Saturday, February 19, 2011

Debunking Christianity: Thomas Jefferson in Defense of Mockery

John Loftus posted the following quote from an article written with intention of showing the Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian. Amen. An Owner of slaves? Yes. Adulterer? Yes. Christian? No cotton-picking-way. I realize the importance of the piece is to show that Christianity had little or nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence or the founding of our democracy in which at the beginning I would have only counted as 3/5 of a man anyway. Works for me. I'm not at all saying that Jefferson was evil (well more than anyone anyway) and unworthy of honor. Whether he knew it or not, Jefferson fulfilled God's purposes in his generation. We can find just as many quotes from the American Founding Fathers enshrining Biblical ethics and Christianity as we can denying them. Means nothing. But let's turn to the quote Loftus thought was important and blogged.

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Link
--Hat Tip: PZ Myers

By and large, I don't disagree with part of the quote Loftus used. I'm just amazed how upset people get when Christians use sarcasm and mockery to combat any concept that sets itself up against God. Almost as if Atheists say that they have the right to make fun of ideas they disagree with but we can't make fun and mock theirs. Some Christians even say they think it's wrong to do it. The things is the Prophet Elijah did it on Mt Carmel. I see nothing wrong with it myself. If you don't like to have your ideas put to the fire, keep them to yourself. There is a difference between mocking ideas and the people who hold them. I don't think it's right to belittle others no matter what they believe. I don't mind however responding in kind. Inconsistent? I think so. I'm working on that. God is helping me with that. I can tell a difference.

As I alluded to earlier, Loftus did not give the full quote:
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus."

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816

I disagree with Jefferson that no one has ever had a distinct idea of the Trinity. Jesus understand it. On top of that I don't think it bothered Peter, James, John, Paul, Luke, Matthew, Mark, or any of the writers of the New Testament. Just because you or Jefferson or I completely understand it does not make it false. One more time: The Bible says God is one. The Holy Spirit is God. The Son is God. The Father is God. One Being. Three Persons. A single being does not necessarily mean a single person. A rock has being but does not have person. God has being and three persons. A human being is a single being and one person.

Debunking Christianity: Thomas Jefferson in Defense of Mockery
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58 comments:

  1. What's a cat have? It's definitely more than a rock, and less than a human. 3/5th person?

    Please define "being" and "person" using more than just examples.

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  2. A cat is not a person. You can't even assign a percentage. You're mixing categories. A cat has being. The difference can also be seen as the difference between "what" and "who". You can ask what a cat or a rock is but you can't ask who a cat is or who a rock is without being considered for a straight jacket. It's possible for something to have being without person but impossible to have person without being. You can ask what Ryan Anderson is? You can ask who Ryan Anderson is? Both questions make sense. Beyond that looking up "being" and "person" in the dictionary shows different definition. We all know there is a different. My four year-old instinctively knows there is a difference. You do too. Personhood is what makes us human and distincts us from other living things on this planet - hopes, dreams, personality, intellect, personality, desire, will, and much more.

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  3. The animals I've known have had hopes, dreams, personality, intellect, personality (twice?), desire, will, just to a much lesser extent than we do. But I'm apparently mixing categories you won't define. OK, fair enough. I'll ask again... a cat is not more than a rock? A chimp is more than a slug, right? Is a slug more than a rock?

    From Merriam Webster; "Being 3: a living thing; especially : person"

    Seems you've got a little circular logic going here...

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  4. So if we're going off the dictionary, which definition of "being" are you using, "a living thing", "something that exists" or "the qualities of something that exists", and the definition of "person" is "human, individual" so god is made up of three humans?

    I have no doubt there are more nuanced theological definitions for these (there always are...), but you've really got to define these terms.

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  5. Another question: do different cats act differently? If the answer is yes (and it is) then you can ask "who".

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  6. So if we're going off the dictionary, which definition of "being" are you using, "a living thing", "something that exists" or "the qualities of something that exists", and the definition of "person" is "human, individual" so god is made up of three humans?

