Tuesday, May 11, 2010

what do you believe is true even though you can't prove it?

Some of you might be interested in articles found at http://www.edge.org/.

At the end of each year, prominent academics are asked for their response to a question. That question in 2005 was:

What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

Here are some of the responses offered:

1. that all human languages have a common origin
2. that extra-terrestrial life exists
3. that consciousness does not survive death
4. that Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man) became extinct because Homo sapiens (our ancestors) ate them
5. that there is moral progress
6. that some works of art have eternal value
7. that most ideas taught in first-year undergraduate Economics courses are wrong
8. that neuroscience will never fully explain the nature of thought
9. that the Riemann hypothesis is true
10. that animals have feelings

Pick one or two of the items on this list and suggest (a) why it is difficult to establish that they are true, and (b) what methods we might nevertheless try in order to do so.


  1. 1. that all human languages have a common origin
    it is difficult to mention that humans have a common language origin due to the fact of the way the different language have effect to us as individuals an example the French and Spanish way of viewing the word key is feminine and masculine and so the way they might interpret the word is different and so somehow this proves the fact that it is really difficult to prove that all languages have common origin due to these limitations

  2. Animals havefellings. We know this by observing them. We can see when an animal is angry , sad or even afraid. Peolple may say that it is not true because we do not here the animals complain bout the way we treat them and that they are animals so they do not have feelings or because their level of reasoning is not to our level they can not possibly have feelings. Personally I think it is our inability to communicate directly with them or to understand their language that makes it so hard to believe. I think by observing them more we may be able to come to a better conclusion. I believe that is the job of an animal psychologist.

  3. i think languages ingeneral have a common origin. i speak french, english, twi and swahili and its so amazing how when a word is mentioned in a language class and the other international student say "oh this in my language means this or that".....its like words are stored in a particular room just like how things are preserved and people come and buy them and interprate it there own way calling it a language...i think all languages have one origin...

  4. i agree with the fact that languages in general have a common origin. I say this because most of the time we notice that languages overflow. Most words originate from other words in other languages. For example integer originates from the word integer meaning whole from Greek. The word in English means a negative or positive whole number. So words which form language have a common origin although they may have different meanings in different languages

  5. That Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man) became extinct because Homo sapiens (our ancestors) ate them.
    this is difficult to believe because it impossible to physically believe that their extinction was due Homo sapiens eating them up there lies no evidence and also we need to actually directly observe it to believe it. On the other hand, I do not think there is really much we can do to try and prove this true but I guess the best we can for now is to at least just it believe it!

  6. YES! all human languages have a common origin. This is obvious as when the world was created there were only tow human beings that communicated. so by induction, i think languages have a common origin. I also agree with Sefakor that some words in different languages are similar with similar meanings like integer. The reason for the dissimilarity in the spelling is probably because as we communicate with each other we mishear the words and thus we misspell them. That is why most words have the same meaning but have some kind of similarity in their spelling, in different languages.For example some info on the fruit orange i got from a website: The name of the fruit was NARANJ in Sanskrit. This language was spoken in ancient India. Indians traded with Arabs, so the word passed into Arabic as NARANJAH. The Spaniards were ruled by north African Arabs who passed the fruit and word into Spanish as NARANJA (pronounced as NARANHA).

    This came into English where the fruit was a NARANJ. Words ending in J are not common in English so the spelling quickly changed to a NARANGE.

    The initial N moved to the a because of mis-hearing to give an ARANGE (this is called metanalysis).

    Over time, the initial A became an O to give an ORANGE.-http://www.krysstal.com/wordname.html

  7. well, i do agree with you Vusi, about the fact that it is rather difficult to mention that humans have a common language origin. well, somehow too i don't agree with the example about the spanish and french thing concerning the key, because though the same thing might be feminine or masculine in different languages, it doesn't really mean much, but rather, i think you could talk about their similarities and also look at the fact that they are all very similar. Taking French, English, Spanish and Italian, it can clearly be seen that there is a great similarity between these languages. In french for instance, there are certain words that even are spelt the same way as they are in English. This brings out their similarities. A word like weekend is pronounced in Spanish as 'semana' and in French also as 'semaine.' This word has similar prononciations and evne similar spelling. I would therefore say end that well, to a greater extent, i think languages have a common origin.

