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  • A non-reductionist perspective onanimals and humans

    D.F.M. StraussDepartment of Philosophy

    University of the Free StateBLOEMFONTEIN

    South Africa

    dfms@cknet.co.za

    AbstractAssessing similarities and differences between animals and humanbeings is fairly difficult in an academic culture dominated by neo-Darwinism for quite some time. First of all, modal laws, holding forwhatever is functioning within the various aspects of reality, oughtto be distinguished from type laws holding for a limited class ofentities only. Whereas animals, in spite of possessing sensorycapacities absent in humans, are restricted to their basic physical,biotic and sensory concerns in life, ethology does acknowledge thatcurrently a human person is seen as a cultural being with a lifehistory and reduced instincts. The restricted sensitive intelligenceof animals is surpassed by human rational intelligence. Renschdiscerns a deep gap between animals and humans, which is givenin logical thinking. In the absence of any conceptual understandinganimals are instinctively secured, manifest in inherited behaviouralaction patterns [angeborene Auslse mechanismus (AAM)]. Bycontrast the sensitive openness of human beings highlights thedeepened and expanded role of feelings and emotions withinhuman life. Yet it is argued that the human person cannot becharacterized or qualified merely with reference to one aspect only

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  • such as homo sapiens, homo socuis, homo laborans, homoludens, homo faber or homo symbolicus. Part of an alternative viewexplores a more nuanced and differentiated understanding ofnormativity, paving the way for explaining the view of Dooyeweerdin respect of the four structures intertwined within the human body an approach taking distance from the traditional dualism betweenbody and soul. While retaining their own inner sphere of operation,the physical, biotic and sensitive structures are, in a foundationalsense, encapsulated within the human body under the guidance ofthe normative structure which, although qualifying, in itself is notqualified by any normative aspect. Attention is given to therelationship between temporality, supra-temporality and eternitybefore the analyses is concluded with a brief account of the distinctways in which humans and animals function within the normativeaspects of reality, with special reference to language. Languagepresupposes responsible and free human activities which requiresaccountable choices between multiple options, a quality absentamongst animals. The ethologist, Eibl-Eibesfeldt, holds that thatwhich, by contrast, regarding animals, is generally designated aslanguage, exclusively moves within ... the domain of interjection, ofthe expression of moods lacking insight, and he also categoricallyaffirms that the capacity of lingual communication is specificallyhuman and that nothing really comparable is found in the realm ofanimals.

    OpsommingDit is relatief moeilik om die ooreenkomste en verskille tussen diereen mense te beoordeel binne konteks wat reeds vir geruimte tyddeur die neo-Darwinisme gedomineer word. Eerstens moet modalewette, wat betrekking het op onbeperkte klas van entiteite, vantipe wette onderskei word wat bloot op beperkte aantal entiteitevan toepassing is. Waar diere, ten spyte daarvan dat hulle oorsensitief-psigiese eienskappe beskik wat by mense afwesig is,beperk is tot hul basiese fisiese, biotiese en sensitiewe behoeftes,erken die leer van diere-gedrag dat die mens tans as kulturelewese gesien moet word met eie lewensgeskiedenis en gere -duseerde instinkte. Die beperkte sensitiewe intelligensie van diereword oorskry deur die mens se rasionele intelligensie. Renschonderken diep gaping tussen dier en mens, gegee in die vermo

