Mortimer Adler lectures; Man and brute, part 1
How does man differ from everything else on earth. The University of Chicago presents the 1966 Britannica lecture series. The difference of man and the difference it makes. Our guest speaker for this series of five lectures about the position of man in the natural world is Mortimer J Adler director of the Institute for philosophical research. Today's lecture the second of the series is titled The Man and the brute. Mr. Adler begins by briefly restating an important point carried over from the first lecture in The Descent of Man Darwin repeatedly repeatedly asserts that man differs only in degree only in degree from other primates and mammals. He concedes that he concedes in several places that man and man alone has what he calls rational language but he qualifies this by saying that incipient and rudimentary speech is to be found in other animals and with regard to language he quite explicitly opposes the position of Max Mueller that man's unique linguistic performances imply that he possesses
intellectual powers in general are abstract concepts not present in other animals. Quite on the contrary Darwin attributes the difference between the highly developed speech of man and the rudimentary speech of other animals to the difference in size and complexity of the human brain as compared with the brains of all the other animals in sharp contrast to dollar. Is the position of contemporary biologists and anthropologists who are concerned with the evolution of man and with man's place in the evolutionary picture. We say for brevity of reference letters let me refer to them as the paleoanthropologists since the position they take stems from their effort to interpret the fossil evidence is and to classify fossil species as belonging either to the family of a minute I or the family of the punch or die. Darwin remembered a few fossil remains did not face this problem. Now the paleoanthropologists are almost unanimous in asserting that the difference is the difference between man living of fossil species of hominid
I and other of the higher primates is a real difference in color. This is the action involves two related propositions. First man does certain things not done at all in any degree by other animals. When we are dealing with fossil species of man the man's unique behavioral characteristics are evidenced by certain products associated with his bone. That is tools the remains of fire and so forth. Second the things the things that man and man alone does and the things that man and man alone produces implied mental powers not possessed by other animals. While there is no question that the paleoanthropologists are asserting a real difference in kind on the basis of the evidence to which they point. There is also no question that they regard this real difference in kind as superficial rather than radical. Again it must be said they are almost unanimous in attributing this real difference in
kind to the much greater magnitude and complexity not just magnitude not just size complexity as well of man's brain as compared with the brains of living chimpanzees gorillas and orangutans. The same comparison holds for the brain plans of the fossil species which they classify as minute I call upon to die. Though they are seldom explicit on this point it is clear that they regard the phylogenetic series as involving a continuum of degrees of brain magnitude with a critical threshold above which the unique behavioral characteristics of man first make their appearance. Hence the real difference in kind between man and other primates though real is superficial for it is based upon an underlying continuum of degrees with a threshold point not on an underlying difference in the Constitution or makeup of man and of the primacy of the primates. Only in the latter case where the real difference in
kind between man and the other primates the radical rather than superficial. This brings us to the materials of the present lecture. The opposition that we found in the preceding lecture between Darwin on the one hand. And the contemporary paleoanthropologists of the who is now the current ones we shall find that same opposition which will find repeated here in the opposition between the paleoanthropologists on the one hand and the psychologists on the other especially the animal comparative psychologists the paleoanthropologists reject the view that man is. I quote nothing but an animal or the view that man is I quote just a superior ape. The comparative psychologist defend this view with few exceptions they hold that man differs only in degree from other animals. The opposed positions I take they take are in part at least the function of the kind of evidences the
kind of data they are looking at. The paleoanthropologists comparing living species play almost exclusive attention to human products the products of technology and of culture as differentiating man's mother animals and they infer distinctive human powers from the distinctive works of man. The comparative psychologists studying human and animal behavior pay almost exclusive attention to the processes of learning problem solving generalisation and so forth processes that can be studied objectively and experimentally by observing the behavior of men and animals under controlled laboratory conditions. I shall deal with the laboratory results but in answer to a question I was asked last time I should certainly also consider the works of such students of animal behavior as Conrad Lorenz and Shahla who have a great non laboratory students with a Grade 9 laboratory examinations of animal behavior more or less in the
natural condition. Curiously enough both Lorenz and Shahla as opposed to the laboratory psychologist tend to favor a real difference in kind not just difference in degree. In this lecture I will therefore proceed as follows. I will first summarize the position taken by the paleoanthropologists by reviewing the data to which they appeal and the analysis they make of it. I'm doing this because I did not quote at length from them last time and I have a feeling that some of you may think I have not properly represented their position when I say they assert real difference in kind. Many people think that no scientist does that but I want you to listen to the language so that you know that I'm not making it up. I will next summarize the position of the comparative psychologists again with quotations dealing with their data their interpretations of it and of the data and in general their hypotheses or theories. This will lead to the one point on which there is
almost universal agreement namely that man and man alone has true language propositional OSS and tactical speech. Now I pause for a moment. To comment on my use of the word universal I will say from you'll hear me say from time on this there is universal agreement on this is the unanimous agreement I sometime to put the word almost in that I need not because I say what I mean by universal and unanimous I only mean that I have found no exceptions in the literature. I am not asserting that none exist. I simply have not found when anyone will bring forth a reputable exception. I will be grateful for though there is agreement on this point. As between the paleoanthropologists and the comparer the point about man's language and the comparative psychologist. There are differences of interpretation of it. In other words agreement about the fact that man and man alone possess is propositional and syntactical speech does not solve the problem of how man differs from other
animals. The position one takes and how man differs depends on how one interprets man's unique linguistic behavior both psychologically and neurologically. And I'm going to deal with these at least present begin to present these diverse interpretations. In the last section of the present lecture I turn at once to the position of the pallium paleoanthropologists. As I pointed out earlier the leading contemporary students of human evolution maintain that man really differs in kind from other animals and express this view strikingly in one of two way. On the one hand we find Simpson and men rejecting the view that man though an animal is nothing but an animal that is not really and that's an unfortunate phrasing what if I would make that a little more explicit what they mean as you'll see is what that man though an animal is nothing is forced to say that man is nothing but a brute animal.
