Thursday, December 7, 2006

Darwin and Rational Human Behaviour

The essence of rational human behaviour consists of responding to each instant of living with a new response, created afresh at that moment to precisely fit and handle the situation of that moment as that situation is defined by the information received through the senses of the person (other living creatures typically respond with preset, inherited response patterns--"instincts," or with conditioned, equally-rigid modifications or replacements of the inherited response patterns, acquired through experiences of stress).


This is, of course a nonsense, as anyone who reads Darwin's works and sees how animals actually behave when observed will know; it is an armchair theory which doesn't fit the facts. Actually, as Armand Leroi argued (I think convincingly, with experimental proof), the one thing other animals cannot do easily is copy and learn by imitation in the same way that we do (e.g. the monkeys and food test, where monkey 2 does not learn from monkey 1), but other animals can use ingenuity to discover ways of doing things they have failed to learn (again, monkey 2 worked out how to get the food but quite differently from monkey 1).  This means that we can build a culture independent of ourselves, and independent of our selves (Popper's World 3) which does not die when we do, and can be added to.  


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