The Minnesota Grizzly Bear

Roaring about life since 2009

Monkeys and Aristotle

The timing of a story like this is amusing, given the fact that I just got out of a philosophy class discussion on Aristotle and the function of human beings.  According to Aristotle, the function of human beings which separates them from other entities (plants, animals) is reason/rationality.  I wonder what he would say after reading this?

A German team of neurobiologists has found that rhesus macaques can engage in abstract mathematical reasoning using specific brain cells dedicated to the comprehension of math rules and relationships.

Monkey Brain ‘hardwired’ for Simple Math

I’ve also heard that dolphins are capable of some higher mental functions, so does this blur the lines of reason which Aristotle speaks of in his Nicomachean Ethics?  Or are there more aspects to reason and rationality than abstract mathematical ability?  I would tend to lean towards the multi-aspect definition, but damnit it’s pretty interesting to think about.   The article specifies a distinction between the level of sophistication when it comes to abstract thought, but the other questions raised such as do monkeys or other primitively rational animals consider existential questions is one I’m really curious about, and so is the scientist quoted in the article.

Have it good,

-Mike

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January 19, 2010 - Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , , ,

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