  8. • All languages definitely have a common origin! I mean there are many ways in which people understand the beginning of time, but from the little that I know which is conventional truth among over 2.1 billion Christians, I will say that definitely the first set of people i.e. Adam &Eve used a particular language to communicate and from there, they procreated and became larger and the language expanded and altered and branched of into diverse languages because man inhabited different parts of the world and of course there are various factors that influenced the language spoken. So we see that with time as language grows and accommodates changes, the language itself changes. An example is the famous game ‘Chinese Whispers’. A group of people line up to form a chain and the first man in line thinks of a phrase, word and passes it on to the following person by whispering into the person’s ear , it goes on and on until we get to last person . At the end, what the last person heard is totally different and in no way related to the initial word or phrase. All languages on the surface of this earth stemmed from the pioneer language ever spoken and this explains the similarities in some of the words in different languages. I refuse to accept that it is because of mere coincidence!!

  9. If one believes that the origin of humanity lies in the story of Adam and Eve, then it makes perfect LOGICAL sense that all languages derive from one original (although I think this logic is deductive, not inductive, and I would strongly challenge the idea that ALL Christians around the world actually believe that story).

    Now what about the narrative accepted by palaeoanthropologists and scientists in general? We have lots of evidence for human evolution, but there are particular difficulties with tracing the development of language. Can someone spell them out? Others here have already alluded to the need to compare actual living languages as an indirect alternative to looking for historical evidence.

    And can we have some discussion on some of the other claims on the list? Comparisons might be particularly enlightening...

  10. 5. that there is moral progress
    Morals can be defined as “principles concerning right and wrong or good and bad behavior according to moral principles. They are followed by a particular group of people.”
    We have different opinions and therefore what may be good for one individual may be bad for another. This particular difference may be caused by differences in background, spirituality/religion, etc. Hence, it is very difficult to know what exactly is good and what is bad and thus one tends to find difficulties in establishing whether morals are progressing or not.
    a. Nevertheless, I perceive that we all possess a set of values that are universally acknowledged. For example, cheating in an IGCSE examination will be considered by society (worldwide) as something which is bad or wrong. Therefore, to see whether someone is morally upright or whether there is moral progress; society compares this individual’s actions to its (society’s) set of values.

  11. That's a good answer, Miss Primrose - look for universal moral values and then use them as benchmarks for evaluating moral actions over time. You have identified one such value - honesty - can you suggest any more?

    And what do you think - do YOU believe there HAS been moral progress over the ages, as measured against these criteria?

  12. That neuroscience will never fully explain the nature of thought.
    It is quite obvious that the functions as well as the features of the brain are common to individuals of the same species. However, the ability to think is one of the numerous functions of the brain that makes it virtually the most important (if is not functioning properly the body is pretty useless) and complicated organ of the body. Now thought differs from person to person (it is subjective). Therefore it will be very difficult to use neuroscience to draw some general patterns in thought and also to predict it. Besides thought is a very implicit part of the brain and is therefore intangible. So the best neuroscience can do is to try to understand the basic functions of the brain in order to fix the tangible parts of the brain when broken or even damaged.
    Lianne G.

  13. Maame Adwoa Amoa-MarfoMay 12, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Just for the record @ scorpion "semaine" means week and not weekend in french.

    O.K., now to what I actually wanted to say:
    We will never actually be able to tell whether or not there is consciousness after "physical" life has ended. Although there have been people who claim that they have died and seen what exists after life we will never be able to tell for sure whether or not they have done so or whether or not such a consciousness exists because there is no test or experiment available to us presently that can be replicated at will and by any person at all with the right equipment at any chosen time.
    Secondly, we will never be able to tell whether neuroscience will ever fully explain the nature of human thought or not because we will never, in ourselves, know the true or complete extent of the nature of human thought and so we will never have any standard to compare it to in order to see whether it has explained only a portion of this entity or the entire thing.

  14. This topic is rather complex, people keep on agreeing with the fact that all languages have a common origin.Although, this might be the global consensus when we look back into history the language of indigenous people especially the American Indians had no link to our language today.Centuries okay sounds were used to communicate especially within tribes, it is impossible to agree on such an ambiguous topic.

    We live in such a world that we are heavily dependent on history that has been passed on from one source to another.There are a lot of inaccuracies in the information we currently have.Just because we cannot prove something it does not mean it is either right or wrong.This is when subjectivity comes in we choose what we want to believe.This can be influenced by heritage,religious beliefs and opinions.It is impossible to prove that that Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man) became extinct because Homo sapiens (our ancestors) ate them.It is too far gone to go and examine and test whether this statement is correct .However, if history has taught you that this statement is correct you will depend on the knowledge that one has acquired !

