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When does consciouness of life kick in on the timeline?

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When does consciouness of life kick in on the timeline?

Postby deostroll » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:37 am

Hi,

I believe for the phenomenon of fear to actually happen, and always work correctly, an individual needs to know the difference between life and death. More importantly that individual has to be conscious of life - his/her own life. It is only after this (milestone) he/she chooses to live, logically speaking.

This also means that intelligence had to evolve before the emotion called fear. However intelligence is not just a single thing; it is not a single entity. Here I mean intelligence is the consciousness of life. So when does a specie start exhibiting this trait? I mean historically which specie actually grew conscious of living?
Last edited by deostroll on Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
PS: I happen to be a philosopher, rather than a true scientist...
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Postby alextemplet » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:50 am

It could've been a very long time ago, depending on how you define consciousness and intelligence. Those are very relative terms. A deer, for example, might be more intelligent than an ant, but would we still call it intelligent compared to a human?
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Postby genovese » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:20 pm

deostroll wrote "This also means that intelligence had to evolve before the emotion called fear. "

I'm not sure that I would agree with this statement. I do not imagine that when a horse sees a snake and bolts that he is thinking about death. Horses can bolt from fear from many little stimuli that no one would associate as being life-threatening. I would have thought that just avoiding pain would be enough to trigger off the emotion of fear. Surely all creatures long ago would have survived by showing fear to any new encounter. Gradually they would lose their "genetic fear" by the process of learning on encounters re-visited.

I can't remember whether I read it or imagined it, but you could say that the act of smiling and showing your teeth, was originally intended as a reaction of fear and preparing for aggression which has since been changed into an action of friendship by showing off your teeth in a non-aggressive way so as to signal friendship to the potential threat.

In my experience, emotions such as fear and others, need not be related to intelligent thinking.
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Postby deostroll » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:42 am

What characterized any one form of intelligence? Can anyone explain or at least guess. How do you explain how one species became intelligent of one thing while others did not.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:46 am

Another problem with this line of thinking: How exactly do you define what makes an orgnanism intelligent?
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Postby deostroll » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:36 am

alextemplet wrote:How exactly do you define what makes an orgnanism intelligent?

Lets have a small trial. Every organism needs an energy source to carry out it usual metabolic activities. So sensing this need is also one kind of intelligence, right?
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Postby canalon » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:50 pm

thought experiment:
an organism/machine moves randomly, and it speeds depends on the amount of food/energy available, what do you think will happen? Would you really say that it is intelligence?
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:50 pm

How do you know it's actually sensing the need and not responding to a genetically programmed instinct?
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Postby deostroll » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:35 pm

alextemplet wrote:How do you know it's actually sensing the need and not responding to a genetically programmed instinct?

Define genetically programmed. Is it something that happens out of the blue or does it require years of evolution? Even if it is genetically programmed why can't you call it intelligent towards sensing hunger as per this case.
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Postby mith » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:43 pm

addendum to canalon's proposal

Assume a bacteria with light powered proton pumps that aid in movement. It moves faster or slower depending on amount of light.
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Postby alextemplet » Wed Nov 21, 2007 5:23 am

deostroll wrote:
alextemplet wrote:How do you know it's actually sensing the need and not responding to a genetically programmed instinct?

Define genetically programmed. Is it something that happens out of the blue or does it require years of evolution? Even if it is genetically programmed why can't you call it intelligent towards sensing hunger as per this case.


I would say "genetically programming" would normally require years of evolution and that particular gene(s) being naturally selected. I suppose it could happen out of the blue as a wild mutation, but that's unlikely. I suppose the boundary between that and intelligence would be defined by whether or no the animal has to think about something or just does it automatically.
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Postby woolleyy » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:58 pm

Bacteria can exhibit a preference for travel up a nutrient gradient. They are not "afraid" that they are going to die without the nutrient, this I would call genetic programming, as much as dogs being afraid of fireworks. Certain things trigger automatic reactions from organisms.

I would warily say humans are the only organism with intelligence, but then I'm biased... I don't know much about zoology, can anyone give examples of other animals that appear to have a level of intelligence above that of genetic programming? I'm thinking most likely other primates, dolphins...
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