virus: dolphins

Tracy Yucikas (
Sat, 09 Jan 1999 08:40:41 -0800

MarXidad wrote:
>meme but it does show that *what we accept as being conscious*
>to be the prevalent meme here. Humanoid aliens in sci-fi are
>easily accepted as being conscious but what about fictional
>aliens that are far from humanoid? Anyone remember the
>crystalline entity from Star Trek:TNG? What about dolphins,
>could they be conscious? Personally, I don't think so
>because I think language and communication has a lot do with
>consciousness. They do have a pretty sophisticated way of
>communicating to each other. It's not just communicating to
>each other, but also thinking to one's self in some way that
>constitutes consciousness in the self-aware sense. I doubt that
>what dolphins say to each other is something a dolphin would
>need to say to itself, and it's probably because the language
>isn't complex enough for that. And that would be because they
>don't have any means (i.e. vocal cords) to develop enough
>variations in patterns to express a variety of concepts

hmmmm ... I have to take issue with some of this; " .... the language isn't complex enough ..." <whoooaaa !!!>

I remember early college days taking a seminar in fine-arts with a prof who was a musician who spoke and thought very well. This was in the late 1960's; one evening, I happened to be in the student union building and heard some entrancing music coming out of an auditorium; looking through a door I saw a room full of finely-dressed people and there was my professor sitting on a small stage playing a cello duet with somebody I'd never seen before but good-grief, he sounded fantastic! These WERE the 60's so I walked in my sandals and torn grubby blue jeans and walked up to the front row in front of the stage and sat down on the floor <early mosh-pit meme> totally amazed by the music I was experiencing; there was emotion and intensity and the communication between the players was gut-punchingly visceral beauty. (By the way, some of the "finely-dressed folk" joined me on the floor as the concert progressed.)

It turned out that Pablo Casals had been making a concert tour of college campuses or some such and out of the blue I had stumbled into one of the high-points of my life to have witnessed an incredibly high-level comunication of virtuoso caliber. The overwhelming impression that I received was one of "humanity" with the characteristic of "knowingness and intelligence".

Flash-forward five or six years to a ship at sea where I was standing on the bridge of a US warship engaged in a typical sort of training exercise off the coast of a tropical island with all sorts of electronic sensors dragging in information about the outside world in a combat simulation scenario. One of these sensors was an underwater microphone with speaker output on the bridge. Suddenly there was singing of a chorus in the air, or crying, or whistles and chirps calling back and forth; I looked out into the sea and there was a school of dolphin playing in the bow-wave and the sounds of their "voices singing" was in my ears and the thought flashed .."THEY'RE PEOPLE !!"

And the feeling was the same one which I had experienced listening to Pablo Casls and Dr Fause playing cello right in front of my eyes and ears.

There is an apprehension of reality which flows via non-verbal channels which is NOT a "lesser" reality, parsing, flowchart-esque, venn-diagrammatical objections notwithstanding.

"... and that's why I think dolphins are conscious, thank you.."

Dolphins's consciouness became evident to me in one of those "cold-water-in-the-face" unmistakeable (I wanna use the word "epiphany" but gee whiz ... the stuff they were saying couldn't be said by non-conscious people(2) ... this is NOT and "epsilon-delta argument of structural rigor" but elegance of heuristic truth is rarely wrong.