    "Being" = all of "something that exists" or "the qualities of something that exists"

    "Person" = "individual" not human. We say "human beings" not "human person" And no three persons in the Godhead is human in the sense that we are human.

    Also rocks have different characteristics and respond differently to their environments Does "Who" make sense referring to rocks?

    Can you prove that cats and other animals have hopes and dreams? That I would like to see.

    The point is that you cannot equate the two - "being" and "person" any more you can equate "mind and "brain".

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  7. I can prove a cat would hope to get fancy feast over dry food. What is a "hope and dream" if not that?

    The point is that you cannot equate the two - "being" and "person" any more you can equate "mind and "brain".

    Try to keep up with the actual sciences and not just the philosophy of mind. If you do, you might learn how silly your comment was.

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  8. Hoping and preferring are two different things. By hoping and dreaming about striving to be better than you are or desiring things you don't have.Before you can prove that the mind and brain are the same and that there is no distinction between the two I wouldn't call my comment "silly".

    Claiming that you can prove that cats have hopes and dreams - now that is really silly. Good luck with that.

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  9. By hoping and dreaming about striving to be better than you are or desiring things you don't have?

    Um... yes?

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  10. Cats don't do that. They are not self-aware. They are not persons.

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  11. Striving to be better than you are is desiring something you don't have.

    Also, define "self-aware".

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  12. Striving to be better than you are is desiring something you don't have.

    Who said it wasn't. Wanting better food is not the same thing as desiring to be better.

    Self-awareness is knowing you exist and having consciousness. It is knowing that you exist separately from other living things. This quality leads to asking the big questions of existence: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? It requires personhood to ask such questions. For example, can you prove that cats ask such questions?

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  13. Who said it wasn't.

    You, three posts ago. You've really got to define your terms better.

    Wanting better food is not the same thing as desiring to be better.

    I maintain that it is, at least to a lesser degree. Plus no one wants "to be better", what does that even mean? They want to be a better x, y or z.

    can you prove that cats ask such questions?

    Can you prove every human asks such questions? Can you prove that hamsters don't wonder smaller versions of these "big" questions? Otherwise your definition still seems to include, at a minimum, wolves, dolphins, elephants, lions, chimps and gorillas, to name only a few.

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  14. I don't see where I said that striving to be better than you are is not desiring something you don't have. Provide the quote that lead you to thinking I did.

    You've got to define your terms better

    I admit that I make assumptions such that I think we are on the same page. We clearly are not. Rather than assume that I don't know what I am saying why not just ask about what you don't understand I am saying and I can further explain - that is if you truly want to come to an understanding instead of just trying to insult me.

    For example: People wanted to fly, so we made airplanes. Do cats dream about flying? This is what I mean be becoming better - the desire to improve yourself. The desire to want to be something more than what you are or to do more than what you are currently doing. Does a kitten say "When I grow up I want to be a Doctor."? Does a chimp say, "I want to be a writer."? What other living things on earth express themselves artistically? Instead of asking me to prove that wolves, dolphins, elephants, lions, cats, chimps, and gorillas are not self-aware and wonder about their purpose and origin, maybe you should consider if you can prove they do.

    I don't think they ask such questions because they understand on an instinctual level that there is a God and they obey Him. They don't sin. But that doesn't make them self-aware.

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  15. Quote "By hoping and dreaming about striving to be better than you are or desiring things you don't have."

    To be fair, your syntax is a mess, so it's hard to always be sure what you actually mean.

    You still didn't define "self-awareness" unless it's the act of wanting to fly, be a doctor and make art.

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  16. The context of the above quote was that you were responding to my statement that preferring fancy feast over dry food is having "hopes and dreams".

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  17. To be fair, your syntax is a mess, so it's hard to always be sure what you actually mean.

    The context of the above quote was that you were responding to my statement that preferring fancy feast over dry food is having "hopes and dreams".