  15. This is interesting; I think I will continue Primrose's thread on 5.that there is moral progress. First of all I certainly do not think that there is any moral progress, I definitely think that the progress has gone down ( but it's my opinion)Not looking at how movies have turned the whole idea of morality to something else. Moral progress, I believe is the last thing that I can say is progressing.
    Because I was not sure of what others thought about moral progress I decided to find out and I got “We have progressed from a society in which some groups have faced discrimination on grounds of sex, race, class, or disability, to one in which there is greater equality. We still have a long way to go on these issues, but we have made progress; we are better than we were." this was from
    the question I asked myself was: Do sex, race and disability contribute to what we call morality? I did not think so at first but after a while I thought, maybe it does because a person raised in a society were sex before marriage is seen as sin will certainly have different moral values from one who has been raised and told sex is something you do in your free time.
    Coming back to the question, I honestly think that moral relativism makes it hard to make judgments as whether there is moral progression or not. In the past, when values were different, behavior was quite steady with those values. If we were to judge our society using the two past values, then I believe there is definitely a moral decline, now there is, treatment of races is almost the same(blacks and whites almost have the same rights) If we look closely at the two periods of our society using our present values, (which are almost no discrimination, equal rights and so on)then I also believe there has been progress. THERE IS NO WAY THAT ANYONE CAN SAY EITHER ONE OF THE JUDGEMENTS IS OBJECTIVELY BETTER THAN THE OTHER. And because of this, I certainly do not think that there are any" universal moral values" as Mr. Kitching quote, who decides those values? I know that in most African countries being honest was a form of 'cowardness' and it showed a weakness in a man. In the Western; it is a form of godliness and goodness.

  16. That some works of art have eternal value.

    This can statement can only be true if the criterion of a good piece of art does not change. But also from another angle we can see that as time goes by new classic piece of art ("modern" painting) keep on coming up and they tend to have more value than the old ones. For example, Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers painting by Vincent van Gogh in 1987, which has made more than tripled the previous record price, of a piece of art in 1888, set only two years ago. I don't think is eternal, one day they will lose their value.

  17. That some works of art have eternal value.

    This statement can only be true if the criterion of a good piece of art does not change. But also from another angle we can see that as time goes by new classic pieces of art ("modern" painting) keep on coming up and they tend to have more value than the old ones. For example, Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers painting by Vincent van Gogh in 1987, which has made more than tripled the previous record price, of a piece of art in 1888, set only two years ago. I don't think is eternal, one day they will lose their value.

  18. Its funny because two of these (the existence of extra-terrestrial life and neuroscience not being able to fully explain the nature of thought) are things that have 'bothered' me for a while. When i was a child, aged about 10, i always wondered if there was some other 'Yasmin' in some land, doing and thinking the same thing as me at the same moment in a replica of the same place but obviously there was no way to prove it. And yet i chose to believe it until i gave up on the idea of ever finding out and then, well i grew up. The existence of 'aliens' is a topic that does not fail to bring some division in our beliefs. There is the whole story of Rosweell in the USA and how a spaceship crashed and how the US government made efforts to hide evidence. There is still no proof and yet people believe it so much that the town has become a tourist site for UFO fanatics. As to how to prove the existence of these aliens?.. well...Humans would have to explore 7 planets and 1 dwarf planet to find out but even the journey to the moon has been called a hoax and there a lot of dangers involved and plus it will take a whole life time to reach some of these planets. In my opinion situations like these, mine included, show how the truth can become a belief but a belief may not necessarily be the truth. And honestly, we may never be able to prove some of these things but we may need to continue to believe them just to keep sane. (As insane as they may seem)
    As for human thought, i think it is something we are not meant to understand. Most people cannot remeber anything from before they were the age of about 5 yeras and yet we know we used to think then beacause we spoke from when we were abt 9 months.And it is said that language is externalized thought. Ironically , thought is a mystery no matter how much we think about. There are to many loop holes which we may not be able to fill. But maybe the progression of science could cause a breakthrough but honestly I'm not counting on it.

