The Great Ideas ~ How Different Are Humans?

The discussion continues from How To Think About Man, with the examination of the two questions, the nature of man and the origin of man.  In the last talk/essay, both opposing views were presented: before Darwin man was seen as having a special, distinct nature, but after Darwin he is see only differing in degree from other animals but is otherwise the same.

Adler wishes to approach this issue logically as it is important to see the issue clearly in order to access both arguments.  Luckman says that they have received letters criticizing Adler for taking the side of Darwin and Adler expresses his delight.  He implies his view is the exact opposite and is pleased with the error as it proves he is so far presenting the argument without any personal bias.  He does not plan to argue either for or against any one side, merely to present the issues logically and fairly.

Young Man (The impassioned singer)
Giovane uomo (Il cantore appassionato)
Giogorgione
source Wikiart

Differences in Kind and Differences in Degree

Adler begins with the definition of man.  There have been many definitions, but defining him as a “rational animal” is the most accurate, as it underlies all the other definitions. However it is not the definition but the interpretation of it that is the issue as it implies humans alone are rational.

Adler moves to the distinction between “kind” and “degree” which is important to understand to move ahead in the examination of the issues.  He gives an analogy of two lines of different lengths.  They have the same traits, only one is longer and one is shorter.  They differ in degree.  However, a circle and a square do not have common traits — one has angles and one does not — their differences are differences in kind.

Luckman says many scientists believe that the difference between kind and degree, is itself a difference of kind or degree; he gives the example of a many-many-sided polygon which eventually approaches and appears like a circle. Adler does not agree with this statement.  No matter how closely the polygon will appear like a circle, it will never be a circle; difference in degree is never difference in kind and vice versa.” When two things differ in degree, there always can be intermediates, such as an intermediate line between the two in his above example, but there is no intermediates between differences in kind.  They can have things in common, but there will always be a property or charcteristic that the other completely lacks.  The one with the additional property will be hierachically above the other.

Luckman interjects, saying that it seems that Adler’s definition of difference in kind is accepted by evolutionists and he wants to know how Adler thinks they differ.  After all, apes are different from horses and therefore so must man be different.  He does not see the issue.  Adler says there is one, and he intends to make it clear.

Man and Ape
Stanley Pinker
source Wikiart

 

Differences in Kind Exclude Intermediate Forms

Adler claims Luckman made a misstatement and although the evolutionists do see some forms of life as lower and some higher, they believe they differ only in degree.  How does Adler know this?  Because evolutionists believe in the continuity of nature.  There would be “no underlying continuity in nature …. unless intermediate varieties were possible as between different species in the scale of thing or the greater things”.  These intermediate varieties must be possible, even if they are only missing links.  Those species which the biologist classifies as kinds are only apparent kinds, yet with the definition of man, they are real kinds.

Adler offers two conceptions:

  1. a conception of species with missing links between them, with intermediate varieties
  2. a conception of species without any missing links or without any intermediate varieties

The present biological understanding is that species are only apparent kinds, separated by the possibility of intermediate varieties and therefore can be a difference in degrees.

One more fact, modern science has hypothesized that if all possible forms of life or every species ever know existed on earth at the same time, there would be no species, just individual differences in degree.    The philosophical conception is species are real kinds with no intermediate varieties; modern biology sees the kinds with a possibility of intermediate varieties.

We get back to the question of how man differs from other animals: if in kind there is no intermediate varieties possible, but if in degree there are possibilities of intermediate varieties.

Adler emphasizes that so far he has only presented the facts without prejudice to one side or the other.    Next time, he is going to present the evidence and arguments from the evolutionist’s point of view, that man only differs in degree which sets the stage for natural evolution.  He will then produce arguments and evidence for the opposing side, that man differs essentially in kind which would make a natural evolutionary process impossible.

Phew!  This talk became hard to follow about halfway through but I do believe I get Adler’s point.  His next essay/talk is The Darwinian Theory of Man’s Origin.

 

November ~ Ooops!

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

How October went from an eventful month to a very uneventful month is a painful story to tell in more ways than one.  Again, for the first part of the month, I was concentrating on getting my partner and my food blog, Journey to the Garden, going and the learning curve was an extreme headache in itself.  From building the website, to adding plug-ins, to hack attempts, to learning to navigate the unique venue of social media, it was rather exhausting and overwhelming.  It was only knowing that I was going to the island on the 14th, where I could relax and read, read, read, that keep me plugging away.  A positive attitude always helps, but then I had my visa number stolen and so my card had to be cancelled, AND my computer hard drive started to die just before I left so it was a rush to get it replaced. Thankfully I didn’t lose any information and I headed out grateful to get these two problems sorted; I had forgotten the saying that trouble often comes in threes ……

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

Fortunately, the first day there I decided to photograph my Apple Harvest post for the food blog and all the photos were taken.  Why fortunately?  Because on the second day, I decided to take my dog, Finn, for a bike ride, not wearing a helmet which I couldn’t find when I left, and somehow I managed to crash going very fast.  I still don’t remember what happened exactly; I have a slight recollection of picking myself up and looking for Finn and then my memory starts at the front door of the house next door.  I knew I had a bump on my head, but they took one look at me and made me come in and sit down. The long and the short of it is that I was water-ambulanced off to Vancouver Island, ended up with a bad concussion, a badly broken thumb and various deep scrapes and bruises.  For the first week, I looked like a prize-fighter and wasn’t easily able to move without pain.  Because I broke through my metacarpal and it shifted slightly, they were at first talking surgery but apparently even with the shift it’s not as bad as they thought; they’ve casted it, however they’re watching it in case it shifts more.  Otherwise I’m healing up but the consequences are that I can’t watch T.V., be on the computer (uh … yikes!) or read.  How long is really up in the air.  I often feel fine in the morning but it doesn’t take long for me to overdo it and I know I need to rest more.  I HATE resting, so you can imagine how difficult it is.  So this explains my long book-blogging silence.

© Libby McClelland

As I ease back in, I’m going to try to perhaps read some short stories and essays (which actually turn out to be pretty popular posts), so I hope to be back before not too long. The food blog, however, is getting some attention and I have new posts up for Pumpkin Kidney Bean Curry, Cheese 101 highlight post on P’tit Sainte Maure, and in another few days a Pomegranate Quinoa Festive Salad will posted, so check them out if you’re looking for some easy recipes, food history, and fun photos.  Otherwise I hope to meet you back here VERY SOON!

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel