Animal Consciousness - Paper 2

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 151
  • Published : October 31, 2011
Open Document
Text Preview
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.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.5) 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...
tracking img