posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 01:36 PM
Perhaps the (largely) unspoken attribute with which we measure intelligence is the ability to adapt. Certainly, our existence in this time is
due to adaptability and survival: However, other species have also adapted and survived, otherwise they wouldn't be here either.
It took our species thousands of years to create the global civilization we have today -- and even then, it was built with only humans in mind.
We can't expect other species to adapt very quickly to it. If we were to interact with another planet, and we found ourselves unable to understand
its civilization or technology, would we call ourselves an 'unintelligent' species? I think instead, we would give lofty speeches about
'differences in evolution.'
A paint-brush-wielding elephant may have no aesthetic appreciation for the 'art' s/he creates. To the elephant, it may just be that this imitation
of a human action earns him/her adulation and more peanuts from the little hominids. In this light, the elephant is still intelligent -- although
perhaps more so than is thought, since s/he would be manipulating his/her caretakers for treats. But to an extent, we may appear less intelligent --
perhaps naive -- if we simply swallow the act as a deliberate creation of 'art.'
Humans frequently anthropomorphize other species, because it is sometimes the best initiation of an inter-species relationship (for us). Still, we
shouldn't get carried away. Nature is not 'dumb,' no matter how one chooses to look at it: If intelligence is measured by adaptability and
survival, or by an organism's ability to process (any) information, then all biological organisms possess the trait.