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Old 01-21-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Many times in a discussion, perhaps about human nature, or desired human behaviour, people will bring up how it is in "nature" or more specifically animals' behaviour, is the way it should be.

For instance, when sex and gender are being discussed, people will argue that we should stick to "traditional" male and female roles because of how it is "in nature".

Or, as another example some point to how animals spent a lot of effort trying hard to survive and how we've become fat, lazy, spend time all day in offices and say how we've lost touch with the outdoors.

Now, it is a fair point that we share much of our behaviour and base desires with animals, but why would you want to idealize creatures less intelligent and behaviourally complicated than us and use them as a role model or guide on how to act? Regardless of whether you are a religious person (and beliefs about how specially created humans are), it seems strange to compare yourself, who can read this thread now, and think, contemplate, and imagine so deeply, to the critters scurrying, flying, swimming and struggling to eat and avoid being eaten in the woods, fields and valleys around you.

What goes on in "nature" itself is a cruel and mindless process of competition, survival and reproduction (I put nature in quotes, since some would argue human nature is not exempt from this). While I am very interested in the study of animals and other aspects of "nature" and find it fascinating, I can't see the need to idealize it the way some do.
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Here.
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I think it depends on the animal and the behavior. Not all animals have clearly defined male-female roles. Some animals spend all day eating and lounging around. There are some specific behaviors in some specific species that humans would benefit from emulating.

A lot of human behavior isn't very intelligent. Think of how many humans kill over trivial matters. That behavior would be unheard of in certain species.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,309 posts, read 34,286,212 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retroit View Post
I think it depends on the animal and the behavior. Not all animals have clearly defined male-female roles. Some animals spend all day eating and lounging around. There are some specific behaviors in some specific species that humans would benefit from emulating.

A lot of human behavior isn't very intelligent. Think of how many humans kill over trivial matters. That behavior would be unheard of in certain species.
That's an intriguing thought. I think that animals of the same species killing eachother isn't uncommon, but "triviality" doesn't really play a role until you get into complex social animals like chimpanzees. Chimps murder out of jealousy and are capable of what we would call "meanness".

Humans certainly do a lot of stupid things, but it is also in our nature to figure out where our planet is in relation to the rest of the universe, so I think we are probably pretty smart by most any measure.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Here.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimboburnsy View Post
That's an intriguing thought. I think that animals of the same species killing eachother isn't uncommon, but "triviality" doesn't really play a role until you get into complex social animals like chimpanzees. Chimps murder out of jealousy and are capable of what we would call "meanness".

Humans certainly do a lot of stupid things, but it is also in our nature to figure out where our planet is in relation to the rest of the universe, so I think we are probably pretty smart by most any measure.
Thinking about the universe isn't really a "behavior".

I don't deny that some animals are "trivially" violent, like humans. I was just pointing out that you can't make a blanket statement about all animals.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:55 PM
 
Location: 20 years from now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimboburnsy View Post
That's an intriguing thought. I think that animals of the same species killing eachother isn't uncommon, but "triviality" doesn't really play a role until you get into complex social animals like chimpanzees. Chimps murder out of jealousy and are capable of what we would call "meanness".

Humans certainly do a lot of stupid things, but it is also in our nature to figure out where our planet is in relation to the rest of the universe, so I think we are probably pretty smart by most any measure.

I was thinking the same. Other animals and species generally have little if any identity of 'self' in the cognitive sense. One could argue that employing the action of murder, 'meaness' or whatever else is a survival technique to preserve ones self--despite how immoral it may seem.
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Old 01-22-2011, 05:47 PM
 
Location: The Pacific Northwest
6,010 posts, read 6,319,572 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
Many times in a discussion, perhaps about human nature, or desired human behaviour, people will bring up how it is in "nature" or more specifically animals' behaviour, is the way it should be.

For instance, when sex and gender are being discussed, people will argue that we should stick to "traditional" male and female roles because of how it is "in nature".

