According show that they have consciousness. “Consciousness is

According show that they have consciousness. “Consciousness is

According to Martin Schonfield in “Animal Consciousness: Paradigm Change in the Life Sciences” “In the old analytic climate, claims that animals are sentient raised methodological and ideological problems and seemed debatable at best. ”(Schonfield p. 1) Claims that animals were self-aware or intelligent were regarded as unfounded. “The task of science in the past four centuries had been to demythologize the past. ”(Schonfield p.

1) Daniel C. Dennett in “Animal Consciousness: What Matters and Why” states “that speculating about animal consciousness makes no sense. (Dennett p.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

19) He wonders why we need to know about animal consciousness at all. I disagree with Dennett and will explore the possibilities of animals actually experiencing consciousness. We know that other people have consciousness because we know we as individuals are conscious. There is a moral certainty that because we are, others are too. According to Dennett, we will never know whether or not an animal thinks so why bother thinking about it. I believe that we should look at this because there is evidence to suggest that they do think and have conscious minds.Maybe they are not thinkers like we are but they show that they have consciousness.

“Consciousness is a state of awareness” where the “experiencing subject is aware of itself as well as of its environment. ”(Schonfield p. 1) In their Dictionary of Ethology, and from Donald R. Griffin’s essay Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness, Immelmann and Beer define animal consciousness as “immediate awareness of things, events, and relations. ” (Griffin p. 12)“Animals really think” and “non humans have measurable and efficacious intentions and thoughts. ” (Schonfield p.

) Animals have their own language and to have language means to think. To think means to be conscious. Primates, birds and marine animals can use symbols like sign language, computer keyboards and gestures to communicate.

Animals adapt to their environment. Animals make and use tools; branches are used as sticks for poking into termite mounds; stones are used for crushing nuts, leaves are used as sponges for cleaning and hooks used for fishing food out of bottles. (Schonfield p. 4) “Making and using basic devices to perform tasks such as collecting or preparing food is incontrovertible evidence for nonhuman tool use. (Schinfield p. 4) The ability to properly navigate and search through the environment is a critical task for many animals.

Memory shows perceptual consciousness and these animals remember how to do these tasks. To love, have fear, rage and passion are not just human traits. They are common in mammals and birds. They have primitive instincts and remember their fear. “Grief and jealousy have been shown in apes and monkeys, and there also exists an extensive record of pranks, humor, cheating, and reflection in primates. ” (Schonfield p.

5) There is evidence of these thoughts. Can animals conceive of justice or fairness?In an experiment with monkeys, the monkeys “refused to participate if they witnessed a conspecific obtain a more attractive reward for equal effort. These reactions support an early evolutionary origin of inequity aversion. ” (Schonfield p. 5) They may be exploring morality according to Schonfeild. They make good and bad decisions and use rationality to do so. Monkeys may also be guided by social emotions.

Grief, love, rage, fear and passion are common in mammals and birds and emotions such as jealousy have been seen in monkeys and apes. They think and they feel and are guided by social emotions. Non-humans have measurable and efficacious intentions and thoughts. ” (Schonfeld p. 5) There is a difference between intelligence and consciousness.

Intelligence is problem solving and consciousness, according to Bernard J. Baars in “On the difficulty of distinguishing between conscious brain functions in humans and other mammals, using objective measures” is a “wakeful alertness and conscious perception, including the perception of pain and pleasure. ” (Baars p. 7) Animals have emotions. “Subjective emotional feelings are at the heart of human mental experiences, and very likely those of animals as well. (Dennett p. 14) When an animal is attacked and flees to safety, it will remember that fear and learn from it.

An internal mechanism is when the animal recognizes the threat and an external mechanism is when it remembers to flee the situation to safety. “Consciousness is a fundamental biological adaptation. In all mammals alertness and sensory consciousness are required for the goal-directed behaviors that make species survival and reproduction possible. ” (Baars p.

6) They have language to communicate with each other. They use words, motions and binary strings, “They have a semantic organization… they convey social information..

. ; and all languages refer to objects or events distant in time or space. ” (Schonfeild p. 3) Bees do a dance to communicate in their own dialect with each other regarding food sources. They share culture. The macaques on Koshima islet in Asia learned behaviors copied by others in the group. “There are socially transmitted differences in animal behavior-and consequently animal cultures” and they reflect a will to order their houses for the better.

” (Schonfeild p. 4) It’s possible for animals to create culture and pass it down.Take the case of the monkeys washing the sweet potatoes in the salt water because it tastes better.

