SHARE
TAGS
<< Back to listing
Vote up (55) down (51)
Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett discuss death

Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett discuss death

(7:56) Unedited footage from "Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life", a TV documentary presented by Richard Dawkins.

You can comment as a guest, but registering gives you added benefits

Add your comment
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
Guest: (1111 days ago)

"We are alone in knowing that we will die.."  Not sure that's true.  A gazelle will run away from a lion because it doesn't want to die and knows it will die if it's caught.  So they have a concept of death just like we do. 

Humans have disagreements about what happens when you die:  do you go to heaven or just turn to dust.  But lower level animals don't disagree about what happens, they just know they will end up as food for another lifeform.

ReplyVote up (100)down (101)
Original comment

"We are alone in knowing that we will die.."  Not sure that's true.  A gazelle will run away from a lion because it doesn't want to die and knows it will die if it's caught.  So they have a concept of death just like we do. 

Humans have disagreements about what happens when you die:  do you go to heaven or just turn to dust.  But lower level animals don't disagree about what happens, they just know they will end up as food for another lifeform.

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
guest0 guest0 (1111 days ago)

"A gazelle will run away from a lion because it doesn't want to die and knows it will die if it's caught."

For some animals, possibly, and I assume the gazelle will know that getting caught is very bad. For others: pure instinct.

"So they have a concept of death just like we do."  

Maybe. Elephants, for instance, seem to have a concept of death. But animals are ulikely to have a similar concept of death as modern humans do. For instance, animals are unlikely to know they will die someday.

"they just know they will end up as food for another lifeform"

We should be very careful when making attempts to generalise from the thinking of humans to the thinking of other species. The concept of death is a complex one, among other things requiring the individual to have a clear distinction between "I" and "others". 

ReplyVote up (101)down (93)
Original comment

"A gazelle will run away from a lion because it doesn't want to die and knows it will die if it's caught."

For some animals, possibly, and I assume the gazelle will know that getting caught is very bad. For others: pure instinct.

"So they have a concept of death just like we do."  

Maybe. Elephants, for instance, seem to have a concept of death. But animals are ulikely to have a similar concept of death as modern humans do. For instance, animals are unlikely to know they will die someday.

"they just know they will end up as food for another lifeform"

We should be very careful when making attempts to generalise from the thinking of humans to the thinking of other species. The concept of death is a complex one, among other things requiring the individual to have a clear distinction between "I" and "others". 

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
Guest: (1111 days ago)

"We should be very careful when making attempts to generalise from the thinking of humans to the thinking of other species."  This means you sort of agree that it was absurd for them to say how other animals think.  Even within our own species, I have seen court cases where the litigants were not allowed to state how other humans thought because we cannot be sure how someone else's thought process works.  For example, "She knew I needed the money to pay my rent" is not allowed.

ReplyVote up (94)down (101)
Original comment

"We should be very careful when making attempts to generalise from the thinking of humans to the thinking of other species."  This means you sort of agree that it was absurd for them to say how other animals think.  Even within our own species, I have seen court cases where the litigants were not allowed to state how other humans thought because we cannot be sure how someone else's thought process works.  For example, "She knew I needed the money to pay my rent" is not allowed.

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
guest0 guest0 (1110 days ago)
Latest comment:

Some intentions can be ascribed to animals, don't you think? Does this heron have a plan and does it wait for the right moment to strike? It also tries to avoid having fish eat up his bait.

LINK

But this bear does NOT intentionally save the crow, even though such claims were made:

LINK

But this cat definitely seems to intend to save the child (who is part of the cat's family):

LINK

I would think that it is fair to say that some animals lack specific thoughts. Some animals may have a concept of death, I don't know which. But I think we can assume that gazelles don't have the knowledge that they are bound to die one day. Think about how long it takes for a human child to develop that concept of death. 

Stating the absence of something (no other animal than humans have a theory of mind, or have a written language with grammar, not counting animals used by humans for cognitive experients) is something different than stating what specific thoughts an animal may have. And... court rooms have other rules than science (including less demanding demans for a 'proof', science hardly has any proof). 

ReplyVote up (101)down (81)
Original comment
Latest comment:

Some intentions can be ascribed to animals, don't you think? Does this heron have a plan and does it wait for the right moment to strike? It also tries to avoid having fish eat up his bait.

LINK

But this bear does NOT intentionally save the crow, even though such claims were made:

LINK

But this cat definitely seems to intend to save the child (who is part of the cat's family):

LINK

I would think that it is fair to say that some animals lack specific thoughts. Some animals may have a concept of death, I don't know which. But I think we can assume that gazelles don't have the knowledge that they are bound to die one day. Think about how long it takes for a human child to develop that concept of death. 

Stating the absence of something (no other animal than humans have a theory of mind, or have a written language with grammar, not counting animals used by humans for cognitive experients) is something different than stating what specific thoughts an animal may have. And... court rooms have other rules than science (including less demanding demans for a 'proof', science hardly has any proof). 

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
Guest: AxiomOfChoice (1111 days ago)

a gazelle today runs away from a lion because its ancestors did and therefore their genes for running away got passed down. whether a gazelle has any idea why it's running away is impossible to say.

ReplyVote up (101)down (99)
Original comment

a gazelle today runs away from a lion because its ancestors did and therefore their genes for running away got passed down. whether a gazelle has any idea why it's running away is impossible to say.

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
Guest: (1110 days ago)

Or it could be that it runs away because it knows that death is bad, and the genes for knowing death is bad got passed down.

ReplyVote up (96)down (101)
Original comment

Or it could be that it runs away because it knows that death is bad, and the genes for knowing death is bad got passed down.

Add your reply
Submit as guest (your name)

Copy code captcha


Submit as member (username / password)

CANCEL
RELATED POSTS
Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett discuss death
Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett discuss death
Dan Dennett - Ideas to die for
Dan Dennett - Ideas to die for
Daniel Dennett - Hijacked ants' brains
Daniel Dennett - Hijacked ants' brains
Daniel Dennett: AI doesn't need to be conscious
Daniel Dennett: AI doesn't need to be conscious
Daniel Dennett - Religion's gold-plated excuse to stop thinking
Daniel Dennett - Religion's gold-plated excuse to stop thinking