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Thread: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation

  1. #1 Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation

    Creation/Adaptation—Meaning/Biology—creation is to adaptation as meaning is to biology.

    Our species is a great experiment by Mother Nature—can a species of animals with self-consciousness survive quick extinction?

    We might usefully consider our species as like the first water creatures to colonize the land. This water/land creature is presently an unknown species to science. That is to say that the human species might well represent the same kind of giant evolutionary step because we humans are the first animal to have creative as well as adaptive qualities.

    Otto Rank’s will psychology throws meaningful light on the psychological foundation of epistemology and ethics—leading to a philosophy of the psychic—the creation of individuality in “rebirth experience” as being the actual creative act—in this act the psychic ego is born out of the biological corporal ego thus moving from creature to creator—i.e. creator of his own personality.

    There is movement from competition with nature to artistic creation of reality which we call civilization—his competition becomes with himself—the inner world becomes an independent power which seeks to alter the external world to more correspond to the inner—this is more creation than adaptation and can be comprehended as will phenomena.

    “In this sense civilized man, even if he fights the outside world, is no longer opposed to a natural enemy but at bottom to himself, to his own creation, as he finds himself mirrored, particularly in manners and customs, morality and conventions, social and cultural institutions.”

    This idea is based upon the assumption that our inner world, in our creation of it, slowly becomes a power independent of the outer world, which we constantly try to modify to suit our inner reality. This is not adaption but is creation, which can be called ‘will phenomena’.

    This is movement from Freudian id which is subject to natural laws under guise of “repetition compulsion” while personality “consists of identifications which form the basis of the parental super-ego”—to move beyond the super-ego morality to an ideal formation to a personality that guides—he evolves the ego ideal from self-chosen factors consciously strived for.

    Quickie from Wiki: “Repetition compulsion is psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats a traumatic event or its circumstances over and over again. This includes reenacting the event or putting oneself in situations that have a high probability of the event occurring again. This "re-living" can also take the form of dreams, repeating the story of what happened, and even hallucination.”

    This concept, “repetition compulsion”, was noted formally by Sigmund Freud in his 1920 essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which he observed a child throw his favorite toy from his crib, become upset at the loss, then reel the toy back, only to repeat this action again.

    Quotes from Truth and Reality by Otto Rank


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  3. #2 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    .......we humans are the first animal to have creative as well as adaptive qualities.[/b]
    Coberst, why do you persist, in post after post, of making statements that are demonstrably false? It detracts considerably from the potential value of those posts.

    In this instance it is clear that primates, some avian species and many mammals are capable of creative acts. In order for you to exclude them you would have to define creativity so narrowly that it would exclude the majority of humanity. Is that your intent?


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  4. #3 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    .......we humans are the first animal to have creative as well as adaptive qualities.[/b]
    Coberst, why do you persist, in post after post, of making statements that are demonstrably false? It detracts considerably from the potential value of those posts.

    In this instance it is clear that primates, some avian species and many mammals are capable of creative acts. In order for you to exclude them you would have to define creativity so narrowly that it would exclude the majority of humanity. Is that your intent?
    I think that creativity requires abstract thinking ability, the ability to think symbolically.
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  5. #4 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    .......we humans are the first animal to have creative as well as adaptive qualities.[/b]
    Coberst, why do you persist, in post after post, of making statements that are demonstrably false? It detracts considerably from the potential value of those posts.

    In this instance it is clear that primates, some avian species and many mammals are capable of creative acts. In order for you to exclude them you would have to define creativity so narrowly that it would exclude the majority of humanity. Is that your intent?
    I think that creativity requires abstract thinking ability, the ability to think symbolically.
    When a chimp works out a puzzle, it doesn't think creatively?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  6. #5 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    .......we humans are the first animal to have creative as well as adaptive qualities.[/b]
    Coberst, why do you persist, in post after post, of making statements that are demonstrably false? It detracts considerably from the potential value of those posts.

