What is the purpose of a cat?

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  • #1
heusdens
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What is the purpose of a cat?
 
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  • #2
Hesudens, I'm sure there is some philosophical objective behind this question?

Anyhow, a cat (like other pets) helps lower one's blood pressure because pet owners/cat owners calm down faster than people who don't have pets.
 
  • #3
owning a cat is a philosophical exercise in loving unconditionally a being technologically and intellectually far inferior to yourself while being completely submissive to it. my cat is possibly the only 'person' able to interupt me in the middle of a good book/new scientist and somehow end up being smothered in kisses, pathetic really, i have no will power :smile:
 
  • #4
heusdens
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Originally posted by MajinVegeta
Hesudens, I'm sure there is some philosophical objective behind this question?

Anyhow, a cat (like other pets) helps lower one's blood pressure because pet owners/cat owners calm down faster than people who don't have pets.

Ok. Your way of answering is that a cat has a purpose to us.
Helping to lower the blood pressure...

But what is the purpose of a cat outside of human purpose.

Wouldn't a cat have purpose:
- to itself? A cat can gie birth to cats, so a cat is a purpose to itself.
- to other animals, to nature?
 
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  • #5
Another God
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to eat, reproduce and be merry.
 
  • #6
heusdens
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Originally posted by Another God
to eat, reproduce and be merry.

This fits to the definition of the purpose of many animals. What is specific for the cat?

If it is the purpose of a cat to eat, reproduce and be merry, why isn't it
- a dog?
- a horse?

Somehow there is something missing in your explenation.
 
  • #7
wuliheron
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Originally posted by heusdens
This fits to the definition of the purpose of many animals. What is specific for the cat?

If it is the purpose of a cat to eat, reproduce and be merry, why isn't it
- a dog?
- a horse?

Somehow there is something missing in your explenation.

The purpose of a cat is to inspire silly questions that can't be answered, like what is the purpose of this thread. :0)
 
  • #8
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
What is the purpose of a cat?
To draw attention to the fact that it's a cat and to illustrate the diversity of the Universe. Aside from the fact that it holds the copyright to the "cat's meow."

And let's not forget a cat has three names ... the name his master calls him, his scientific name, and the name that nobody knows but the cat himself. These are the three degrees which correspond to reality as well.
 
  • #9


Originally posted by heusdens
What is the purpose of a cat?

That's like asking what the purpose of one's existence is.
 
  • #10
dav2008
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Thats exactly like asking what ones existance is.
 
  • #11
wimms
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purpose of Shrödinger's cat is to cause amusement and horror in those who believe it, and, huh, in mice.
That pretty much sums it up, imo.
 
  • #12
Another God
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lap warmer?
 
  • #13
Mentat
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Well, I can't stand cats. They bother me. However, your question is not related to my personal feelings about cats so...

The purpose of cats is exactly the same as that of any other animal. If you are Biblically religious, that purpose is to bring glory to Him that created them. If you are coming from purely scientific standpoint, then they don't really have "purpose" as purpose is a metaphysical concept that has no bearing on the natural world, except in the case of sentient beings.
 
  • #14
heusdens
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Originally posted by wuliheron
The purpose of a cat is to inspire silly questions that can't be answered, like what is the purpose of this thread. :0)

The thread is about exploring what we mean with "purpose". Is there any purpose related to the existence of a cat?
 
  • #15
Psychodelirium
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Originally posted by heusdens
What is the purpose of a cat?

You'll have to ask the cat.
 
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  • #16
heusdens
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
To draw attention to the fact that it's a cat and to illustrate the diversity of the Universe.

Draw attention to who, and illustrate to who?

Cat's are assumed to be existent long before mankind came into existence. And the coming into existence of mankind was not a "sure thing" at that time. Therefore these can't be possible explenations for the purpose of the cat.
 
  • #17
heusdens
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Originally posted by Mentat
If you are coming from purely scientific standpoint, then they don't really have "purpose" as purpose is a metaphysical concept that has no bearing on the natural world, except in the case of sentient beings.

I tend to agree with this. The only purpose of a cat I can think of is that the cat has a purpose to itself, and came into existence because of the evolutionary conditions that turned the predecessor of the cat into a cat like animal. The cat therefore fulfilled the purpose of being better adapted to it's environment, and was therefore able to reproduce itself.
 
  • #18
Psychodelirium
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Originally posted by Mentat
Well, I can't stand cats. They bother me. However, your question is not related to my personal feelings about cats so...


I have a cat. He's morbidly obese. :frown:

If you are coming from purely scientific standpoint, then they don't really have "purpose" as purpose is a metaphysical concept that has no bearing on the natural world, except in the case of sentient beings.