  19. i will take 5 that says animals have feelings
    it is difficult to believe this because it is not until you do further observation and study that you see they have feelings. it is not just in their face that they are angry or is it?
    and to comment on Clementine's statement "because we do not here the animals complain bout the way we treat them and that they are animals so they do not have feelings" what clementine just said is what makes it hard to believe that animals have feelings because for someone who doesn't do biology and knows that when something is done to something it reacts , it wouldn't click in the persons mind that you have feelings so to the person the animals do not feelings. however as stated by Clementine you have to study animal psychology for you to prove it and actually believe

  20. So what have we got so far?

    Items 1 and 4 (and possibly 5 and 6 to some extent) are claims that require knowledge about the past. The past is a place we cannot go. That is a problem of knowledge, and we need to find ways to deal with it. One method is to collect existing data (EMPIRICAL) and apply reasoning to it (RATIONAL, LOGICAL). Isn't this what historians do anyway? So we can look at modern languages, compare them, measure the differences and see if they would converge back through time. Or we can look at fossil and tool evidence and speculate (as logically as possible) on the relations between the two hominid species.

    What about item 2? What is the problem? Is it a technological one that will eventually be solved? Many would say that the main justification for believing in the existence of extra-terrestrial life is a mathematical one - in the past 15 years we have discovered hundreds of planets orbiting around other stars - there are billions of stars and this suggests even more billions of planets - what are the chances of just ONE of them (Earth) harbouring life, and absolutely NONE of the others?

    Items 5 and 6 require some sort of benchmark for comparison, and such benchmarks in the arts and ethics are difficult to establish. But we can still try? Or on a case-by-case practical approach - what about the abolition of slavery and apartheid? Is this not moral progress?

  21. I would not say I believe it is true but it is not improbable that extra-terrestrial life exists. Like Mr. Kitching said, hundreds of planets have been discovered over the past 15 years...and according to scientists... those that have been found so far are either too hot or too cold to support life. Trying to prove that extra-terrestrial life exists will be very difficult… everything that we can say about it is highly speculative…think about the technology involved as one instance….
    According to http://www.krysstal.com/extrlife.html, “with the current technology, only planets larger than earth can be detected.” So what if there’s a smaller planet on which there is life??... Really, it is not feasible to travel throughout the whole universe in search of ‘living things’. The universe is a BIG place! How long are we going to take before we find that habitable planet or some other object in orbit anyway?...


  22. I chose the first item that says "that all languages come have a common origin". I definately believe in this statement due to the fact that it is believed that, we were all created from Adam and Eve. However, if we put this obvious reason aside, it is hard to believe that this is true. There has been no real proof to justify this statement.
    I agree with NanaEkua and achiaap about their ideas on how the mis-understanding and mis-hearing of languages, in the sense that it has contributed to the fact there was definately a beginning to language. It has just evolved through this way to to suit different cultures and ways of life.
    The extinction of languages over time can be a problem if this statement was going to be tested. For example it has been said that "hundreds of languages have disappeared in the past 50 years, and experts predict there will be fewer than 3,000 languages left by the turn of the next century". How can we determine if the staement is true if half of the world's languages are predicted to be extinct so soon
    I think that to overcome this problem of trying to find out whether languages are of the same origin, we can identify the languages that are still alive that have some sort of link to the extinct languages. Once these are identified, I think that it will help us to see a link in extinct languages, which are closer to the origin, and the languages alive today.

  23. I chose the first item that says "that all languages come have a common origin". I definately believe in this statement due to the fact that it is believed that, we were all created from Adam and Eve. However, if we put this obvious reason aside, it is hard to believe that this is true. There has been no real proof to justify this statement.
    The extinction of languages over time can be a problem if this statement was going to be tested. For example it has been said that "hundreds of languages have disappeared in the past 50 years, and experts predict there will be fewer than 3,000 languages left by the turn of the next century". How can we determine if the staement is true if half of the world's languages are predicted to be extinct so soon
    I think that to overcome this problem of trying to find out whether languages are of the same origin, we can identify the languages that are still alive that have some sort of link to the extinct languages. Once these are identified, I think that it will help us to see a link in extinct languages, which are closer to the origin, and the languages alive today.
    I agree with NanaEkua and achiaap about their ideas on how the mis-understanding and mis-hearing of languages lead to the variation of language, in the sense that it has contributed to the fact there was definately a beginning to language. It has just evolved through this way to to suit different cultures and ways of life.

  24. AsantAjar said: "I definately believe in this statement due to the fact that it is believed that, we were all created from Adam and Eve".