    I'm not sure you are being fair. I'm not saying that striving to be better has nothing to do with desire. My issue was you can't equate that desire with instant gratification or food. I apologize that I was not clearer, but insulting my writing when you have made unclear statements in the past is really demeaning to you.

    I did give a definition of "self-awareness" February 21, 2011 5:14 pm

    Self-awareness is knowing you exist and having consciousness. It is knowing that you exist separately from other living things. This quality leads to asking the big questions of existence: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? It requires personhood to ask such questions.

    What is your definition of "Self-awareness". I think you don't really read what I write very carefully which why you don't understand what I write.

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  18. For animals (including early hominids) "being better" would lead to better food gathering, and less hunger. So sure you can equate the two

    "I did give a definition of "self-awareness" February 21, 2011 5:14 pm"

    You did, and like I said, your definition still seems to include, at a minimum, wolves, dolphins, elephants, lions, chimps and gorillas, etc...

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  19. For animals (including early hominids) "being better" would lead to better food gathering, and less hunger. So sure you can equate the two

    Nope...survival and day-to-day existence is instinct. It's not self-awareness.

    Where is your definition of "self-awareness"?

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  20. Where is your definition of "self-awareness"?

    I'll use yours, knowing you exist, being conscious and knowing that you exist separately from other living things. Problem for you is this definition is not unique to humans and includes at a minimum, wolves, dolphins, elephants, lions, chimps and gorillas, etc...

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  21. Can prove that "wolves, dolphins, elephants, lions, chimps and gorillas, etc..." all know that "knowing you exist, being conscious and knowing that you exist separately from other living things"?

    Sure would like yo prove that a wolf knows any of that.

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  22. OK. Wild animals don't know they exist. Dumbass.

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  23. Ryan, you are the one who can't prove his point without name calling. Truly sad. I'll keep praying for you however.

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  24. No, dumbass. You couldn't possibly be more obtuse. It would take you 2 seconds of research to discover how wrong you are.

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  25. I asked you about wolves not Chimps. Being alive and being conscious of your existence are not the same thing.

    Look, if it make you feel good to equate your self-awareness with chimps and wolves sand other animals that's fine. I wouldn't.

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  26. Dumbass; refuting your position only requires that I show that one individual animal anywhere in the world at any time ever happened to share your definition of "self-awareness".

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  27. There is mockery to prove a point and then there is blowing smoke when you don't have a meaningful argument. Do you really think that is a refutation? Do you really think you have made a point from one source that not even all scientists agree shows what you think it shows? Definitely a lot of smoke here and nothing substantial. Can you not do better? I guess not. I will continue to pray for you.

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  28. Mockery has it's place. Especially with the obtuse.

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  29. I agree, Ryan, if you mean that the obtuse mock what they do do not understand. I don't think we are using the same definition of "obtuse". It does not mean people who disagree with you. You don't really honestly think that you proved that living things other than humans have self-awareness or that they have a hopes and dreams or even existential thoughts and ideas, do you?

    You haven't. The crux is that i think you are trying to prove that "being" and "person" are not categorically different because you think that all living thing has "personhood" the same way as a human being. All in the name of trying to show that the way Christians describe the Triune nature of God makes no sense. A god whom you claim does not exist. Your argument is a fool's errand because you can't prove that being and person are not distinct categories even if animals have both (and they don't). You have failed to conclusively prove that animals have both being and person or Self-awareness and you have failed to show that are not distinct. No amount of name calling is going to change that.

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  30. In this particular case, my definition of obtuse would be one who is willfully ignorant.

    I do think that most honest biologist and zoologist recognize that animals have self-awarness, as it’s commonly defined. I recognize that you may have some religiously driven variant definition of “self-awarness”, but you’ve not presented it, at least not in a way that would exclude all animals but homo sapiens sapiens. Give it another try though, but please stop being a dumbass (i.e. obtuse, i.e. willfully ignorant).

