Do non-human animals have knowledge?

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » Do non-human animals have knowledge?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

hue-man
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:37 am
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?
 
Wisdom Seeker
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:41 am
@hue-man,
animals have knowledge, they know because they feel it, they know where they stand, they just have the basic things to be known.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:45 am
@hue-man,
Knowledge can mean many things. We observe locomotive animals avoiding danger and objects blocking their way, some of the higher species use, in a rudimentary way, tools and seem to be able to communicate with others.
But whether they have a understanding of the concept of world, or death, or feel the same emotions as do humans seems debatable. Even the unique relationships between humans and dogs, involving what we observe as companionship and loyalty, can only be interpreted by us in an analogical way to our own emotions.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:51 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;156051 wrote:
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?


I don't think your example of knowing whether the dog knows his owner loves him is very good. It has too many complications of its own. Why not use Wittgenstein's example: "Does a dog believe his master is at the door?" (The question is about "believing" not "knowing", but I don't think that makes any difference, especially since in order to know, you have to believe). Do dogs have beliefs (or knowledge) is the question. (Asking whether dogs have complex beliefs about love and the world will not tell us whether dogs have beliefs. Lots of people have no complex beliefs either, but they do have beliefs).
 
DaMunky89
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 02:45 pm
@kennethamy,
Well, dogs have to have the ability to retain knowledge, or they wouldn't be susceptible to classical conditioning.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 03:28 pm
@hue-man,
Sure, they have knowledge. They may not know that they know, but I've noted that animals learned quite readily by association; I don't believe they're consciously aware of such associations, but they take to them quite well. I also believe they 'feel', though those feelings are hard to imagine since I recognize on an intellectual basis, my feelings, so they thus take on a different tenor; that of self-awareness.

But yea, I'd say what they assimilate and associate could be counted as knowledge. One needn't know that they know to know...

ow, that hurt.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 04:18 pm
@DaMunky89,
DaMunky89;156142 wrote:
Well, dogs have to have the ability to retain knowledge, or they wouldn't be susceptible to classical conditioning.


What makes you think that what dogs retain is knowledge? Knowledge of what?

---------- Post added 04-24-2010 at 06:19 PM ----------

Khethil;156143 wrote:
Sure, they have knowledge. They may not know that they know, but I've noted that animals learned quite readily by association; I don't believe they're consciously aware of such associations, but they take to them quite well. I also believe they 'feel', though those feelings are hard to imagine since I recognize on an intellectual basis, my feelings, so they thus take on a different tenor; that of self-awareness.

But yea, I'd say what they assimilate and associate could be counted as knowledge. One needn't know that they know to know...

ow, that hurt.


Well, the question still is what are the tests that tell us that a dog knows that his master is at the door.
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 04:29 pm
@hue-man,
I agree that animals know things. Its impossible to deny then we see the complex experiences that scientists do with monkeys and their relatives =)

I know of one experience where they even managed to get a group of monkeys to be dogmatic. They did an experience like this:

They put five monkeys togheder in a living zone, with one stair on the middle, with a banana hanging from a rope on the top. Whenever a monkey took the banana, they replaced it and shot water with a hose on the other four. Soon the monkeys started spanking and dragging down any monkey who tried to get the banana. Then they stopped the policy of hosing the monkeys, but the monkeys remained not letting any of themselves get the banana. Then they changed one of the monkeys for one who did not know the tradition, waited until he learned it, and changed again. Eventually all five monkeys in the living zone would never try to climb the stairs, even though none of then knew the reason.

Perhaps we can say that memory is knowledge.
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 06:13 pm
@hue-man,
My dog is supposed to stay off the carpeted areas in the house. She does when I am home and in sight. However the moment I am not in sight or home she strays and as soon as she spots me she gets this very guilty look and she scurries back to the kitchen. To me this implies a certain level of awareness, desire, and even guilt that is a form of thinking or knowledge depending on how you conceive of these terms.

Even the emergent or evolutionary theory of mind would imply that mind would develop slowly in stages over long periods and time and should be present in species other than man.
 
yamamoto
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 06:18 pm
@hue-man,
lets say that we got the right answer... would any animal be able to tell us if we got it right?

how would we verify something like this?
 
prothero
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 10:13 pm
@yamamoto,
yamamoto;156169 wrote:
lets say that we got the right answer... would any animal be able to tell us if we got it right?
how would we verify something like this?

Well we can not positively verify the subjective experience of any other person. We impute that they have similar experience to ourselves on the basis of analogy, observation and language communication.
Since animals do not use language (human language anyway, there is lots of evidence animals do use verbal communication) we have to impute it on the basis of observation and analogy.

There is very little reason based on observation and analogy to think that animals do not have subjective experience similar to our own although it varies in its nature and character from our own. In fact is is difficult to draw a line where mental experience begins or ends in the chain of life.