Because of that nothing but exclude something on the other hand we find that chance Kay and Julian Huxley rejecting the view that man though descended from a common ancestor with the anthropoid apes is just a superior way. I think it would be profitable to examine in more detail and with quotations the views of these scientists and then find confirmation and concurrence in the opinions expressed by others. Here are some telling passages from George Gaylord Simpson is the meaning of evolution. I quote to say that man is nothing but an animal is to deny by implication that he has essential attributes other than those of all all out of all animals that are NOT say that is to deny my implication that he has essential attributes other than those of other animals. I quote again as applied to man the nothing but fallacy. And here Simpson gives credit to Huxley for naming the fallacy. The nothing but fallacy is more thorough going in than an application to any other sort of animal
because man is an entirely new kind of animal in ways altogether fundamental for understanding his nature. It is important to realize that man is an animal. But it is even more important to realize the essence of his unique nature lies precisely in those characteristics that are not shared with any other animal not shared not possessed by the other. Is the meaning of difference in kind. Simpson then mix surprisingly into the movie The Day of consultation my office when the members of mice. My colleagues and I worried about the meaning of this. Simpson makes what appears a people paradoxical statement that man is both unique in degree and also unique in cause I say this is paradoxical because the strict meaning of the least my strict meaning of the word unique and entails the possession by one of two things being compared have characteristics not possessed at all by the other. Neither specifically rogered generically.
Where is the difference in degree entails that the two things being compared both possess the same trait. One more of a and the other less of it as I was first startled by having Simpson talk about man being both unique in kind and unique in degree. We look almost like uniqueness and we would almost look like a contradiction in terms. But since not only Simpson but also many other scientists refer to man's uniqueness as in part at least a uniqueness in degree. It is important to understand what they mean by this mode of speech. I think the meaning is as follows. The statement that only man has a brain large or complex enough to function linguistically like a sage the unique degree of man's brain as compared with the degrees of brain capacity in other animals on the other hand the statement that only man is a maker of sentences are the only man as a maker of tools. The sense uniqueness in kind as contrasted with uniqueness and degree for points to something that man does which no other animal does at all in any degree.
Simpson mentions four things which exist in man to a much higher degree than other animals intelligence flexibility individualization and socialization in each of these four respects Simpson considers man unique in the degree of his capacities or attainments. But there are many things man is clearly the highest animal in all these respects the highest in degree. He also maintains that I quote. It is still forced to conclude that man is nothing but the highest animal. His reason being that there are other respects in which man is unique enchain. For example I numerate his perspex speech moral sense accumulative cultural development self-awareness. Ernst Mayr in animal species never aloof and expresses quite similar views. Considering the evidence of evidences
of man's evolution he speaks of the gradual emergence of man's being not merely an animal. And he goes on to say I quote No more tragic mistake could be made than to consider man merely an animal man as you make what man means is plainly unique income fari refers to the distinctive properties of man properties possessed by man alone that have been pointed out by Huxley hald and Simpson dop chancy and other recent writers that was his list not mine. The properties he mentions are such things as speech to making cultural traditions to which he had one property that is not directly observed to preserve all the ability of abstract thinking. I turn next to the great geneticist at Columbia. They are Duchess drops Lansky who in two recent books mankind evolving and evolution genetics and man takes again the same positions I quote. Man is not simply a very clever ape on the contrary he possesses some faculties that occur in other animals
only as rudiments. If at all and he goes on to say I quote human intellectual abilities seem to be not only quantitatively but also qualitatively different from those of other animals from those of animals other men and then he goes on to say Man In other words is not just a period in the degree to which he possesses the same abilities but also unique in kind because he possesses traits not possessed by other animals. As examples of these dubs hands he cites man symbolic language mans tool making and man's simulated transmission of culture. Finally the strongest expression of these views is be found in Julian Huxley. Two books again. Evolution in action and evolution. A modern synthesis. Huxley says again and again I quote That man is in many respects unique among animals that he means unique in common is plain from such passages as I quote. Man is the only organism with the power of abstraction and generalization.
