I am interested in human intelligence as it evolved from the animal intelligence. What are our abilities and our constraints? Looking into the past, into the nature of our world, who did what? Which part is done by animals: colors, for sure? Fear and pleasure, certainly? But reality??
The brain of mammals, our ancestors, is huge, compared with other animals, and is mostly consisting of neurons handling sensory perceptions and the interpretation of the perceptions in the view of survival/ adaptation benefits. Attached to this behemoth are the ganglia ( we call them “old brain” but for the mammal, they are actually new), the neural centers responsible for the emotions. The animal “tries” to figure out constantly what is going on and if so, what to do. When a lion attacks, the sensory data combine with behavior menu and emotional impulses like fear and hunger. We associate these actions, like emotions or feelings with the events going on inside us, in the head, in the chest, or heart, but with the animals, they are obviously ” out there”, as a part of the animal’s environment.
So, animal brain creates real world with the brain which works on instincts and emotions? This does not make any sense. How that type of the brain can create solid objects, trees, antelopes etc. Also, to confuse things even more, we think about the emotions and feelings as subjective, but subjective is related to reflective thinking and the robust self, while the animals just do not have the necessary brain structures (or minimal).
It looks like the split between subjective and objective is the part of the development of the human mind, and therefore is artificial. What’s worse that the new, invented part is an objective part.
Well, let’s put some order into this mess, an upside down order that is. When we build, as infants, our world around us we do not develop the “permanence of the objects”. We develop the world of impermanence. It is the world which we call the subjectivity, the one which changes, it resides in our “mind” or even “heart”, it is related to the development of self and reflective thinking. The brain we use to develop this new human quality is the newest part of the brain- prefrontal areas, verbal areas, the empathic brain. Animals do not have it, or have very little of it.
On the other hand, young human infant’s brain is like animal’s: literal, permanent and real. It has no good feel for time- this comes much later. Her world occurs outside, feels objective and real and its complexity depends on the complexity of the animal (or the age- level of the development of the infant.) For the low complexity organisms even if feels real- the only world they have- it is very different than our reality.
The concept of dimensions, for example, develops one by one ( a simple bacteria detecting ony concentration of the chemical, i.e. distance, i.e. one dimension, E.coli can orient itself and has buding of tri-dimensional sensory). These realities, “Umwelts” (Uexküll) consist of gradually increasing number of elements and interactions and are built for survival, that is the organism’s niche. ( the idea that the world and the niche is the same deserves separate attention, no?- not I and thou but I and my niche!)
It seems that the objective world is just the evolutionary construct of the subjective experiences of our ancestors. As their ability to socialize and communicate increased they built something more sophisticated than bee’s beehive: the whole virtual shared world, our objectivity. How far back this construct reaches? It reaches further and further back, as our understanding broadens, our science reaches deeper into cosmos and time and consciousness.
Our objective world is shared with the member of the species. Our sharing is vastly superior than animal’s world because of social connections via language and culture. Animals sharing is limited to social adaptive traits. So the lion and antelope do not see the same tree, even two antelopes see only as much of a “tree” as evolutionary minimally necessary.
This, when you think about it, puts all reality concepts upside-down and the consequences are mindblowing.