Well, I don't really agree with that. Questions about the "purpose" or "function" of this or that are asked and answered in biology all the time, and not surprisingly, such questions help us capture certain patterns of relations in the subject matter that otherwise we would have missed. I'm sure you'll agree, for example, that one can safely say that wings are for flying (that is, the purpose of wings is to provide flight), and that such a statement explains something of scientific import (i.e. why there is selection for wings).

One can similarly ascribe a functional role to cats, a role that they play in some ecological schema. For example, if the presence of cats controls the population of mice in an environment, we might rationalize the presence of cats by saying that cats are for controlling the population of mice, and this would explain something of scientific import (i.e. why there are cats).
 
  • #19
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
Draw attention to who, and illustrate to who?

Cat's are assumed to be existent long before mankind came into existence. And the coming into existence of mankind was not a "sure thing" at that time. Therefore these can't be possible explenations for the purpose of the cat.
What are you saying cats just came about aimlessly? And, that this whole universe exists for the same purpose, aimlessly? Then does that not also imply that you, as an aimless so-and-so, have no business whatsover, trying to persuade the rest of us aimless so-and-so's, how purposeful you are and how intelligent you are, by presenting such an entirely aimless idea?

... i.e., draw attention to the fact that it exists and is an integral part of reality. And becomes witnessable to whomever or whatever wishes to observe it.
 
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  • #20
heusdens
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
What are you saying cats just came about aimlessly? And, that this whole universe exists for the same purpose, aimlessly? Then does that not also imply that you, as an aimless so-and-so, have no business whatsover, trying to persuade the rest of us aimless so-and-so's, how purposeful you are and how intelligent you are, by presenting such an entirely aimless idea?

You didn't read my posts very well. My argument was that some see the "purpose of the cat" only in terms of human purpose. Which can't be an explenation for the reasons I gave. A cat might be seen as having purpose to human beings, but that can not be the reason there are cats, because cats existed long before mankind came into being.

Further I argued that the only purpose (in sofar one can meaningfully adress purpose to something in nature, and not get caught up in metaphysicist conceptions) one can adress to the existence and apearance of a cat, lies in evolutionairy 'reasons' for the cat to develop from it's predecessors. The cat fitted better in the environment, had better ways of reproduction, then it's predecessors.

As for the existence of the universe, however, there does not exist a ground for giving any reason for it's existence. This is just because there is no alternative to an existing universe. The universe can not fail to exist.

This isssue is further treated in the thread https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=876".
 
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  • #21
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
You didn't read my posts very well. My argument was that some see the "purpose of the cat" only in terms of human purpose. Which can't be an explenation for the reasons I gave. Further I argued that the only purpose (in sofar one can do that, and not get caught up in metaphysicist conceptions) one can adress to the existence and apearance of a cat, lies in evolutionairy 'reasons' for the cat to develop from it's predecessors.
But ultimately what it boils down to is, is there a purpose for "us" being here or isn't there? Outside of the "randomness" of evolution of course. Do you believe life is just a "random occurrence?"

But then again how can that be possible when everything "evolves" towards the sun?
 
  • #22
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
As for the existence of the universe, however, there does not exist a ground for giving any reason for it's existence. This is just because there is no alternative to an existing universe. The universe can not fail to exist.
Then why do we seem to have the fundamental need to question it? Are you saying something arises out of nothing here?
 
  • #23
heusdens
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
Then why do we seem to have the fundamental need to question it

Why do we question things at all? Without that capacity and possibility to question things, this forum would not exist, cause humans would not have established philosophy then.

Are you saying something arises out of nothing here?

Quite the contrary.
 
  • #24
heusdens
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
But ultimately what it boils down to is, is there a purpose for "us" being here or isn't there?

There is a purpose for us, because we can put meaning and purpose in our lives, more as any other living being can. Although we developed from nature, we are the only species that realy has it's existence in it's own hands, and can overcome limitations of nature.
We can excercise more power as our human bodies can, because we can built tools which have almost unlimited power. etc.

Outside of the "randomness" of evolution of course. Do you believe life is just a "random occurrence?"

The material world has randomness of course. And even our lives contain much forms of randomness. The wife you meet and get married to, have children with... it can well be that you and her meeting was just a random occurence which could or could not have taken place.

But there is not just randomness, there are also patterns that can be seen, and which are not totally random. It is important to see that.


But then again how can that be possible when everything "evolves" towards the sun?

Only plants evolve towards the sun. Or what did you mean by this?
 
  • #25
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
Why do we question things at all? Without that capacity and possibility to question things, this forum would not exist, cause humans would not have established philosophy then.
Is philosophy something which is man made or, something which has always been?


