Archive for the ‘Human Mind Vs Animal Mind’ Category

Society, Culture and Civilization. What they mean?

Posted by khuram on December 29, 2008

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If members of same species live together and facilitate each other’s lives by performing their specific role, then they constitute SOCIETY.

Not only humans, many animals also live in “societies”.

Term CULTURE should be specific to only human societies. Culture is the “material” and “immaterial” LOOKS of any human society.

Housing arrangements, types of buildings, roads and streets, means of communication, means of production of goods and services, level of technology, type of dressing, types of foods etc. etc. constitute the MATERIAL CULTURE of human societies.

On the other hand; language, idologies, beliefs, religion, customs, traditions, music, art etc. constitute IMMATERIAL CULTURE of human society.

Civilization means level of political and social organization of human society, level of ethical and moral standards of individuals of society; integrity, honesty and manners of individuals of that society etc.

Posted in -Home-, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan | 4 Comments »

Human Knowledge & its Expression:

Posted by khuram on January 29, 2007

In my other articles like “Some Differences of Human & Animal Mind”, “Knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times” and “Animism and Mythology”, I have taken “Knowledge” as equivalent to “theoretical awareness”. As it can be safely assumed that animals make no theoretical constructions. Computers etc. display theories, but they are not ‘aware’ of any theory. So “theoretical awareness” can be considered as the unique property of only humans. But the fact that animals are generally aware of their environment, raises the question that if all knowledge theoretical? Following article is basically an attempt to reply this question.

As already has been stated that “theoretical awareness” is the unique property of only humans. My opinion is just that we can consider only this type of ‘awareness’ as ‘knowledge’. There can be other modes of ‘awareness’ also. It does not seem wrong to not treat other forms of ‘awareness’ as ‘knowledge’. Awareness can be as remote as like a thermometer being ‘aware’ of body temperature as it can show exact amount of temperature. This type of awareness is neither ‘theoretical’ nor ‘conscious’. Only thing here is that let’s say mercury expansion has direct relationship with temperature. Mercury, in a sense, is ‘sensitive’ to heat or temperature. Mercury shall show a specific ‘response’ i.e. of expansion, whenever it shall be exposed to heat. But this type of ‘sensitiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’ is totally mechanical. Mechanical actions can be considered to be quite rigid, constant, blind and above all, ‘non-conscious’. We say, just for our own convenience, that thermometer is ‘aware’ of temperature. In fact it is not. Fact is just that the mercury in thermometer has rigidly, blindly and unconsciously been affected on the basis of a constant physical law. It is we humans, who can take conscious notice of how much mercury has been affected through the application of heat. Then we call so measured heat as temperature. In the article on the topic “Some Differences of Human and Animal Mind”, I have defined ‘consciousness’ as the “manifested form of sensitiveness and responsiveness which originates from biological sense perception.” Now question arises is that what are the core elements of biological sensitiveness and responsiveness? In above discussion, we have recognized that mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness has to be in a constant pattern, has to be blind, rigid and non-conscious etc. An animal’s sensitiveness and responsiveness will have whole different features. In an ordinary animal, there is presence of famous five senses. In addition, there is ‘memory’. This animal may show many types of responses like fear, belongingness, anger etc. etc. The issue here is that just what are the differences between the sensitiveness and responsiveness of a thermometer and those of an animal like a dog? In a thermometer, mercury will show its response only when it shall be physically exposed to heat. Mercury is ‘blind’ because it cannot show any response without physical contact with heat source, where obviously, heat source may include hot surrounding air as well. A dog, on the other hand, is not blind because it can show some response without having been physically exposed to hot surrounding area of burning fire. A dog can ‘see’ burning fire from as much distant place as to just able to ‘see’ the burning fire but not able to feel any heat thereof, and then can show its response. At this point, real ‘awareness’ comes to scene. This ‘awareness’ can be thought of as such a ‘sensitiveness’ which must have been originated, may be just partially, from “past memorized experiences”. Here it seems pertinent to mention Henri Bergson’s concept of Mind. He has conceived ‘mind’ as a faculty, which can ‘store’ past. Although I do not think that the only function of mind is to just store past and then, as Bergson says, to recall the relevant contents of past experiences upon facing the current situation. Mind, in my opinion, can have many other functions than to this one, but this definition of mind, in my assessment, does comprehensively describe an animal’s mind with the exception that still the pure instinctive actions of animals, which are generally independent of any of past experiences, are not covered by this definition. In this way, we can say that those animal actions that originate from the application of ‘stored’ past memories (may be like movie clips) upon current situation are the ‘awareness’ based actions. Other actions, that are independent of past experiences, may be considered as just ‘instinctive’ actions.

Now if we try to differentiate mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness from the sensitiveness and responsiveness of an animal, we can do it at two levels; i.e. (i) on the level of just instincts and; (ii) on the level of ‘awareness’. On the level of instincts, such things as pleasure, pain, comfort, discomfort etc. shall characterize an animal’s sensitiveness and responsiveness. These things are not to be found in just mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness. Secondly, mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness is just a one-way process. The behavior of non-living entity, which is showing mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness, has to be perfectly ‘passive’. On the other hand, instincts based animal’s sensitiveness and responsiveness is a two way process where animals generally show ‘active’ behavior. An animal that feels pleasure would by itself move towards the source of pleasure and similarly shall move away, at its own (i.e. by using its own biological mechanical or locomotion energy), from the sources of pains and discomforts. Now come to see the difference of mechanical sensitiveness and responsiveness with animal’s sensitiveness and responsiveness on the level of ‘awareness’. Animal’s mind possesses the faculty of storage of past experiences and the ability to recall relevant past experiences upon facing the current situation. Actually, it seems that animal mind is able to store the related or “associated” observations in serially connected form. What I mean is that let’s say an animal, which is ‘aware’ of ways of its routine path etc. shall recall the next turn or way-out after having reached that particular place where that next turn is situated. It means that animal’s mind, where past experiences have been stored, shall retrieve the corresponding relevant information i.e. about next turn, only when the animal shall again perceive the place of that turn. It is simply not appropriate to suppose the presence of any such ability in animals that they could have some sort of imaginative mapping of ways of their usual route. In this way, in animals, process of sense perception continuously keeps on drawing next relevant information from the storeroom of past experiences i.e. mind; because sense perception itself is a continuous process. And since past experiences are guiding animal here, so we can consider this type of animal behavior to be based on ‘awareness’. In the same way, animals can memorize (i.e. store) the information regarding what to do upon listening particular commands of their Masters and can retrieve that information from memory whenever they listen those commands. In addition, animals can expect or anticipate the commands by their Masters as well. But it seems that they can have such expectations only in the presence of those Masters.

