How do animals develop theories?


Animals develop theories through a cycle of conjecture and experimentation. For instance, describes a cat figuring out how to open a door by developing a theory that applying torque to a handle will achieve this. The cat may climb onto a countertop and jump on the door handle, a behavior it hasn't observed in other cats or humans. This process of theorizing and experimenting illustrates a basic form of creativity and problem-solving in animals.

adds that such behaviors emerge from a vast amount of instinctive knowledge embedded in the animal's genes. While this knowledge doesn’t involve creativity in the human sense, it provides sophisticated instructions that enable animals to respond to novel situations effectively. For example, a wolf navigating a forest must constantly adapt to unique environmental patterns and situations, demonstrating a form of inherent strategic thinking that is genetically programmed 1.

Thus, animal cognition entails a combination of instinctive knowledge and limited creativity to solve problems in their environment.

Animal Creativity

Dwarkesh Patel and David Deutsch discuss the concept of creativity in animals, using examples of cats and wolves. They explore how animals develop theories and strategies to navigate and thrive in their environments, showcasing the sophistication of their instinctive knowledge.

The Lunar Society

David Deutsch - AI, America, Fun, & Bayes