There is a purpose for us, because we can put meaning and purpose in our lives, more as any other living being can. Although we developed from nature, we are the only species that realy has it's existence in it's own hands, and can overcome limitations of nature.
We can excercise more power as our human bodies can, because we can built tools which have almost unlimited power. etc.
Then does that mean everything exists to serve "our purpose," including the cat? And like the cat, we act totally out of "self-interest?"


The material world has randomness of course. And even our lives contain much forms of randomness. The wife you meet and get married to, have children with... it can well be that you and her meeting was just a random occurence which could or could not have taken place.

But there is not just randomness, there are also patterns that can be seen, and which are not totally random. It is important to see that.
Are you familiar with synchronistic events? I've had any number of them happen to me which, when taken by themselves don't mean a whole lot. But, when they begin to form a pattern you begin to take notice, perhaps even write a book about it, hmm ... This is why I for one don't believe things happen by random. Although I will amend that and say yes they do, except I believe there's an overall sense of purpose behind it.


Only plants evolve towards the sun. Or what did you mean by this?
But if plants didn't exist, neither would anything else, in which respect we all evolve with the plants. We are also dependent upon the sun, for without it we would all perish. In which case the sun is a component to our evolution as well.
 
  • #26
heusdens
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
Is philosophy something which is man made or, something which has always been?

What do you suggest? That before mankind was there, the apes, or the plants were philosophising? I don't think so. Philosophy is definately an invention of humans.


Then does that mean everything exists to serve "our purpose," including the cat? And like the cat, we act totally out of "self-interest?"

The existence of anything can be determined by us to fullfill a purpose, either to or within nature itself, or to us. Besides mankind, purpose does not exist.

Are you familiar with synchronistic events? I've had any number of them happen to me which, when taken by themselves don't mean a whole lot. But, when they begin to form a pattern you begin to take notice, perhaps even write a book about it, hmm ... This is why I for one don't believe things happen by random. Although I will amend that and say yes they do, except I believe there's an overall sense of purpose behind it.

But this just shows how our cognition works....

But if plants didn't exist, neither would anything else, in which respect we all evolve with the plants. We are also dependent upon the sun, for without it we would all perish. In which case the sun is a component to our evolution as well.

There are more things then just the sun, that have fulfilled a role in the material process that lead to us being here. Even the rest of the material world, the universe, has something to do with our being here, if you really think about it.
 
  • #27
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by heusdens
What do you suggest? That before mankind was there, the apes, or the plants were philosophising? I don't think so. Philosophy is definately an invention of humans.
What I'm saying is that something just doesn't arise out of nothing and that the "principle" has always been there. That it's something that can be rediscovered at any time, by "anybody." How else would the Universe hold itself up if there were no "timeless principles" to hold it together?


The existence of anything can be determined by us to fullfill a purpose, either to or within nature itself, or to us. Besides mankind, purpose does not exist.
Then what is the purpose of a cat? I thought "we" already established that?


But this just shows how our cognition works....
Then there must be another dimension beneath the surface (spiritual if you will) that allows for these synchronistic occurrences to occur.


There are more things then just the sun, that have fulfilled a role in the material process that lead to us being here. Even the rest of the material world, the universe, has something to do with our being here, if you really think about it.
For all intents and purposes the earth has always been here, as well as the sun, and without any kind of relationship between the two, life wouldn't exist as we know it, if at all ...
 
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  • #28
Netme
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Originally posted by heusdens
There is a purpose for us, because we can put meaning and purpose in our lives, more as any other living being can. Although we developed from nature, we are the only species that realy has it's existence in it's own hands, and can overcome limitations of nature.
We can excercise more power as our human bodies can, because we can built tools which have almost unlimited power. etc.



The material world has randomness of course. And even our lives contain much forms of randomness. The wife you meet and get married to, have children with... it can well be that you and her meeting was just a random occurence which could or could not have taken place.

But there is not just randomness, there are also patterns that can be seen, and which are not totally random. It is important to see that.


Our feelings cannot ensure that the human race is destined to be the center for which all other life forms must exist. Human feelings are nothing more than evolved attributes gained in order to maintain the existence of our kind which have fortunately proven to have qualities that give dominance over the other life forms on earth. But with such power did not come with out its faults in existential sense. Just as different life forms have different attributes, seeing other kinds of being in a certain perspective can only be achieved by having the attributes of that kind. Unfortunately, the purpose I present to you is not to acknowledge the many different forms of life but rather to install a mind set that even though no one kind views in the same ways a single common view exists identical to all kinds. the same attributes that give us an advantage to dominate over all others has manifest into a self destructive form that causes hate within our own kind. Nonetheless all forms of being especially ones with more power in domination seem to also take on this existential fault. So you see self-destruction of ones kind is the final steps to existence that have been obediently taken on by the unknowing subjects that are now forever extinct. Human kind must not follow on the same path that has been given for us to follow. Mankind has evolved itself a mind capable to perceive godly intentions being them good, bad , or whichever views you take on god. let it be known that the universal insight shared by all life forms is the knowing nature that existence is the ultimate purpose to being and extinction, a being or not with such a horrifying unimaginable life forms desperately evolve subconsciously just to prolong their fate with it.
 
