[26, 27] The consciousness of animals & naming as a human activity. Garden of Eden, anyone? (I'll copy the Eco essay I mentioned recently & put it in your mailbox.) In 25 Wittgenstein dismisses another two-part logical structure: that animals do not talk because they lack the mental capacity. Instead, Wittgenstein notes, all we really know is that they do not talk. (The evidence suggests that animals do think, but that's not W's concern here.) The question arises--& it is a tricky one--as to what we mean by thinking. Just for clarity, I'd suggest that there is a biological activity that we humans share with at least the "higher" animals & then there is something we might want to set apart & distinguish as human thinking, which is shot through with language. Thinking & human thinking probably grade into each other over some region of evolutionary space, but the consequence of seeing things this way is the recognition that while we share a great deal with our non-speaking cousins, language--for good or ill--also distinguishes us from them, radically. We are, in Auden's memorable phrase, "their lonely betters."


Post a Comment

<< Home