Re: intersubjectivity

Travis Gee (
Tue, 22 Apr 1997 14:09:36 -0400 (EDT) sez:

> So, to get back to Tim -- one can easily justify claims like "My Cat
> cannot represent the church in terms of a relationship to God" by looking
> at the behaviors of the cat, and making inferences about what the cat must
> know, conceive, in order to engage in those behaviors. And when we do that
> we simply find no evidence that cats engage in symbolic processes that
> even approach that of the type that Tim was talking about. Do cats
> construe? Of course! They construe at a sensori-motor level. If one
> thinks that they use symbols, then let's define what we mean by that,
> and give evidence of symbol use.

I usually lurk, but can't resist the temptation... While this
probably belongs in (and may yet make it to) Annals of Improbable
Research, this point is well taken and suggests an experiment:

Materials: one cathedral with a wooden door
one saw
two hinges
two litter boxes and kitty litter
one cat
two large empty bags of equal weight
one set of scales
52 weekly bank service rate statements.

Procedure: saw a small cat-door in the wooden door of the
cathedral. Use the hinges to re-install the cut-out piece to enable
the cat to go in and out. Place one litter box full of kitty litter
near the altar, the other outside near the cat-door. Permit the cat
to live in the cathedral for one year. At the end of each day, clean
out the kitty litter boxes, placing the results in bags labelled
"indoors" and "outdoors," according to the source. At the end of
the year, weigh the bags.

Hypothesis: If the cat is religiously inclined to respect the altar
and therefore avoids using the indoor "plumbing," the weight of the
indoor "collections" should be substantially greater than that
obtained outside. Don't forget to adjust for seasonal trends in the
data by removing the effect through the use of housing mortgage rates
as a covariate.

Limitation: The cat might construe the indoor litter box as a very
comfortable offering plate.


Travis Gee () ()
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"In science, the more we know the more extensive the
contact with nescience." -Spencer

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