Essay concerning Human Understanding, IV, XVII, 1 (1975, p. 668) and II, XI, 11 (1975, p. 160), as cited in Boyle, Matthew Brendan (2006) Kant and the Significance of Self-Consciousness
. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished), 3.
Treatise of Human Nature, I, III, XVI (1978, p. 176), as cited in Boyle, 4.
Capitanio, J. (2017, January). Animal studies in psychology. Psychology Student Network. http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2017/01/animal-studies
Kalueff AV, Stewart AM, Gerlai R. Zebrafish as an emerging model for studying complex brain disorders. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Feb;35(2):63-75; Meshalkina DA, N Kizlyk M, V Kysil E, Collier AD, Echevarria DJ, Abreu MS, Barcellos LJG, Song C, Warnick JE, Kyzar EJ, Kalueff AV. Zebrafish models of autism spectrum disorder. Exp Neurol. 2018 Jan;299(Pt A):207-216.
Bolker JA. Animal Models in Translational Research: Rosetta Stone or Stumbling Block? Bioessays. 2017 Dec;39(12). doi: 10.1002/bies.201700089. Epub 2017 Oct 20. PMID: 29052843.
Even manifest differences must be originally rooted in similarities undergoing incremental variation, as in transformational homology. Rieppel, O. (1994). Homology, topology, and typology: The history of modern debates, in Hall, B.K. (ed.) Homology: The Hierarchical Basis of Comparative Biology
, (San Diego: Academic Press), p. 88. It has been argued that the Modern Synthesis (MS) Theory, the orthodox paradigm in evolutionary biology, is insufficient in accounting for evolutionary novelties. Refer to Pigliucci, Massimo (2008). What, if anything, is an evolutionary novelty? Philosophy of Science
75 (5):887-898. Pigliucci writes:
...while the MS has been very successful at expanding Darwinism to account for genetics and population biology, it has failed to sensibly incorporate both developmental biology and ecology; while the MS has given us an account of genetic variation and of how it changes in populations over time, it has reached an impasse on the question of the origin and evolution of phenotypic novelties and organismal body plans (p. 895).
Hands, John. Cosmosapiens: Human Evolution from the Origin of the Universe
. (Overlook Books, 2016). pp. 536-537.
Tallis, Raymond. Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
. (Acumen Publishing 2012), p. 214. It should be noted that Tallis prefaces his discussions with numerous disclaimers that he affirms the biological evolution of human beings and is an atheist humanist—the fact that he feels the need to even spell this out demonstrates the unfortunate extent to which the subject has become politicized in the public discourse such that to even raise intelligent questions about the assumptions of the mainstream scientific community is deemed academic heresy.
Another aspect of the problem
Tallis, Raymond. Aping Mankind,
See Tafsir ibn Atiyyah
(Qatar: Ministry of Awqaf 2007), vol. 8, p. 647.
Chomsky, N. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
(MIT Press 1965), p. 47. Like all pioneering observations, this raised criticisms from opponents and responses from proponents. See Legate, Julie & Yang, Charles (2002). Empirical re-assessment of stimulus poverty arguments. The Linguistic Review
For instance, consider the following sentence (a Chomskyan adaptation): ‘The man who is leading the prayer is knowledgeable.’ If one were to convert this into a question, one is required to transpose the second instance of the word ‘is’ to the front of the sentence and not the first: ‘Is the man who leading the prayer is knowledgeable?’ versus ‘Is the man who is leading the prayer knowledgeable?’ People can instinctively identify the incorrect speech without any knowledge of the underlying structural syntactic determinants, and children readily identify such structure-dependence when they learn language. For more discussion on this subject, and examples of scalar implications and polarity in everyday language use, the interested reader may refer to Chierchia, Gennaro. Logic in grammar: Polarity, free choice, and intervention
(OUP Oxford, 2013).
Ibn al-Qayyim. Miftah Dar al-Sa’adah
, (Mecca: Dar ʿAlam al-Fawa’id 2010) vol. 2, p. 792.
Asoulin, Eran. (2016). Language as an instrument of thought. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics
Linguistic theorists often capitalize ‘Language’ to distinguish the faculty that all humans possess from the non-capitalized ‘language’ which refers to things like Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Turkish, etc.
There is an ongoing debate amongst linguists about whether all modern languages go back to a single ancestral language (linguistic monogenesis) or several languages (polygenesis), a question which has been said to be “difficult if not impossible to determine using the evidence of the present.” See Schreyer, Christine (2002) "A Proto-Human Language: Fact or Fiction," Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology
: Vol. 10: Iss. 1, Article 9. From the perspective of Muslim scholars, debates over the origin of human languages (asl al-lughah
) have also been diverse: the linguist Ibn Faris (d. 395 H) was of the view that they were all given by God, while Ibn Jinni (d. 330 H) believed they were invented by humans. Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H) held that languages were part given and part developed.