Now we can try to differentiate between this type of animal awareness and the ‘theoretical awareness’ that can be found in our perceivable world, only in humans. First of all we should accept that basically, or by birth, humans do not possess anything like ‘theoretical awareness’. Innately, humans possess only ‘learning potential’ as well as certain tendencies for it. I shall discuss these tendencies at pertinent stage. Human childs acquire or learn theoretical propositions or other theoretical stuff only and mainly out of their experience of living in human groups or society. Without going into the speculations regarding just how primitive theoretical knowledge could have been evolved in early human societies, we can just assume that it might have been so evolved as a result of very long term processes. I have mentioned earlier that it is not appropriate to suppose that animals can have anything like ‘imaginative mapping’ of their ‘stored past’ because it is only the process of sense perception in animals, that can retrieve or draw the relevant past contents out of memory. But for the case of humans, it is pertinent to suppose the presence of ‘imaginative mapping’ of past contents even for the case of such an hypothetical individual human who gets no experience of living in human group or society at all. Due to this ‘imaginative mapping’, humans are able to recall those past contents in their fresh memory (or conscious mind) that may not have any linkage with their existing sensory information. Due to this ability, humans, for instance can recall and tell ways of path of some other city while standing on a different location of another city. In this way, actually humans can imaginatively ‘explore’ the storeroom of past experiences. And although humans can imaginatively explore the past experiences of mind but it seems that they cannot reach up to a particular past memory content just arbitrarily. What seems right is that they can reach up to a particular past memory content only through a chain like process. For example, in order that I may recall ways of path of some other city, first of all I need to bring the idea of that other city to my conscious mind. With the idea of that city in my conscious mind, then I shall recall different spots of the path etc. and then, only through this chain like process, I shall be able to tell the complete path to some other person. I shall discuss the structure of this chain like process in some other article. The thing to be emphasized here is that the ability of ‘imaginative mapping’ of past experiences exists only in humans and that although this ability itself is not equivalent to humans’ ‘theoretical knowledge’, but the same ‘imaginative mapping’ is an important source of this ‘theoretical knowledge’. The same ‘imaginative map’ is the source of origin of all human thinking, imaginations and dreams as well. Due to having this ‘imaginative mapping’, humans are in need to ‘express’ this map of stored past experiences. They can do it in the form of let’s say artwork like drawings as well as in theoretical format. Archeological evidences of various cave-artworks reveal that humans used to express their ‘imaginative maps’ in the form of drawings in as early period as about fifty thousand years ago. Evidences of theoretical expressions are relatively quite recent.

Human mind, unlike animal mind, not only stores past experiences, it also alters or modifies those past memory contents. For the case of animals, what can be safely assumed is that they do generalize various past experiences but obviously, to a far lesser extent to what humans can do in this respect. What only humans do and so animals cannot be supposed to be able to do is that humans can draw analogical as well as other inductive and deductive conclusions. And the limitation of human mind is that every kind of conclusion or inference, whether it is simple generalization or analogical or it is any other form of inductive or deductive inference, is not more than just a re-arrangement of already possessed past experiences. Suppose there are two experience based similar entities (Aab) and (Babc) in human mind. Let’s say, A and B are two students. A is experimentally known to have ‘a’ and ‘b’ qualities and similarly B is experimentally known to be the possessor of ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c’ qualities. On the basis of this information, this human mind can draw an analogical conclusion that probably A possesses ‘c’ quality as well. Here this mind has assigned ‘c’ quality to A at its own i.e. without any prior experimental test. In this way, there has been some addition to mind contents because previously mind had only experimental data whereas now mind is having an analogical inference also, in addition to the old experimental data. It means that mind is having some new information that has not directly come from sense experience. And although this new information has not directly come from sense experience but the fact to be noted is that the same new information has come indirectly from the same sense experience. Mind has come to know something quite independently of sense experience. But in fact mind has not created anything at its own. In more understandable words of our information age, mind just has performed a copy-paste thing. It just has copied quality ‘c’ that belonged to B and then has assigned this copied entity to A. In analogy, mind only performs copy-paste whereas usually doesn’t perform cut-paste.

In the same way, in any other form of conclusion or inference, mind does not create anything at its own. It just re-arranges, or modifies the given information and then presents so modified information in such way that gives some new meanings. For example, consider the following simple example of a deductive conclusion:

All A are B
All B are C
Therefore All A are C

Here we can suppose that premises of this argument had come from sense experience whereas now mind has reached to the deductive conclusion i.e. “All A are C”, at its own. In a general sense, this conclusion is the product of mind. But in a more technical sense, this conclusion is not any creation of mind because not a single word of conclusion “All A are C”, is a whole new thing. In fact all the words of conclusion are already contained in the premises. In this deductive conclusion, mind has just re-arranged the information, which was contained in the premises.

In this way, we can say that unlike animal mind, human mind not only stores past experiences, it re-arranges or alters those past experiences as well. In addition, unlike animals, human mind contains many abstract entities also because due to the process of sense experience and thinking and imaginations, humans can identify many abstract entities like beauty, friendship, mind, knowledge etc. etc. Humans’ ‘imaginative map’ thus not only includes original sensory information, it includes abstract entities and re-arranged, modified or altered information as well. And humans are in need to ‘express’ this type of imaginative map. And again, as already has been described, humans usually do it in theoretical format or in the form of drawings or some other artwork etc.

Now we can discuss the main issue i.e. is all knowledge theoretical? The above discussion actually implies a relatively more technical definition of knowledge, which may be stated like: “Knowledge means those stored past experiences, that may include original sensory data as well as abstract and re-arranged or altered information, which can be expressed with or without having been exposed to the associated or relevant current sense perception. In addition to being able to be ‘expressed’, those stored (original plus altered) experiences must be able to set guidelines for present or even future attitudes, behaviors and/ or actions”. We should consider that ‘knowledge’ is far complicated thing than to this definition and that this definition is trying to describe only some particular aspects of ‘knowledge’.

In this way, we can differentiate between ‘knowledge’ and just ‘awareness’. ‘Knowledge’ includes ‘awareness’ whereas just ‘awareness’ may not be accompanied with ‘knowledge’. Awareness is just ‘sensitiveness’ that comes, at least partially, from past memorized experiences upon facing current relevant sense perceptions; and it may include corresponding ‘responsiveness’ as well. ‘Knowledge’ on the other hand must be able to be ‘expressed’ as well as it may not have any relation with currently-perceived sensory information. In addition, knowledge should be able to set guidelines for present or even future attitudes, behaviors and/ or actions.

