Animal vs. Humans

Topics: Psychology, Cognition, Mind Pages: 2 (571 words) Published: June 23, 2013
animals vs.
Animals vs. humans
There have been many debates about animals’ ability vs. humans in thinking and using language. The answer for this debate is no, animals are not able to use language and cognitive skills as humans do. When it comes to language, one has to distinguish between language and communication. Language is a system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols [1]. Animals are not able to use language but they can communicate information about their food, danger, etc. these behaviors are ways of communications that differ from language because they are very limited. Macphail mentioned in his book Brain and intelligence in vertebrates that "humans acquire language (and non-humans do not) not because humans are (quantitatively) more intelligent, but because humans possess some species-specific mechanism (or mechanisms) which is a prerequisite of language-acquisition"[2]. Though, there have been many attempts to teach animals language. For example, teaching a Chimpanzee called Nim Chimpsky to use language. This study showed that Nim’s linguistic abilities never reached a level of four-year old baby; Nim was not able to master syntax and his vocabulary was quite small. This study and many different ones led some scientist to believe that animals cannot master symbolic language but they can learn behavioral responses to their human trainers [3]. Meanwhile when it comes to animal cognition, many people believe that animals are able to think and they have insight-based thinking. According to a study in January Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Asian elephants fail to glean the underlying purpose of tasks and instead follow train in a rote manner. The results suggest that the elephants are not learning through reasoning; the elephants followed the training blindly, they did not had any conception of what they were doing [4]. So the conclusions that animals are able...
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