The notion that only humans have knowledge or subjective experience or an integrated mental picture of their surroundings stems back to the notion that man was a special creation uniquely endowed with a soul and the ability to reason. It is kind of amusing to see that those who reject notions of soul, god, etc. still cling to the notion that only man has knowledge, reason and mind. Evolution requires that mental qualities have slowly evolved over time and should be widespread in nature.
 
manored
 
Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2010 05:07 pm
@prothero,
prothero;156217 wrote:
Well we can not positively verify the subjective experience of any other person. We impute that they have similar experience to ourselves on the basis of analogy, observation and language communication.
Since animals do not use language (human language anyway, there is lots of evidence animals do use verbal communication) we have to impute it on the basis of observation and analogy.

There is very little reason based on observation and analogy to think that animals do not have subjective experience similar to our own although it varies in its nature and character from our own. In fact is is difficult to draw a line where mental experience begins or ends in the chain of life.

The notion that only humans have knowledge or subjective experience or an integrated mental picture of their surroundings stems back to the notion that man was a special creation uniquely endowed with a soul and the ability to reason. It is kind of amusing to see that those who reject notions of soul, god, etc. still cling to the notion that only man has knowledge, reason and mind. Evolution requires that mental qualities have slowly evolved over time and should be widespread in nature.
I totally agree. While there is certainly a big gap between man and other animals, I dont think its correct to say that man is the only rational lifeform on earth.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 12:25 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;156051 wrote:
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?
Animals are indeed intelligent and have emotions.

Many tracking dogs used in earthquake disasters have had trauma and depressions of finding dead people.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:12 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156151 wrote:
...

Well, the question still is what are the tests that tell us that a dog knows that his master is at the door.


As usual, the answer is provided by Hume. We know that the dog knows that his master is at the door the same way we know other people know things: Through behavior.

See:

Online Library of Liberty - SECTION IX.: of the reason of animals. - Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals

Online Library of Liberty - SECTION XVI.: Of the reason of animals. - A Treatise of Human Nature
 
Minimal
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 05:33 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;156051 wrote:
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?


Depends what you define as "knowledge". Evolutionary speaking, we have a gradual and accumulative increase in sensorium due to adaptation of our brains to accommodate greater mental capacity, that is diversity and awareness. We can assimilate information and place it into schemata - emotions, thoughts, morals, ethics etc. can be observed in vestiges of the past, our biological evolution. Do not invest so tenderly in the absurd ideal you are free from the grips of animalistic origin; antipathy for instinct is, ultimately, the denial of self and factuality. To treat mental phenomena, and in particular knowledge (which we are treating as awareness), as exclusively a capacity of hominids seems to ignore all such origin. Juxtaposing man and dog, although showing some uncanny resemblance, is a simplification.

I think this is an important consideration.

- Minimal.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 06:01 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;156051 wrote:
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?
- a kuku hatching will preform a very technically advanced task, by pushing out the current other eggs, thus only the kuku hatchling will remain, should other hatching be there, they too will be pushedout.
Such action requires both knowledge and intellect, and will lie in genetic memory.

Fish seems to have knowledge of the earth, they have an instinct to trek half the earth, then return to EXCAT same spawn spot.
 
exile
 
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 01:48 pm
@hue-man,
Well those examples aren't good ones being instinctive behaviour.

However a dog does have an ability to reason, at a simple level. And it certainly can acquire knowledge, of hunting routes, people's faces and personalities, and so on

We are an insecure species aren't we - we're always afraid that we are more like our fellow creatures that is comfortable.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 01:53 pm
@exile,
exile;168659 wrote:
Well those examples aren't good ones being instinctive behaviour.

However a dog does have an ability to reason, at a simple level. And it certainly can acquire knowledge, of hunting routes, people's faces and personalities, and so on
Thought for decades the sciencetists said it was intelligence, not instinct.
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Thu 3 Jun, 2010 04:27 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;156051 wrote:
Now my instinctual answer to this question is no, but let's try and take it a bit further. Does a person's dog know if their owner loves them or not? Does a dog know that the world exists? Can raw sensual data be equated to knowledge in anyway or would that be confusing feeling for knowing?


Animals have an Understanding; whereas man has the Understanding and Reason, with Reason being the faculty of Knowledge.

Animals, like humans, have an Understanding that uses Causality; in essence they can trace, or look for a cause from an effect, but they cannot derive a principle from it like we do through Reason (the Principle of Sufficient Reason). Sensual data is fed into the Understanding by means of perception.

This is a Schopenhauer/Kantian approach to your question(s).
 
Jack Master
 
Reply Fri 20 May, 2011 06:46 am
Every specie lives at his own specific reality, all of them are different. Human’s reality is very different that those of a bat, a frog or a bacteria. So all different specie’s individuals live theirs life and have their knowledge related to their specific reality. Supposedly there’s a common underlying reality for all forms of life, probably the atomic one, if we are able to imagine it.
Life is a system that can only be watched from inside.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » Do non-human animals have knowledge?
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 03/24/2019 at 02:05:07