Knowledge therefore may be considered to be the ability to express (original plus altered) past. Secondly, ‘awareness’ is also other main component of knowledge. So in lose sense, only ‘theoretical awareness’ can be considered as ‘knowledge’. In a strict sense, combination of ‘awareness’ with any mode of expression such as theoretical expression or artistic expression or any other form of expression can be regarded as knowledge. The foundation of this knowledge is the ‘imaginative map’ of past experiences. This map is not the true picture of past because it includes such altered contents as well that may range from just vague and meaningless conclusions to marvelous metaphysical theories etc. This imaginative map sometimes reflects itself in disorganized or random styles in the forms of dreams and illusions, and the same imaginative map can reflect itself in very accurately constructed pieces of arts as well as logically/ mathematically and grammatically accurate pieces of philosophies, sciences and literature. It has been mentioned earlier that although theoretical awareness is not innate in humans, but humans do possess some pre-given tendencies that can refine and improve the quality of ‘imaginative map’ and also help in the process of construction of theoretical mind stuff. These pre-given tendencies are that humans, with passage of mind related experiences, tend to become logically, mathematically and grammatically more accurate and consistent and artistically and poetically more precise and balanced. As we live in already civilized age, so we get introduction to theoretical knowledge from the society. I already have stated that discussion in this article shall not go to speculations regarding just how theoretical knowledge first time originated in human societies. But however, it seems right to point out that these pre-given tendencies might be having a great role in the original creation of theoretical mind stuff. Theoretical stuff itself is not knowledge but it makes us ‘able’ to express our ‘imaginative map’. Our tendencies of becoming logically and mathematically more accurate and consistent can work on raw ‘imaginative map’; but it seems that these pre-given tendencies work more efficiently on theoretical mind stuff. When we logically, mathematically and grammatically improve our theoretical mind stuff, then actually we also make corresponding refinements and improvements in our ‘imaginative map’. And every segment of theoretical stuff corresponds to more than one aspect of ‘imaginative map’ and vice versa. By having a particular theoretical proposition in our conscious mind, we are having its related aspects of ‘imaginative map’ also in our conscious mind and vice versa. And just like that we can explore our imaginative map only through a chain like process, each and every bit of theoretical stuff also can be accessed (recalled/ expressed) only through a chain like process. Let’s say I have memorized page No.110 of a particular book. Normally, I shall recall the contents of this memorized theoretical stuff only through such a chain like process that I shall start telling it from first word and shall tell or express the complete page word by word. The chain is like that while uttering second word; I shall get a ‘spark’ of what is going to be the third word and by following that ‘spark’, I shall utter that third word; then I shall get similar ‘spark’ for next word and so on. This chain like process should be compared with photo copying process of photocopy machine that instantly copies all the contents of page. Secondly, it is very difficult to suppose that let’s say a classical singer is fully aware of all the complicated ups and downs of music before starting to perform. The fact, that seems right is that the singer shall start singing; and at stage of every bit of up or down in the music, he shall get similar ‘spark’ regarding what to perform in the very next moment. And then he shall give a continuous performance in this way. The wave of ups and downs of music is not “hard-coded” in his mind. Actually each and every bit of those ups and downs is just recalled, through a chain like process, at the right stage. The guiding factor behind this process is not any “hard-coded” material but seems to be consisted of many pre-given tendencies of humans, out of which “sense of musical balance” may be considered to be the main guiding factor behind this particular process.

Similarly, knowledge does not reside in mind like any “hard-coded” theoretical propositions. Whenever we are required to ‘express’ knowledge, we start exploring our ‘imaginative map’, obviously in a chain like way; then some of corresponding theoretical stuff also comes to conscious mind. Our innate tendencies of keeping ourselves logically, mathematically and grammatically accurate also come to action. These tendencies, instantly, help in translating the exploration of ‘imaginative map’ into the logically connected and interrelated theoretical propositions. In this way, we theoretically describe our ‘imaginative map’. In the same way, we can instantly interpret the currently observed any new phenomenon and can describe it theoretically.

Thus existence of imaginative map is a great advancement in humans. It cannot be said with surety that other animals do not possess this kind of imaginative map at all. What can be said safely is that the most advanced imaginative map of any animal would still be inferior to very rough and less developed imaginative map of any primitive human. And as we live in already civilized societies, so the imaginative maps of our past experiences include various kinds of theoretical stuff as well. It means that here, theoretical stuff being a part of imaginative map, may not have its existence apart from, or distinguished from the imaginative map. The systematic structure of theoretical propositions and language helps us in refining and improving our over-all imaginative maps. We tend to keep our imaginative map and our expressions logically, mathematically and grammatically accurate. Theories of logic, mathematics and grammar etc. in this way, have been discovered out of our own general tendencies. Humans are much more than animals and it is not right to think that human knowledge is just some quantitative advancement in animal intelligence.

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What is Idea? And can Animals have any Idea?

Posted by khuram on January 27, 2007

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Idea is our anticipation that something can be done or can be better done in this or that way. Usually before having an idea, we are having a problem. Initially, the solution to that problem is unknown. Then it happens that at once some pertinent way-out is realized. The so realized way-out may or may not be the accurate solution to the original problem. But in any case, the same realized way-out is the “idea”. So wrong ideas are also included in this definition of “idea”. The problem can be a practical matter or can be some theoretical issue. Most ideas are basically analogical conclusions. I have explained this point in my article on the topic: “Compound Ideas and Imaginations and how they differ with Invalid Ideas”. More generally, the term “idea” or “ideas” is used to denote contents of any thought.

Can animals have any idea?

Animals can be trapped into certain problems. Thorondike’s experiment on a cat is one such example where cat was trapped into a problem that it had to find the way-out to escape itself from cage. In fact that cat really managed to find out the right way-out. But still I do not consider finding out of this right way-out as any idea. Cat, here, had not got any idea at all. It was due to just trial and error process. Even those wrong efforts that were performed by cat before finding the right way-out were not the result of any idea. Those efforts were just disorganized, random and haphazard in nature. In this way, I think it wrong to assume that ordinary animals can have any idea. But for the case of certain monkeys and apes, I can accept the existence of some basic forms of “ideas” in them as along with some other abilities (which I am not going to mention here because I do not possess any experimental proof), they can get the idea of making simple tools etc.

Posted in -Home-, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Ideas Theory, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 2 Comments »

Some Differences of Human & Animal Mind:

Posted by khuram on December 29, 2006

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There is fundamental difference between human and animal mind, due to which humans possess ‘knowledge’ whereas animals do not. Actually ‘knowledge’ is the ‘theoretical awareness’ of any thing or phenomenon. Only humans are theoretically aware about their surrounding environment as well as about their ownselves, so only humans possess ‘knowledge’. I have discussed this issue in brief, and in quite general way, in my essay on topic: The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times.

Instead of considering ‘human knowledge’ just as some kind of advancement in so called ‘animal intelligence’, which some modern philosophers do, if knowledge were defined as “theoretical awareness of any thing or phenomenon” then other animals, at once, would be ousted from the domain of knowledge. And if only humans possess knowledge and animals possess no knowledge at all, then surely there must be a fundamental difference between human and animal mind, which is responsible for the fact that only humans possess knowledge whereas other animals do not.