    Don't you think you should say: "I definately believe in this statement BECAUSE I BELIEVE that, we were all created from Adam and Eve"?

    Then it would be important for you to say why you believe that, and then we would have to examine the strength of this justification, and thus maybe learn a bit more about why some people say that they believe it but they can't prove it. That's really the point of this thread - how much evidence, and of what quality, to we need in order to believe something?

    Your points on language extinction are interesting, and you may be right in suggesting that this process will make it even harder to determine the truth of a common origin for language.

  25. I think i will take a swipe at item 2;that extraterrestrial life exists. From an objective point of view, considering the unfathomably vast expanse of space as suggested by scientific investigations, i think it would be extremely myopic to consider the earth the only planet capable of supporting life. one may take into consideration, the fact that investigations made in this area (on planets within our reach) have not yielded concrete results and may therefore induce that no planet except earth can support life but then there is the problem of induction which may cause inaccurate inductions.Ultimately, the point here is that we cannot be the only beings inhabiting this universe and it would be very narrow-minded to think otherwise.


  26. I am sure someone has already said what I'm about to say, though i haven't even decided what i'm about to say myself. Unfortunately, the preceding comments would take too long to read so I'm content with repeating someone.

    'Consciousness does not survive death'

    It's quite evident why this is almost impossible to prove. To be able to tell if consciousness does or does not survive death, one would need to experience death, or communicate with someone who has experienced death. If you experience death, then you are dead, and whether or not you are conscious, there is no way you can add to worldwide human knowledge because you are no longer really a part of humans.

    If a dead person managed to tell someone who is still alive that they are still conscious (by some means of spiritual communication that some people claim to have)it would not prove that consciousness survives death because other scholars would want to be able to prove it themselves. If they cannot also achieve this spiritual communication then they cannot prove it. If only one person (or a few people) can 'prove' this, there is also no guarantee that they are telling the truth as their evidence is something that not everyone can experience.

  27. i believe all human languages have a common origin because i believe what the bible says about all human beings coming from Adam and Eve. However, i know the muslims also have a similar story and other religions too which will also support the fact that we came from one origin and hence we have a common language.

    Back to Christianity, there is a story in the bible about the tower of babel and how God made the people building it speak different languages so they would not be able to reach the sky.
    Another story says that when people became filled with the spirit, they spoke different languages. The bible is a recording of historical events so linking these stories to history, i can to an extent believe them but also considering the weaknesses of history, one can never be too sure of what the truth of the matter is and also whether there are exaggerations to the story.

    i would therefore conclude by saying that i believe human beings come from the same origin because i believe the story of creation from the Christian side and the fact that the muslims and other religions alike have similar stories suggest that we originated from one person and hence i believe all languages have an origin too.

  28. The fact that some works of art have eternal value can be true to a very large extent, in the sense that they will always convey the same general idea and thought to an audience.Also,their authors play a very prominent role in the value awarded to them.For example, "the creation of Adam" by Michael Angelo.Another example is Picasso.Most of his art pieces are given due respect and great value because of their quality and the circumstances or reasons for which they were painted, but mostly because of the similarity in the interpretation of the message they try to convey.We can also consider poems and novels.It is depending on how pragmatic they are that value is awarded to them.A writer like Chinue Achebe who through his work reflects quite a number of real life situations,together with the quality of his work and the way people interprete it.AS conclusion,it highly depends on the pragmatism,the beauty and the authenticity of the work of art that eternal value is awarded to it.This is also the judgement every work of art goes trough for the fame of its author.
    Claire D.

  29. 8. that neuroscience will never fully be able to explain the nature of human thought.
    i remember reading this article, about how love was a chemical that affected the brain just as OCD would. a bunch of neuroscientists traced thought patterns of individuals' via brain activity when they saw pictures of people they were "in love" with,brain activity increased, pupils dilated. human thought had the power to alter bodily function. its the same with the placebo effect. patients are healed once they believe they are. the idea of the power of human thought has been clearly established, it has even been speculated that people who are healed by religious means are rather healed because they think they have been. we learn something fascinating, thought has the power to alter circumstance and bodily function. after reading this, i thought we were on the path to discovering the entirety of human thought, particularly its source, the seat of human consciousness. so then, its time for the biological neuroscientists to tell us where that is, but get this, they have no idea. we do not know the seat of consciousness, we do not know whether it resides in the brain, or there really is an intangible "soul" which affects a person's disposition of thought? how may thought evolve? we do not and cannot know. where is the certainty in these experiments... we are sort of existing on faith, in understanding ourselves by studying our brains, nerves and synapses, overlapping it with some psychology and computer programming so we can simulate, we are still in the dark, concerning the nature of human thought. and who's to say it can ever fully be understood? perhaps its one of those enigmas that best remains unsolved. i still think that attempting to discover "the rules of this chess game" is a fascinating process, and neuroscience has its uses, but it will probably never provide infallible evidence and understanding of the nature of thought.

