Posts Tagged ‘dogs demonstrate “human capabilities’

Pondering Measurment

November 16, 2011

Here is an interesting column I pulled out of the N.Y. Times about a month ago.  Today being “hump day,” I thought the ideas presented here would provide some food for thought to give you some oomph heading into the weekend.

In this piece, the author, Robert P. Crease, unsurprisingly a professor of philosophy who actually gets paid for exploring ideas (lucky devil), presents the juxtaposition of measurement versus non-measurement in our world today.  In a nutshell, I found this dichotomy to have implications in many facets of our world.  Overall, I see Crease’s ideas as a template for larger issues, such as fact versus fiction, hard power versus soft power and close-mindedness versus open-mindedness.  Is a concept valid only if it can be determined by our known systems of assessment?

I have a tendency to dwell on the “what ifs”, the hypothetical possibilities, of whatever issue is at hand.  Oh yes: Yo Mama is the What-If-Queen.”  Is something true and real only if it can be quantified?  Or perhaps, some topics cannot be measured anyway after all is said and done.  Furthermore, the methods of quantifying an idea can often be subject to the same uncertainty.  Is a concept valid only if it can be determined by our known systems of assessment?

We can go back and forth contemplating Crease’s theory.  I am throwing them at you simply to enrich your thoughts on this Wednesday.

Specifically, people often engage in talk regarding the abilities of dogs (I know.  I know.  Not a topic of earth-shattering proportions), but small events, such as the following video, are valuable and entertaining when trying to make some sense out of events and actions, no matter how big or small, viewed in light of the quantity versus quality dilemma:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOmCCb1-4e8

I can vouch for the dog in this clip.  Our second dog, Sierra, would park herself right next to the piano.  She took various positions, i.e. standing, sitting or laying down.  Then she would strain her nose and neck upwards and start “singing” to the piano music.  I swear, she was in tune, hit those notes, more often than not.  Another aspect to consider when watching this dog’s behavior is to question if  this behavior translates into more meaningful “human” responses, such as sadness, trying to soothe an upset baby and offering help.  I cannot count the number of times in thirty years that our dogs have shown an understanding and possible solution to a problem at hand.  If one of my kids hurt himself or was subjected to a reprimand (who me?  Never!),  our dog of that moment would feel empathy and try to protect his “charge.”  A couple of times the dog would actually warn me off by her barking.  Is this is a validation that yes, indeed, dogs  do “feel”, “sense”  and respond in a way that  we typically assign only to human beings?  Think again.

Besides, I just loved this video and HAD to find away to squeeze it into one of my essays.  Sorry for the poetic license of which I am taking advantage.  Another example of trying to make things fit.  Fact or fiction?  A measurable event? Even more so, is this dog’s behavior and the underlying analysis of it worthy of such examination?

Aah —- the secret of it all.  A chance to ponder life’s mysteries.   However, in this case, an aide to get you through this Wednesday.  Happy hump day.

Advertisements