What can we do that other living things can’t, or aren’t doing that they can, and why not? Is there something about humans holding us back?
From what I have observed, which is of course limited by my own singularity, the chief difference between human beings and other living entities is a knack for abstraction. However this difference is probably of scale and not totality, as behaviors that seem ritualistic and divorced from mere survival have been noted in other species, as has one of the more reliable signs of abstraction – tool usage.
Is there a limit or threshold between humans and other living things; a line of capabilities that will never be crossed by other species?
I cannot know the consciousness of another human, let alone that of another species. So pardon me while I speculate, but I think the difference between us and the other critters on Earth might be our ability to think beyond naive realism.
Naive realism is the belief that the seemingly external reality as it is experienced is the actual reality, of which we are just temporary residents. DNA on legs in a leg eat leg world, baby!
That sort of superficial literalism lacks reason and imagination, which is why I prefer my narrativism model, although tempered by a recognition of non-human minds as co-authors of reality.
Yet I wonder, is it possible for a dolphin, octopus or elephant to be a philosophical Idealist? What about single-celled organisms? Are their minds capable of a non-literal interpretation of their existence and experiences, or is this unique to humans?
Even among humans philosophical idealism is pretty unique, with just about everybody alive believing in some form of naive realism. Can we conjecture that the rarity of this kind of thinking, since it is so rare in humans, is also pretty much non-existent outside of humanity?
Or perhaps the opposite is true. Maybe humans are the only ones who haven’t figured it out yet. Perhaps this is why we appear to be so at odds with everything else.
Either way it seems to suggest that there is something to be explored there. Whether we are the only ones capable, or the only ones missing the punchline, our almost total devotion to naive realism as a species may be a massive hindrance to knowledge, evolution and/or transcendence.
And since scientific materialism is premised on naive realism, it fundamentally ignores the scientific spirit of investigating all possibilities. Naive realism has become a dogma which prevents us from the rational examination of our existence and has limited our ability to remain open-minded; which in turn has kept us from using powerful methods like science from examining our existence from new angles.
Only the unexamined appears self-evident. Taking naive realism for granted is a rejection of the search for knowledge, and a vice which turns ignorance into a virtue.