  30. Maame Adwoa Amoa-MarfoMay 17, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    Some works of art have eternal value.
    I think that for the most part,it is the dynamism of human nature that makes it impossible for us to be able to tell whether years from now the perspective that people have of what is beautiful or what has artistic merit and what is or does not will change.

  31. 3. that consciousness does not survive death

    I think this will be impossible to prove because to prove this we will have to traverse death itself to see if consciousness exists after death. if the statement is right, then we will never know because the scientist consciousness will never be able to go beyond death to prove it. It can only be disproved because the scientist investigating the claim can go beyond death and still have consciousness so as to be able to collect enough empirical data to prove it.

  32. People do change, culture is dynamic, the human has grown and transformed over time – granted, but then there is this intrinsic property that makes us all human and as far as that property remains in the human (wherever it is located) we can be sure that some art pieces will never loose their value. Thus if humans today came together to value it because it appealed to them, humans in 20yrs time will probably give it the same value because the appeal continues to exist. The problem however is that this intrinsic sense of beauty is sometimes disbanded because, as mentioned in the beginning, culture, environment and life experiences make humans seem very unique. The most ideal way to prove that art pieces have an eternal value is to take a simple survey to determine the average number of people who appreciate the painting and take the same statistics over random periods of time also taking into consider the price of the piece at these times. Ohene

  33. 10. that animals have feelings

    I think to be able to find out if animals have feelings, we must be able to communicate with them. to do this we must understand their ways of thinking and be able to understand their thought patterns. since animals have different ways of expressing themselves, it will be almost impossible to be able to communicate with them, and thus we might never know if they have emotions.

  34. 10. that animals have feelings

    Indeed animals have feelings. We as humans are first need to understand what feelings are before we can accept or reject the fact that animals have feelings. Well, from my basic understanding of felling i think feeling is being able to react to stimuli, being sensitive and showing some emotion. With these basic meanings it is true that animals have feelings because they react to stimuli, are sensitive and exhibit some emotions. Examples are dogs which tend to react to the situation they are found in. It is however difficult to accept that animals have feelings because some human beings, not me, tend to ignore the reality animals have feelings. This is entirely because when we look at animals we tend to use the criterion we use for humans and so animals tend not to match the criterion for feelings we use. I think I order to make good judgments on whether animals have feelings or not we should use a different criterion which will allow us to accept that animals too have feelings. Since it is hard to communicate with animals, we should just observe animals and this will be enough to see that they too have feelings.

    paul c bwalya

  35. That most ideas taught in the first year are wrong:
    It seems to me that whoever suggested this response has wrongly phrased it. We cannot simply say that they are wrong but it is safer to say that they are theoretical that I would agree with. It is difficult for us t establish that they are true because of the obvious reason that some of the topics do not apply to reality! The fact that something is unrealistic does not make it wrong per se. If we take a market structure like PERFECT COMPETITION, then you we can probably decide if the idea is wrong or not. This perfect competition like we learnt in class is a market structure where all firms are price takers and there is the absence of rivalry. It is assumed that all products are homogenous and the firms do not practise product differentiation which is not true because in real life when you take an aquafresh toothpaste and a pepsodent toothpaste, the packaging and advertisement will indeed make a difference and influence your choice. The fact that this market does not really exist does not make it wrong. If that is the case then all fairytales and novels are wrong!!!! or better still Economics as subject is wrong!

  36. First come, first served so let me take the first choice. "that all human languages have a common origin'
    Most of us running to the creation story to back up their claim anyway it is a good piece of evidence. Adam and Eve were created first and were trace our roots back to them the same way we'll trace the origin of language. But if all the different languages have a common origin, Adam and Eve, how come there are different languages? Does that mean Adam and Eve were spoke in different languages whenever they liked and therefore their children picked the language they liked?
    Let us try the evolution theory too and see where we end up. With the little biology i've acquired, I know that we evolved from apes but to some extend i don't agree with that because it doesn't explain where that ape that we evolved from, came from in the first place. Even if we evolved from apes, why are there 'blacks' and 'white' while on the other hand there aren't 'white' apes or are there?
    Ok, for now lets just take it that we evolved from apes this gives enough evidence that our languages, all human languages, have a common origin. Or? But on the other hand, does this mean that our language evolved from the apes' language? If so, then there should be similarities in the two languages, or are there any?

