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Old 01-22-2012, 07:47 PM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: Does your dog or cat have conscious thought?

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Originally Posted by Typo View Post
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.
You'll have to clarify a bit, that doesn't make sense to me. How can a thinking social animal not be aware of it's own existence?

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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.
This is a little weird. What makes you think a dog doesn't know what itself is doing at any given time? Playing is a perfect example because it serves very little genetic, food drive, or evolutionary function. They do it precisely because like us, they have complex brains, a sense of self, and get bored.

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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.
If that were the case and the brain controlled the animal instead of the other way around, how could each animal be so unique in it's personality, taste in food, temperament, etc. I really am curious to understand why you insist they are so simple. It seems extremely obvious to me that they are at core really not that simple, each is entirely unique. Of course, the species shares it's genetic goals. Survival, sex, and status. Then again, at core, that's exactly what humans are after as a species as well. What makes us different from one another is our complex brains and personalities that go with them.

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I don't think animals envy. That's a common human feeling that you are applying to dogs.
Of course they do. Envy is a basic component of any social animal, especially a pack mentality driven animal. They literally understand where they are personally within the pack. They know which members have better standing and envy the benefits of that standing. Envy itself is a very complex emotion, and many times even humans don't realize how envious they're being... It's what our brains tell us to do. Covet a better situation.

Here's a study article with some interesting findings, including controls.
http://www.livescience.com/3124-dogs-feel-envy.html

The tests performed showed rather clearly that the dogs outright knew when the other dog was getting a better reward for the same action, and it upset them visibly, even to the point where they made the decision to stop performing the act and changing behavior towards the other dog out of jealousy.

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My stance is that they don't know they're doing it.
I'm still curious what evidence supports this theory. How would it benefit any complex brain animal to not understand what it's doing and what it's current goals are?
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