I am a cat

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helios, one day we may have a new species of intelligent species that will someday challenge our grip on the world. It will be know as the " war between apes".

We just need to extensively train apes to have a theory of mind, just as young children soon develop.

@chris
What the hell was that?

Try watching that while high. (I'm not though)
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Pff, cats don't require burden of proofaroo.
Cats clearly communicate and behave differently with other cats than they do with humans.
This may only imply that cats can treat members of their own species differently, or even that they understand the difference between species. Not necessarily that they understand themselves as members of that same species.
@chrisname
Man. That video tripped me out without any drugs.

I think the question about whether or not cats (or other animals) are self-aware is an impossible question to answer, and therefore irrelevant. Cats are as self-aware as you make them to be when you infer a conscience on to them. Hell, other people are only as self aware as you make them out to be.
I certainly like to believe my dog is self-aware; knows who I am and loves me. And i'll continue believing that regardless of what any studies tell me because I take solace in it.
I honestly don't understand what the problem is with animals being (amazingly complex) furry robots that respond to stimuli. It's like that somehow makes them worth less than if they were all Descartes reincarnated. Is it so hard to love something for what it is without projecting oneself onto it?
Because they are capable of having (relatively-) unique personality. A lot of people don't/can't see it. I can, but maybe that's because I've had at least one cat as a family pet my entire life and have cared for a total of 6.
I honestly don't understand what the problem is with animals being (amazingly complex) furry robots that respond to stimuli.


I'm guessing you never had a pet? Or if you did you were never really close to it?

Cheraphy is right. Cats and dogs definitely have unique personalities... and are definitely individualistic. Sure they all have some similar behaviors (just as all humans do), but each one is different.

Whether or not they are aware they are a cat/dog seems like a moot point to me.

Is it so hard to love something for what it is without projecting oneself onto it?


It's a little arrogant to think that humans are the only species with complex emotions, don't you think?

You don't have to project anything onto your pets. In fact, if let them project onto you it gets pretty easy to see their individual personality.
Ignoring the fact that saying an animal has a personality is an oxymoron, they can have a personality and still be essentially automata. Personality is just the sum of a person's characteristics and behaviours. All cats and dogs don't have the exact same brain structure and DNA, and didn't grow up in the exact same environment, so naturally the characteristics of their behaviour will be different, which we call having a "personality".
All cats and dogs don't have the exact same brain structure and DNA, and didn't grow up in the exact same environment, so naturally the characteristics of their behaviour will be different, which we call having a "personality".


Exactly.

That's no different from how you'd describe personality in humans, is it not?
closed account (Dy7SLyTq)
we should so start talking about scroedingir (probably didnt spell it right :P oh well). He did(n't) kill his cat
Disch wrote:
That's no different from how you'd describe personality in humans, is it not?

It is, because an animal's "personality" is evident simply in how they react to stimuli. Humans also differ in their reactions to stimuli, but on top of that we have beliefs and we make decisions about the world that aren't reactionary, and other things that go beyond simple biological and environmental differences. Humans can alter their personalities themselves, animals can't; animals' personalities can only be trained by implicit learning.

Of course, humans are an animal; when I say animals I really mean non-human animals. Also, some of the more intelligent animals have more of a personality than others and come closer to having a human personality. Dolphins and some higher primates for example.

Exactly.

So we're agreed that they can have a pseudo-personality and still be complex biological automata, then?
Humans also differ in their reactions to stimuli, but on top of that we have beliefs and we make decisions about the world that aren't reactionary


I'd argue that cats can do that too. A cat can choose to be affectionate, or it can choose to be mischievous/playful. It is fully capable of initiating those types of interactions and is not merely responding to a human triggering that behavior in them.

It's even easier to see this characteristic in dogs, as they illustrate a clear emotional attachment with their owners.

and other things that go beyond simple biological and environmental differences.


As a believer of Deterministic Agnosticism, I submit to you that there is absolutely nothing about human behavior that does not trace back to biological or environmental factors.

Everything we do is determined by our genetic makeup and our life experiences.

Humans can alter their personalities themselves, animals can't;


We alter our personalities by observing and evaluating other people's response to us.

Animals do this, too. A cat that was raised in a litter of kittens will do a better job of "getting along" with other cats than one that was raised by humans. Kittens, like human children, interact with each other to learn how to be 'social'.

Adult cats do it too. Adult cats learn to be more vocal around humans when they want something because they recognize that we listen to them when they meow. Whereas they are mostly silent around other cats.

