All very accurate arguments, but I think you misunderstand the point I'm making. My point is not that animals or humans that can't speak are stupid and unable to communicate at all. But rather that humans have a tendency to assess the intelligence of other creatures based on that creature's ability to communicate its thoughts using language. I'm arguing that people make assessments on intelligence based on the ability to engage in verbal language exchanges. I'm NOT arguing that these assessments are necessarily accurate.Ch4rlie said:Humans have developed a means of communicating using words, and our species has developed in such a way that it is reliant on verbal language. Furthermore, an individual's intelligence is often inferred by their ability to communicate effectively with language.
How about deaf people?
We lack verbal language and therefore rely on body language, facial expressions, lip reading and sign language.
malfunction said:So, a by-product of this is that non-human animals, who clearly lack the ability to form language, are deemed as less intelligent. Thus, when they do anything that remotely resembles human conceptions of intelligence, we're shocked because we have mistakenly linked their lack of language skills to a lack of intelligence.
In actual fact, i know of some dog trainers who have managed to train their dogs to obey commands using just sign language alone.
The same can be said of horses too, again, I know of a few trainers who can make their horses do things without uttering a single spoken word.
Dolphins and whales are reliant on hand signals when trainers want them to do certain commands too.
Chimps have been trained to use sign language too, in fact this is the closest we'll probably come to actual communication with an animal.
So its not a total unknown that animals can communicate or understand humans in one form or another, usually for rewards/treats though!