    In this instance it is clear that primates, some avian species and many mammals are capable of creative acts. In order for you to exclude them you would have to define creativity so narrowly that it would exclude the majority of humanity. Is that your intent?
    I think that creativity requires abstract thinking ability, the ability to think symbolically.
    When a chimp works out a puzzle, it doesn't think creatively?
    not necessarily, no. The chimp ismore likely to be thinking analytically when it does that. Other animal's mating rituals sure as hell are symbolic and creative though.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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  7. #6 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I think that creativity requires abstract thinking ability, the ability to think symbolically.
    There is clear evidence, from the field and the laboratory, that apes can think symbolically. You should acquaint yourself, as a starting point, with the work of Jane Goodall and of Roger Fouts. The consensus opinion among primate ethologists has moved strongly to this viewpoint over the last three decades. I find the evidence unequivocal.
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  8. #7 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I think that creativity requires abstract thinking ability, the ability to think symbolically.
    There is clear evidence, from the field and the laboratory, that apes can think symbolically. You should acquaint yourself, as a starting point, with the work of Jane Goodall and of Roger Fouts. The consensus opinion among primate ethologists has moved strongly to this viewpoint over the last three decades. I find the evidence unequivocal.
    Do you think that apes have the ability to develop abstract concepts?
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  9. #8 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Interesting discussion. Can you define abstract?
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  10. #9 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Do you think that apes have the ability to develop abstract concepts?
    Possibly. However, that is not what I am stating. I am stating that they can be creative. They can imagine what others are thinking. They can think up novel solutions to situations. They can lie - the true mark of a creative talent.

    Can they think in the abstract. I'll echo John Galt - what do you mean by abstract thought. Arguably some or most of the acheivements I've mentioned in the first paragraph require abstract thougt. What do you think?
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  11. #10 Re: Individuality: Creation versus Adaptation 
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Interesting discussion. Can you define abstract?
    Abstract concepts

    I have put together a number of posts regarding the matter of abstract concepts and how they are created.

    Humans have a vast subjective life; generally we construct this subjective life from our concrete or objective life. We make subjective judgment about such things as difficulty, morality, importance; we have subjective experiences such as desire, intimacy, and affection.

    These subjective judgments and subjective experiences are generally constructed from concrete experiences, which are sensorimotor domains. A concrete experience contains mental structures that organize the experience in a manner such that inferences can be made. Also these concrete experiences contain the mental structure containing the sensorimotor actions that made the experience possible.

    “When we conceptualize understanding an idea (subjective experience) in terms of grasping an object (sensorimotor experience) and failing to understand an idea as having it go right by us or over our heads. The cognitive mechanism for such conceptualizations is conceptual metaphor, which allows us to use the physical logic of grasping to reason about understanding.”

    “Metaphor allows conventional mental imagery from sensorimotor domains to be used for domains of subjective experience.” The metaphors that I speak of here are conceptual metaphors and not linguistic metaphors. A conceptual metaphor is basically the mental structures of a concrete experience that is mapped from the concrete experience directly to the mental space which is becoming the subjective experience. It is like a linking operation that one sees so often on Wikipedia.

    Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson

    The concrete concept is an “objective” concept while the abstract concept is a “subjective concept”.

    Examples of objective concepts becoming part of subjective concepts:

    Infant feeling warm when held mapping into subjective concept of affection.
    Sensing a foul smell into abstract idea of a movie “that stinks”.
    Sensing the rise of milk while pouring into a measuring cup leading to a subjective judgment that prices are too high.

    We are meaning creating creatures. We are creatures who create abstract ideas about which we live, die, and kill. Our task is to comprehend this fact and through the sophistication thus achieved we may be able to create abstract concepts suitable to permit our survival for a few more centuries.



    I would say that both justice and fairness are abstract ideas and both are matters about which all humans place great importance. In fact if we give it some thought most of the things that we are willing to kill and die for are abstract ideas. Religion, nation, capitalism, all of these things are our abstract ideas that we create to provide meaning to our life.