  37. I also believe that all languages have a common origin for a number of reasons; first being the fact that I am Christian.

    I believe that because we all are descendants of Adam and Eve, we must have spoken a common language at a point in time. Another instance in the Bible is the Tower of Babel; where until God disrupted communication with other languages, there was a common language that the people used to speak.

    There are other signs that show that there was a common language one upon a time. Like my mates have stated, the variations in various languages for words like 'orange' achiaap stated, is also an indication of our language having a common origin.

    In my TOK class last week, we spoke about Vladimir Propp and his hypothesis in storytelling; that all folktales irrespective of origin, have constituents that follow sequentially. It got me thinking, "Is it coincidental that all folktales are told the same?" It might not make sense to some people but I think that if for so many years, tales have been told in the same format, then it must have something to do with language because language shapes our thought. Mr. Kidane even made a point about the structure of sentences; that though the arrangements may appear differently, these sentences boil down to a 'Subject-Verb-Object' format.

    Again, many may not agree, but would it be possible that all these may be as a result of us ever having a common language? I think so.

  38. Like some people have already said, animals have feelings just like us human beings. Since animals are able to react to stimuli then I can comfortably conclude that they do have feelings. But animals express their feelings differently from us. Because it is difficult to communicate with animals we tend to just observe them and not necessarily put ourselves in their position hence making it hard to understand the extent of their feelings.


  39. i'll pick 4- this statement falls within 2 areas of knowledge that is sciences and history.in sccience it is possible to use carbon dating to know the age of bones and other artefacts however it is impossible to know the way of life of the people who lived at that time. this statement is based on assumptions. one can never be certain about why this species is now extinct. maybe the Hommo Sapiens could have actually eaten them up because canibalism existed and still does but there could be other factors. therefore it cannot be a precise conclusion. also it is possible that the species never existed. this is because the theory of evolution conflicts with the creation story. whichever one choses to believe cancels out the other. according to creation Adam and Eve were portayed as Hommo Sapiens so there lies questions. both of these explanations of how human beings came to be are historical and we know history has a lot of limitations like bias, the writer's own perception among others. also the mere fact that it is Historical is a diadvantage of knowing what acctually happened. therefore the statement cannot be precise as it has been written although it is useful to study. no one can be certain what caused them to face out nless they were actually there. this is my opinion.

  40. It seems more interesting to talk about the fact that 'conciousness does not survive death'.

    On first sight, why wouldn't someone turn to religion to provide the proof. However, scientifically it would be arelativelly impossible to justify this claim. first of all, according to falsification, we should find someone who is biologically dead and find a means of communicating with consciousness of the individual.

    The first problem is there is no given definition for consciousness which makes it difficult to look for.

  41. momina mohammed
    I want to comment on animals have feeling, the fact that humans can share there filling and emotions to one another by the means of language,and more advanced and complex ways of communication does not make other species not to have the concept of feeling for animals. all i want to say is people have big confusion on language and emotions. in my 1M MgSO4 Stock*
    in my opinion both of them are ways of knowing as we discus in class but they don't have any connection apart from that of they are grouped on one side. if we see animals in this case they do have feeling which let them to communicate each other but humans share language as the means of communication. an animal will be very friendly with humans because it can feel the care the person give to him, and we would not be surprised to see that too. but if we see animal communicating with human language with humans then that is a surprised. human communication is only in language because a human feeling will change through time with opposite side example love vs hate which can cancel out.

  42. Most people who did the second question for the TOK Essay know who Noam Chomsky is and have heard of his theory of generative grammar which basiically hints language having a similar syntax and hence a common origin.

    Then again this seems quite possible to improve in my opinion. This because we can all agree that underlying all this culture thing in human beings is biochemistry that quintessentially makes us human in the first place. This could be a starting point for affirming the theory of generative grammar. The brain from which language is constructed will have a similarity in the kind of rules applied to creating a language be it Fante, Arabic or the language of the Kuuk Thayorre(haven't heard from them in a while.

