Friday, January 4, 2019

Peter Hacker describes a significant distinction

Peter Hacker describes a significant distinction concerning scientific talk (describing the processes and results of experimentation) and philosophical talk (understanding the ways conceptual credulity confuses scientific description).

I agree with most of what Professor Hacker says, except his assertion that animals do not have souls.  Considering his own criteria, I should point out that while they do not possess "human language" many animals do communicate, and this communication is of a character that is both emotional and reflective of a consciousness of environment, including comprehending in various ways--predation, location, coordination of activity, establishing territories, mating--other animals in that environment. Also, animals, are capable of registering some rightness and wrongness of their actions--at least they respond to scolding and, as I have observed, do seem to have a sense of guilt that is more than mere shame (i.e registering disapproval expressed by their master).* His point drawing together having a soul with the capacity for moral choice (or moral understanding?) is interesting.  One final point on animals and souls: I would like to see Professor Hacker address the phenomenon of animals (cats and dogs) dreaming. Is the capacity to have an "out-of-body" (dreaming) experience an indicator of the presence of a soul? I wonder, if Professor Hacker had a big affectionate Tomcat, or a clever and verbal Cocker Spaniel, and associated with either regularly, if he might revise his views?  Watching--or rather listening to--a pair of loving crows expressing affection for each other is also illuminating; indeed, to the point of astonishment. 

* I want to ask, too, whether many human beings have a sense of shame but lack a sense of guilt? And how might this affect the character of their souls?

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