Is it reasonable to think that animals have self awareness?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by devil's avocado, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. devil's avocado Registered Member

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    Any thoughts?
     
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  3. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

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    Some animals, yes.
     
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  5. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    I would have to agree with you.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Anybody who has spent any time with animals would know that they have self-awareness.
     
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Some animals have demonstrated signs of self awareness i.e. that they are a singular and independent consciousness independent from, and different from, those around them. One common measure of this is "the mirror test" - the ability to recognize their own reflection as belonging to them and not belonging to another animal that looks like them. Many apes, some cetaceans and elephants have passed this test. Dogs have not.

    When trying to determine whether an animal has self awareness it's important to not introduce anthropomorphic biases (i.e. "Lassie behaves so much like a person that he must be self aware!")
     
  9. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    IMO I believe different animals have different levels of self awareness, and I'm not very confident that "the mirror test" is a true test of self awareness or no self awareness. I think you can make a case that not all humans have the same level of awareness either.
     
  10. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

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    My cat certainly does.
     
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Given the vastly extended "glossary" of meaningful noises and body behaviors that Joe Hutto claims to have discerned in his study of wild turkeys, maybe there are more concepts than we formerly imagined roiling about in even the smaller brains of the animal kingdom. If one of those is self, then it's anybody's guess as to how it is instantiated internally to the critter itself. One of the normally external sounds it makes? A collection of visual memories representing it? A private sign or symbol? An emotional feeling? An utterly alien quale that humans are unfamiliar with? ....
     
  12. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    How about elephants and apes apparently mourning their dead... chimps grooming each other... animals playing together... birds "necking" or pairing for life... animals in general, protecting their broods... territorial claims and turf wars... migration... bower birds and elaborate courtships in general...

    and then there's the supreme example: figuring out how to become humans' welfare babies, manipulating us to domesticate them.

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  13. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    It's as simple as a chimp using a mirror.
     
  14. tantalus Registered Senior Member

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    Consider this study of Asian elephants, all showed interest in the mirror and one of the three elephants passed the mark test.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/103/45/17053.full
    the one that passed
    on another note
    this is a major limiter of the mirror test. Many animals rely more on tactile, olfactory cues full stop. This means you might not want to trust a negative result in many cases, but it doesnt affect a positive one.

    But is the mirror test a a convincing test? The wikipedia page on the mirror test states
    I am confused on the part I put in bold. How exactly is such a conclusion drawn from the postive results of mirror test such as above? The elephant in this case left the view of the mirror to touch the mark. If anyone has a link to a critique of the mirror test as an indicator of self awareness, please post it up.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test
     
  15. tantalus Registered Senior Member

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    edit. accidentally double posted. sorry
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2011
  16. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

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    When you try and do something with an animal and it fights back. It is definitely telling you "I don't want to do this" Did you see that the animal said "I" which means it is self aware.
    We get these little spiders that walk around looking for food. You look at it and it will look back at you. It just about knows what you are thinking. It has developed understanding body movements so well. I suppose it was part of being able to capture animals without a web, it has learnt to understand. Whether it could recognise itself in a mirror who knows.
     
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Say we made a robot that was designed to respond to the environment. If we move to the left the robot turns left. If it sees itself in a mirror, based on 10 degrees of comparison, it smiles, etc. Is it self aware? The answer is no, since this is all programming and feedback based. Just because we add feedback layers so the smile uses 100 servo's does not change anything.

    Self aware means the ability to be objective to oneself. Not only am I reacting via feedback and programming, like the robot, but I am also aware I am doing this. This implies two centers of consciousness, one that is acting and the other that is aware of this action. The robot above, is only responding from a single programmed center. We could simulate self awareness if we had two programs at the same time. One reacts in real time and the other reacts to the reaction.

    For example, I am walking along and someone jumps out to scare me. I react in a spontaneous way that make me look silly ( I scream like a little girl; eeeeeK! I am aware of my unconscious reaction and I feel embarrassed, since I realize others saw this, and I was not looking too cool. My body reacted, all by itself in a way I would have chosen not to react. I am aware of this primary reaction and I can compare it to the secondary reaction, I prefer. Self aware compares actual to a standard.

    Self awareness for humans is relatively new in evolution. The pre-humans were advanced animals, who looked humans, and who could do human tricks via learned programming and feedback. Self aware is when the ego emerges.

    The ego says ,I notice I am thinking therefore I must be. The pre-human primary is thinking and the ego notices this activity. The result was the seed needed for civilization. Willpower is when the secondary can use willpower and its own programming to override the primary or make the primary do something that it would not normally do.
     
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    No it doesn't.

    Really? All actions are conscious? And yet the (re)action you use in your illustration is NOT conscious...

    Repeating crap that has already been shown to be incorrect does not make it less crap.
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Compared to the other animals on that list, dogs have wretched eyesight! Even the "keen-eyed" breeds like poodles and retrievers would qualify as legally blind in most U.S. jurisdictions. Our Lhasa Apsos trip over their own toys and don't recognize us through a window.

    Dogs rely more on their senses of smell and hearing than their sight. You can bet they recognize their own smell!

    I've met several blind dogs and it's hard to tell the difference. We babysat one and within four hours he was running all over the property just like our own dogs.
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Thinking that the "mirror test" is a test of an animal's self awareness is precisely such an anthropomorphic bias.


    Many cats, upon seeing themselves in a mirror, walk toward it, smell it, sometimes meow - and then quickly lose interest.

    Smell and sound are far more relevant to recognition among many animals than they are in humans.

    Secondly, while an ape may have some use from observing itself in the mirror (such as using the mirror image to help in grooming itself), cats and dogs, for example, since they don't have that kind of hands as apes, can make no such use of mirrors, while they have acute tactile sense via their fur and can sense and take care of any disturbance or uncleanliness on their body without needing to see it.
     
  21. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    What mirror test are you talking about exactly? The most common is the mark-test. That's when they place a mark on a human child or great ape's face and then put a mirror in front of them. Half of all human 2 year olds, and all great apes at some age (chimps, gorillia, bonobo, orangutan) can pass. This means they have bodily self-awareness.

    That's awesome! I wonder how a blind cat would do. Was the dog you babysat a hunting dog?

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    Good read: http://www4.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/LA/davis2.htm
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2011
  22. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

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    Dogs don't bother watching TV so their eyesight must be different. Or maybe they are just not interested in the programs we watch?

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  23. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    The dog's poor acuity resulting from slow-changing rods and few cones would probably make the TV appear fuzzier and harder to see than for us. But dogs can still watch TV, I know a few that did. For a dog, rather than visual TV, give them what they want - just put them in a car and roll down the window. The fast blast of new scents is highly entertaining for them. Probably similar to us watching reality TV or something.
     

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