The Qur’an never uses bayan
to describe communication in non-human creations. One may wonder about what we may learn about language capacity from the example of Prophet Sulaiman's knowledge of animal speech, most notably the ant and the hoopoe in Surah al-Naml. However, Al-Qurtubi comments in his exegesis of 27:16, “People are in agreement that Sulaiman understood the speech of that which did not speak (kalam man laa yatakallam
), and speech was created even in plants, so that a plant would say ‘I am such-and-such tree, with this comparative benefit and harm.’ So what then do you suppose about animals?” Similarly, on the Day of Judgment, God will make a person’s skin speak just as “He makes everything speak” (41:21). Therefore, one must avoid taking these as normative biological descriptions about animal cognitive capacity, but rather instances wherein God elevates the generic primordial sentience found in any creation to the level of meaningful communication that might be apprehended, as in the case of a talking wolf (Sahih Bukhari
), a crying tree trunk (Sahih Ibn Hibban
), and even the entirety of the heavens and earth (41:11).
Limber, J. (1977). Language in child and chimp? American Psychologist, 32
Even after intensive instruction, the bonobo Kanzi failed to show comprehension of the hierarchical structures in language, outperformed by a human toddler between 18 to 24 months of age. See Truswell, R. (2017). Dendrophobia in Bonobo Comprehension of Spoken English. Mind Lang
Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science
Pinker S., & Jackendoff, R. (2005). The faculty of language: what’s special about it? Cognition
, 201–236. See also the response of Fitch W. T., Hauser, M. D., & Chomsky, N. (2005). The evolution of the language faculty: clarifications and implications. Cognition
Dunbar R. I. M. “Why only humans have language,” in The Prehistory of Language
eds. Botha R., Knight C. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009) p. 14.
Ibn Taymiyyah mentions it as proof of God teaching humans language (bayan
). Majmu’ al-Fatawa
(al-Mansura: Dar al-Wafa' lil-Taba'a wal-Nashr, 1998), vol. 9, p. 36.
See the discussion in Abu Su’ûd, Muhammad ibn Muhammad. Irshad ʿAql Salim ila Mazaya al-Kitab al-Karim
. (Riyadh 1974). Vol. 1, pp. 144-147. Learning “the names of all things” goes beyond simply acquiring vocabulary, for many reasons. First, where is the unique virtue in teaching Adam something that the angels could just as easily have learned? And how would that address the angel’s question about the human potential for bloodshed? Evidently, it relates to a unique capacity for conceptualization, for discerning the meanings of the unknown based upon what is known, which ties into humankind’s spiritual journey.
In this connection, consider also the hadith
which mentions that the angels report to God about witnessing His human servants glorifying Him, seeking Paradise, and seeking refuge from Hellfire despite this being unseen to them, whereupon God announces His forgiveness for them (Sahih al-Bukhari
6408). Language allows human beings to understand realities they have not witnessed, thus providing them the means of traversing the epistemic distance between them and God.
Ibn al-Qayyim. Miftah Dar al-Sa’adah
, (Mecca: Dar ʿAlam al-Fawa’id 2010), vol. 2, p. 666.
Cf. Tallis, Raymond. Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
, pp. 217, 230.
Davies, Paul. The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?
, (NY: First Mariner Books 2008) p. 5.
Nagel, Thomas. Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False
, p. 35.
See Kim, Jaegwon. Mind in a Physical World
. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998, p. 38.
Badr al-Din al-ʿAyni (d. 855 H) writes, “The human soul is that which each individual refers to with the pronoun, ‘I’.” Umdat al-Qari, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah 2001), vol. 2, p. 303.
There are many similar passages, such as the verse which mentions the devout voluntary obedience of the Heavens and the Earth to God (41:11).
The Trust (Amanah
) refers broadly to moral accountability, to follow the commandments of God by one’s volition. Qur’anic exegesis mentions that inanimate entities (jamadat
) were given understanding (fahm
) and discernment (tamyīz
) to make a choice regarding carrying the trust (khuyirat fi’l-haml
); see Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi, Bahr al-Muhit
, (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, nd) vol. 7, p. 253.
Hermansen, Marcia. The Conclusive Argument from God: Shah Wali Allah of Delhi's Hujjat Allah Al-Baligha
. (Islamic Research Institute, 2003), p. 54.
Ibn al-Qayyim, Tarīq al-Hijratayn wa bab al-sa’adatayn
. (Cairo: Dar al-Salafiya 1394 H). vol. 1, p. 15. Alternatively, the absence of any spiritual inclination can cause one to be lost in the senseless pursuit of materialistic distractions and heedlessness (ghaflah
), debasing oneself to the level of creatures who possess minds but do not benefit from them (Qur’an 25:44,47:12).
Some classic examples have been used to illustrate phenomenal consciousness and how it is independent of physical perception, including the case of philosophical zombies, inverted color vision, Mary the color-deprived scientist, among others. Refer to Tye, M. Philosophical Problems of Consciousness. In The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness
. eds M. Velmans and S. Schneider. (Wiley-Blackwell 2007), 23-35.
Chalmers, D. J. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory
. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996).
