November 27, 2007
Bill the Splut linked to a MetaFilter article on whether dogs think. This was my response on his comments forum:
Don't have time now to read through the whole MeFi thing on Animals and Consciousness... but...
I guess my bar for "conscious" might be lower than for some people: basically, being sophisticated enough to have a mental map of your surroundings, and put your self in that map, and this is a standard many mammals live up to.
The language issue gets into some odd philosophical areas (I'm rereading a great compilation for a UU church discussion group, "The Mind's I", so this stuff is on my mind as of late.) So one way to get animals to communicate is through the use of plastic colored chips, arranging them in certain orders to mean certain things, and you can even see animals understanding a rough grammar with them. The thing is, you can get college students to do the same thing, but when you talk with them after, they haven't necessarily made the connection to language, for them it's just arranging chips!
Or, maybe I should lower the bar for this too and say that's all language is, a fancy arranging of plastic colored chips.
There's certainly a bit of self-serving-ness in the clear splits of people vs animals. People don't want to be forced to say "yes, I eat animals, and some of those animals might have feelings and not want to be eaten, but that's the way the universe is set up, and I'm not willing to confront that." Or even "we will give humans special consideration over other animals (not eating them, 'human' rights in general) not because humans are that unique, but because we're humans and it's human to play favorites like that".
Guerrilla Project of the Moment
Underground group Untergunther broke into the Panthéon's and fixed its historic clock which had been rusting and rotting since the 1960s.
The group and its parent UX sound so cool:
Klausmann and his crew are connaisseurs of the Parisian underworld. Since the 1990s they have restored crypts, staged readings and plays in monuments at night, and organised rock concerts in quarries. The network was unknown to the authorities until 2004, when the police discovered an underground cinema, complete with bar and restaurant, under the Seine. They have tried to track them down ever since.It's like "Fight Club" done right.