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coberst Offline OP
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What does the Cheetah and the human have in common?

Quickie from Wiki: “The cheetah is a vulnerable species. Out of all the big cats, it is the least able to adapt to new environments. It has always proved difficult to breed in captivity, although recently a few zoos have managed to succeed at this. Once widely hunted for its fur, the cheetah now suffers more from the loss of both habitat and prey.”

The cheetah has adapted to its environment by making itself faster and faster. Unfortunately these adaptations have placed it in jeopardy of extinction because in the process of becoming faster it has lost its ability to protect its kill from other animals. The cheetah has become too specialized and thus faces extinction.

I would say that we humans have a similar problem. We have developed specialization to the extent that we place all of our focus upon technology with little knowledge or appreciation of the human sciences that will make it possible for us to manage this high tech world that we have created.

Both the cheetah and the human species face the same paradox. They both have so finely tuned their adaption to the world that their specialization will mean their extinction.

I suspect that within the next 200 years we humans will most likely bring an end to our species and possibly the end to all life on this planet.

I think that the only way to prevent this is for our species to become much more intellectually sophisticated than it is now; I see little evidence that this will occur. The problems we face today are enormous and while we have the brain power to prevent this we may well not have the necessary character traits to do so. I suspect our species is a dead end species.

Do you think that the human species might extinguish it self within a few centuries?

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No, if LHC will be started.

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The cheetah's extinction will be hastened by the fact that they are all genetically identical I believe.

What's LHC?

The human race will survive, even though it may not want to.

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Large Hadron Collider


I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but then I turned myself around!!




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I'm not sure how specialized humans are. Many of us are incapable of living outside of a technological society. But there are people scattered throughout the planet who live well with primitive technology. Tragically, those people have been and continue to be pushed to the limits of extinction.

The brains we evolved allow us to adapt to our environment. Even if civilization collapsed, humans would likely survive.
This is not to say that we will survive. If evolution teaches us anything it's that there's no guarrantee of survival for any species.

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coberst: "...while we have the brain power to prevent this we may well not have the necessary character traits to do so."

Supposing that's true - and I think it is - is there a pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem? You suggest:

coberst: "the only way to prevent this is for our species to become much more intellectually sophisticated than it is now"

Are you suggesting that better education would change the character traits inherent in our species?

I think it is these very character traits - which encompass instinctive behaviour - that answer your ultimate question:

coberst: "Do you think that the human species might extinguish itself within a few centuries?"

I think that (a) as TFF says above, our species would survive self-inflicted injury, though in what condition is another question (b) civilisation will be very seriously damaged unless population is controlled (c) adequate population control can only be achieved by coercive measures.

Most current threats to the survival of civilisation, short of a catastrophe like cometary impact, would seem to be either caused by overpopulation or intensified/exacerbated by it. Overpopulation is a common characteristic of underdeveloped regions, and it could be argued that accelerating the development of those regions would solve the problem. I think the critical limit will be reached long before such a plan could be effective.


"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler
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coberst Offline OP
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redewenur

What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.

I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits. “Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction.” “The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought.” “Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness.” “Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will.”

Britannica specifies that attitude is “a predisposition to classify objects and events and to react to them with some degree of evaluative consistency.”

If I consult my inner self I cannot focus upon an attitude but can infer such an attitude based on behavior. If I wish to become conscious of my intuition I can through observation of behavior describe the attitude, which, in turn, allows me to ascertain the nature of my intuition.

When a mother tells her son “you must change your attitude”. The son cannot change the attitude directly but the son must change his intuition from which the inferred attitude emanates. This does become a bit convoluted but in essence when we wish to change an attitude we are saying that our intuition must be modified. We can modify intuition only through habit directed by our will.

“Were it not for the continued operation of all habits in every act, no such thing as character would exist. There would be simply a bundle, an untied bundle at that, of isolated acts. Character is the interpenetrating of habits. If each habit in an insulated compartment and operated without affecting or being affected by others, character would not exist. That is conduct would lack unity being only juxtaposition of disconnected reactions to separated situations. But since environments overlap, since situations are continuous and those remote from one another contain like elements, a continuous modification of habits by one another is constantly going on.”

I would like to recommend the thoughts of John Dewey to all those who are disheartened by the direction of education, politics and the general drift of our society wherein citizens have allowed themselves to become propagandized into recognizing production and consumption as its most important values.

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey

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Originally Posted By: redewenur
coberst: "...while we have the brain power to prevent this we may well not have the necessary character traits to do so."

