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What makes us different from a rock?  

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Carla Tortelli
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"Prove that you are not a rock." This came along with a good amount of silence. I  know we were all thinking and most likely did not want to share, so why not make a forum for just that. 

One thing that kept popping up in my mind is that us, humans, have the ability to hide emotions or certain behaviors when needed. When a rock is thrown, its thrown with no unique reaction, but if we were to look at it as a dog each dog would have a different reaction. Assuming that dogs cannot hide an emotion as it is pure reflex, why can we? I feel as though being able to hide emotion is one way we can distinguish the difference. Rocks cannot act independently from their actions nor can most dogs fake a reaction or hide an emotion. Is the skill of hiding what we truly feel a distinguishing characteristic? To be honest this was explained way better in my head, hope it makes sense!


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SnowyYeti
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@carlatortelli I do understand the explanation you gave and I think it is a good one I hadnt thought of.  In my class today we came up with a reason why we as humans are different from a dog.  A different question from the rock, but a similar answer.  We as humans have the ability to choose.  Chisnell used the example that if a dog sees food, it eats it.  There is no thought of hm should I eat this, is it good for me, nothing.  But as a human, we have the ability to reason and make our own decisions.  I think apart of this is Freud's theory that the personality is made up of the id the superego and the ego.  Rocks have no brain or anything so they cannot think for themselves, but dogs on the other hand, have a brain but their brain is not as developed as us.  Dogs are controlled by the id mainly, (assuming that the id superego and ego apply to them) and don't have much reasoning power compared to the humans on the other hand that are controlled by the id the least I would say.  This brought up another question I thought that I am curious to hear you guys thoughts on.  Do animals still have the id superego and ego? Or do those parts of the personality only apply to humans?


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xwing37
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I think another thing that separates us from a dog or a rock is that we're even having this conversation. Dogs have thoughts and think before they do things, but this is only to an extent. A dogs only thoughts are, I want the ball, or I want food, etc. But for humans we are able to connect so many thoughts in order to make much more complex ones. We differentiate from a rock because we react. A rock is thrown wherever the thrower wants to throw it and it doesn't react. But if you were to do that with a human the human would fight back or argue about it. So I feel like there's many reasons why we differentiate from a rock or a dog so I find it interesting that there was silence when asked this question.


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Anonymous Parrot
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Free will I think is the answer to this question. We certainly have the will to make certain choices about our actions. A rock can not make any of those certain choices. If I told a rock to choose a candidate for the 2020 presidential election, I don't think it would be able to come to a decision let alone be able to cast a ballot.  Maybe I'm not understanding this question though....


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Madams43
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Human beings are not the strongest species on the planet. We're not the fastest, or maybe even the smartest. The one advantage we have is our ability to cooperate and communicate our emotions and ideas. We are programmed for compassion, heroism, and for love. Those things make us stronger, faster...and smarter and what separates us from a dog or a rock. It's why we've survived for so long. 


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Delphine
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At first, i was a little confused by this question. But, as I've thought about it more, there's really no conclusive way for us to determine what we "really are" as we determine every category. It's hard to determine if we even are the most socially advanced or if we've just decided we are and can't understand any other "group" (not sure if this is the right word) that may be more advanced than us. There's simply no way of knowing unless one group finds a way to communicate.


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Conster
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@carlatortelli

I think that the difference between sentient beings such as humans and any other thing in existence is the conscious dilemma we have with choice. To explain what I mean: When faced with deciding between two different choices, an animal will choose based on first instinct. People will actively debate the differences between the choices, weighing the consequences of either action and comparing them. A rock is once further removed from that, not even having the ability to make any decision.


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Conster
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@aaparrot

The question I believe is asking for an explanation using reason as to why you cannot be a rock. What if you were a rock, what would be different about you than what you currently are? 

In response to your commentary, I would argue that free will is an advantage that many things have. A bear can still choose whether or not to maul you, the difference is that a bear is driven by instinct whereas people are primarily driven on a level above instinct, by a mixture of emotion and logic. To me, the ability to make decisions based upon things other than instinct is the difference between "us and them".


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a2m0e0m2
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@conster to add off of your point, we are driven by our moral instinct. Society teaches us whether certain actions are deemed as successful or destructive. The genetic makeup of bears used in the example does not allow for them to pick up on the instinct of morality. This furthermore separates us into a different group, having us to pick and choose certain actions. 


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Anonymous Parrot
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@conster Well, I just made a topic about that so maybe it's time to port the discussion over there. The bear may have the illusion of mauling you but it does so out of fear of harm or in other words because of a determined input like an "instinct". When person x reaches me in y amount of feet, I attack human being. If person y seems aggressive and danger is imminent, attack person y. 


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stella
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I think the comparison between humans and a rock is a little too broad. Rocks don't have the capability to do almost anything that humans can do. Humans can apply knowledge, feel emotions, and make decisions; rocks can do none of these things. I think a better comparison for this question is the difference between humans and animals. For instance, dogs can learn things and have emotions (though they aren't as complex as ours). I think the main difference lies in the decision making. Dogs make decisions on what they desire, whereas humans can better suppress their emotions and factor in more complex variables when making decisions. 


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xmysterio
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Although many obvious reasonings can come to mind about this, theres one that really stood out in my mind during this discussion. When a rock is looked at, we see no special attributes. We tend to pick up the rock and toss it somewhere like it has no significant meaning. We don’t remember anything specific about the rock or try to get to know it. With humans, however, when we look at each other, we see different attributes to each other. We don’t pick up a human and toss it somewhere, not caring where it’ll end up. Humans have more sympathy for each other, as we are one in the same so we feel a sense of relativity. We don’t feel this towards a rock, as we don’t relate to such an inanimate object. It’s all in our way of thinking: how we view a rock, and how we view a human being. 


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xmysterio
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@stella I agree, the contrast between an animal and human can be much more inquisitive. However, when comparing an inanimate object to a human being, it shows how self-aware we are. Although it can be obvious why humans are not like rocks, the very fact that it’s obvious means we as humans are able to analyze ourselves and our specific behaviors that don’t resemble other behaviors. An animal is much easier to contrast than an inanimate object, I think. 


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xmysterio
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@delphine This is a very interesting way to think about it. There is no definite way of knowing our position in this world, if we are the highest intellectual level there is or if we aren’t. However, we are still able to pinpoint differences between humans and other groups. The rock, for example, is something we can easily find contrasts between. Although we do not know our position in the world, we still know our attributes that define us and make us different than things such as a rock. 


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xwing37
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@madams43, I really like this idea. Like you said it's not that we thrive in one skill. But the combination of all the different skills is what separates us from any other species on Earth, or in this case a rock. I've never really actually thought about this indepthly. But if a lion per say had the same cognitive thinking and communication skills we have combined with their speed and strength they would no doubt be the apex predator on Earth. So I believe that it's the combination of our many skills that separates us from anything else.


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