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Re: [ontolog-forum] Fruit fly emotions mimic human emotions - ontology d

To: Thomas Johnston <tmj44p@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: William Frank <williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 21 May 2015 18:41:33 -0400
Message-id: <CALuUwtCMviFQMxw324jzgYd7C6GuagZvuzauGQJbTA3f3PXS+g@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

I assume everyone in the forum is well aware of what 'anthropomorphism' means: a human is attributing to some other species some of the same characteristics that this human attributes to all or most other humans.   

My point is a **deep** point that takes much care to consider, though it is a deep point that the Fang people of Gabon seem to have been very clear about:

 they suggest that 'anthropomorphism' is a kind of faulty reasoning is *itself* very sloppy thinking, as it seems to assume that humans are **right** in attributing these attributes to each other.

As soon as one human attributes to *any other entity* feelings of the kind he himself experiences, he is doing so **by analogy** with his own behaviors and the feelings or other internal states he associates with them.    This 'analogizing' starts the very second we empathize with another.   Over different periods of history and differenent cutures,  people may spread their empathy further afield,  or more narrowly.  Because of greater biological similarlites, within species, analogies are likely to be more reasonable, but there may be considerable intra-species differences between individuals, and indeed there will be very strong fundamental valid analogies among related species.    If one thinks as the 'anti-anthropomorphists' do, that any analogies *across* species are ipso facto invalid, then they better explain why **within** a species, they are ok.   

Biologically, the cross species comparisions between say dogs and people will be very similar to intra species among people.   will find similar biological mechanisms at work when both people and dogs are afraid (or, if you like 'afraid', since only YOU know what 'afraid' means to YOU.).  In terms of how people effectively communicate say sadness to each other, it is not by human languages, so much as it is by gestrures and sounds that are similar even in Grelag geese. (When they loose there mates, they and isolate themselves and cover their heads with their wings sometimes for several days). Either within *or* across species, reasoning by analogy is likely to be full of mistakes, fraught with logical problems, (see Stanford Encyclopdia of Philosophy, for example) for all kinds of reasons, but being only partly right, and full of mistakes, is true of most human reasoning, so is no reason to throw it out, only to be cautious and careful.  Or, again,  if we DO throw it out, we have to throw it ALL the way out, and become behaiviorists.

Also, to say, as you did, that the protagonists can communicate because they are both human is false, in that not knowing Fang, I could not speak with them.  Of course, some people who don't know Fang might be able to learn it, but not all people will.  It is also fallacious when you seem to imply (else, why would you have bothered to make the statement, that even if it WERE True, then the contrary, that if they were NOT both human, they could not communicate, would also be true.  This is the fallacy of the converse, or mistaking sufficient conditions for necessary ones.   

So, for you to tell me what 'we' all know and do,  leads me to think of Tonto, and  'who's we, white man?'

From: William Frank [mailto:williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 2:23 PM
To: Thomas Johnston; [ontolog-forum]
Cc: Rich Cooper
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Fruit fly emotions mimic human emotions - ontology discovery possible?
On 'anthropomorphism", a doubtful concept.  
Claiming that we have no way of 'knowing' what other species experience assumes we have a special relationship with all human beings, and that we CAN know what THEY all feel and think, but only them.   I think we can, too, know what other people must be feeling, except that we can know in the very SAME way what dogs feel, just not to the same degree of accuracy.  Believing that 'anthropomorphism' is a mistake is a better idea than familyism, tribalism, nationalism, sexism or racism, but I can see no more reason for speciesism to be the place to draw a hard line than any of the others.   I am pretty sure I can know what my brother feels and my friends feel, better than I can know what some other people feel.

The Happiness of the Chimpanzee - A Gabon Fable

The two hunters Ntino and Iko were strolling one day through the forest.  They came across some chimpanzees who were playing in the branches of a mulemba tree. “Look at the chimpanzees,” Nitino said.  “Look how easily they swing through the branches.  This is the happiness of the chimpanzee.”
“How can you know?” Iko said.  “You are not a chimpanzee. How can you know if it is happy?” “But you are not me,” Ntino said.  How can you know if I can know the happiness of the chimpanzee?”
Wisdom and Initiation in Gabon - A Philosophical Analysis of Fang Tales and Legends - Bonaventure Mve Ondo

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