The capability of living creatures depends on the combination of their physical, psychological, and cognitive abilities.

Living creatures have physical capabilities that allow them to carry out activities. Fish can swim, and giraffes can eat from tall trees. Some birds can also swim; monkeys can climb and eat from tall trees. Giraffes cannot climb trees, and pigs cannot fly. These physical capabilities normally limit the activities that can be carried out by any individual creature, and although they may change over time and be enhanced, such variations are relatively modest. Humans can swim, but not across the Atlantic Ocean. Some birds can swim under water, and fish can fly, but only for minutes at a time, not days.

Psychological characteristics determine the limits of the activities of humans and animals.

The activities of humans and animals are limited not only by their physical capabilities, but also by their psychological ones. They may be physically capable of activities that psychologically they are unable to carry out. A human adult may be physically strong and capable of climbing a ladder, but be terrified by heights. Skyscraper construction workers require no more physical capability to walk on beams hundreds of metres above the ground than any other person does.Capability allows humans and animals to behave in response to activities and events which they have experienced, observed, or been made aware. Physical and psychological characteristics are natural in the sense that humans and animals are originally imbued with these, knowledge can only be acquired. Cognitive capability – or knowledge, may be obtained by direct experience, or by communication with others. A person may know how to climb trees, but be physically unable to do so. An animal may know where food can be found, but may not be physically capable of reaching it. A pupil may be able to recite Pythagoras' Theorem, Newton's Laws of Motion and be aware of Einstein's Theory of relativity, but lack the intelligence to understand them or their proof.


The activity of installing a weather vane on a steeple needs the physical capability to climb to the top, the psychological capability to be unafraid of heights, and the cognitive capability or knowledge of which direction is north.



Capability involves all components of Physical, Psychological, and cognitive (knowledge).

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