    It seems to me that there are two types of ideas: concrete ideas and abstract ideas. A concrete idea is one I form when I walk in the woods or eat a piece of pie; it is an idea that develops as a result of a physical experience. An abstract idea is a subjective development that incorporates concrete ideas into an idea that is not connected directly with a physical experience.


    Is time an abstract idea?

    Time, motion, and change are such basic philosophical concepts that we see them being considered by all philosophers throughout Western philosophical thinking. These are fundamental concepts about which philosophers theorize and they are fundamental concepts about which every DickandJane deal with constantly in their ever-day actions and thoughts.

    All of these concepts are abstract ideas that are constructed of multiple metaphors resulting from literal ever-day experiences. Our society thinks of metaphors as being the venue of poets; however, metaphors are not arbitrary or culturally and historically specific. “Rather, they tend to be normal, conventional, relatively fixed and stable, non arbitrary, and widespread throughout the cultures, and languages of the world”

    Most importantly we must recognize these metaphors as being abstract but also that they are grounded in specific experiences.

    Philosophers have theorized as to whether time really is; is it bounded, is it continuous or divided, does it flow like a river, is time the same to everyone, and is it long or short. These are common questions for DickandJane but philosophy seems to discount most of these human quizzes as being irrelevant. Often philosophers point out paradoxes embodied within these questions.

    We have a rich and diverse notion of what time is. Time is not a thing-in-itself that we conceptualize as being independent. “All of our understandings of time are relative to other concepts such as motion, space, and events …We define time by metonymy: successive iterations of a type of event stand for intervals of “time”.” Consequentially, the basic literal properties of our concept of time are consequences of properties of events: Time is directional, irreversible, segmentable, continuous, and measurable.

    We do have an experience of time but that experience is always in conjunction with our real experiences of events. “It also means that our experience of time is dependent on our embodied conceptualization of time in terms of events…Experience does not always come prior to conceptualization, because conceptualization is itself embodied. Further, it means that our experience of time is grounded in other experiences, the experiences of events.”

    It is virtually impossible for us to conceptualize time as a stand alone concept without metaphor. Physics defines motion, i.e. velocity, in terms of distance and time, thereby indicating motion is secondary to time and distance. However, metaphorically we appear to place time as dependent upon the primitive sense of motion. “There is an area of our visual system of our brain that is dedicated to the processing of motion.”

    MOVING TIME METAPHOR

    “There is a lone, stationary observer facing in a fixed direction. There is an indefinite long sequence of objects moving past the observer from front to back. The moving objects are conceptualized as having fronts in their direction of motion.”

    The time has long past for that answer. The time has come. Time flies by. Summer is almost past. I can see the face of trouble. I cannot face the future. The following days will tell the story.

    In this metaphor I conceptualize time as an object moving toward me. The times that are in front of me are conceptualized as the future and the times that have passed me are the past. The present time is that time that is now beside me. This is why we speak of the here and now. My position is a reference point, thus tomorrow is before me and yesterday is past me. I can see the future and the past is gone forever.

    MOVING OBSERVER or TIME’S LANDSCAPE

    The second major metaphor for time represents a moving observer wherein the present is the position on the path in which the observer is positioned.

    In this metaphor the observer is moving through time. Time is a path that I move through. Time, i.e. the path can be long or short, time can be bounded.

    There is trouble ahead. Let’s spread this project over several days. We reached summer already.

    In this metaphor we construct temporal correlates with distance measurements: long, short, pass, through, over, down the road, etc.

    Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson



    Time is an abstract idea (concept).

    What is an abstract idea (concept)?

    An abstract concept, according to SGCS theory that I am convinced is the best theory available at this point in time, is a concept constructed from one or more concrete concepts. We have a concrete experience, i.e. physical experience of the clock pendulum movement, or the metronome ticking, or the river water rushing by, or of today turning into tomorrow, and these conceptual structures are mapped into the subjective experience mental space that is labeled "time" and this makes up our understanding of the concept we call time.