These animals are consciously differentiating between salty and fresh water tastes. They are thinking. Baars believes that it is hard to measure differences between animal and human consciousness and that we can’t get into their heads for an objective view so we must look at it from the subjective view to get a look into the animal’s consciousness.

When a tiger sees an animal who is distracted and not watching over her calf, the tiger will attack. This shows thoughtfulness and attention to details.Animals use perceptual consciousness when groups are hunting; they seem to have an intuitive communication between them letting each other know when to attack or to retreat. Beavers build stairways to get to food and also build dams to survive the waters. Are they thinking about what they are doing? Griffin believes that we should look at content instead of what the animals are thinking. “.

.. Any thinking animal is likely to guide it’s behavior at least partly on the basis of the content of its thoughts, however simple or limited these may be. ” (Griffin p. 12) We, as humans, can adapt to our environments but can animals?The chimpanzee remembers he cracked open a nut with granite that he used several days ago. “Many animals adapt their behavior to the challenges they face..

. ” (Griffin p. 11) Lionesses will send prey toward waiting companions, beavers will pile material around a vertical pole to reach food and will plug holes where water is escaping. Bowerbirds construct and decorate bowers to help attract females. Parrots use language to get what they need or want and honeybees “employ symbolic gestures to communicate the direction and distance their sisters must fly to reach food..

. ” (Griffin p. 11) These are examples of their versatile behavior.Griffin says that sometimes an animal’s awareness includes memories of past perceptions or anticipations of future events. (Griffin p. 12) So, are they thinking? We are not aware of all the activities that occur within our bodies and are aware of only a fraction of what goes on in our brains as humans. “Consciousness may occur only rarely in some species and not at all in others, and even animals that are sometimes aware of events that are important in their lives may be incapable of understanding many other facts and relationships.

” And animals can carry out much of their behavior unconsciously. Griffin p. 11) Griffin notes that complex animals must be able to organize and retain information about innumerable perceptions and potential actions of which only a few can be the focus of conscious awareness at any moment. (Griffin p. 13) Dennett believes that we shouldn’t even be concerned with what they recall or not. Dennett asks us if we really need to know if a turkey vulture really enjoys its food or not.

A turkey vulture does have a keen sense of when they can tolerate the smell of a rotting carcass and when they cannot. If it were a few days old, they would not eat it.This shows a sense of thought or an intuition. They just know like we know when we smell something bad and our brain tells us not to eat it. So, is the bird consciously making a decision not to eat that old, smelly carcass? Griffin believes that hunger and desire for food …

may well have much in common for any animal that experiences them. (Griffin p. 13) Dennett is more concerned about how we treat animals than what they smell or what they are actually thinking. In my relationships with some people that I know in this world, I am glad I don’t know what they are thinking, and that goes for animals too.

I don’t want to know what an animal is thinking while it’s licking itself clean, but they are thinking about something. “We know far too little to judge with any confidence when animals are or are not conscious” (Griffin p. 14) but we do have all these examples to make us think that maybe some animals do think. They may not be aware of all their thoughts and actions but we ,as humans, aren’t always aware of what we are doing either. We have instincts to act in certain ways and so do animals.

When we are born, we know to cry for what we want. Animals know to feed off of their mother’s milk.We know to eat when we are hungry and animals know to hunt for their food. We do things on auto- pilot without recognizing that we are thinking about it but we are still conscious.

Animals communicate with each other and animal communication may serve as perceptual communication and may mean that they are thinking about their thoughts. ( Griffin p. 15) “An animal might be consciously aware not only of some part of its body but also what that structure was doing. ”(Griffin p.

16) It might feel itself eating food and have the sensation of taste. It may feel itself running from a threat. Memories of xperiences may mean that it thinks about the threat and is acting on its fears. “Our animal would probably remember not only its fear but the tactic that had saved its life the day before. ” (Griffin p. 16) “Perhaps we can never discover precisely what the content of nonhuman experiences are, because scientific understanding is seldom complete and perfect. But it seems probable that we can gradually reduce our current ignorance about this significant aspect of life.

” (Griffin p. 15) With all this evidence of thinking in some animals, how can we dispute the fact some animals may think and be conscious?We can’t ignore the fact that these animals are using parts of their brains to live out their daily lives while doing such things as searching for food, hunting, building homes and surviving. Dennett may feel that it is useless to even think about the possibility of animals being conscious and thinking or that “the differences (between humans and animals) is so great that most of the speculative translations of imagination from our case to theirs makes no sense. ” (Dennett p. 1) I believe that this evidence should at least make us think about it and look at it closely.

No Comments

Add your comment


I'm Alfred!

We can help in obtaining an essay which suits your individual requirements. What do you think?

Check it out