The above referred modern school of thought actually believes in some difference in the degree of intelligence, of humans and animals. According to this school of thought, only such a difference in the degree of level of intelligence could account for the difference in human and animal knowledge. Again, according to this school of thought, knowledge is just some advanced form of same animal intelligence. But I believe in the fundamental difference between ‘intelligence’ and ‘knowledge’ too. Other animals can be intelligent for they are able to learn what they have been taught, or they are able to associate related events or things etc. But animals possess no knowledge at all because they know nothing in the theoretical format. In other words, they possess no theoretical stuff at all. So ‘knowledge’ and ‘intelligence’ are two separate and distinguished entities, in my opinion. Generally animal childs are more intelligent than human childs. Actually ‘intelligence’ is just the ability of organism to take actions as per the demands of environmental situations. Obviously different animals respond to environmental situations within the framework of their maximum abilities. We consider an animal ‘intelligent’ when it can display or show its optimum or best possible response to the environmental situations quickly, or in timely manner. An animal would be considered to be ‘intelligent’ when it shows the ability of taking right actions in its struggle for addressing to its bodily needs. When it becomes able to independently search its food sources etc. When it becomes able to be given ‘training’ for such tasks which are possible to be undertaken by its species. In this context, many animal childs can acquire all their possible abilities of taking actions as per the demands of situations in their much early life as compared to any human child. A normal human child, on the other hand, remains unable to even sit at his/ her own for as long period of his/ her early life as five or six months. Animal childs become ‘independent’ and so ‘intelligent’ in their very early life as compared to any human child. In this way, we can say that generally animal childs are more intelligent than human childs. But despite the fact of being ‘less intelligent’, it is only human child who possesses the potential of acquiring ‘knowledge’. It is due to the fact that there is fundamental difference between human and animal mind. And this fundamental difference has nothing to do with the degree or level of intelligence, which humans and animals possess. The most intelligent animal would be having no knowledge at all whereas the duffer most (grown up) human would still be theoretically aware, may be even in incorrect or wrong way, of at least some aspects of his environment.

Here, some people can agrue that animals are conscious, and thus self-conscious, and thus aware of their environments and themselves. In response to this, I would accept that animals are ‘conscious’. But I shall not accept the derivation of this conclusion that animals are self-conscious too, just because they are conscious.

Actually animals are ‘conscious’ only in this sense that their instinctive faculties can interact with the environment via sense perception. And in my opinion, there is also a basic difference between animal perception and human perception. In animal perception, sensory data interacts only with the instinctive faculties of animals such as hunger, thirst, fear, pleasure, comfort/ discomfort etc. and animal actions are thus guided in this way. Human perception, on the other hand, happens to have additional features also. In human perception, sensory data would interact not only with instinctive faculties, but also would interact with some additional features which are (i) psychological feelings and; (ii) theoretical propositions. At the most which I can reasonably accept is that for determining the differences between animals and humans, any hard boundary line cannot be established between the instinctive faculties and these two additional features because practically this boundary would penetrate, up to some extent, to the area defined as ‘psychological feelings’ also. This boundary line however, in no way, reaches to the area of ‘theoretical propositions’. Animal perception therefore, may have just something to do with ‘psychological feelings’ but can have nothing to do with ‘theoretical propositions’.

‘Consciousness’ basically is a manifested form of ‘sensitiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’. Only instinctive faculties, and in some cases, instinctive faculties plus fractional part of psychological feelings can generate these forms of ‘sensitiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’.

‘Self-Consciousness’, on the other hand is much-advanced feature. It is a ‘concept’ basically. This type of concept has to do only with the theoretical type knowledge. So ‘self-consciousness’ is the property of only humans.

I firmly believe that ‘theoretical awareness’ is the unique property of humans. Secondly the school of thought which takes human knowledge as just some advancement in ordinary animal intelligence, also considers ‘concepts’ as product of intelligence. I consider it the generosity of that school of thought that they give as much honor to ‘intelligence’. As I believe that some animals can be more ‘intelligent’ than some humans and in any case whatsoever, I would like to pay more respect to humans, so I do not consider ‘concepts’ as product of ‘intelligence’. Instead, I believe concepts as the product of human ‘rationality and wisdom’. This ‘rationality and wisdom’ is comprised of only those aspects of intelligence that can interact with theoretical propositions. So these aspects of intelligence have to be the part of only human intelligence and cannot be the part of animal intelligence.

I also have discussed some other aspects of differences of human and animal mind in my artical on “Desires – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind”.

For further detailed analysis of the differences of human and animal mind, please check my article titled “Human Knowledge and its Expression”.

Posted in -Home-, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 20 Comments »

“Desires” – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind:

Posted by khuram on December 26, 2006

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“Desires” – As one of Most Basic Differences of Human and Animal Mind:

Generally we consider animistic, or magical or other superstitious ideologies as baseless or irrational, but these are after all an important source of understanding the functionality and capabilities of human mind. Even these ‘irrational’ ideologies are the unique characteristics of human beings. Any other known life form doesn’t possess any form of superstition. Study of superstitions can give wonderful insight into our true nature or essence. Humans want to control the external world events but at the same time long for that they may not have to do any effort for the purpose. They tend to find easy solutions for every task. Mostly they perform those tasks in just daydreams. More ‘practical’ people take help of a magician. Wise people ask help from supernatural beings. Scientists insist that only materialistic causation principle is the solution for performing any task. But tasks before humans may not always be accomplished by the material causation principle. Humans want to defeat death, which causation principle may not allow. But religion offers its solution in the form of belief in after-life.

