Friday, January 19, 2007

Why does it matter?

At the chiropractor's office this morning, I read a piece on a bonobo that has learned to communicate with people. It does this by pointing out symbols, mostly, which communicate what it wants. It can even create sentences, of a sort.

I love reading these types of stories. It reaffirms the fact, for me, that creation is a much more complex and exciting place than we give it credit for. We tend to see things very narrowly, but recognizing that animals communicate is a broadening of our world.

What always fascinates me, though, is that, inevitably, a linguist is trotted out to say, "This isn't REALLY language." This always frustrates and confuses me. First, what else is language but a symbolic vocalization or writing to represent something else. And, secondly, who really cares if this bonobo is able to describe a philosophical idea with his symbols or not. It's like this need to put up a boundary between these cute critters and us. Hello! It's a bonobo...small, furry, likes trees. I don't think that anyone is going to confuse them for human anytime soon.

Recognizing intelligence in other animals does not diminish our own, believe me. We diminish our own intelligence without any help whatsoever. But my guess is that if we recognize that animals have intelligence, perhaps even feelings, then we suddenly have to take more responsibility with how we treat 1) them, 2) their homes, and 3) future safety.

Okay, rant done. That said, the very brave Scout made it through the evil vet visit (she was so rattled she wouldn't take the cookie from the doctor). She seemed this morning to be less uncomfortable, and she isn't scratching at the ear anymore, so that's a good sign.

Tonight, I sleep in my own bed without a demanding Kittee.


Hippy Chick said...

I LOVE this: "Recognizing intelligence in other animals does not diminish our own, believe me. We diminish our own intelligence without any help whatsoever." Well put, my friend :)

Aravis said...

I'm with hippy chick; that line struck me as well. :0)

The topic of animal communication and intelligence was my senior thesis in high school in '89. Nobody took me seriously during my presentations to class and then faculty panel. It didn't shake my own belief in it, though, and stories like these not only make me happy, but in all honesty give me a slight feeling of intellectual superiority over those who laughed at me at the time. Not nice, I know, but true nonetheless. *G*

P'tit-Loup said...

Ditto on HC and Aravis. My take on it is that those who must point out in great boring gory details that the "animals" are not really intellingent are just looking for ways to justify their "right" to have dominion over them, I guess.