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Angela
21-11-14, 03:56
That is the conclusion reached by Dr. Michael Tomasello, codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, after decades of study:

This is the link to the article:
http://nautil.us/issue/18/genius/cooperation-is-what-makes-us-human-rd

Aberdeen
21-11-14, 05:22
That is the conclusion reached by Dr. Michael Tomasello, codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, after decades of study:

This is the link to the article:
http://nautil.us/issue/18/genius/cooperation-is-what-makes-us-human-rd

Perhaps that's what distinguishes us from primates. But if members of some other species, such as elephants, were capable of empathy and co-operation, they still couldn't do the things humans do because they have very limited abilities when it comes to altering their environment. So I think what makes us human is a combination of co-operation and hands.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_mAAQO3UdE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_mAAQO3UdE)

ElHorsto
21-11-14, 09:02
I wonder whether human's special abilities actually make extended cooperation possible, not vice versa as Tomasello believes. For instance there are many species where one individual warns his group members of threats by using his voice, and then others chime in subsequently. What else can an animal do without hands, speech and intelligence.

Aberdeen
21-11-14, 18:46
I wonder whether human's special abilities actually make extended cooperation possible, not vice versa as Tomasello believes. For instance there are many species where one individual warns his group members of threats by using his voice, and then others chime in subsequently. What else can an animal do without hands, speech and intelligence.

If you read the paper, you'll see that the scientist tested co-operation among chimps and children and found that when chips have the opportunity to co-operate, they only do so grudgingly and only when they might gain something by it, whereas children seem to value co-operation or see it as the right thing to do even when they aren't going to directly benefit from the behavior themselves. I think the point the scientist was making is that altruistic co-operation requires a certain level of intelligence and awareness that chimps and most other mammals lack. I'm just not sure it's unique to humans. The video I posted may not prove my point since it could be seen as demonstrating maternal behavior, which is a kind of altruism that all mammals are capable of. However, based on what I've read about elephants, they're probably intelligent and aware enough to engage in true co-operation.

Angela
21-11-14, 19:23
If you read the paper, you'll see that the scientist tested co-operation among chimps and children and found that when chips have the opportunity to co-operate, they only do so grudgingly and only when they might gain something by it, whereas children seem to value co-operation or see it as the right thing to do even when they aren't going to directly benefit from the behavior themselves. I think the point the scientist was making is that altruistic co-operation requires a certain level of intelligence and awareness that chimps and most other mammals lack. I'm just not sure it's unique to humans. The video I posted may not prove my point since it could be seen as demonstrating maternal behavior, which is a kind of altruism that all mammals are capable of. However, based on what I've read about elephants, they're probably intelligent and aware enough to engage in true co-operation.


I think that's right in terms of the difference he saw between chimps and children. I was struck by this:
" When adults deliberately drop objects in his experiments, babies of 14 months will crawl over to pick them up and hand them back. Toddlers open doors for experimenters whose hands are full. They do it without being asked and without being rewarded. Once they get the idea that they are partnering, they commit to joint intentionality. If a partner is having trouble, they stop and help. They share the spoils equally. “They really understand that we’re doing this together, and we have to divide it together,” Tomasello says."

I spent quite a few years with babies and toddlers, and his observations are mainly correct from my experience. However, not all people and not all babies and toddlers are the same. When my children were young and playing in the sandbox or in the playground at our local pool club, there was one particular child whom my friend unkindly used to call the "devil child". A whole group of toddlers would be playing cooperatively, and then this beautiful little girl would show up. Within fifteen minutes somebody would be crying. She would just routinely walk up to other children and grab their toys, pushing them if they objected, throwing sand etc.

She also exhibited the most extraordinary manipulative skills for such a young child. If she saw two of them playing, and wanted one of them all to herself, she would go over with a toy, hand it to the favored child, literally putting herself physically between this child and the one who was to be left out, and then she would lead the "chosen" one away by the hand. Another one of her specialties was to put up her hand and then whisper to one child about another one. Within an hour most mothers had pulled their children and gone elsewhere. (She's still the same, only she cloaks it a lot better now.)

If you want to know about human nature, watch babies and toddlers. It's eye opening. Half of my pre-conceived notions went right out the window.

On the other hand, there are toddlers like this one. Mine were just the same. I had to just ban certain videos. Bambi was the first to go! This one was on the censored list too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJFIp8-HZ9k

Aberdeen
21-11-14, 20:37
I think that "devil child" you describe may have been a psychopath, Angela. I think it's now described as a sociopathic/psychopathic spectrum with differing degrees of severity and apparently the child's environment will probably determine whether the child becomes a career criminal or learns how to fake normal human behaviour well enough to become a CEO or a politician. But psychologists and psychiatrists who've studied the problem agree that psychopaths aren't "damaged" but simply are born with a certain package of traits, including a lack of empathy, a focus solely on their own needs, a tendency toward manipulation and an inability to foresee consequences for anti-social behaviour. You probably already know that, but it can be difficult to apply such information to a sweet looking child. And fortunately the much more common personality type is the child who cries about sad things happening to cartoon animals and it takes a lot of social conditioning to make someone like that a capable soldier or whatever. I think the scientist is right in seeing such behaviour as one of the things that separate humans from most mammals, including other primates. I just wonder whether the small number of other highly intelligent mammals, such as whales and elephants, would show a similar characteristic. It should be possible to test that in elephants.