But all this apparent and observable human behavior is actually a clue, which can lead us towards finding the true human nature or essence. Some times we consider human desires as something negative. But this “desire” is one of the most basic differences between humans and other animals. Here term ‘desire’ doesn’t include instinct based bodily needs. Term ‘desire’ here stands for those ‘mental’ wishes of humans whereby they purposefully want to acquire those material or non-material things (such as skills, abilities, grace, beauty etc.), which they ‘observe’ in their environment and take notice that they themselves still do not possess those material/ non-material things. ‘Desires’ are therefore different from other instinctive bodily needs in that other body needs are independent of any kind of ‘observation’ and thus arise automatically because of natural instincts. We can feel hunger without having seen the food but we cannot get the ‘desire’ of acquiring latest fashion dresses until and unless we ‘observe’ or take notice of emergence of that new fashion. So ‘desires’ are actually those wants and wishes that cannot originate in complete absence of ‘observance’. This differentiation between desires and other body needs is important because those wants and wishes that originate only from observance, are found only in humans; though to relatively far less extent, can be found in certain monkeys and apes as well. In the article on “Animism and Mythology”, I have mentioned that humans possess two types of life. First one is their ‘physical’ life and the other one is their ‘mental’ life. ‘Desires’ are basically one of the most basic manifestations of human ‘mental’ life. Consider a child who does not own a bicycle. He ‘observes’ his friends or other age fellows who come and go, here and there on their own bicycles. In this way that child boy would develop a desire of having his own bicycle. Now consider a dog. It may ‘observe’ many people who travel on their own bicycles, bikes, cars and so on. But even after observing so many such things, a dog cannot be desirous of riding on car or bike etc. A dog can just be ‘trained’ to ride on bike or any other thing. By nature, a dog would be completely indifferent towards any such thing, which has nothing to do with its bodily instincts. It would become active, let’s say, only if it gets any odor coming from some food source etc. But it would never show any desire to ride on bike even if it happens to observe so many people riding on bikes. ‘Desires’ relate to ‘mental’ life of humans. Presence of ‘desires’ is a positive advancement in humans, which is missing in other animals. ‘Desire’ is not any bodily need but it is a ‘mental’ need. And every desire is an “ANALOGICAL INFERENCE” basically. Simple meaning of analogy is our tendency to think that two or more things, which are known to be ‘similar’ in some aspects, can be similar in some other aspects as well. Now I try to explain how a small boy’s desire of having a bicycle was an analogical inference. As the boy could see that he and his friends were ‘similar’ entities in many respects. But an aspect i.e. of having a bicycle was missing in him. This would be the simplest form of analogical inference whereby that boy would imagine himself of being ‘similar’ to his friends in the respect of having a bicycle also.

Most basic difference of human and animal mind is the ability of human mind of drawing analogical conclusions. All the animism and all types of magic are also one or the other “analogical inferences”, which an uneducated human mind like a small child or a primitive human can draw. When a magician digs in many needles in the statue of enemy, with the purpose to kill the enemy, he actually acts on an “analogical inference”. He thinks that real enemy and the statue of enemy are ‘similar’. So if the statue of enemy could be tortured by digging in needles etc., the real enemy, being a ‘similar’ entity, also would be tortured as a result. In my childhood, we had a Philips remote control television. My elders always hold that remote control and used to switch channels against my wish. My calculator was very ‘similar’ to that remote control. So I very sincerely and confidently used to press the buttons of calculator with the hope that I also could switch channels in that way. It never happened however. Similarly again in my early childhood, I happened to listen somewhere that there was a student in USA who while sleeping, used to keep his open book underneath his cushion. Next morning, as a result, he would automatically learn all the lessons. I also very sincerely did the same but … I could not learn the lesson in this way.

Anyways, I was discussing the most basic difference in human and animal mind. Human mind can draw analogical conclusions whereas animal mind cannot do it. Above given examples of magic and my own examples are stating somewhat complex form of analogical inferences. Animal mind, in no way, can reach to this much complexity. But in certain cases, animal mind does reach to the simplest form of analogical inferences. The simplest form of analogical inference is to just ‘copy’ or ‘imitate’ others. This ability exists in certain monkeys and apes.

Humanity’s views on ‘desires’ have interesting history. Some Indian schools of thought particularly consider ‘desires’ as the source of all the human misery and unhappiness. Underlying idea is something like that humans are caught by miseries and unhappiness when they fail to fulfill their desires. So if they stop desiring anything then any question of failure in fulfilling the desires shall not arise and therefore humanity will be free of any misery or unhappiness.

As I stated previously that only humans can be desirous of anything. Those early Indian thinkers might have noticed this fact. In addition, they also might have noticed that many forms of miseries and unhappiness catch up only humans. They might have then rationalized the phenomenon of human misery by putting all the blame on human desires. They however included many forms of body needs also in the list of so-called ‘desires’. Jainism and Buddhism were the main representatives of this school of thought and both these religions originated in around 6th century B.C. By that time, Greek intellectuals still had not tried to determine the purpose of humans in Universe. Some traces are found in 5th century B.C however when some Greeks thought that ‘matter’ was the prison of ‘soul’ and the objective before humans was to get their soul freed of imprisonment of matter. So in this respect, Indian thought has important place in the history of humanity’s struggle for finding their objective in this world as they happened to be among the first people who tried to determine the objective before humans, which, according to them, was getting freedom from miseries which could be achieved through the control on desires.

But in the same period, Confucius, in China was telling his students that their objective was to become able to think over various practical matters of life RATIONALLY and should become able to express their opinions clearly and transparently.

Anyhow, ‘desire’ itself was not the source of human misery because the real source of human misery, under this line of thought, was the ‘failure’ of humans to fulfill their desires. Right strategy should have been to try to ‘control’ the rate of failure rather than to forbid the desires altogether.

What I think is that ‘desires’ are positive things. These are ‘desires’ which give us our most of the long-term objectives. ‘Desires’ make it possible that we try to improve our knowledge, abilities or skills over such long periods that may extend to decades. If we were limited to just bodily needs, then we would not be in need to make any ‘improvement’ in ourselves. Desires tell us two things. On the negative side, they tell us that we are lacking some important thing. On the positive side, they give us hope that we can remove that shortcoming in ourselves. Thus a movement towards better and higher levels becomes possible through the application of desires. I have described previously that all desires are basically ‘analogical inferences’ in nature. Analogical Inference works in a way that lets say I observe some entity, which is similar to me in some aspects. But I find that I am lacking some important characteristics, which exist in that other entity. If I imagine myself of possessing the same or similar characteristics, which I have observed in that other entity, it means that now I am ‘desirous’ of possessing those important characteristics. Its meaning is that if I do not observe any entity which is similar to me in any respect and possesses some important characteristics that I do not possess, I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO FORM ANY DESIRE in this case. If humans would never had seen flying birds, if they never had realized that they themselves were lacking in an important characteristic of ‘flying’, which a similar entity to them i.e. birds did possess, THEN HUMANS COULD NOT BE DESIROUS of flying like birds.

If human mind works by making analogies, it means that mind does not work at its own. It cannot get the desire of flying like birds without having observed that birds can fly and realizing that humans cannot fly. But if humans can observe many different things in the environment, then they would definitely tend to form one or the other desires.

And I also think that to be desirous of something would be better than having fulfilled all the desires. Fulfillment of all the desires would eliminate all the charms of life. Secondly it is also not possible to acquire the state of complete ‘control’ on desires. Any attempt to ‘control’ desires would actually ‘magnify’ the desires. One important component of ‘desire’ is the feeling of ‘lacking’ something. Any attempt to control ‘desire’ will actually strengthen those feelings of ‘lacking’ something and desires shall be magnified in this way. Buddhists tried to ‘control’ their desires related to sex … that desire ultimately magnified and then manifested in the form of amazing art work of Agentta caves. Technically ‘sex’ was a bodily need instead of a ‘desire’. But since art work relates to ‘mental performance’, so here I have considered it as a form of ‘desire’.