He alone can have a sense of right and wrong in the abstract or any notion of values. I quote in man's mental organisation the two crucial novelties novelties are speech and the creation of a common pool of organized experience for the group. Though we hear mentions of the unique properties of man he regards these two as man's two major unique this is that Huxley thinks of man as both unique in degree and unique in kind. You see in the following passage I quote the last step yet taken in evolutionary progress is the degree of intelligence. Degree of intelligence which involves True Speech and conceptual thought. And it is found exclusively in man. You've got both. Uniqueness and degree and uniqueness and kind in that one passage. Other evolutionists and paleo by the way for those who want to look at more literature the the most telling us I have all those I have all I'll be glad to requote from it this time in the question period is an essay the period
in 1903 by Huxley called the uniqueness of man. Other evolutionists and paleoanthropologist can car in whole a pot with slightly different emphasis for example a bear not wrench in evolution above the species level says I quote That man has reached a unique evolutionary position in the realm of organisms which he attributes to man's acquirement of a fundamentally new evolutionary faculty. Rational speech others Washburn Oakley Le Gros clock dot stress not just speech but the conjunction in Man of both sentence making and tool making and of these authors Washburn and Oakley hold the view that these two distinct properties of man implies exclusive possession of the power of abstract or conceptual thought. This last point is confirmed by two observers of the behavior of apes. One outside the laboratory. George Scholler book that many of you may read the year of the gorilla that
only distinguishes between man's tool making and the tool using of gorillas as as a play dot Leakey and others but also asserts that the absence of language on the part of gorillas implies the absence of concepts on their part with the consequence that they make no reference to past and future they live with the now enclosed present moment. That's his observation. Living with gorillas for a year or more. I didn't know it was here that was passing. Both can clearly get a book that many of you I know know the mentality of apes. This is now more of a laboratory studies done on the island of Teneriffe. Makes a similar point about chimpanzees. Here are some shapes the narrow limits of time within which they live largely the immediate present. With their lack of speech I quote the size like of speech it is in the extremely narrow limits of time that the chief difference is be found between anthropoids and even the most primitive human beings and it is this limitation that prevents the chimpanzees from
attaining even the smallest beginnings of cultural development. Let me now summarize from the literature that we are engaged in reviewing the various things of a set to be distinctive of human behavior and I made the basis for saying that man differs in kind from other around with the one exception of language sentence making behavior as the one exception. There are minority descends on all these and monarch might there are minority dissents on all of these indications of man's uniqueness and kind to sense the treat these indications as signifying only superiority or uniqueness and degree and will divide them into two groups one the group of plainly overt and observable behavior the other. This fear of interpreted behavior involving a mixture of inference with observation in the stare of plainly overt or observable behavior. The falling only man employs a propositional language. Only man uses verbal symbols make sentences. Say this another way. Only man is a discursive animal
to only man makes tools makes fires builds shelters makes clothing only men as a technological level free only man constitutes his social life and organizes association with his fellows in a variety of ways. Only man is a political not just a gregarious only man as a political a constituting animal. Thought only a man has in the course of generations a cumulative cultural tradition the transmission of which constitutes human history. Only man is a historical animal and in the spirit interpreted behavior involving a mixture of inference with observation the following. Only man and gauges in magic magical and ritualistic practices. Only man is a religious animal only man has a moral conscience and a sense of value. Only man is an ethical animal and only man decorates are a daunce himself or his artifacts and makes pictures of statues for the non-utilitarian purpose of enjoyment. Only a man isn't a static animal.