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  31. OK, I’ve apparently been overstating my case. Only magpies, elephants, apes (including us, obviously, and gorillas, chimps and orangutans), dolphins, seals, sea lions and orcas have been observed to show self-awareness as it’s commonly defined. You learn something new everyday. Well, I tend to. You, I’m not so sure…

    If you don’t wish to remain willfully ignorant, see the following…

    1. "National Geographic documentary "Human Ape"". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-pc_M2qI74. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
    2. Keim, Brandon (2010). "Monkeys See Selves in Mirror, Open a Barrel of Questions". Wired. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/monkey-self-awareness/. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
    3. Dorothy L. Cheney Baboon Metaphysics, p. 205, University of Chicago Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0226102443
    4. A. Bandura, D. Cervone (1983) Self-evaluative and self-efficacy mechanisms governing the motivational effects of goal systems. Journal of Peraonatity and Social [2]
    5. Gallup, GG Jr. (1970). "Chimpanzees: Self recognition". Science 167 (914): 86–87. doi:10.1126/science.167.3914.86. PMID 4982211.
    6. Povinelli, Daniel; de Veer, Monique; Gallup Jr., Gordon; Theall, Laura; van den Bos, Ruud (2003). "An 8-year longitudinal study of mirror self-recognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)". Neuropsychologia 41 (2): 229–334. doi:10.1016/S0028-3932(02)00153-7. ISSN 0028-3932.
    7. "National Geographic documentary "Human Ape"". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-pc_M2qI74. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
    8. Keim, Brandon (2010). "Monkeys See Selves in Mirror, Open a Barrel of Questions". Wired. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/monkey-self-awareness/. Retrieved 2010-10-01.

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  32. Also see...

    9. "Intelligence and Humans". http://www.wiu.edu/users/emp102/DolphinWeb/dolphin_intel.html. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
    10. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14552-mirror-test-shows-magpies-arent-so-birdbrained.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news4_head_dn14552
    11. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10402-elephants-see-themselves-in-the-mirror.html
    12. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14552-mirror-test-shows-magpies-arent-so-birdbrained.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news4_head_dn14552
    13. Marten, K. & Psarakos, S. (1995). "Evidence of self-awareness in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)". In Parker, S.T., Mitchell, R. & Boccia, M.. Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 361–379. http://earthtrust.org/delbook.html. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
    14. "Mirror image processing in three marine mammal species: killer whales (Orcinus orca), false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).". http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11334706. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
    15. Joshua M. Plotnik, Frans B.M. de Waal, and Diana Reiss (2006) Self-recognition in an Asian elephant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103(45):17053–17057 10.1073/pnas.0608062103 abstract
    16. Epstein, Lanza; Skinner, RP; Skinner, BF (1981). ""Self-awareness" in the pigeon". Science 212 (4495): 695–696. doi:10.1126/science.212.4495.695. PMID 17739404.
    17. Frans B.M. de Waal. "The Thief in the Mirror". PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science). http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-pdf&file=10.1371_journal.pbio.0060201-L.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
    18. BBC News | Science & Environment | Meet the brains of the animal world
    19. Prior, Helmut; Schwarz, Ariane; Güntürkün, Onur; De Waal, Frans (2008). "Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition". PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science) 6 (8): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202. PMID 18715117. PMC 2517622. http://biology.plosjournals.org/archive/1545-7885/6/8/pdf/10.1371_journal.pbio.0060202-L.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
    20. Francine Patterson and Wendy Gordon The Case for Personhood of Gorillas. In The Great Ape Project, ed. Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, St. Martin's Griffin, 1993, pp. 58–77.
    21. "Consciousness and the Symbolic Universe"
    22. Roma, Peter; Silberberg, Alan; Huntsberry, Mary; Christensen, Chesley; Ruggiero, Angela; Suomi, Stephen (25 January 2007). "Mark tests for mirror self-recognition in capuchin monkeys (Cebus Apella) trained to touch marks.". American Journal of Primatology 69 (9): 989–1000. doi:10.1002/ajp.20404. ISSN 0275-2565. PMID 17253635. "The results are consistent with the finding that no monkey species is capable of spontaneous mirror self-recognition.".
    23. Anderson, James; Kuroshima, Hika; Paukner, Annika; Fujita, Kazuo (24 June 2008). "Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) respond to video images of themselves.". Animal Cognition 12 (1): 55–62. doi:10.1007/s10071-008-0170-3. ISSN 1435-9448. PMID 18574604. "Although they showed no signs of explicit self-recognition, the monkeys' behaviour strongly suggests recognition of the correspondence between kinaesthetic information and external visual effects.".

