[percy-l] animal communication and consciousness

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Thu Dec 12 15:19:53 EST 2002

Dear Karey,

I believe Percy does view human language as qualitatively distinct from the
communication and signaling of other animals.  And as you suggest he seems
to view non human signalling as essentially mechanistic and man's language
as emanating from a non material or spiritual realm.  I think he might  say
that one distinguishing example of the difference is that non human animals
do not use language to name.

I agree with your view (which I think was Percy's as well) that non human
animals probably do not have a consciousness of existance itself.  I
believes this stems from the likelihood that they are not capable storing a
sufficiently complex signaling system to create an abstract notion of
existence or even of present vs absent (although I believe they are capable
of recalling absent objects).

I realize much is made by Percy and Peirce of the presumed correspondence of
so called mechanistic or scientific accounts of behavior with dyadic
relations and  purpose and human language with triadic relations but
personally I can not follow how either Percy or Peirce reduce S-R psychology
or scientific theories of man to what they are calling dyadic relations.
Seems to me all that goes on in the world is purposeful and triadic in the
Peircean sense  -- including non human communication and the interaction of
billiad balls.

Thanks for your comments on this subject.  I enjoyed them.

Jim Piat

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