Issue of ‘desires’ is related to the issue of ethics as well. The question can be if desires are good or bad? In case we find that we are lacking some better or superior characteristic, which other people do possess; and we get a desire of acquiring that superior or better quality – this type of desire would be ‘good’. But if we find that we are lacking in some inferior quality, which some other people do possess, and in this way we become desirous of acquiring that inferior quality – this type of desire would be ‘bad’. Better and superior qualities are those, which are beyond the scope of our presently held skills or abilities. Inferior qualities are those, which could be acquired just if we do not employ our presently held skills and abilities in the best possible way. Furthermore better qualities are those, which suits to the personality of person who is desirous of those qualities. Some qualities may be superior in fact but may not be ‘suitable’ to the personality of person. To wear a princess like dress would be a ‘suitable’ desire for a girl but not for a boy etc.

Issue of ethics also has relationship with just how we try to fulfill our desires. If we employ unethical or illegal means, we would be ethically bad in this case. We are ethically good if we fulfill all our body and mental needs under the supervisory control of our rationality and wisdom.

I have discussed some other aspects of differences of human and animal mind in my post on the topic of “Some Differences of Human & Animal Mind” as well.

Posted in -Home-, Animism and Mythology, Emotions, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy Background, Philosophy in Pakistan, Theory of Knowledge | 4 Comments »

Animism and Mythology

Posted by khuram on August 19, 2006

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Animism and Mythology

Humans happen to have two different types of life. First one is their ‘physical’ life. Humans are not unique in this world in having this form of life. Obviously, other animals also possess this type of life. The real distinction or uniqueness of humans in this world is due to their having a second form of life also, which is their ‘mental’ life. Human needs are not restricted to just food, clothing, housing etc. These needs relate only to the ‘physical’ life aspect of them. Due to having the ‘mental’ life, humans also are in NEED to get ‘theoretical explanations’ of whatever they observe in their surrounding environment. Thus humans had always been in such needs as to get some theoretical understanding of their environment, their own selves, about the world, about universe, about their own relationship with the universe, about their own purpose or role in this universe, about the role of universe for them and so on, throughout the time when they first might had started their ‘conscious’ life in this world.

Presently, humans possess mainly two types of ‘theoretical understandings’ of above-mentioned things which are (i) Divine told Explanations and; (ii) Human self made Explanations.

In this way, the God Almighty Himself tells the theoretical knowledge of true religion to humanity whereas rest of the theoretical knowledge is man made.

Humans always want to get some theoretical ‘explanation’ of whatever phenomena they observe because they are RATIONAL beings in character and essence. It should be considered that as opposite to the Existentialist’s opinion, human ‘essence’ really comes first, due to which they feel the need of getting ‘theoretical explanations’ of observed phenomena. It is also due to having this ‘essence’ that they want to make ‘choices’. Coming back to the point, humans can ‘explain’ the things only on the basis of (i) whatever information (may be even incomplete or incorrect) they already possess and; (ii) what ‘approach’ they follow in the process of making interpretations of already possessed information. I shall explain this point later on.

Thus humans, due to their particular essence, always tend to explain not only the material world which they observe, they also tend to explain their own feelings, emotions, thinking, imaginations, dreams and so on. Here, we can refer to the material world as ‘external world’ and those feelings, emotions etc. as ‘internal world’.

I already stated that humans can explain the things only on the basis of whatever information they already posses and by following some approach for the interpretation of that already possessed information. In Anthropology, these ‘approaches’ are generally classified as:

1- Animism
2- Mythology
3- Religion
4- Philosophy
5- Science


This happened to be the earliest form of approach of looking at various matters when humans still were in their early stages of conscious life. They might have found themselves in material environment and they might have developed some incorrect explanations using whatever limited information they possessed in those days. They also might have encountered with such quite strange things as although they used to sleep, let’s say in caves, but during sleep time, i.e. in dreams, they could find themselves in jungles, they could see and meet their dead relatives and so on. To form somewhat explanation about material things might not have posed much problem to them. But the matter that they used to sleep in cave and in this way could wonder about in jungles and could meet their dead relatives, must have been much difficult for them to properly explain. Keeping in view the type of information, which they possessed in those early days, they might have reached such type of ‘rational’ resolution that they assumed the presence of ‘something’ inside the human body. So they might have explained this complicated matter in a way that they thought that ‘something’ could separate from the body during sleep and could come back when awakened. In addition to this, those early humans might have noticed that their life was dependent upon breathing. They might have noticed that when this chain of breath stops, human dies. So they would have reconciled this chain of breath with that ‘something’ which could leave their body during sleep and could come back when awakened and they would have called it the ‘Spirit’. That ‘spirit’ finally became a real object for them.

It is also important to consider that to properly distinguish between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ world might have been near to impossible for those early humans just because due to the much limited information which they possessed in those days. Even today wild uncivilized tribesmen and children make no difference between their ‘internal’ and ‘external’ world. Children sincerely think that external world events are dependents on their own thinking and emotions and so they sincerely think that their own thoughts and feelings can affect the physical world. When some event does not occur as per their emotional feelings, they cry and weep. Children also tend to think that toys are alive just like them. So they clothe them and ‘marry’ them. In the same way ancient humans had been considering lifeless objects as conscious in the same manner as they themselves were. So they sincerely thought that all those lifeless objects also ‘feel’, or that they also had ‘emotions’. Those ancient humans could not differentiate between external, internal, objective and/ or psychological factors or things.

These type of objective situations resulted in the emergence of Animism, which is a belief on ‘spirits’; that other lifeless objects also possess ‘spirits’ and that external world events occur as per the will of those ‘spirits’ etc.

This Animism was the first ever attempt of human kind to get themselves ‘theoretically’ and ‘emotionally’ relate to the Universe and this belief have had an everlasting impact on all the coming times.

A complete uneducated human mind, just like that of a small child, tends to believe that external world events are dependents on one’s own feelings and emotions. It is interesting to point out that throughout early history to even the present modern times, humans always have tried to ‘control’ the external world events using their own emotions and feelings.

When a small child sincerely believes that certain event must happen according to his/ her own emotional desire, it is just the case of ‘innocence’ of that small child. There is another interesting common notion of ‘children’s world’ (There is a Children’s digest also with this title — I used to study it in my childhood). What is this ‘children’s world’? How it is different from the ‘real world’? This ‘children’s world’ actually is a way in which a child identifies the relationship between his/ her ‘internal’ and ‘external’ world. For a child, the external world is filled by his/ her own emotional objects such as fairies, Ghosts, kind prince and princesses and so on. Similarly, for a child, the external world events must depend on his/ her owns emotional (innocent) feelings. For example, in my childhood, as I can remember even now, I used to think, “Kal school se chutti ho gi – just because I wanted this” (tomorrow shall be holiday, just because I wanted so!).