So we're agreed that they can have a pseudo-personality and still be complex biological automata, then?


Sort of. I don't see what's "pseudo" about it.
closed account (Dy7SLyTq)
Animals do this, too. A cat that was raised in a litter of kittens will do a better job of "getting along" with other cats than one that was raised by humans. Kittens, like human children, interact with each other to learn how to be 'social'.Adult cats do it too. Adult cats learn to be more vocal around humans when they want something because they recognize that we listen to them when they meow. Whereas they are mostly silent around other cats.


that is true. i have two cats. one was raised with other cats and the other was raised by humans. the human one is really outgoing and calm with strangers, but doesnt like to "talk" to the other cat. whereas the other one will only meow when it sees me going to the garage. (it knows thats where the food is)
Cats and dogs definitely have unique personalities...
This is compatible with lack of self-awareness, as chrisname said.

It's a little arrogant to think that humans are the only species with complex emotions
No one is saying that.

In fact, if let them project onto you it gets pretty easy to see their individual personality.
That's exactly what happens when you project onto other things.
Projection is a psychological phenomenon whereby one's perception of something changes to reflect one's own condition in some way, without actually changing the object in question. The pet won't project something onto you, and even if it did, you wouldn't be able to perceive it. For example, you might become attached to the animal and begin to interpret certain reactions from it as affectionate, when in fact they're entirely meaningless.
Now, again, I'm not saying animals don't have emotions. I'm saying we like to think the things we like like us back. We do it to inanimate objects as well as to other people, so why wouldn't we do it to other animals?

It is, because an animal's "personality" is evident simply in how they react to stimuli. Humans also differ in their reactions to stimuli, but on top of that we have beliefs and we make decisions about the world that aren't reactionary, and other things that go beyond simple biological and environmental differences. Humans can alter their personalities themselves, animals can't; animals' personalities can only be trained by implicit learning.
It's worth pointing out now that I don't any any proof that any of the things I call people are self-aware, since I can only observe their behavior. They could easily be P-zombies (extremely complex automata), for all I know.
That's why we have the mirror test and such to find out its cognitive abilities. Because we can't plug into the animal's brain to look at its thoughts.
Disch wrote:
I'd argue that cats can do that too. A cat can choose to be affectionate, or it can choose to be mischievous/playful. It is fully capable of initiating those types of interactions and is not merely responding to a human triggering that behavior in them.

It's even easier to see this characteristic in dogs, as they illustrate a clear emotional attachment with their owners.

If a cat or dog comes up to you for attention it does it out of a biological stimulus that lots of mammals have - the desire for physical contact with other mammals. A dog's emotional attachment to its owner is only instantaneous: a dog pines when you leave, is ashamed when you correct its behaviour and is excited when it sees you. When you've been away for a while, it doesn't sit up at night thinking about you and wondering what you're doing. It doesn't have any thoughts or feelings that are "uncaused". It only reacts to stimuli.

Also, animals don't hold beliefs and convictions about the world as humans do. Although here I feel like I'm getting into a moving-the-goalposts kind of argument, summed up best by this SMBC comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2867

As a believer of Deterministic Agnosticism, I submit to you that there is absolutely nothing about human behavior that does not trace back to biological or environmental factors.

I do think that biology and environment shape our personalities to a very high degree, but not completely. A person can decide to change their personality purely by choice, not only by conditioning (changing one's behaviour in response to others' behaviour) and certainly not genetically, and I don't think one could ever have enough information to be able to predict that event and its outcome, which determinism would require. Even having a full sequence of the person's DNA as well as the knowledge required to understand each and every gene and its effects on a person's psychology, as well as a list of every single event that has happened to them and how it affected them in every way, would not be enough, and this is ignoring the requirements of a computer (human or otherwise) that could process and integrate all of that information. You would even be hard-pressed to exactly predict a dog's behaviour in some situations.

Animals do this, too. A cat that was raised in a litter of kittens will do a better job of "getting along" with other cats than one that was raised by humans. Kittens, like human children, interact with each other to learn how to be 'social'.

Adult cats do it too. Adult cats learn to be more vocal around humans when they want something because they recognize that we listen to them when they meow. Whereas they are mostly silent around other cats.

This is all to do with conditioning and implicit learning, though. In my previous paragraph I argued that a human can decide to behave differently on a whim and a cat can't. If a cat changes its behaviour, it's because of changes in brain structure (e.g. brain damage to the frontal lobe leading to impulsiveness) or learning (e.g. repressing the impulse to scratch people because of the reaction that comes from it). I think that a human could change its personality without any learning or brain restructuring evident.
If a cat or dog comes up to you for attention it does it out of a biological stimulus that lots of mammals have - the desire for physical contact with other mammals.