Or, as another example some point to how animals spent a lot of effort trying hard to survive and how we've become fat, lazy, spend time all day in offices and say how we've lost touch with the outdoors.

Now, it is a fair point that we share much of our behaviour and base desires with animals, but why would you want to idealize creatures less intelligent and behaviourally complicated than us and use them as a role model or guide on how to act? Regardless of whether you are a religious person (and beliefs about how specially created humans are), it seems strange to compare yourself, who can read this thread now, and think, contemplate, and imagine so deeply, to the critters scurrying, flying, swimming and struggling to eat and avoid being eaten in the woods, fields and valleys around you.

What goes on in "nature" itself is a cruel and mindless process of competition, survival and reproduction (I put nature in quotes, since some would argue human nature is not exempt from this). While I am very interested in the study of animals and other aspects of "nature" and find it fascinating, I can't see the need to idealize it the way some do.


Well the reason some people idealize nature and the reason others don't is a result of divergent presumptions about what the role of human beings should be in this world.

I believe that humans are, underneath it all, animals. We are mammals. Primates. Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

"I fear animals regard man as a creature of their own kind which has in a highly dangerous fashion lost its healthy animal reason"

I think he's right. Presuming that humans are in fact animals, do you know of any other species that suffers from mental illness? Drug addiction? Any other species that commits suicide?

Some people who you say idealize nature would say that humans did in fact stray from their intended course at some point, and the reason nature is ideal is because to some, nature is a metaphor for the Garden of Eden. Other animals don't carry the same kinds of burdens humans do. And other animals don't have the same kind of problems humans do.

The problem is, as you pointed out, that Mother Nature does appear ruthless against the backdrop of what Daniel Quinn calls "Mother Culture". Our norms and values don't mix well with a survival-of-the-fittest mentality.

Which is why others, for religious or cultural reasons, have a very different mentality. This is based on the presumption that humans are exempt from whatever category all the other animals are in. Mother Culture beats Mother Nature.

Because we have intelligence and a posable thumb, we are different. Look at everything the human race has accomplished.

They believe humans are entitled to propagate the world, and nature is often just a nuisance getting in the way of our inheritance. It's no wonder why these people don't idealize nature. Why would they?

When you believe humans are different, better than the rest of nature it's so easy to justify subjugating it.

I don't purport to know what's the best viewpoint, though I have my suspicions. Either way, I do think that's why some people idealize nature and others don't.

Last edited by Bluefox; 01-22-2011 at 05:56 PM..
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Old 01-25-2011, 09:16 AM
 
Location: NJ
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Nature is neutral, you fall into your own argument refering to the cruelty of nature and referencing humans when you speak of 'less intelligent animals'.

The use of reference points include not only animals but trees and insects. Strong as an oak, busy as a bee.

Ingrained in every culture are reference points to guide behavior. Many early cultures use animal guides just a Catholics use the lives saints. Look at each and consider their strengths, vitrues and weakness in comparison to yours.

When it comes down to a critical survival situation, a squirrel with a bushy tail will probably outlast an MD/ Phd with a neuroscience degree. So any reference to intelligence must consider not just static situations created by society but the dynamic change of nature.

As we all sit in the same orchestra that moves to a single conductor. All living things whether they be trees, grass or mice all have evolved to survive in an eddy on the river of change. All this in response to the great celestial dance of the planets which produce unique specifications of light, atmosphere and temperature. So every living thing you see has evolved in their own way to the very same stimuli. In that respect all living things are kin. It follows then, that there will be many shared behaviors and body systems. Plenty of material to reference for a comparison among earth's creatures.

You wouldn't be against any increase in road tax if it went to save speckled puppies from dying in a potential bridge collapse.