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  33. Recognizing yourself in a mirror does not make you self aware. We can make computers do the same thing, through image recognition and simple AI. Self-awareness is not the same same thing as intelligence. Try again. I'll keep praying that god opens your heart and bless you with Himself.

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  34. there are many kinds of intelligence. You keep mixing categories.

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  35. All I'm saying is that some non-human animals can possess what the vast majority of people define as "self-awareness".

    You say animals don't posses "self-awareness". So you must either define "self-awareness" in a different way or you disagree with experts in fields that you have no expertise in (there is always the third option of recognizing you are wrong and moving the goal post accordingly).

    Which is it?

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  36. I am saying that you have failed to prove that animals have exhibited what I have defined as self-awareness and you are no more an expert in cognitive science than I am. There are experts in cognitive science and philosophy that disagree with you. Bottom line. You have failed to prove anything one way or the other.

    If you want to actually discuss this rationally then show how recognizing yourself in a mirror proves self-awareness and makes something personal - having personhood and I will admit that animals have self-awareness. While you at it, how-about proving that you have self-awareness and that animals have what you have.

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  37. There are experts in cognitive science and philosophy that disagree with you.

    The vast majority don't. Read some of the papers. Learn something.

    You never did define your religiously motivated version of "self awareness".

    I'm all ears.

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  38. Let's go step-by-step

    Can you prove that the vast majority of cognitive scientists and philosophers agree with you that animals have self-awareness?

    Is self-awareness possible without personhood?

    Are there degrees of Self-awareness?

    Is "self-awareness" the only criteria determine if something is alive or if a thing is a person?

    We have an opportunity to actually have a dialogue on some nice existential and important matters about what it means to be a human being. We can either waste it or we can actually try to sharpen our understanding. I judge you a person possessing intellect and self-awareness equal to my own. Does a chimp deserve that kind of regard?

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  39. I'm still waiting for your definition of "self-awarness", but I'll answer these questions using the commonly accepted definition.

    Can you prove that the vast majority of cognitive scientists and philosophers agree with you that animals have self-awareness?

    Yes, for cognitive scienists anyway, but it's not that they agree with me, I agree with them. I tend to discount philosophers, my feeling is everyone should be conversant in in principles of philosophy, but no one should specialize in it.

    Is self-awareness possible without personhood?

    Yes. See the list of papers I cited.

    Are there degrees of Self-awareness?

    Seems like there would have to be.

    Is "self-awareness" the only criteria determine if something is alive or if a thing is a person?

    Alive? No. Did you really ask that?

    A person? You'll have to define that. If they aren't homo sapiens, they don't fit my definition of "person". Also, don't cite mythical creatures as non-human examples of "person". That will just make me laugh.

    A chimp deserve respect because it's self-aware.

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  40. Are there degrees of Self-awareness?

    Also seems that this would be limited or enhanced by intellectual capacity, which is a function of how the brain works.

    I think theists have a tendency to extend their dualistic views into other areas. What I mean is there probably isn't "self-awareness" and "intellect" and "consciousness", but rather a mismash of interrelated and interdependent brain functions that can be artifically catagorized as "self-awareness" and "intellect" and "consciousness".