    There are at least two kinds of ideas (concepts): concrete and abstract.

    The warmth that an infant feels, when being held closely after birth, is a concrete concept. The affection one feels for another is an abstract concept. The warmth that often accompanies that feeling of affection might very well be constructed with the concrete warmth that that infant felt.

    We construct abstract concepts from concrete concepts.

    An abstract idea (concept) does not exist outside the human "mind", but it is important to keep in mind that everything that we think, know, and perceive exists outside of the human mind only in our projection of it as existing outside of the human mind. That which is outside the human mind exists but we cannot know it with certainty. We tend to think that the objects that we perceive are in fact existing as mind independent reality. But we can only know what we have processed as being "the thing-in-itself".

    Objectivity is our shared subjectivity. Abstract concepts are constructed from concrete ideas (concepts). Abstract ideas are often objectified (reified) and treated as objects. We are meaning creating creatures and we constantly create and reify abstract ideas that we will live, die, and kill for. Freedom and time are examples of these reified ideas.




    Our subjective mental life//

    We constantly make subjective judgments regarding abstract things, such as morality, difficulty, importance; we also have subjective experiences such as affection, desire, and achievement.

    The manner in which we reason, and visualize about these matters comes from other domains of experience. “These other domains are mostly sensorimotor domains…as when we conceptualize understanding an idea (subjective experience) in terms of grasping an object (sensorimotor experience)…The cognitive mechanism for such conceptualizations is conceptual metaphor, which allows us to use the physical logic of grasping to reason about understanding.”

    Metaphor is pervasive throughout thought and language. Primary metaphors might properly be considered to be the fundamental building blocks for our thinking and our communication through language.

    The theory of primary metaphors has four parts:
    1) Johnson’s theory of conflation—in the early years of childhood the sensorimotor experiences are often conflated with the subjective (non sensorimotor) experiences and judgments. An example might be when a newborn experiences the warmth of the embrace by its mother and that literal experience becomes conflated with a later subjective experience of affection. That is why our feeling of affection is accompanied by a sense of warmth. “During the early period of conflation, associations are automatically built up between the two domains. Later, during a period of differentiation, children then able to separate out the domains, but the cross-domain associations persist.”

    2) Grady’s theory of primary metaphor—complex metaphors are like molecular structure with primary metaphors as the atomic elements.

    3) Narayanan’s neural theory of metaphor—the associations made during conflation “are realized neurally in simultaneous activations that result in permanent neural connections being made across the neural networks that define conceptual domains…that constitute metaphorical entailments.”

    4) Fauconnier and Turner’s theory of conceptual blending—Distinct separate conceptual domains can be coactivated thereby creating a blending, which creates new and unique conceptual blends.

    “The integrated theory –the four parts together—has an overwhelming implication: We acquire a large system of primary metaphors automatically and unconsciously simply by functioning in the most ordinary of ways in the everyday world from our earliest days…we all naturally think using hundreds of primary metaphors.”

    In summation, we have many hundreds of primary metaphors, which together provide a rich inferential structure, imagery, and qualitative feel. These primary metaphors permit our sensorimotor experiences to be used to create subjective experiences. Thus abstract ideas are created that are grounded in everyday experiences.
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  12. #11  
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    Thank you coberst for that very detailed reply. Unfortunately I am not really any the wiser as to how you define abstract. Indeed, if the series of mini-essays you offered are an examle of abstract thought then I can say with confidence that I doubt if apes think that way - and a jolly good thing it is for them too.
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    HEllo coberst, I am still interested in your thinking in this area. Could you do two things: take a stab at concisely defining abstract in the context of this thread; comment on your thoughts on th epoint raised by others, that apes are capable of creative thinking. I think you opened by saying that only huimans could think creatively. You have been challenged on this, and from what I have read this challenge seems a valid one. What do you think?
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    Basically, it means that the monkey can draw the conclusion that when he sees himself in a pond, that is just not any monkey, that is himself formed an image of in the water. Even more abstract is that it needs lightparticles bouncing on him and then the water to make the image. Not just "that is a banana" over a banana, more like "that is the seed of a plant that grew through a biochemical process"