This ‘children’s world’ approach should be differentiated with the ‘realistic’ approach, where a ‘realist’ person clearly identifies the difference between internal and external world and he/ she knows that events of external world are dependent on rigid and constant laws of nature i.e. physical world and are not dependent on his/ her own thoughts or ideas. Here this thing must be kept in mind that ideas do have impact on external world but only in a realist sense. For example a person first conceives the idea of doing some business. Then he realistically translates that idea into reality thus affecting the events of external world.

Children of our era normally come out of the ‘children’s world’ not just because they grow up. They come out of the ‘children’s world’ due to the fact that they have been provided with sufficient education and they also have got the experience of living in a realistic society. If a child is not given proper education or if he does not get the experience of living in a realistic society, he/ she will continue living in that ‘children’s world’ throughout his/ her life. HE/ SHE CANNOT BECOME ‘REALISTIC’ BY HIM/ HERSELF.

Now consider those ancient humans who were in the initial stages of self-consciousness. They just like a child believed that entire world was filled up by their own emotional object, which was ‘spirit’. And what they could understand of external world events was just that those events must be dependent on their own emotional feelings. When a small child tries to ‘control’ the external world events by just his/ her emotional desires, we call it ‘innocent’ behavior. But when grown up people develop some formal method using which they suppose themselves able to control the external world events as per their own emotional desires, we call this ‘strategy’ as ‘magic’ (or witchcraft). These formal methods are of course various ‘jantar mantar’ or other methods. I try to explain this ‘magical’ approach by differentiating it with the ‘realistic’ approach. Suppose a ‘realistic’ person wants to kill his enemy. What he shall do? Most direct method would be to get a gun, then to go to that enemy and then to shoot him with that gun. Enemy shall die in this way. What a magician would do? A real prevalent practice for doing this task is something like that the magician makes a small statue of the enemy. Then he would dig in many needles in the body of statue. In this way magician supposes that real enemy shall die. Although it is quite un-realistic way of killing the enemy i.e. by just using a formal method to effectively utilize the ‘powers’ of one’s own emotional desires but even in this case, if enemy happens to be a superstitious person and if he also has been informed in some indirect way that magician has done this sort of thing with his statue, that enemy can really die in this case. He would die just because of psychological reason and not because of any real effectiveness of that magical method.

As I already mentioned that throughout from the early history to the modern times, humans always have tried to control the flow of external world events using the ‘powers’ of their own emotional desires. So this ‘magic’ is still prevalent but mostly in the vast lower strata of about every present day human society. This ‘magic’ seems to be more ancient than Animism itself. People had been trying to control the external world events by using their own emotional desires without using any formal method i.e. just likes an innocent child. But with the emergence of Animism, role of ‘spirits’ also entered into this magic. Magic took another shape. Now spirits were classified into two categories i.e. (i) evil spirits and; (ii) good spirits. Now the role of magician was to call for ‘evil spirits’ for such purposes as to destroy the enemies and to call for ‘good spirits’ with the purpose to provide help to the friends. This magic however had a great role in the evolvement of present day’s sciences. Both magic and science have similar purpose i.e. to control the flow of external world events in the desired way. The only difference is that magic offers such methods for this purpose, which now have been proved to be wrong whereas science offers realistic methods for this purpose. Emergence of modern science however would have been quite impossible if humans would never had tried to control external world events using the incorrect method of magic. Actually it happened to be the many failures of magical method, which led the clever people to try to find some realistic methods for the purpose. And remember that these realistic methods are now known as ‘science’.


I have discussed Animism in detail because this Animism happened to be the primary basis of most of the ancient mythology. It is clear that for the ancient humans, the entire world was filled by their own emotional object i.e. ‘spirit’. With the passage of time, as a result of many social interactions, many ‘stories’ about those ‘spirits’ emerged. Some of the spirits were appointed as chiefs of rest of spirits. Later on those chiefs became the gods and goddesses. Those stories were aimed at the satisfaction of HUMAN NEED OF GETTING THEORETICAL EXPLANATIONS about the formation and structure of universe. These stories, which are now known as ‘myths’ or ‘mythology’ described, in interesting way, the role of various gods and goddesses in the formation and daily functioning of the universe. Those ancient humans kept blind faith in those myths and they could not doubt in the truth of those stories.

Posted in -Home-, Animism and Mythology, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy Background, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science | 9 Comments »

The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern times:

Posted by khuram on August 19, 2006

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The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern times:

Humans are rational beings. Unlike other animals, they always need to have some kind of theoretical relationship not only between themselves and the universe as a whole, but they also need to have some theoretical understanding about the mutual relations among them. “Knowledge” is all what humans theoretically know, of themselves, of the universe and of their own mutual relations. “Knowledge” in our known world, is under the sole possession of mankind. Other animals do have their existence in this world and they do have their own mutual relations also. They do not possess ‘knowledge’ however because they possess no theoretical stuff at all. We are not sure whether they can feel their independent existence apart from their surrounding environment or not. Even if they feel so, we are sure then, that those feelings must not be of theoretical nature.

Humans are unique in this world in that they act in accordance with their theoretical understandings. To understand the exact nature of ‘human knowledge’, it is necessary that we must differentiate between humans’ theory based actions and the instinct based actions of animals.

Other animals’ all type of action result only from one or the other instinctive motive. Instincts are bodily pleasures and displeasures, which, in an automatic way, guide the animal behavior and action in such a way that would be helpful for the performance of various biological processes. Thus it happens that animals feel some bodily displeasure, let’s say in the form of hunger, they then feel odor coming from their food source, their legs get the motion and take them towards the source, where the odor was coming from. They, in a manner which we can call ‘biological mechanical’, just have to eat that food because exactly it would be the demand of their bodily instinct, which is perhaps, or can be regarded as, some biological genius, which although is quite un-aware about its own existence but still then guides and controls the animal action in such a purposeful way which is directed towards aims that not only the animal’s life be sustained, but also the species as a whole may be perpetuated. In this way, animals live such a biological life, which has no theoretical awareness, even about their own existence, at all.

Humans, on the other hand, not only live just a biological life, their life can be termed as theoretical-life also because of their heavy reliance on their theoretical nature understandings, in most of their behaviors and actions. Humans actually are inferior to other animals as far as the performance of their biological instincts is concerned. These biological instincts, no doubt, do have their role in shaping the pattern of human behavior and action but in the case of humans, greater than to the role of instincts, is the role of psychological and mental factors in the formation of this pattern i.e. of human behavior and action. In contrast to the instincts, which exist in the form of purposeful bodily pleasures and displeasures, humans also feel ‘happiness’ and ‘sadness’ which should not be considered to be ‘bodily’ in nature but more precisely, can be thought of as ‘psychological’ in nature. To have psychological features, in addition to just having biological instincts is a great advancement in humans as compared to other animals. Humans however are not limited just in having the extra psychological features, they, in further advance form are also given the God gifts of intellect and wisdom. In contrast to psychological factors which function by giving the feelings of ‘happiness’ and ‘sadness’, the more advanced features of ‘intellect’ and ‘wisdom’ give humans the thing that is the most advanced and mysterious of all, which functions by giving the ‘theoretical meanings’ of such diverse things as ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ throughout to the capabilities of understanding science, philosophies and religion. All these things such as ethics, science, philosophy and religion, which are there because humans possess intellect and wisdom, and because the role of humans in this world is that of representatives of Almighty God, can be collectively termed to be “human knowledge”. This ‘knowledge’ makes humans the superior most form of life.

