Mon May 01, 2017 1:28 pm

Clearly the human animal's abilities and perceptions have come together in a unique way for our success. And evolution tells us our consciousness is a product of the body and brain working together for our survival in an evolutionary niche, as with all animals. However most discussions of consciousness tell us human consciousness is special, even privileged and somehow removed from the rest of the animal kingdom, as if humans possess some sort of X-factor.

In recent years nearly every edition of my New Scientist describes another experiment suggesting something that was previously identified as a unique feature of human consciousness can be found in other animals to some extent (i.e. mirror recognition, meta tool use, abstract thought, perception of time, moral behaviour, culture, empathy and even cruelty).

So isn't the starting point that human consciousness sits above the rest of the animal kingdom, (still common amongst scientific community) something of a hangover from Christianity which taught only humans have souls, and downgraded the rest of the animal kingdom to just 'part of the scenery' behind our existence?

(I wrote a long-ish piece on this here https://www.theideastring.com/a-breed-apart/)

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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby Gord » Tue May 02, 2017 9:50 am

I agree, it's never sounded right to me that consciousness is somehow a purely human condition. It seems to be different for different creatures. If humans possess specific features of consciousness that other animals don't have, there are probably other kinds of consciousness that we do not possess which other animals do.

One aspect of this anthropocentric attitude is the way people often talk about humans being at the "top" of some evolutionary chart, or speak humans as "more evolved" when compared to other animals. That's not the way evolution work, however; evolution doesn't have a "top", and since we've all been evolving from an original ancestor species, we're all equally "evolved" insofar as our predecessors stretch back an equal length of time.
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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Tue May 02, 2017 10:31 am

Whenever someone says "we've all evolved to this point together" I'm reminded of my cousins...
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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby Gord » Wed May 03, 2017 12:17 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Whenever someone says "we've all evolved to this point together" I'm reminded of my cousins...

Never forget what you're related to! :P
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Wed May 03, 2017 12:22 am

Gord wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Whenever someone says "we've all evolved to this point together" I'm reminded of my cousins...

Never forget what you're related to! :P

Protozoans have asked me not to make a comparison. :oops:
Chachacha wrote:"Oh, thweet mythtery of wife, at waft I've found you!"

WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby Gord » Wed May 03, 2017 12:50 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Gord wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Whenever someone says "we've all evolved to this point together" I'm reminded of my cousins...

Never forget what you're related to! :P

Protozoans have asked me not to make a comparison. :oops:

Those racist foreigners! Build the wall, build the wall!
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby scrmbldggs » Wed May 03, 2017 1:24 am

.

Lard, save me from your followers.

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Re: Is the X-Factor of human consciousness a religious hangover?

Postby mattb » Wed May 03, 2017 9:53 pm

Gord wrote:One aspect of this anthropocentric attitude is the way people often talk about humans being at the "top" of some evolutionary chart, or speak humans as "more evolved" when compared to other animals. That's not the way evolution work, however; evolution doesn't have a "top", and since we've all been evolving from an original ancestor species, we're all equally "evolved" insofar as our predecessors stretch back an equal length of time.


And it's interesting that in developing a measure of relative species intelligence we have the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-to-body_mass_ratio, which doesn't have humans topping the charts, so there's a more sophisticated variant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encephalization_quotient.

I'm not qualified to debate the Maths or science behind either, but when creating the second I'll bet there's a temptation for people to think "This new formula must be more correct, because humans are at the top now"!


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