Supposing that's true - and I think it is - is there a pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem? You suggest:

coberst: "the only way to prevent this is for our species to become much more intellectually sophisticated than it is now"

Are you suggesting that better education would change the character traits inherent in our species?

?

The human animal, being a species of mammal in many respects similar to other mammals, behaves, by and large, according to its inherited nature. I would define character as the inherent complex of attributes that determines moral and ethical actions and reactions. But however you choose to define 'character', 'behaviour' is the bottom line in the chain of cause and effect. Human behaviour is not governed entirely by rational thought. Were it to become possible for us (the human race) to learn ethical behaviour and rational thought on a grand scale, then the current threats to civilisation would dissolve before our eyes. Alas, I see no cause for optimism.


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coberst-Education and development may change people's perception of what is important and change behaviour to achieve that perceived goal. And of course, I really believe in the value of education. to literacy level at least, for everyone who has the ability to achieve it. Whether this is 'better' and an desired outcome 'for the greater good of society' is, I suggest, very much a moot point. As is the allocating of blame to the 'heaving masses' somewhere other than where you and I are fortunate to have made our home, and proposing to fix them up in some way.

The future of the planet is one where we are indeed all in it together, and the behaviour of those masses, as they emulate our standards is not hard to understand. What is hard though, and they may reasonably reject, is that they are expected to limit their aspirations so that we may continue in our wasteful habits. Maybe it is we who need the education and a change of character.

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coberst Offline OP
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We all need to become self-actualizing self-learners.

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Coberst wrote:
"We all need to become self-actualizing self-learners."

So we would if we could but some of us can't and the techniques developed by Skinner have great relevance to learners who do not respond to the more usual ways of learning new information. Without doubt true self-actualising learning requires high-level cognitive skills and a great deal of self-motivation, and can lead to creative and innovative results. However most of as need that carrot on a stick dangled in front of us at some time!

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...not to mention that "self" is cited by some as the major impediment to species survival. Psychological arguments extrapolated to group behaviour is simplistic anthropomorphism.

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coberst Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Ellis
Coberst wrote:
"We all need to become self-actualizing self-learners."

So we would if we could but some of us can't and the techniques developed by Skinner have great relevance to learners who do not respond to the more usual ways of learning new information. Without doubt true self-actualising learning requires high-level cognitive skills and a great deal of self-motivation, and can lead to creative and innovative results. However most of as need that carrot on a stick dangled in front of us at some time!


Yes, high level motivation is required, motivation is created by the will and the will can lead to curiosity and self-discipline, which, in turn, leads to character development. It is our lack of character, not our lack of intelligence that stalls our progress. Intelligence is a gift of birth and character must be created.

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coberst,

Are you speaking of "will" in terms of Nietzsche's "will to power" ? What you appear to mean by "character development" is "having power over one's destiny". Your prescriptive usage of "must" and "need" also suggests nuances of your "will to power" over others, which is an important Nietzschean sub-category.

If you have not already done so, I would suggest you have a look at Nietzsche, bearing in mind his adoption by the Nazi "character development" advocates.



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coberst Offline OP
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I have not studied N. I have tried to read him directly but have given up. Can you suggest a good second source for his theories?

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Try

The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche , ed. by Bernd Magnus and Kathleen Marie Higgins.

The "Cambridge Companion" series groups several secondary sources in one volume. They vary in "readability".

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coberst wrote:
"It is our lack of character, not our lack of intelligence that stalls our progress."

Would that it were so, but unfortunately lack of intelligence will spoil the prospect of success more quickly than anything else. Good teaching can help, but it is useless if the learner is unable to learn what is being taught. Learning is a two-way street, a fact that can sometimes be forgotten.

I think a lot depends on the definition of "progress". Sometimes it can mean the ability to learn to lift a cup to the mouth.

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In this case I would say progress is the ability to create a self sustaining world. Human consciousness has allowed us to go beyond nature. Nature has constructed a self sustaining system. Humans have displayed no ability to do likewise.

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Originally Posted By: coberst
In this case I would say progress is the ability to create a self sustaining world.

But then the definition of progress is limited to a human definition that recognizes itself as being less than natures ability to be self sustaining.
Originally Posted By: coberst
Human consciousness has allowed us to go beyond nature.

Never. Human consciousness is part and parcel to nature, it's only the ego that creates a system of measure that limits humanity and limits nature.
Originally Posted By: coberst
Nature has constructed a self sustaining system. Humans have displayed no ability to do likewise.
Humans are a part of nature and they demonstrate the reflection of a self sustaining process of cause and effect.


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Yeah i think well do it through our archaic view of 'progress'


Nuclear power is the pragmatic energy choice.

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