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Something to ponder deep about

Thematically, I had a very interesting and long conversation about animals and communication. The initial contention was that communicating with animals is possible - that animals do what we do, but certainly in a smaller or more limited way. Of importance is that they are not limited by nature, but are simply limited the same way we are limited: their ocabulary is small, but can be expanded through interaction with us.

Now it is obvous that some animals will never understand some things we'd like to convey; they would either not care or it would take far too long to explain the idea (the animal would die before it had a large enough vocabulary). But the discussion was analyzed through the vehicle of imagination.

This is where it gets interesting, since we need to ourselves communicate our ideas of how thought occurs, and whether such thought is existant in animals. Apparently, of prime importance is the difference between language and communication - in that animals communicate but do not utilize anything more than conditioned responses. I consider this distinction to be symantec only, in that I think animals will use the small vocabulary they have and ingeniously add to their own vocabulay by observing us.

Do animals simply provide conditioned responses? Do they communicate with each other? Can we understand their thought processes well enough to not only communicate, but to expand their mode of thought enough to communicate better?

I'm interested in what the gang has to say on this - just try to avoid the inevitable rants on symantics. Keep opinions on topic, don't worry about what others say.


This reminds me of that time our dog figured out the system. When she was a puppy, my parents would let her sleep in the bed every so often. Then she got much bigger and that stopped. So after that, every morning she would come upstairs and bark at my dad to let her out. He'd get up and let her out. One morning she decided things should go back to the way they were when she was a puppy. So she asked Dad to let her out as usual and when he got up, she jumped in his spot on the bed. My dog, in effect, lied to my dad.