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  41. Okay here is the disconnect. I asked those questions because I wanted to see if we were understanding terms the same way. Part of it is my fault and some of it is yours. I have further comments and I will bold my original quote, and italicize my follow up to your comments.

    I'm still waiting for your definition of "self-awarness"[sic], but I'll answer these questions using the commonly accepted definition.

    We need to get a few things straight first.

    Can you prove that the vast majority of cognitive scientists and philosophers agree with you that animals have self-awareness?

    Yes, for cognitive scienists[sic] anyway, but it's not that they agree with me, I agree with them. I tend to discount philosophers, my feeling is everyone should be conversant in in principles of philosophy, but no one should specialize in it.

    Feel free to discount philosophers if you like. But you haven't proven that the majority of cognitive science agree with you. But I think that you are getting "sentience" mixed up with "self-awareness". They are not the same thing but are related. Is a chimp sentient? Yes. Is a chimp self-aware to the level I've been talking about? No.

    Is self-awareness possible without personhood?

    Yes. See the list of papers I cited.

    this got started with my using "self-awareness" as being a necessary part of being a person. You seemed to have lost sight of that and started arguing for sentience and not self-awareness giving rise to personhood.

    Are there degrees of Self-awareness?

    Seems like there would have to be.

    Even if I agree that there are varying degrees of self-awareness why would there have be? All this time I've been using self-awareness with humanity being the benchmark by which to judge. Obviously you haven't.

    `Is "self-awareness" the only criteria determine if something is alive or if a thing is a person?

    Alive? No. Did you really ask that?

    I want make sure we are clearly understanding each other

    A person? You'll have to define that. If they aren't homo sapiens, they don't fit my definition of "person". Also, don't cite mythical creatures as non-human examples of "person". That will just make me laugh.

    You let me define "self-awareness". You define "person" And I expect you agree that all human beings are persons.

    A chimp deserve respect because it's self-aware.

    Let's agree: Self-aware at a lower level than what it takes to be a "person". I would have worded it thus: A chimp deserve respect because it's sentient.

    Are there degrees of Self-awareness?

    Also seems that this would be limited or enhanced by intellectual capacity, which is a function of how the brain works.

    I think theists have a tendency to extend their dualistic views into other areas. What I mean is there probably isn't "self-awareness" and "intellect" and "consciousness", but rather a mismash of interrelated and interdependent brain functions that can be artifically[sic] catagorized[sic] as "self-awareness" and "intellect" and "consciousness".

    Grant it. I agree up to a point. That conglomeration of interrelated and interdependent brain functions are necessary for consciousness, intellect, and self-awareness but it does not fully explain them. They are necessary for a mind to exist but not sufficient. See how much of a consensus we can reach without name-calling and clearly defining terms without assuming the other is stupid, dishonest, or ignorant? We agree that there are levels of "self-awareness" and while I was talking this whole time I was defining self-awareness at the level people have and you were speaking more broadly.

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  42. See how much of a consensus we can reach without name-calling and CLEARLY DEFINING TERMS without assuming the other is stupid, dishonest, or ignorant?

    Hahahaha! You've yet to define "self-awareness" or "person" and then introduced a third, undefined (by you) term. You do love putting on airs though. So I guess I still think you are a dumbass, but I'll respond in more detail later.

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  43. Marcus said on Monday, "What other living things on earth express themselves artistically?"

    interesting...

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  44. I know apologists are scared to define terms (not defining them is their only trick), but I think I'll wait for you to rigorously define "self-awareness", "person" and "sentient" before commenting further.

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  45. You already agreed that I defined "self-awareness". And you agreed to it. Neither one of us completely defined "person" but I thought that when you agree that people are "persons" and animals are not we were clear. And I thought at "sentience" was clearly thought of as a level of self awareness that many animals have - they can feel pain and have emotions. If you disagree, you haven't been clear enough to explain why or how. On top of that since you were created in God's image I will keep praying for you. The thing is I have defined "self-awareness", "sentience", and "person". A rigorous definition of these are debatable and people debate them. If you disagree with how I have defined them...offer how you look at what they mean.

