A matter of animal consciousness   no comments

Posted at 8:00 pm in Nature

I have found quite an interesting article here arguing that some animals (and dolphins, of course, are among them) show parallels with human meta-cognition. Which essentially means that some animals can think like we do: can “reflect upon, monitor or regulate their states of mind.” And that all sounds very fancy, but I’ve believed that animals share such similarities with us for a great many years, now.

I find the subject of animal consciousness is an interesting one. People are generally quite quick to assume that animals don’t think like we do, don’t think things through. Although dolphins have always had this shadow of intelligence hanging over them, not many other animals get respect in the brains department.

Mostly I’m interested in it, because every day, my dog shows me something that not only demonstrates her intelligence, but demonstrates it in a way that proves she can reflect upon her state of mind, and even attempt to regulate it. She is ruled by her stomach; she eats non-stop, and would probably eat herself to death if given half a chance. But she does try, in a grumbling, groaning, disgruntled sort of way, to think of other things, when you tell her it’s not time for dinner yet. Perhaps she’s thinking of some sort of dog holiday, out in the sun, or perhaps it’s something else, but she tries to do something to forget about her hunger.

Similarly, she communicates everything to you. She uses her eyes, she tries to speak to you. She’s a very communicative dog. And certainly when she’s feeling ill, she will come and tell you so. She walks around, uncomfortable, whinging quietly, and when she tries to settle, you can see by her facial expressions that she’s not very happy at all. Is this not reflecting on her state of mind? I think it is.

Dolphins are not the only intelligent animals out there.

Written by blog on September 18th, 2009

Tagged with , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.