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    The ability of primates to learn languages: theory supported by Descartes of Hobbes?

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    Modern research on the ability of non-human primates to learn language has found that certain species are capable of learning to use symbolic gestures or visual symbols to represent objects and concepts. However, none of these species could ever be taught the ability to combine these symbols in novel ways to create new expressions as humans do on a daily basis. In other words, the difference in language abilities between humans and nonhuman primates is qualitative rather than quantitative. Does this finding support Descartes' or Hobbes' view of the human mind? Why or why not?

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    The central issue between human and animal language is the freedom of the former; human language can become very abstract, dealing with any sort of situation. Animal language is immediate and deals only with specific stimuli. If this is the simple concept of the difference, then it is Descartes that better fits it. Hobbes' nominalism rejects that objects have any intrinsic meaning or essence. Instead, objects are named because they are valued or important to humanity. Since objects have no essence, names are mere words, and definitions are the creation of thought.
    Thomas Hobbes' view of language is more positivist and mechanical than Descartes. In the simplest view, Hobbes considers language the act of naming or marking. This means that human beings name things, and these names remind us of certain qualities of the thing named. Words name concepts in our minds (Doliwa, 2009). In other words, definition exists in the ...

    Solution Summary

    The ability of primates to learn languages and theory support by Descartes of Hobbes are determined.