All the human knowledge can be thought of as a sum total of all the different types of theoretical understandings of various natural phenomena. This human knowledge can broadly be categorized in two main classes; first is the knowledge of true religion, which has been given to humans by God Almighty Himself. Second is in the form of Man’s self-made theoretical explanations, which are in the form of philosophies, sciences and technical understandings. For the purpose of this essay, we shall analyze the issue of “knowledge explosion” but only in second class of knowledge, which is man’s self-made.

The unique faculties of intellect and wisdom always compel humans to search for appropriate theoretical explanations of whatever phenomenon they observe in the natural environment. The title of this essay i.e. the knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times, also requires to describe in the essay, such a theoretical explanation that should properly account for the phenomenon of knowledge explosion in the modern times. So this essay should account for the theoretical problem of just how the human knowledge has been evolved over time and just how it has assumed its present day form.

This is a complex philosophical issue in fact and so all the technicalities relating to this topic cannot be covered in a short essay. Therefore, the process of knowledge evolution, only in a generalized way can be discussed here. Earlier we have identified humans to be the rational beings. Humans, as they are rational in their character and essence, always want to have some kind of theoretical awareness of whatever they identify in the observable universe. Humans, using their intellect and wisdom, can explain the identified phenomena but subject to a very important limitation. The limitation is that they can explain the identified phenomena only on the basis of whatever (limited or even incorrect) information they already possess. But afterwards, whenever any new information comes to their mind, humans then become able to re-explain the same natural phenomena on the basis of this new and increased stock of information. This new explanation, which is based on increased stock of information shall usually be superior and better to the previous explanation of the same identified phenomena because that previous explanation was based on lesser or inferior information.

The process of making explanations of identified phenomenon on the basis of whatever available information and then the re-explanation of the same identified phenomenon, but on the basis of increased stock of information, can be described with the help of an example. In the historical times, the early humans identified a natural phenomenon that sun daily rises in the east and sets in the west. Since they were rational beings, so they were in need to explain this identified phenomenon. They had to find the answer to the question: “why and how sun daily rises in the east and then sets in the west?” Surely, those early humans had to explain this phenomenon on the basis of whatever limited and inferior information they possessed in those early times. Those ancient humans did not know that the earth where they lived was spherical in shape. They could see only the flat surface of earth. They never had seen the ‘edges’ of their ‘flat’ earth. So according to this available information, the earth was ‘flat’ whose ‘edges’ might be located at some un-reachable distance. So this was the ‘available’ information on the basis of which our ancient forefathers had to find the answer to this question that why sun daily rises in the east and then sets in the west.

Experts of ancient history tell us that one of the early attempts of humans to find the answer to this question was something like that it was thought that every day a ‘new’ sun came from the un-reachable eastern corner of flat earth and then went to the western corner. The same thing, as it was thought so, happened on daily basis. This can be considered to be the example of the explanation of identified phenomenon on the basis of available information.

Now come to see the example of re-explanation of the identified phenomenon on the basis of ‘increased’ stock of information. The related information was up-dated in this case when humans came to know that the earth, on which they lived, was a large spherical object in fact. It happened in a way when some wise people took notice of such rarely observed things as (i) at the time of lunar eclipse, earth casts its curved shadow upon moon, (ii) during the course of journey in open sea towards extreme south, some of the constellations in northern sky disappear whereas some new ones appear in the southern sky and; (iii) the things which fall towards earth, seem to be falling towards a common center.

On the basis of these delicate rare observations, it was concluded after all, that our earth in fact is a large spherical object. Now on the basis of this new information in hand, humans became able to re-explain the above described phenomenon that sun rises in the east and sets in the west on daily basis. That re-explanation was something like that now it was considered that the ‘same’ sun circles around the earth. This explanation was better than before but still it was not correct. With the passage of time, there came the time when still better information came to the notice of humans and they again re-explained this phenomenon accordingly.

We have seen, up till now, that just how the quantity and quality of our knowledge has been evolved over time. The term ‘knowledge explosion’ refers to the evolvement of such type of human societies where sufficient quantity of quality knowledge is accessible to the majority of humans.

After having seen that just how the quality and quantity of human knowledge has been increased over time, let us now consider a very important characteristic of human knowledge, which is that the ‘knowledge’ can be accumulated over time. Its meaning is that whenever some new information comes to the notice of humanity, the new information does not erase up the corresponding previous information. The previous information actually is just ‘flagged’ as being ‘out-dated’ but still remains intact as a functional part of overall human knowledge. To mention about still another characteristic of human knowledge is also important at this stage. It is that if humans possess less amount of information, then they can explain only less number of identified phenomena. But if humans possess greater quantity of information, then they become able to explain the large number of identified phenomena

Since the nature of human knowledge is such that the quantity of information that humans possess, accumulates over time, so with the passage of time, usually humans get relatively large number of explanations of the natural phenomena. In this way actually human knowledge ‘accelerates’.

The issue of knowledge explosion in the modern times requires discussing about another related issue. It is that each individual human does not need to explain all what he identifies, at his own. Ready-made explanations can easily be transferred from one human mind to the minds of other individuals. This is usually done in the form of formal education and training through which accumulated knowledge, which was evolved over centuries, is transferred to the minds of new generations in relatively very short period of time. The state of ‘knowledge explosion’ actually is the result of this type of very large-scale educational activities. Present day print and electronic media also has made it possible, for large number of people, to get as huge quantity of knowledge and information as never had been possible to get by a common person. In this way more and more people are having more divers sets of information in their minds. The facilities of interaction with other people who live on distant places also have been immensely increased which has resulted in such a phenomenon, which can be termed as ‘knowledge sharing’.

Its overall result is that more and more people throughout the world are now having that much quantity and quality of knowledge, which was not so possible in early historical times. And since the nature of the functioning of human mind is such that more amount of information produces more new knowledge, so we can anticipate that our future generations shall see relatively more intense ‘knowledge explosion’ to that which we see today.

Posted in -Home-, Essays, Essays on Philosophy, Human Mind Vs Animal Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy in Pakistan, Philosophy of Science, Theory of Knowledge | 4 Comments »