Your point?

If I decide to eat chicken for dinner tonight I do so out of a biological stimulus that lots of mammals have - the desire to consume food for means of producing energy.

Making decisions implies free will. Free will implies consciousness. Just because you can explain the rationale behind a decision doesn't mean the decision is any less of a decision.

When you've been away for a while, [the dog] doesn't sit up at night thinking about you and wondering what you're doing. It doesn't have any thoughts or feelings that are "uncaused". It only reacts to stimuli.


These are awfully big assumptions. None of which you could possibly have any proof of. And all of which I would strongly disagree with based on my previous interactions with animals.

The fact of the matter is we don't know what thoughts go through a dog's head. But we do know they have thoughts (they are known to dream -- as are cats).

Dogs in particular have been known to remember specific people over very long periods of time (several years) of being apart. Whether they have occasional thoughts/memories of that person during that time is impossible to determine.

Also, animals don't hold beliefs and convictions about the world as humans do


I never claimed they do. They're physically, mentally, and culturally different. But that doesn't mean they aren't self aware.

Although here I feel like I'm getting into a moving-the-goalposts kind of argument, summed up best by this SMBC comic:


That SMBC comic kind of summarizes my point.

You are saying that just because animals do not think the same way we do, they are not self aware and/or are incapable of making decisions. I am saying that's utter nonsense.


====================================
RE: Determinism
A person can decide to change their personality purely by choice, not only by conditioning (changing one's behaviour in response to others' behaviour) and certainly not genetically


I disagree.

If you make a decision to do something, you do so because you've thought about the outcome of that decision and find it desirable. You're able to predict the outcome based on your previous experiences in similar situations.

Example:
I choose to use a oven mitt when removing a pizza tray from the oven because I know the pizza tray will be hot and it will burn me otherwise. I know this because I have burned myself on hot things in the past.

Had I never been burned before... and if nobody told me that hot things could burn me... I wouldn't know.

The only way you can know anything without prior experience is if its instinctive (read: genetic makeup).


Decisions are not random. There is no true randomness. If I make a decision to do something, and then do it... and then somehow time rewound and everything (including my thoughts/consciousness) was reverted back and I was confronted with the decision again.... I would make the exact same decision again. All the reasons I made the decision the first time are the same reasons I made it the second time.

It's completely deterministic.

and I don't think one could ever have enough information to be able to predict that event and its outcome, which determinism would require


Determinism doesn't require you understand all the factors that link the cause->effect relationship. It just requires that there is a cause->effect relationship.

I agree that how decisions are made is too complex a process to ever be fully understood and predicted. There are just way too many factors involved.

But that doesn't mean the cause->effect relationship isn't there. It's just incredibly complex.

In my previous paragraph I argued that a human can decide to behave differently on a whim and a cat can't.


Again, I disagree. You have no proof of that.

I have personally witnessed cats do some pretty random things that I couldn't explain.

I think that a human could change its personality without any learning or brain restructuring evident.


Nope. Changing your personality without a physical change requires conscious thought.

Conscious thought requires drawing from experience and anticipating future results.
Humans do things that biologically speaking make no sense. Most notably, the delay of satisfaction. A person might choose to spend long years studying a subject on the hope of one day employing that knowledge to support a good quality of life. An animal would instead eat whatever it can find at the time and try to save energy at times of food shortage. In mathematical terms, animals tend to converge to local maxima, while humans tend to converge to global maxima. This has, I think, a little less to do with our level of consciousness (whether we're self-aware and whatnot), and more to do with our problem solving abilities (planning etc.).
In that sense, we can and do modify our behavior, sometimes in ways possibly contrary to our, shall we say, biological imperative.
@ helios

I'm a little unsure how you can see the ability of foresight as "biologically making no sense". It makes plenty of sense to me.

Even if other animals don't do that (or at least not on the same scale that we do)... that doesn't mean it isn't intrinsic behavior in us.
There are many, many different living creatures in this world; humans are one type. Among the many types of creatures of Earth, many types of complex behavior can be observed. I think you would be surprised. The idea that humans are completely separate from the animal kingdom, and that "animals", as if we are not animals ourselves, necessarily lack these proposed concrete, human animal distinction qualifiers, is an old idea, that is proving to be untrue.
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