Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Words For Thought: Ideas and Other I- Words

Before I begin, yes I've missed my week mark once again. In my defense I've been going to school full time, working five days a week and still managing to have a little bit of a social life. Which does preside over the internet. Sorry, guys. I may just have to make my goal a little less demanding. Or maybe manage my time better.
On the plus side, I have so many things I want to post about. I don't think that I'll run out of topics for the next couple of weeks. I have an ongoing list on a little post it note on my desk.

Today, I'm going to start a new segment (Is that a good way to put it? I think that's more of a video thing.) I'm calling it Words for Thought. I never understood why the phrase "food for thought" especially since I'm writing this all down. Not... eating it. Yeah.
Anyways, the whole purpose of this is to put a little more content into my blog besides "Hey guys, I'm still alive. Bye." I have a lot of random thoughts that pop into my head throughout the day. So, I figured I'd actually start doing something with my thoughts. (What a novel concept.) Here goes.

Words for Thought: Ideas and Other I- Words

Today, while catching up on my macroeconomics reading, I started going down a rabbit trail of thought. About thought and why humans are smarter than animals and so much more innovative than animals (I- word #1). And the notes I made in the margins say this: "Ideas (I- word #2) are powerful things. --> Humans are above animals because of ideas?? --> Animals don't have ideas. They have impulses (#3) and instincts (#4)."

I think this was a great epiphany. Because anyone who's studied animals and spent hours watching animals live and interact know that a lot of them aren't dumb animals walking around with surviving as their only goal. They have thoughts. But they don't have ideas. defines idea as this: any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity. Also, an opinion, view, or belief. It also defines thought as the product of mental activity. Animals have mental activity. Especially animals like apes, elephants, dolphins, cats, dogs, even parrots and a few other animals. I'm not so sure about things like snakes and reptiles and definitely not bugs.

Animals do not have ideas. They don't sit around and debate the existence of a God or whether they should eat canned food or go hunt something down and eat that instead. They don't have little proverbs and parables to teach their children lessons. There's no ideas and wisdom. There's certainly intelligence (#5). I think intelligence and wisdom are too often considered one in the same. It's like someone being book smart or street smart. Intelligence and wisdom is the difference between something on the surface level and on an entirely deeper, conceptual level.

Anyways, I have class to go to and there's some words for thought. Let me know if you have any opinions at all in the comments or something. (I pretend I get lots of them just to humor myself.)

PS I don't think it's coincidence that all these words start with I. Probably some Latin or Greek thing.


  1. I actually don't agree with animals not being capable of having ideas. You define ideas as having parables to teach your children and talking about the existence of God, but I don't think those things adequately describe what an "idea" truly is. (Also on a more philosophical note, we can't ever be sure that they aren't having those thoughts). I consider an idea a new thought, something innovative, something done for pleasure, something with no real biological purpose. Animals have those "ideas" all the time. Look up anything about elephant death rituals and the MRI's that reveal PTSD symptoms. Sorry, I don't mean to completely disagree with you but this has recently become a subject of interest to me and I plan on taking my original 10 page essay about it and turning it into my thesis.

    1. I actually have no problem with you entirely disagreeing on me, Noelle. (It's kind of the whole point even.) I think it's really cool that you're turning it into your thesis. It was more of a passing by thought that I had today.
      I know that elephants and other animals definitely have ritual type things. (Also, interesting fact: rats dream about mazes they run through.) I also agree that we can't prove that they aren't having ideas and super crazy complex thoughts beyond our comprehension. Which would be cool if they did to say the least.
      Maybe the teaching parables to your children and discussing God aren't the best examples, but my point is they don't (seem) to sit around and have philosophical discussions. They also don't appear to be as innovative as humans.
      There are definitely different levels of intelligence and elephants and apes seem to be near the top of that. But my question is why aren't they building upon the learnings of previous generations and innovating new ways of thought/living?