LS Re: the four levels as awareness

Bodvar Skutvik (
Thu, 13 Aug 1998 15:12:58 +0100

Wed, 12 Aug 1998 01:00:11 +0000
Hettinger <>
wrote to Glove mainly:

> I'm reading a fascinating book right now called "Ape Talk and Whale
> Speak,
> the Search for Interspecies Communication", and I recommend it to
> everyone.
> (Can't remember the author, darn it, and it's not where I can get it).
> It's
> fun to read, and full of real-life examples of intellect in animals;
> animals' ability (and lack of ability) to enter into human
> communication,
> whether social or intellectual; examples of non-human sets of
> intellectual
> patterns; difficulties of truly separate sets of intellectual patterns
> relating to each other in any way; and interesting thoughts like Dr.
> Lilly's
> (I paraphrase, don't have my book at hand), who noted that a severely
> mentally-retarded human's mental ability far outshines any animal's (on
> a
> testable level) and wondered whether proto-humans killed off all their
> near-competetitors in the intelligence area, and that's the reason there
> aren't more gradations.
> I don't want to suggest to anyone that humans are the only participants
> in
> intellectual capability, but that the set of human intellectual patterns
> is
> so vastly more powerful than any other sets of intellectual patterns
> that in
> a one-word label, it gets the point across.
Glove and Maggie and Squad.
The piece that Maggie responded to was a gem and I am writing
on a response to it, for now I only want to address the final part of
her letter (above).

It's not because of Norwegian whaling that I oppose the animal-
intellect idea (Q-intellect!). Intelligent yes, smart definitely
excellent in perceiving/observing the reality of their (bio-socio?)
existence plane, but not "intellectual". A whale song may be a
superior medium in conveying information, it may evoke memories
and emotions (something we humans know when an old tune brings a
particular experience back - not as a pale memory, but more real than
life) , and yet, whatever richness of information it may carry: it
is not abstractions - words. It may tell about food, location and
possibly of methods to catch it better than any human language
, but they can NOT carry on a general conversation about
food or imagine a famine or anticipate pain or the abstract state of
"being dead". An animal cannot be tortured. There is an
insurmountable obstacle, the human race has entered a higher level
and pulled up the ladder behind them. We are suspended in language as
Niels Bohr said.

All right I am not arguing with you Maggie, we are in agreement as
your closing words reveals, I'm just fascinated by animals ... in a
philosophical way. I have never owned a pet and never will.

I am possibly in disagreement with Glove, but my answer to him will
clarify a few points.

Till then


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