  43. Nana Kwame Sakyi OwusuMay 17, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    Option 3, that consciousness does not survive death is an impossible truth to prove because the statement in itself is contradictory because the definition of death is to lose activity and here, death can be considered synonymous to unconsciousness and this makes it impossible to prove. Nevertheless, with the improved technology that we have, we can check for brain waves in a dead person to ascertain the potential for consciousness even though he/she is dead.

    A problem that will be encountered with this method is that the conclusion will be inductive because we cannot check all dead people for consciousness. Also, possibilities of finding conscious dead people will be very low, and thus there will be the likelihood that after a few experiments, a possibly wrong conclusion will be made that conscious dead people do not exist.

    Another seemingly impossible truth to prove is the existence of extra-terrestrial life (option 2). Stephen Hawking, in an article I read sometime ago, stated that it is highly probable that there are other life-forms somewhere else in the universe, considering its vast expanse. However, again, considering the vast nature of the universe, it is also highly probable that though there may be some other life-forms in existence in the universe, we may never get to discover them during the existence of the human race and given the limits to our technology. Methods to discover these life-forms are rife as astronomists, archaelogists, geographers and other life-form researchers feverishly busy themselves with the discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

  44. Morals are principles concerning what is considered right and wrong; good or bad. Every group of people in society has certain ways of living that are accepted as right or wrong. This means that what is considered as right or wrong and thus morals, may differ from place to place of from society to society since we all have different opinions and perceive the world in different ways. From, TOK class we realize that an individual’s perceptions and opinions may be influenced by many factors such as his religion or his cultural background.
    I think that due to these differences we can never know whether morals are progressing or not. For a group of people, morals may be progressing if the society accepts that celibacy should not be promoted in adolescents. However, this moral may not be accepted in another society and thus for them, morals are not progressing.
    In spite of this, there are some morals that I believe are common or universally accepted. Academic honesty is extremely important and we all know and agree that any willfully plagiarizes someone else’s work or cheats in an exam has done something wrong. Again we all accept that murder is wrong and in only extreme and rare cases is it justified.
    To me, the possession of such “universal morals” can serve as a benchmark to assess people’s morality. Nevertheless, we must note that in “judging” someone’s morality, we will always compare their actions to what is accepted in OUR society.

  45. I wish to discuss the claim that consciousness does not survive death. I noticed people have shyed away from this issue but personally I find it rather intriguing. Firstly why would people conclude that consciousness does not survive death when it is something as a living human being you would never have experienced for yourself unless through some divine means which in itself is very questionable.

    I think people make this claim because of the "apparent" lifelessness of the human flesh after death. However a lot of people speak of a life beyond the one we live in right now. This may be due to religious beliefs or one's opinions. There is the belief that your consciousness can be carried with your spirit into another life or possibly reincarnated in another human body.

    This is all very subjective as there is no hard evidence to suggest the truth of this claim and it is difficult to say whether there ever will be. It all boils down to your upbringing and what you decide to believe in as such things are seemingly immeasurable. Who knows there might be some intricate scientific method in the future of determining if there actually is consciousness after death

  46. I also believe that all human languages have got the same origin we can take the analogy of earth; we do know that earth has one origin but we also aware that earth provide different community. Like that language also creates different language, if you ask how? and why? Well I wish if could say this is the answer but personally I think this happened during the period of creation or the period of stone. At this ancient time people have got the same language that is pictorial and sign languages. I think this is the origin for all languages today, for example in ancient time in Ethiopia people used to exchange things or materials through either sign or pictorial representation of what their mind desire like if someone what to buy a got all he have to do is just draw the representation of that goat so that some another person can understand what he is looking for so what I am saying is, this type of communication is experienced by all people in over the world but because of language development people tend to spoke different language, created on the community they live so some language develop faster than the others because of the number of that language speaker so this create different languages but the same format like other languages I know that all languages have the same grammatical structure which is subject, object and verb so this can confirm that all human languages have the same origin the difference is created by language productivity and generativity , one language grow faster than others so that it will advance its words and vocabulary were as those language that are not popular still use the language that has been used many years ago so the new language will create anew tone and mode of speaking so that the old language remain a means of communication for a small group people that is why we always found same pronunciation and meaning of words in different languages
    So finally I would like to say that what make one language different from other language is the time gap created by the development of the language other than this all human languages has the same and one origin, like earth with different community


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