Animal Intelligence

Animal Intelligence
   1) The Criterion of Insightful Behavior
   We can . . . distinguish sharply between the kind of behavior which from the very beginning arises out of a consideration of the structure of a situation, and one that does not. Only in the former case do we speak of insight, and only that behavior of animals definitely appears to us intelligent which takes account from the beginning of the lay of the land, and proceeds to deal with it in a single, continuous, and definite course. Hence follows this criterion of insight: the appearance of a complete solution with reference to the whole lay-out of the field. (KoЁhler, 1927, pp. 169-170)
   2) Signs Occasion Thought but Not Action
   Signs, in [Edward] Tolman's theory, occasion in the rat realization, or cognition, or judgment, or hypotheses, or abstraction, but they do not occasion action. In his concern with what goes on in the rat's mind, Tolman has neglected to predict what the rat will do. So far as the theory is concerned the rat is left buried in thought: if he gets to the food-box at the end that is his concern, not the concern of the theory. (Guthrie, 1972, p. 172)
   3) A New Insight Consists of a Recombination of Pre-existent Mediating Properties
   The insightful act is an excellent example of something that is not learned, but still depends on learning. It is not learned, since it can be adequately performed on its first occurrence; it is not perfected through practice in the first place, but appears all at once in recognizable form (further practice, however, may still improve it). On the other hand, the situation must not be completely strange; the animal must have had prior experience with the component parts of the situation, or with other situations that have some similarity to it. . . . All our evidence thus points to the conclusion that a new insight consists of a recombination of preexistent mediating processes, not the sudden appearance of a wholly new process. (Hebb, 1958, pp. 204-205)
   4) Interpretation of Morgan's Canon
   In Morgan's own words, the principle is, "In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty, if it can be interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale." Behaviorists universally adopted this idea as their own, interpreting it as meaning that crediting consciousness to animals can't be justified if the animal's behavior can be explained in any other way, because consciousness is certainly a "higher psychical faculty." Actually, their interpretation is wrong, since Morgan was perfectly happy with the idea of animal consciousness: he even gives examples of it directly taken from dog behavior. Thus in The Limits of Animal Intelligence, he describes a dog returning from a walk "tired" and "hungry" and going down into the kitchen and "looking up wistfully" at the cook. Says Morgan about this, "I, for one, would not feel disposed to question that he has in his mind's eye a more or less definite idea of a bone."
   Morgan's Canon really applies to situations where the level of intelligence credited to an animal's behavior goes well beyond what is really needed for simple and sensible explanation. Thus application of Morgan's Canon would prevent us from presuming that, when a dog finds its way home after being lost for a day, it must have the ability to read a map, or that, if a dog always begins to act hungry and pace around the kitchen at 6 P.M. and is always fed at 6:30 P.M., this must indicate that it has learned how to tell time. These conclusions involve levels of intelligence that are simply not needed to explain the behaviors. (Coren, 1994, pp. 72-73)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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