This analogy can be helpful: “This aspect of consciousness can be likened to the light from a film projector. The projector shines light onto a screen, modifying the light so as to produce one of an infinity of possible images. These images are like the perceptions, sensations, dreams, memories, thoughts, and feelings that we experience—the forms arising in consciousness. The light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to this ability of consciousness to take on form. We know all the images on a movie screen are composed of light, but we are not usually aware of the light itself; our attention is caught up in the images that appear and the stories they tell. In much the same way, we know we are conscious, but we are usually aware only of the many different perceptions, thoughts, and feelings that appear in the mind. We are seldom aware of consciousness itself.” Peter Russell. The Primacy of Consciousness. https://www.peterrussell.com/SP/PrimConsc.php
Ibn al-Qayyim. Wabil al-Sayyib min al-Kalim al-Tayyib
. (Makkah: Dar 'Alam al-Fawa'id), p. 119.
For instance, when discussing verse 17:70 “Verily We Have honored the children of Adam,” Ibn al-Qayyim presents a long list of such unique distinctions of humankind which includes cognitive, aesthetic, and moral features. Miftah Dar al-Sa’adah
, (Mecca: Dar ʿAlam al-Fawa’id 2010), vol. 2, p. 748.
Midgley, Mary. (2011). Why The Idea Of Purpose Won't Go Away. Philosophy
Ironically, the anti-religionists claiming ‘bad design’ are guilty of precisely the same fallacy they call the “God-of-the-gaps” fallacy wherein a claim is staked on a present gap in knowledge, dismissing the possibility for empirical research to close the gap.
For instance, the physiologically obtuse presumption that the retina is backwards, because the photoreceptors are situated behind axons, has been shown erroneous by the functional benefits conferred by this optical arrangement which permit spectral waveguiding and situating photoreceptors closest to the highly vascularized choroid. See Labin, A. M., & Ribak, E. N.. (2014). "Color sorting by retinal waveguides," Opt. Express, 22
, 32208-32213; and Nickla, D. L., & Wallman, J. (2010). The multifunctional choroid. Prog. Retin. Eye Res
For instance, the argument about the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) fallaciously looks only at the adult organism to presume that a shorter course is optimal. However, this ‘bad design’ argument entirely neglects the embryological sequence of events, and what is most efficient based on the process by which the anatomical structures in a creature are assembled during embryogenesis and organogenesis. Thus, ontogeny may provide a more relevant explanation than phylogeny. Moreover, the course of the RLN is not incidental; rather, there exist sensory and autonomic fibers to the cardiac plexus and connections with sympathetic cardiac nerves, which have recently been better characterized as a result of fetal cadaveric research: B De Gama et al. (2014).The recurrent laryngeal cardiac nerve in fetuses. International Journal of Morphology
Take for instance the causal confusions and conflation of categories of explanation for why humans have acquired big brains: instrumental hypothesis (we became smarter so we could eat better), Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis (we became smarter so we could steal better), cultural intelligence hypothesis (we became smarter so we could learn better), Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis (we became smarter so we could cooperate better), Scheherazade hypothesis (we became smarter so we could mate better), social brain hypothesis (we became smarter so we could have more friends), etc. See Dunbar RIM, Shultz S. (2017). Why are there so many explanations for primate brain evolution? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B,
Lloyd, E. A. & Gould, S. J. (2017). Exaptation revisited: Changes imposed by evolutionary psychologists and behavioral biologists. Biological Theory
Lloyd, E. A. (2015). Adaptationism and the logic of research questions: How to think clearly about evolutionary causes. Biological Theory
Boucher, S. C. (2015). Functionalism and structuralism as philosophical stances: van Fraassen meets the philosophy of biology. Biology & Philosophy
See James Woodward, Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation
. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) and discussion in Humphreys, P. (2006). Invariance, Explanation, and Understanding. Metascience, 15
Peeters S, Zwart H. Neanderthals as familiar strangers and the human spark: How the 'golden years' of Neanderthal research reopen the question of human uniqueness. Hist Philos Life Sci. 2020 Jul 21;42(3):33.
Vaesen K, Dusseldorp GL, Brandt MJ. Author Correction: An emerging consensus in palaeoanthropology: demography was the main factor responsible for the disappearance of Neanderthals. Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 13;11(1):8450.
Abdul-Latif ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Rabah. Makanat al-ʿUlum al-Tabi’iyyah fi’l-tarbiyyah Islamiyyah
. Doctoral dissertation. p. 267.
Ibn al-Qayyim. Miftah Dar al-Sa’adah
, (Mecca: Dar ʿAlam al-Fawa’id 2010) vol. 3, p. 1190. He makes this comment in the course of addressing why astrology cannot be considered a true science due to its lack of substantiating logical and empirical evidence. Similarly, in his discussion on embryology, Ibn al-Qayyim considers anatomic dissection (tashrīh
) and empirical research to be sound and impenetrable evidences (Tuhfat al-Mawdud fi Ahkam al-Mawlud
. Mecca: Dar Alam al-Fawa’id, p. 376).