Archive for July, 2016

July 20, 2016

This blog is 6 years old

by Neil Rickert

I received notification from WordPress, earlier today, that it is now 6 years since I started this blog.

My posting rate has slowed down recently.  But it has not completely stopped.  The slowdown is partly because I’m frustrated with the weirdness of philosophy.  (Hmm, maybe that would make a good title for a future post).

I have not posted much on politics.  That’s mostly because few people are likely to be interested in my opinions.  But this has been a strange political season, so I’ll probably be posting some comments before the November elections.  I will at least wait until after the conventions.

July 17, 2016

Animals and abstract thought

by Neil Rickert

There’s recently been something of an argument between Michael Egnor and Jeffrey Shallit, over whether animals can think abstractly.

Egnor’s most recent post is here:

and it contains (near the beginning) links back to he earlier posts on the topic.  Shallit’s most recent post is here:

and the last line links to his earlier post in the dispute.

There is a simple answer to the question.  Humans are animals, and humans can think abstractly.  But that misses the point.  The argument was really about non-human animals.

Abstract thinking

For myself, I don’t really have an answer.  The problem that I see, is that we do not have a clear definition of “abstract thinking” that we could attempt to apply to animals.  There’s a good chance that Egnor and Shallit are talking past one another, using incompatible meanings of “abstract thinking.”