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Old 01-22-2012, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: Does your dog or cat have conscious thought?

Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
Define more clearly your understanding of what it is to be "self aware"? Some think it's entirely possible that we as a species aren't fully "self aware". We know, for example that people can be hit over the head one day, and then be able to calculate pi for thousands of digits in their head the next day, it's rare, but this type of spontaneous savant-ness has been observed multiple times. This may imply that we really don't use most of our own conscious potential, and aren't as aware of ourselves as we like to think.

I know that's pretty out there, but it serves to help make the previous point. "Self awareness" isn't necessarily a black and white thing.

All evolutionary or genetic changes are relatively small. Dogs as they are today are not philosophers in their own right as far as we know. Fast forward to the future genetic relatives of "dogs" in "x" number of years and who knows what we'll have.

Again, this is a somewhat loose and arguable position to take. Example: most social animals "play". The direct benefit to this behavior is much the same as it is for us. Bonding, release from boredom, relaxation. These are examples of things an animal does to improve it's own mental situation. Most pack and social animals even exhibit a direct sense of not only them self and their own status, they understand their role and the roles of those around them, they even have envy and drive to improve their own standing within the pack. If this sounds similar to what we humans do on a much higher level, it's because it's exactly what most of us do.
Your example of partial self awareness makes sense for the most part, but it is time-based. In other words, when I say a being can't be half self-aware, I don't mean to say it is self-aware one minute, then not self-aware the next. What I'm trying to argue is that a being cannot be partially knowledgeable of its own existence at one moment in time.

Animals play because it gives them pleasure. You and I can sit here, watching a dog play with a toy, saying, "Oh, look at him having fun!" But the dog doesn't know it's having fun. I don't think animals understand their roles in a group; they just do what their brains tell them to do based on the data around them. I don't think animals envy. That's a common human feeling that you are applying to dogs.

Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
You may find this interesting:

Bottom line: higher order animals are not just a collection of instincts but can process information in a similar way to us, just less sophisticated.

Degrees of consciousness - try caring for an elderly parent with dementia for a while and you'll see it. You see the degrees of consciousness falling away bit by bit ...
Interesting article (I used to visit Science Daily all the time; I'd forgotten it!), I'm curious to read up on future findings.

I'm still not convinced that they are self-aware because of their powerful processing abilities. The article said metacognition and self awareness are linked in some way, but it wasn't specific. Maybe because we don't know. Like I said before, I agree that animals are conscious, constantly processing the world around them. My stance is that they don't know they're doing it.
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