Some chimpanzees carry a log or a bunch of branches in their arms for a while but before I tell you why this should matter to you let me tell you about something completely different:
Some people believe that only the material things are important and that only the material really exists. Some think that beliefs and emotions mean nothing.
Did you ever cry or felt shocked by something that happened to somebody in a movie?
Neo-atheists will tell you that Leonardo DiCaprio did not really die of course in The Titanic so crying is just silly and stupid. It’s not real.
Meanwhile, a chimpanzee is carrying a log and it seems like she is holding it very tender and even communicate to it. It is as if the chimpanzee is taking care of a child.
She is not the first to do this, other chimpanzees were spotted before with the same kind of behavior.
She picks up the log and takes care of it as a child. Doesn’t she realize its just a log? Doesn’t she realize it's not a child?
Yeah, don’t you know Leonardo didn’t really die.
The chimpanzee knows it’s a log and it represents a child for her too at the same time just as you know that the actor didn’t die and at the same time the dead scene still represents something more to you.
Maybe the chimpanzee miscarried a baby or it died soon after birth. She comforts herself with a surrogate. She still has motherly feelings. But this behavior is not only spotted in female chimpanzees but also in male chimpanzees.
I remember seeing my little sister play with dolls. Surrogate babies. We give our children surrogates. Do they think the dolls are real babies. Well, until a certain age they do.
Dolls are so common but we rarely stand still by how it affects us and what it means for us.
Yes, chimpanzees can hold 2 interpretations, 2 representations of the world, what something is, in themselves. Just like us.
There is somebody who thought very deep about those things: Masamune Shirow. The creator and writer of the original Ghost in the shell.
I liked the animated movies in particular and the philosophical questions and dilemmas in it. I highly recommend watching Gits 1 and 2.
With AI’s becoming smarter and smarter and Elon Musk working on the bridge between human and artificial intelligence we might want to reconsider what intelligence and sentience really is and what differs between a surrogate and the real thing.
If it is natural for us to hold more than one representation of the world at the same time and surrogates like robots become more like us maybe it’s time to let go of rigid boundaries in our thinking. Maybe we have been living in a very narrow view of the world for far too long.
What is real for us is not just the material. It’s interwoven and connected on a deep level with what we feel and the meaning we create out of what is around us and what is happening.
This is just a blog post but for some it could mean more than just the letters in front of your face. The story can not only come to life….it can change your fate.
(Inspired by research from biologist Frans De Waal , The bonobo and the atheist.)