René Descartes Discourse

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In his Discourse on Method, René Descartes asserts that all human beings are equal in their ability to reason and that any differences in opinion are not a result of a difference in the ability to reason, but in the application of the reasoning (pt. I, par. 1). Descartes begins his argument for this claim by stating that rational thought and reason is what separates humans from animals, and that if all people have this ability to reason, then that must be the distinguishing feature of humanity (pt. I, par. 2). He goes on to explain that while individuals may differ within a species in regard to their non-essential qualities, they will not differ in the species’ distinguishing feature. This rule accounts for the diversity within humanity as…show more content…
Upon first glance, Descartes’ tests seem sound, but even a short amount of research will reveal that these tests are not an accurate representation of non-human animals’ and machines’ skills. In the case of non-human animals, many species of birds have been shown to communicate with each other very similarly to the way that humans communicate, even creating their own regional dialects, not unlike humanity’s development of regional dialects (“Birds Invent New Songs”). Dolphins have been proven to communicate through echolocation, which can be recorded and even roughly translated into human language, proving that there are enough similarities between intelligent animal languages and human language. Machines can also communicate with each other (e.g. binary) in such a form that it can be translated into human language and can communicate with humans more proficiently as technology progresses and improves. One such example is a robot modeled after the science fiction author Philip K. Dick, a collaboration product that showcases the potential of machines to understand and learn human language through latent semantic analysis (“What’s The Next Big Thing?”). The robot gathers information from its programmed database, the internet, and real time conversation in order to extract and index…show more content…
Many animals have been observed and proven to display problem solving skills, such as Japanese carrion crows, who lay walnuts in front of cars stopped at traffic lights. The crows have learned that once the light changes, the cars will crush the walnut, breaking it open, and allowing them to eat the insides (Davies, “Bird Brains”). In my personal experience, ferrets will attempt to reach food on a table by first trying to jump from the floor to the table, and if that fails, they will climb to a nearby chair and attempt to jump from there. If this also fails, the ferret will move boxes, containers, or any other object in a final (and usually successful) attempt to reach the food. These displays of problem solving rely on learning and adapting to the surrounding technology and environment, what appears to me as a clear indicator of the ability to

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