On this last point the most glaring exception perhaps is cited by the biologists thought that among the bowerbirds in Australia I quote some paint the walls of the power with fruit pulp with charcoal or with dried grass and at least one. I don't know what that means one bird or one group of birds. At least one and then thought allows himself a misuse of the word manufacture has at least one manufactures a painting tool out of a small wad of spongy bock. I've heard about those bar birds of Australia for a long time ago when some time. Now of these wholly or partly overt forms of behavior said by the majority of scientists in this group just in this group a paleoanthropologist to be distinctive of man are interpreted as implying the presence in Man of interior psychological processes or abilities that are not present in other animals. Distinguishing between what they call perceptual and conceptual thought between
percept and conceptual thought or between generalization are abstraction on the sensory level and the formation of concepts they attribute conceptual processes or the ability to form concepts to man and man alone. They ground this attribution this inference to unobserved processes or abilities and the fact that propositional speech to making and cumulative cultural transmission all involve a transcendence of the immediate environment. As that is momentarily present to the senses and so in their view these distinctively human performances must have their basis in psychological processes or abilities that go beyond sense perception and even beyond sensory residues such as images. From now on I'm going to skip here a
recitation that I don't take the time but do this. I wish I could say that the report of the writers I just named and treated is without qualification an accurate report of their positions but it is not I just get three pages in which I was reporting the inconsistency is in me where they take it back and there are sentences that they tend to wear with seem to be inconsistent with other sentences. This always leaves the problem of interpretation which does the scientific right when he says two things in a consistent mean. In view I'm going to I'm not going to bother to read you all the inconsistency it will only confuse you I think. But I sure there in the view of the foregoing recitation of descents inconsistency isn't qualifications. How can we formulate the minimum clear concurrence of the group of scientists that we've been considering. I think we can do with his followers if they all agree. But
only in this this is not that they don't they don't assent to this they don't take this back that only man makes sentences and possesses propositional awesome tactical language. This by itself everything else can be dropped suffices to warrant the assertion that man really defense in kind from other animals. They all agree that there is real difference in kind of superficial not radical for they all carry lighted with man's superiority in degree of brain size and complexity. But some like ranch at one extreme makes man's brain capacity the direct source of his linguistic ability and his possession of language in turn becomes the source of his verbal or abstract concepts. Brain size linguistic ability linguistic ability concepts whereas some others like Carrington at the other extreme make man's brain capacity the direct sauce of his power of abstract or conceptual thought and that in turn the source of his having propositional language that is not
just one man makes language the basis of the cause of the source of thought. The other man makes thought the causal bases of language most of the others are indecisive on this question of the causal sequence. For the most part however they agree that it is man's possession of speech and of the psychological powers associated with either as cause or effect that underlie all his other distinctive achievements his technological productions his accumulated transmission of culture and his modes of social organization. After a brief pause we will turn to another group of authors the comparative psychologists the behavioral scientists whose major interest is not in man's distinctive achievements but on the underlying psychological processes or abilities in both men and animals. Let us look now at the position taken by the comparative psychologists and the behavioral scientists. The comparative study of human animal behavior owes its rise in development
to the influence of the theory of evolution and especially the Darwin's Ascent of Man. That book as Professor Hill got of Stanford points out is it set itself essentially a comparative psychology that it is. And I want to read the Descent of Man and see that it is the first bringing together of all the evidence comparing human animal behavior. In the years mediately following the descent of man to opposite tendencies manifested themselves on the one hand we have the writings of J.G. Ramani is animal intelligence in 1882 Metal Evolution animals 1883 Metal Evolution and man 1888 which followed Darwin in arguing for the cut nobody of animal and human intelligence along a scale of degrees but tended to exaggerate the powers of animals by collecting anecdotes about their remarkable functions. You've all heard such anecdotes and wonderful essay by Montane apology for Raymond discipline which is full of such anecdotes from plenty on the other hand
the work of Lloyd Morgan introduction to comparative psychology 1894 animal behavior in 1900 based on empirical of the investigations rather than anecdotes tended in the opposite direction no less than Romanies Morgan insisted upon continuity and difference only in degree. But whereas Romanies in trying to close the gap between men and animals raised animals up almost the human level. Lloyd Morgan lowered man almost down to the animal level. Morgan laid down the methodological principle that I cope with listen to this in his words. In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty. If it can be interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale that has become the cannon the basic procedural rule of comparative psychology.
Morgan's principles methods and conclusions greatly influence the next generation of American investigators notably Edwin Edward Alfon Dyke animal intelligence 1898 and John B Watson behavior and their direction to comparative psychology 914 which when I first tried to teach psychology at Columbia 19 21 23 rather with my textbook and psychology from the standpoint of behaviorist in 1900. Animal Experimentation was begun at Harvard at the beginning of the century by Thorndyke and your teachers and animal laboratories quickly multiplied other institutions the name of Hobhouse small Jennings and Huldah should also be mentioned among the early experimentalists in this field of animal behavior. Nevertheless most of the critical work in this field has been done in the last forty years in the best of it. Work done with really painstaking laboratory controls has been done in the last twenty years by investigators too numerous to measure. I will in what follows name only the scientists
the literature is too vast. I leave only the scientists whose books are the sources of my summary of the findings and conclusions in this field of research.
- Mortimer Adler lectures
- Man and brute, part 1
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- University of Chicago
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program presents the first part of Mortimer Adler's lecture, "Man and Brute."
- Series Description
- Series of five lectures by Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, Director of the Institute for Philosophic Research in Chicago. Title of lecture series: "The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes."
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
Writer: Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-33-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- APA: Mortimer Adler lectures; Man and brute, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p26q3q1f