Question was inspired by this user from Yahoo, thought I'd get some opinions on this on Think Atheist.

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How long is a piece of string?  How many rice grains make a heap?

I expect that there could be some word, 'Kevin', that is associated with just a list of other words, some of which are also associated to objects(real or imagined), abstract catagories, or operations. These 'words' could be encoded into different symbol sets as in a language, or expressed as just sounds, wave forms(modulated energy/wave), or digital packets with some set of definitions, and their associations.

The choise of the symbol string 'KEVIN', might be less important than what are the  shared social expectations or referrents associated with the symbol string.

If one looks at the combinations or characters within the rather large list of english words we us, I expect that the combinations are not fully random, but some finite list of rules for construction.

The string of characters 'KEVIN', is more that some external thing that exists in space, but is dependent on the evolution of culture, thought, and meaning.

Yah, my two bites worth...        

feel like I'm mostly in control, like some unique "consciousness" in charge of my body, so I don't care if it's just an illusion. Just knowing I can contemplate this, and this post, myself, others, is all I need. The question about why we feel this way is what's most interesting.

I have another question that someone's probably asked before. What's so special about humans compared to (say) dogs, cats, rats, and so on? Sure, we can contemplate everything at a much higher level, but is sophisticated contemplation a prerequisite for "free will", however anyone defines it? I'll bet most animals, even though they can't think abstractly or in words, have the same feeling that they're separate entities, able to focus on what they're doing, whatever they're doing. Isn't that's all that's needed for a feeling of free will?

So perhaps just our abilities to conceive of and discuss free will (or spirituality and dualism and so on) are really the only differences between humans and other animals?



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