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  46. I agreed that your original definition of self-awareness would up including animals that pass the mirror test. So I figured you'd want to redefine it.

    My position on "person" was that it's merely synonym for human being, so all I was saying is that non-human animals are not humans, so it's a worthless term. If you want to define it further, I'm all ears.

    My ultimate point is you need to define this stuff unambiguously in a way that will always be true. I can't disagree with your definition if you don't clearly articulate it. There's evidence that trees feel pain, or at least "distress". Does that mean they are sentient? What does sentient even mean?

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  47. Well crap, I just noticed that only 8 of my citations on animal self awareness posted. There were twenty three.


    9. "Intelligence and Humans". http://www.wiu.edu/users/emp102/DolphinWeb/dolphin_intel.html. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
    10. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14552-mirror-test-shows-magpies-arent-so-birdbrained.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news4_head_dn14552
    11. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10402-elephants-see-themselves-in-the-mirror.html
    12. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14552-mirror-test-shows-magpies-arent-so-birdbrained.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news4_head_dn14552
    13. Marten, K. & Psarakos, S. (1995). "Evidence of self-awareness in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)". In Parker, S.T., Mitchell, R. & Boccia, M.. Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 361–379. http://earthtrust.org/delbook.html. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
    14. "Mirror image processing in three marine mammal species: killer whales (Orcinus orca), false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).". http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11334706. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
    15. Joshua M. Plotnik, Frans B.M. de Waal, and Diana Reiss (2006) Self-recognition in an Asian elephant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103(45):17053–17057 10.1073/pnas.0608062103 abstract
    16. Epstein, Lanza; Skinner, RP; Skinner, BF (1981). ""Self-awareness" in the pigeon". Science 212 (4495): 695–696. doi:10.1126/science.212.4495.695. PMID 17739404.
    17. Frans B.M. de Waal. "The Thief in the Mirror". PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science). http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-pdf&file=10.1371_journal.pbio.0060201-L.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-06.

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  48. Cont...


    18. BBC News | Science & Environment | Meet the brains of the animal world
    19. Prior, Helmut; Schwarz, Ariane; Güntürkün, Onur; De Waal, Frans (2008). "Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition". PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science) 6 (8): e202. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202. PMID 18715117. PMC 2517622. http://biology.plosjournals.org/archive/1545-7885/6/8/pdf/10.1371_journal.pbio.0060202-L.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
    20. Francine Patterson and Wendy Gordon The Case for Personhood of Gorillas. In The Great Ape Project, ed. Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, St. Martin's Griffin, 1993, pp. 58–77.
    21. "Consciousness and the Symbolic Universe"
    22. Roma, Peter; Silberberg, Alan; Huntsberry, Mary; Christensen, Chesley; Ruggiero, Angela; Suomi, Stephen (25 January 2007). "Mark tests for mirror self-recognition in capuchin monkeys (Cebus Apella) trained to touch marks.". American Journal of Primatology 69 (9): 989–1000. doi:10.1002/ajp.20404. ISSN 0275-2565. PMID 17253635. "The results are consistent with the finding that no monkey species is capable of spontaneous mirror self-recognition.".
    23. Anderson, James; Kuroshima, Hika; Paukner, Annika; Fujita, Kazuo (24 June 2008). "Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) respond to video images of themselves.". Animal Cognition 12 (1): 55–62. doi:10.1007/s10071-008-0170-3. ISSN 1435-9448. PMID 18574604. "Although they showed no signs of explicit self-recognition, the monkeys' behaviour strongly suggests recognition of the correspondence between kinaesthetic information and external visual effects.".

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  49. I agreed that your original definition of self-awareness would up including animals that pass the mirror test. So I figured you'd want to redefine it.

    Where did I define "self-awareness" as passing the "mirror test"? I didn't. You did.

