On Animal Cognition: Before and After the Beast-Machine Controversy

  • Woosuk Park
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 2)


Elsewhere I discussed analogies and disanalogies between Avicenna’s ideas on estimative faculty of animals and Peirce’s and Magnani’s views on animal abduction. [Park (2011)] In this paper, I propose to examine the role and function of the Beast-Machine controversy in the fascinating story of the fortuna of animal cognition. For, to say the least, it must be one of the most salient landmarks in the history of the transformation of the problem of animal cognition. In Section 2, I shall briefly recite the analogies and disanalogies between Avicenna’s ideas on estimative faculty of animals and Peirce’s and Magnani’s views on animal abduction. In Section 3, after briefly introducing Descartes’ infamous hypothesis of animal automatism and the immediate responses to it, I shall focus on three of the most important parties in the controversy, i.e., the Cartesians, the Aristotelians, and the empiricists. My emphasis will be on the argument strategies of each of these parties for their views on intuition and intelligence of animals. In Section 4, I shall discuss why both Cartesians and the empiricist tried to avoid the notion of instinct. Also, I shall argue that the formulation of the issue as between instinct and intelligence itself is a false dilemma, thereby highlighting the greatness of Avicenna’s, Peirce’s, and Magnani’s solutions.


Nonhuman Animal Argument Strategy Animal Cognition Animal Spirit False Dilemma 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korea Advanced Institute of Science and TechnologyDaejeonRepublic of Korea

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