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  • tot logiese denke. In die afwesigheid van begripskennis by diere ishul lewe instinkversekerd, soos gemanifesteer in erflike ge -dragspatrone [angeborene Auslse mechanismus (AAM)]. Hier -teenoor belig die sensitiewe openheid van mense die verdiepte enmeer uitgebreide rol van gevoelens en emosies in die mens selewe. Nogtans word geargumenteer dat die mens nie gekarak -teriseer of gekwalifiseer kan word deur enige aspek nie vervat invermeende aanduidings soos homo sapiens, homo socuis, homolaborans, homo ludens, homo faber of homo symbolicus. Ge -deelte van alternatiewe seining ontgin meer genuanseerde engedifferensieerde verstaan van normatiwiteit wat die weg voorbereivir verduideliking van die seining van Dooyeweerd met betrekkingtot die vier strukture wat in die menslike liggaam vervleg is benadering wat afstand neem van die tradisionele dualisme van sielen liggaam. Terwyl die interne werkingsfeer van die fisiese, biotieseen sensitief-psigiese strukture in funderende sin behoue bly, ishulle in die menslike liggaam ingekapsel onder leiding van dienormatiewe struktuur wat, hoewel dit kwalifiserend is, in sigselfongekwalifiseerd is. Aandag word ook aan die verhouding tussentydelikheid, bo-tydelikheid en ewigheid gegee alvorens dieontleding besluit word met verantwoording van die onderskeiewyses waarop diere en mense in die normatiewe aspekte van diewerklikheid funksioneer, met besondere verwysing na die aard vantaal. Taal veronderstel verantwoordelike en vrye menslikehandelinge wat op hul beurt toerekenbare keuses uit vele opsiesverg eienskap wat afwesig is by diere. Die ondersoeker vandiere-gedrag, Eibl-Eibesfeldt, is oortuig dat dit wat, alternatiewelik,rakende diere, in die algemeen as taal aangedui word, eksklusiefbinne die sfeer van interjeksie beweeg, van die uitdrukking vaninsiglose gemoedstemminge en hy bevestig ook kategories datdie vermo tot talige kommunikasie tipies menslik is en dat werklikniks vergelykbaar in die diereryk aangetref word nie.

    1. OrientationWhether or not humans actually evolved from unicellular ancestorsor chance physical processes is irrelevant when it comes to anassessment of the similarities and differences between currentlyliving animals and human beings, because we can investigate themdirectly. Yet the ideas of Darwin and his followers soon penetrated

    D.F.M. Strauss

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  • the intellectual world and the public media. That this development isnot of a recent date could be seen from the following words ofKuyper from the year 1892. These words will remind us that thislegacy is well-established in the West. In his rejection of theassumed or supposed a-religious nature of (neo-)Darwinism,Kuyper strikingly remarked: The theory of evolution is theformulary of unity..., which currently unites all priests of modernscience in their secularized temple (Zwaan, 1977:40). More than acentury later Roy Clouser argued that a religious belief is a beliefin something as divine per se no matter how that is furtherdescribed, where divine per se means having unconditionally non-dependent existence (Clouser, 2005:23). The role assigned toevolution by neo-Darwinists fully meets this condition for being areligious belief.It should therefore not be surprising that Lynn Margulis, adistinguished professor at the University of Massachusetts, saysthat history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as a minortwentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religiouspersuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology (quoted by Behe, 2006:26). Onthe same page Behe continues: At one of her many public talksshe asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single,un-ambiguous example of the formation of a new species by theaccumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet. Proponentsof the standard theory, she says, wallow in their zoological,capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit interpretation of Darwin having mistaken him ... neo-Darwinism, which insists on (the slowaccrual of mutations), is in a complete funk.Behes book generated a lively debate, and in his 2006 edition headdressed some of the more substantial objections. Yet, after 10years, he is even more convinced of the stance he took in 1996:Today, with fresh denunciations issuing almost weekly fromscientific societies and newspaper editorial boardrooms alike, itmight seem a trifle premature to declare victory. Yet, although thecultural dynamic is still playing itself out, a decade after thepublication of Darwins Black Box the scientific argument for designis stronger than ever. Despite the enormous progress of bio -chemistry in the intervening years, despite hundreds of probingcommentaries in periodicals as diverse as The New YorkTimes,Nature, Christianity Today, Philosophy of Science, and Chronicle of

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  • Higher Education, despite implacable opposition from somescientists at the highest levels, the books argument for designstands. Other than updating the list of my children in theAcknowledgements (append Dominic, Helen, and Gerard), there isvery little of the original text I would change if I wrote it today (Behe,2006:255).However, what is normally designated as intelligent design(German: Bauplan), is a remnant from the vitalistic tradition withinmodern biology. Initially it was embodied in the idea of an immaterialvital force, even supposed to be capable of suspending physicallaws, but after the generalization of the second main law ofthermodynamics to open systems, the neo-vitalists intruducedalternative terms which no longer contradicted this generalizedmeaning of the law of non-decreasing entropy characterizationssuch as an instability factor or a central agent were introduced.What is at stake is the difference between modal laws (such asphysical laws holding for