You might be for abortion and cry your eyes out when you read a story of animal abuse.
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
2,806 posts, read 6,498,538 times
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Animal intelligence is vastly different than human intelligence, but who are we to say ours is "better"? Take birds, for example...some of the greatest architects and builders on this planet are birds...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6svAIgEnFvw

Birds also instinctively know where and when to migrate as well as how to do so most efficiently, rotating position in a V formation so that each has a chance to "surf" the wind behind the lead bird, which allows them to reserve enough energy to get to each destination without stopping.
The V Formation of Bird Migration - Birding

And that is just one example...!

Those of us who idealize nature usually do so because we understand we are deeply and inherently connected to it, and because there is an understanding that by consciously connecting to nature, we are able to strengthen other facets of our own intelligence (like instinct) that have been dulled and smothered by modern society and its materialistic ideals.
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Old 01-26-2011, 12:25 PM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
3,307 posts, read 3,868,254 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
Many times in a discussion, perhaps about human nature, or desired human behaviour, people will bring up how it is in "nature" or more specifically animals' behaviour, is the way it should be.

For instance, when sex and gender are being discussed, people will argue that we should stick to "traditional" male and female roles because of how it is "in nature".

Or, as another example some point to how animals spent a lot of effort trying hard to survive and how we've become fat, lazy, spend time all day in offices and say how we've lost touch with the outdoors.

Now, it is a fair point that we share much of our behaviour and base desires with animals, but why would you want to idealize creatures less intelligent and behaviourally complicated than us and use them as a role model or guide on how to act? Regardless of whether you are a religious person (and beliefs about how specially created humans are), it seems strange to compare yourself, who can read this thread now, and think, contemplate, and imagine so deeply, to the critters scurrying, flying, swimming and struggling to eat and avoid being eaten in the woods, fields and valleys around you.

What goes on in "nature" itself is a cruel and mindless process of competition, survival and reproduction (I put nature in quotes, since some would argue human nature is not exempt from this). While I am very interested in the study of animals and other aspects of "nature" and find it fascinating, I can't see the need to idealize it the way some do.
Interesting observation. My take on that is because I have used animals as examples we can use to either survice or do some things more effectively. After all you admited we share some some of their traits and what is wrong if we look at them and use as examples? I do not necessarily think animals think in moral points as they live their lives. However, I do believe that moral have evolved in humans due to nature. In other words from the dawn of time humans and animals have this need, instinct, or call it what you may to survive. As such in the animal kingdom animals do seem to follow certain rules of the "tribe" to survive and to me humans developed moral codes for the same reason, take care.
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Old 01-26-2011, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,143 posts, read 19,130,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
Many times in a discussion, perhaps about human nature, or desired human behaviour, people will bring up how it is in "nature" or more specifically animals' behaviour, is the way it should be.

For instance, when sex and gender are being discussed, people will argue that we should stick to "traditional" male and female roles because of how it is "in nature".

Or, as another example some point to how animals spent a lot of effort trying hard to survive and how we've become fat, lazy, spend time all day in offices and say how we've lost touch with the outdoors.

Now, it is a fair point that we share much of our behaviour and base desires with animals, but why would you want to idealize creatures less intelligent and behaviourally complicated than us and use them as a role model or guide on how to act? Regardless of whether you are a religious person (and beliefs about how specially created humans are), it seems strange to compare yourself, who can read this thread now, and think, contemplate, and imagine so deeply, to the critters scurrying, flying, swimming and struggling to eat and avoid being eaten in the woods, fields and valleys around you.

What goes on in "nature" itself is a cruel and mindless process of competition, survival and reproduction (I put nature in quotes, since some would argue human nature is not exempt from this). While I am very interested in the study of animals and other aspects of "nature" and find it fascinating, I can't see the need to idealize it the way some do.
Well, it's very easy for people to make assumptions about "Nature" when the only nature they experience is dramatized on a TV, and liberally laced with images of friendly talking animals. Can you blame them?

Anyways, the cure is simple: dump the unlearned alone and naked into the Canadian wilderness from a helicopter or floatplane for a week. Go easy on them though and do it during the early autumn so they at least have a slight chance of surviving the experience.
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