    My position on "person" was that it's merely synonym for human being, so all I was saying is that non-human animals are not humans, so it's a worthless term. If you want to define it further, I'm all ears.

    From the get-go I told you that human being and person are not synonyms because not all persons are human.

    My ultimate point is you need to define this stuff unambiguously in a way that will always be true. I can't disagree with your definition if you don't clearly articulate it. There's evidence that trees feel pain, or at least "distress". Does that mean they are sentient? What does sentient even mean?

    Where are your unambiguous definitions? It really doesn't matter what I say you will disagree. You are not really interested in understanding what I'm saying. I made the unfair assumption that you have thought through the meaning of what it means to be a "person" and to be a "being". "What" vs "Who". If you want to know what "Sentient" means look it up in the dictionary. I didn't make up the word.

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  50. You said, "Self-awareness is knowing you exist and having consciousness." Passing the mirror test means you know you exist. You should probably define "consciousness".

    Passing the mirror test doesn't mean you know you exist. It means you respond to your reflection.


    You asserted this without substantiating it. Real life example of a non-human person please? This can't include the father, son, holy ghost, angels or daemons, because ultimately that would be circular.
    .

    No, its not circular because the question isn't "Do the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and demons exist?" The question is "are all persons human?" Don't you see that they are not the same question.

    You're the one making claims.

    And you are not making claims? You claim that "human being" and "personhood" are synonyms. You have made all kinds of claims. So again where is your proof and unambiguous definitions since you seem to think mine are inadequate.


    Sentient is defined as "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions". Seems this includes most animals (you know animals is broader category than the furry mammalian ones, right?)


    Ah, right. Finally. I would like to know what I have said that goes against this definition? Like I said it's not quite the same thing as self-awareness but it is something a lot of lifeforms on earth have in common.

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  51. Where did I define "self-awareness" as passing the "mirror test"?

    You said, "Self-awareness is knowing you exist and having consciousness.". Passing the mirror test means you know you exist. You should probably define "consciousness".

    From the get-go I told you that human being and person are not synonyms because not all persons are human.

    You asserted that without substantiation, yes. Can you provide any real world examples of non-human person? Obviously you can't use the father, son, holy ghost, angels or daemons, because that would be circular.

    If you want to know what "Sentient" means look it up in the dictionary. I didn't make up the word.

    Sentient according to Merriam Webster means "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions". That would seem to include all animals. If you have another, secret religious definition, you might want to provide it.

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  52. Interesting, my comments gone, but you've replied to it. I've said all along, your blog is poorly designed.

    In closing, read some of the articles I referenced, because you obviously have no idea what the mirror test actually is.

    If you like, also provide some real world examples of non-human persons. Nice dodge by the way...

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  53. I don't really understand the last comment. As for the end of it. I'm not disagreeing with the definition - which does not mean that all animals are self-aware only sentient. Thanks for proving my point.

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  54. Seriously, I posted a better comment twice, but it's no more. I only have so much patience.

    And just so you know, the term most biologist, zoologist and cognitive scientist use for animals that pass the mirror test is "self aware".

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  55. Interesting, my comments gone, but you've replied to it. I've said all along, your blog is poorly designed.

    It evolved.

    In closing, read some of the articles I referenced, because you obviously have no idea what the mirror test actually is.

    I've actually done the mirror test with children. I understand the point and I'm not impressed. Recognizing your reflection and recognizing your own existence is not the same thing.

    If you like, also provide some real world examples of non-human persons. Nice dodge by the way...

    Who's dodging? Like I said God, angels, and demons are examples of nonhuman personal agents and if you don't think they exist you have to be able to prove they don't. I've had direct experiences and evidence that tells me that they are real. It's not my fault that you don't.

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  56. I've had direct experiences...

    You don't. And I suspect you know that.

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  57. Says you who has not been born again. You sure like talking about stuff you don't know anything about.

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  58. Just saying your blog feels less like "inspiration" and more like desperate justification. Just my take...

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