  • #29
drag
Science Advisor
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Greetings !

What's the purpose of a human ?

Originally posted by steppenwolf
owning a cat is a philosophical exercise in
loving unconditionally a being
technologically and intellectually far
inferior to yourself while being completely
submissive to it. my cat is possibly the
only 'person' able to interupt me in the
middle of a good book/new scientist and
somehow end up being smothered in kisses,
pathetic really, i have no will power :smile:
I know what you mean.
Anyway, who's far inferior ?! I think the
cat family is the result of a very long
evolution of predetors and is practicly
perfect in many respects. We, on the
other hand, are more like a short fluke
and our physical abilities by comparisson
are pathetic, all we really have are these
large brains and good finger control for tools.

A cat is really important as a pet, I think.
It can teach you how to respect and
listen/observe another being. Dogs, by
comparisson, are just walking robots
who mostly do exactly what you want them
to do (and where's the fun in that ?!). And,
of course, cats are a lot better looking. :wink:

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #30
Mentat
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Originally posted by Psychodelirium
Well, I don't really agree with that. Questions about the "purpose" or "function" of this or that are asked and answered in biology all the time, and not surprisingly, such questions help us capture certain patterns of relations in the subject matter that otherwise we would have missed. I'm sure you'll agree, for example, that one can safely say that wings are for flying (that is, the purpose of wings is to provide flight), and that such a statement explains something of scientific import (i.e. why there is selection for wings).

One can similarly ascribe a functional role to cats, a role that they play in some ecological schema. For example, if the presence of cats controls the population of mice in an environment, we might rationalize the presence of cats by saying that cats are for controlling the population of mice, and this would explain something of scientific import (i.e. why there are cats).

Good enough points, however I think we are talking about two different kinds of "purpose". I was talking about the kind of purpose that implies that something is there for a specific reason. Evolution would dictate that physical charecteristics came about for no specific reasons, but were (afterward) used to the advantage of the creature that happened to have them.
 
  • #31


Originally posted by heusdens
What is the purpose of a cat?

Define purpose.
 
  • #32
heusdens
1,736
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Originally posted by Alexander
Define purpose.

This is a good point. What is "purpose"?

I would define purpose as a human concept for describing the usefullness of some entity for humans. It can be generalized however to other beings, besides humans. Trees and forest have a purpose to the animals that live in the forest, and need it for their survival, for instance.
 
  • #33
Moetasim
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0


Originally posted by heusdens

I would define purpose as a human concept for describing the usefullness of some entity for humans.

Well I think someone already discussed one thing that there were cats before existence of human and if it is then I repeat that Q with amendment that
" What was purpose of cats before human then?"
 
  • #34
Iacchus32
2,313
1
From the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1869" ...

Originally posted by Iacchus32
Originally posted by particlehead
Exactly, mentat. In a sense, choosing the skin (a permeable membrane) as the defining line between inside and outside is totally arbitrary. It makes sense from a biological and perceptual view, but really the very idea of it is completely relative.
If you wish to "meld" with your environment that's entirely up to you, but without the ability to make distinctions (between forms), there would be no point to getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed. I think the fact that we have a form suggests a sense of purpose to go along with it. For example take a hammer. The pupose of a hammer is to drive nails.


The human body itself cannot be said to be "a thing." It is a collection of systems, interacting and interdependent. From the macro to the micro, the material world is built from systems of interaction, not blobs of "stuff."
And yet this has very little to do with our conscious awareness, which is primarily driven by what we acknowledge, "through form."
Typically, as given in the example of the hammer, "purpose" coincides with the "utilities of form."
 
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  • #35
heusdens
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Originally posted by Moetasim
Well I think someone already discussed one thing that there were cats before existence of human and if it is then I repeat that Q with amendment that
" What was purpose of cats before human then?"

I agree here with Mentat, who said that talking about the purpose of things outside of human context is a rather meta-physical debate.

But to answer this, what is the purpose of any existing animal? I would think that animals fulfill by their existence, which is a struggle with nature for survival and reproduction, their own purpose.
To exist fulfills a purpose in and for itself.
 

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