    "the sun shines" is abstract. "There is light" isn't.

    thinking abstract is simply thinking cause-wise.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    HEllo coberst, I am still interested in your thinking in this area. Could you do two things: take a stab at concisely defining abstract in the context of this thread; comment on your thoughts on th epoint raised by others, that apes are capable of creative thinking. I think you opened by saying that only huimans could think creatively. You have been challenged on this, and from what I have read this challenge seems a valid one. What do you think?
    John

    Our (American) educational system has left us all with severe learning handicaps. We were led slowly step by step, never learning how to learn complex matters on our own without a teacher to lead us. Abstract thinking is a complex matter and is not something that a few paragraphs will clarify for us.

    This example of arithmetic as object collection might be of some use in attempting to comprehend this matter.

    At birth an infant has a minimal innate arithmetic ability. This ability to add and subtract small numbers is called subitizing. (I am speaking of a cardinal number—a number that specifies how many objects there are in a collection, don’t confuse this with numeral—a symbol). Many animals display this subitizing ability.

    In addition to subitizing the child, while playing with objects, develops other cognitive capacities such as grouping, ordering, pairing, memory, exhaustion-detection, cardinal-number assignment, and independent order.


    Subitizing ability is limited to quantities 1 to 4. As a child grows s/he learns to count beyond 4 objects. This capacity is dependent upon 1) Combinatorial-grouping—a cognitive mechanism that allows you to put together perceived or imagined groups to form larger groups. 2) Symbolizing capacity—capacity to associate physical symbols or words with numbers (quantities).

    “Metaphorizing capacity: You need to be able to conceptualize cardinal numbers and arithmetic operations in terms of your experience of various kinds—experiences with groups of objects, with the part-whole structure of objects, with distances, with movement and location, and so on.”

    “Conceptual-blending capacity. You need to be able to form correspondences across conceptual domains (e.g., combining subitizing with counting) and put together different conceptual metaphors to form complex metaphors.”

    Primary metaphors function somewhat like atoms that can be joined into molecules and these into a compound neural network. On the back cover of “Where Mathematics Comes From” is written “In this acclaimed study of cognitive science of mathematical ideas, renowned linguist George Lakoff pairs with psychologist Rafael Nunez to offer a new understanding of how we conceive and understand mathematical concepts.”

    “Abstract ideas, for the most part, arise via conceptual metaphor—a cognitive mechanism that derives abstract thinking from the way we function in the everyday physical world. Conceptual metaphor plays a central and defining role in the formation of mathematical ideas within the cognitive unconscious—from arithmetic and algebra to sets and logic to infinity in all of its forms. The brains mathematics is mathematics, the only mathematics we know or can know.”

    We are acculturated to recognize that a useful life is a life with purpose. The complex metaphor ‘A Purposeful Life Is a Journey’ is constructed from primary metaphors: ‘purpose is destination’ and ‘action is motion’; and a cultural belief that ‘people should have a purpose’.

    A Purposeful Life Is A Journey Metaphor
    A purposeful life is a journey.
    A person living a life is a traveler.
    Life goals are destinations
    A life plan is an itinerary.

    This metaphor has strong influence on how we conduct our lives. This influence arises from the complex metaphor’s entailments: A journey, with its accompanying complications, requires planning, and the necessary means.

    Primary metaphors ‘ground’ concepts to sensorimotor experience. Is this grounding lost in a complex metaphor? ‘Not by the hair of your chiney-chin-chin’. Complex metaphors are composed of primary metaphors and the whole is grounded by its parts. “The grounding of A Purposeful Life Is A Journey is given by individual groundings of each component primary metaphor.”


    The ideas for this post come from Philosophy in the Flesh. The quotes are from Where Mathematics Comes From by Lakoff and Nunez
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