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To: Aquinasfan; Dumb_Ox
The problem of species classification is nothing else than an example of the problem of vague catagories. The difficulty in identifying the precise point where to draw the line between species is no different then the difficulty of drawing the line between red and orange on the rainbow. There are wavelengths of light that everyone will agree are red, and there are wagelengths of light everyone will agree are orange, and there are even wavelengths nearly everyone will agree are in between. But there are wavelengths on the borders of these three categories which are impossible to classify with any degree of certainty.

One does not have to resort to nominalism to resolve this problem. It is perfectly possible that the substance of red and orange exist, but it is impossible to determine, using empirical observation alone, where the precise boundary lies.

Likewise, "kinds" may exist as forms in the metaphysical, aristotelian sense, but physical measurement of the differences between groups of creatures cannot reveal the precisely where the boundary exists. Nevertheless, when the physical differences are large enough, we can can say with certainty that the kinds differ, much like we can say with certainty that certain wavelengths are red and not orange.

Similarly, the precise metaphysical boundaries of mankind cannot be known through biological observation. These boundaries may exist, but we simply cannot know them by merely measuring physical differences. Nevertheless, when we see that a population has no significant differences from the rest of humanity, then we can say with certainty that they are, indeed, our own kind.

This poses a problem in times where there exists a "borderline" homonid population. For instance, were Neanderthals human? They were extremely similar to us, but they also had a few significant differences. It's very difficult to say whether they were in fact true humans. I'm very glad I'm not living in the age where our kind coexisted with them, or even "archaic" homo sapiens for tha matter.

30 posted on 12/08/2005 6:16:22 PM PST by curiosity
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To: curiosity

A few things:

1) the idea of kinds is not even necessarily forms or archetypes, but instead of historical distinction -- descendent from a common ancestor pool. Now, some have attempted to create analytic methods for determining created kinds (for an example see http://www.bryancore.org/bsg/opbsg/002.html ), but ultimately, it is a historical definition.

2) Neanderthal's were definitely human. A quick look at the artifacts confirms this. They were artists and craftsman. In addition, they had the same mutational hotspots as humans. The following article on Homo Flores (the hobbit skeleton) contains a lot of the ideas that creationists use when looking at hominid skeletons: http://www.bryancore.org/bsg/opbsg/006.html


32 posted on 12/08/2005 7:39:36 PM PST by johnnyb_61820
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To: curiosity
Dumb_Ox, I'm pinging you because I thought you might be interested in the link at the bottom of the page. ___________________________________________________________ But there are wavelengths on the borders of these three categories which are impossible to classify with any degree of certainty. One does not have to resort to nominalism to resolve this problem. It is perfectly possible that the substance of red and orange exist, but it is impossible to determine, using empirical observation alone, where the precise boundary lies.

I think that this is a false dilemma, since there exists a continuum of color from red to orange, and a color may be designated 80% red and 20% orange, for example. So a color that's 50% red and 50% orange doesn't have to be classified as "red" or "orange."

Likewise, "kinds" may exist as forms in the metaphysical, aristotelian sense, but physical measurement of the differences between groups of creatures cannot reveal the precisely where the boundary exists.

Agreed.

Nevertheless, when the physical differences are large enough, we can can say with certainty that the kinds differ, much like we can say with certainty that certain wavelengths are red and not orange.

I think I know what you're driving at. But consider this. How is it that my little children instantly recognized their aunt's little "fru-fru" dog as a dog, and not a cat, even though the fru-fru dog looks more like a cat than most dogs (like labs) that they're experienced with?

Similarly, the precise metaphysical boundaries of mankind cannot be known through biological observation. These boundaries may exist, but we simply cannot know them by merely measuring physical differences.

I agree.

Nevertheless, when we see that a population has no significant differences from the rest of humanity, then we can say with certainty that they are, indeed, our own kind.

But what of dwarfs, midgets and pygmys, that have "significant differences from the rest of humanity." Are they human? How can we say that they are by this criteria?

This poses a problem in times where there exists a "borderline" homonid population. For instance, were Neanderthals human? They were extremely similar to us, but they also had a few significant differences. It's very difficult to say whether they were in fact true humans.

If "Neanderthal man" can be categorized as a proto-human despite the fact that "they were extremely similar to us," what prevents us from categorizing dwarfs, midgets, and pygmys similarly?

_____________________________________________________________ A great link on sense cognition for anyone interested: Sense Cognition: Aristotle vs. Aquinas

34 posted on 12/09/2005 5:23:06 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: curiosity
It's very difficult to say whether they were in fact true humans.

I assume this is "human" in the ontological sense? As I understand it, realism claims that the nature of a given thing can be recognized(though never fully understood) by perceiving the whole being. We can't make any claims about the "whole" of an ancient species by looking at the skeleton, or very pretty and very misleading artists' conceptions of the fleshed-out creature.

I asked brought up the following point on another thread months ago, but you wiggled out of it. Darwinism presupposes that biological species are in flux. We are simply another transitional form between our distant ancestors and our distant descendants. Our distant descendants might be similar to us, as certain creatures are the same as very ancient ones. But it is also possible in evolutionary theory that mankind can evolve into a superrational state in which we have sense organs to perceive stuff we can't even imagine now or mental faculties inconceivable by our little minds(this has been absorbed into many flaky new age philosophies). Likewise, it's possible for humanity to evolve into a subrational state(imagine us evolving in symbiosis with a computer system that does all our thinking for us).

Given that man is an incredibly contingent and unstable concept when seen "from the perspective of the Darwinian universe," how can the statement "God became man" be coherent?

39 posted on 12/09/2005 8:02:27 AM PST by Dumb_Ox (Hoc ad delectationem stultorum scriptus est)
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