LeBrok
21-11-14, 21:10
I don't like when they look at any issue in black and white way. Surely many mammals and birds know how to cooperate and exhibit altruistic behaviour towards their group members. Humans just perfected cooperation and became super social animal.
I find this pointing with finger, human characteristic, very interesting. It comes so easy to us that we think it is an universal trait, but it is human only..., and maybe gods'. I've seen them pointing too, on paintings. ;)

Angela
21-11-14, 21:13
I think that "devil child" you describe may have been a psychopath, Angela. I think it's now described as a sociopathic/psychopathic spectrum with differing degrees of severity and apparently the child's environment will probably determine whether the child becomes a career criminal or learns how to fake normal human behaviour well enough to become a CEO or a politician. But psychologists and psychiatrists who've studied the problem agree that psychopaths aren't "damaged" but simply are born with a certain package of traits, including a lack of empathy, a focus solely on their own needs, a tendency toward manipulation and an inability to foresee consequences for anti-social behaviour. You probably already know that, but it can be difficult to apply such information to a sweet looking child. And fortunately the much more common personality type is the child who cries about sad things happening to cartoon animals and it takes a lot of social conditioning to make someone like that a capable soldier or whatever. I think the scientist is right in seeing such behaviour as one of the things that separate humans from most mammals, including other primates. I just wonder whether the small number of other highly intelligent mammals, such as whales and elephants, would show a similar characteristic. It should be possible to test that in elephants.


http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/laughing.gifhttp://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/laughing.gif

Well, she's at a great school, on her way to a great future, has a wonderful boyfriend who seems oblivious to her true nature, and I don't see any homicidal tendencies yet. http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/smile.gif I've met my share of psychopathic, sociopathic criminals in my line of work, and I don't see that in her, but who knows. Nobody thought Ted Bundy was a homicidal psychopath until he was accidentally discovered. They can fool you.

I suppose what I mean is that I think there's a human spectrum from highly self-centered, competitive, aggressive people who lack empathy to highly empathetic, self-sacrificing, cooperative people. At one extreme, you can get criminal behavior. At the other end you get a Mother Teresa. Most people fall somewhere in between. Do I think most people are basically "decent"? I guess so, if you have a pretty forgiving definition of "decent". However, there's an awful lot of selfishness, cruelty, and bullying among children too, not to mention deceit and betrayal of trust. I think children and childhood are sometimes too idealized and romanticized. The child is father to the man, as they say, and the end product isn't too inspiring in a lot of cases. Of course, the fact that I've seen people at their very worst for a lot of years probably colors my judgment, or maybe I just have impossibly high standards for human behavior.

I agree that it would be very interesting to test whales and elephants in the same way.

hope
22-11-14, 15:55
I don`t think this statement is correct. Certainly, co-operation between humans is very important and has benefits, but it is not unique to humans and so to say it is this which makes us human is too simplistic.
We can find levels of co-operation in animals, not only when food is involved. Elephants have been observed in the wild working together to pull another free from mudflaps where it had become stuck, they worked together for same end, the release of another. This could be likened to the helping the man who fell off subway platform. Birds will work together to swarm at a predator to chase it away when a nest is under attack, co-operation. Also the arthritic chimp that was hoisted up to safety in the tree and then the other chimps co-operated to fetch and bring water to it. These are all levels of co-operation..working to the same end, in this case, to feed the arthritic chimp.
As for toddlers opening doors without prompting, some will, others wont. Some see the problem and reason the solution...they then may or may not co-operate, but first they use human mechanisms to see the problem before co-operation is produced. Take away the ability to reason and problem solve, you will not get much co-operation without prompting.
As co-operation can be seen across nature, it therefore follows this cannot be what makes us human, and whilst it can be seen to be done at times altruistically, it often serves us on a personal level. If we co-operate within the group, we can share the benefits. It is, as I said, a very important part of being human, it has many benefits..but I feel it is a layer of what makes us human.


Just for interest and not for debate...here is a really nice video presented by Frans de Waal regarding traits animals may [or may not] have. There is a piece at beginning on co-operation.

http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals?language=en

ElHorsto
14-12-14, 12:01
If you read the paper, you'll see that the scientist tested co-operation among chimps and children and found that when chips have the opportunity to co-operate, they only do so grudgingly and only when they might gain something by it, whereas children seem to value co-operation or see it as the right thing to do even when they aren't going to directly benefit from the behavior themselves.

Testing only Chimps is not convincing. There are so many other species.

BaltoHeritageNorway
14-03-15, 04:20
That can not be true. Co-operation in many cases is clearly positive for any survival or development, but it is also naturally existing for most species of animals. What separates the human and the animal is the ability to think and plan something from a creative and an analytical Level (2 abilities) that animals either do not have brain capacity for, and/or do not have enough brain capacity for regarding making "civilization" from it. To me the claim of the doctor sounds rather political.