Author Archives: Lei Qin

Reasons that We Shouldn’t Worry About That a Planet of the Apes-style Revolution May Happen–Lei Qin

With the success of the blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, many viewers, especially some scientists warned that those disastrous scenario could actually happen and thus lead to a ending that would put everyone in a massive hole, if human being continue to do illegal experiments on those animals. Indeed, we human beings should learn a lesson from this movie and should stop doing unregulated experiments and testing on animals in spirit of ethics and conservation, but I don’t agree that those ape revolution thing makes sense. Even though those apes might become stronger and smarter than ever before, they cannot act as intelligent as human beings like what is played in the movies. Since I am not an expert in biology or pharmacology, I will not explore this topic in the direction of the possibility and the effects of gene mutation. I would like to apply what I’ve learnt in symbolic cultures and cognition. Here are my reasons:

Apes cannot adjust and improve their actions with their own purposes while human beings can. Apes, like most other species, the range of their behaviors are closely reacted to genes and adjusted to environment niche in order to survive. “Apes appear to be poor at rehearsal and metacognitive review. We can get them to repeat actions, as a function of reinforcement contingencies, and they can engage in socially facilitated imitation, but they cannot independently initiate and rehearse actions accurately for the sole purpose of refining their movement sequences.” Thus it becomes unrealistic when it comes to the fight scene between apes and human beings: the ape troop seemed so well-trained and they would adjust strategy from time to time. On the other hand, human beings, who had been through cognitive change and had developed communication system, was able to invent languages, gestures and words for their own purpose. Human beings are able to refine their actions and rehearsal over and over again. This process then results in mimesis that would later serve as cognitive foundation for nonverbal culture. Since by no means apes had been through all those processes, they couldn’t have been well-trained soldiers, not to mention to win the battle against human beings.

Apes also don’t establish cultural network as human beings do. As human beings bridges their cultural networks, their cognitive resources are harnessed and so are their minds. Then human gradually learns writing and literacy. And human being’s memory is extended to some degree, sustained by institutions and symbolic technology.

In a word, as far as I am concerned, by no means chimpanzees can be as intelligent as humans, even though chimpanzees can sometimes use tools, can make plans and can learn.


Merlin Donald, “Evolutionary Origins of the Social Brain,” from Social Brain Matters: Stances on the Neurobiology of Social Cognition, ed. Oscar Vilarroya, et al. Amsterdam: Rodophi, 2007.

Lei Qin’s Questions-Week 2

At the very beginning of the first reading, Professor Irvine says “we have to work from observable ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’ – the expressions, material media, social situations and uses and technologies for representation and transmission — to build out models for what must be necessary to account for what we can observe.” As far as I am concerned, human being’s flux of thoughts, ideas, feels and imaged is so mercurial that it’s just like a fast-running river and the flux of an individual’s feelings and ideas can differ greatly from time to time, from environment to environment and person to person. Wouldn’t it be too difficult for us to observe all these subtle yet quite drastic differences, to examine individual’s difference variables, and thus to perceive individual’s meaning process?

According to the Section 5 of the first reading, there are two chef branches in linguistics based on linguists’ different approaches to language study: Diachronic linguistics and Synchronic Linguistic. In my view, the diachronic linguistic is the study of fluid linguistics while the synchronic linguistic is the study of static linguistics. De Saussure preferred the synchronic approach and he claims that the study synchronic linguistics is much more difficult than the study of historical linguistics. According to De Saussure,“ Evolutionary facts are more concrete and striking; their observable relations tie together successive terms that are easily grasped; it is easy, often even amusing, to follow a series of changes. But the linguistics that penetrates values and coexisting relations presents much greater difficulties (CLG, 1959, 160).” So here comes my questions: as linguistic beginners, are we encouraged to studying linguistic synchronically rather than diachronically? Are synchronic linguistics and diachronic linguistic in opposition to each other? What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying linguistics synchronically rather than diachronically?

 At last I still have trouble in figuring out why there is a separation between linguistics and semiotics?  They can both be considered to study how human cognition works. The semiotics seems to be much broader than the linguistics, why isn’t linguistics become a branch of semiotics? And I am also wondering if facial expressions, gestures, body languages can be studied in semiotics? Please forgive me and my simple and silly questions above.


de Saussure, Ferdinand. Cours De Linguistique Générale. Paris: Payot, 1900.———. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: Philosophical Library, 1959.