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Thread: Animal Consciousness

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    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Animal Consciousness

    http://fcmconference.org/img/Cambrid...sciousness.pdf

    What is consciousness anyway? Is it specifically consciousness that makes it bad for something to die? Why do people care more about animal suffeirng than human suffering? Why do americans find it sadder when a dog dies in a movie than when a foreign soldier dies?

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    creator kari's Avatar
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    Is a sunflower conscious when it turns its head towards the sun? Isn't that a reaction to the environment on a very basic level? IS THAT CONSCIOUSNESS? I believe it is, but it's such subtle and low-level awareness that people don't see it as such. The world exists in gradients but language is very block-like and black and white.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Do remoras feel envy? Do remoras ever look at the shark another remora is attached to and think "Dayum. That's a lucky sucker."


    In answer to finding a dog in a movie dying more sad than a foreign soldier, well, I've had a pet dog die. I've never had a pet foreign soldier die. There just isn't as strong of a sympathetic relationship.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    creator kari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Do remoras feel envy? Do remoras ever look at the shark another remora is attached to and think "Dayum. That's a lucky sucker."
    Isn't that more sentience rather than consciousness? Sentience presupposes consciousness but not vice versa.
    I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.
    ― David Bowie

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    How can you note consciousness save by sentience?
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    Is a sunflower conscious when it turns its head towards the sun? Isn't that a reaction to the environment on a very basic level? IS THAT CONSCIOUSNESS? I believe it is, but it's such subtle and low-level awareness that people don't see it as such. The world exists in gradients but language is very block-like and black and white.
    Eh, well the distinguishing element of consciousness is a looped reference to the self within a self-projected model of existence. The sunflower is more like a thermostat responding to feedbacks, instead of attempting to actually record those inputs into a coherent self-image of the universe.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    Eh, well the distinguishing element of consciousness is a looped reference to the self within a self-projected model of existence. The sunflower is more like a thermostat responding to feedbacks, instead of attempting to actually record those inputs into a coherent self-image of the universe.
    No, I think that's self-awareness. Consciousness (at least, according to Wikipedia) is being able to feel the outside world. It's what makes you aware of colors, sound, taste, pain... What gives each wave-length its particular color? How can art be beautiful? It's what gives each stimulus a meaning and feel.

    We know that most animals aren't self-aware, the mirror test is pretty clear on that. But that doesn't they lack perpective and feeling.

    But yeah, consciousness is weird. Some people say there's no such thing, that it's an emergent property of intelligent things.

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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JollyBard View Post
    No, I think that's self-awareness. Consciousness (at least, according to Wikipedia) is being able to feel the outside world. It's what makes you aware of colors, sound, taste, pain... What gives each wave-length its particular color? How can art be beautiful? It's what gives each stimulus a meaning and feel.
    I'd say it is only within a system of related concepts joining together our physical experiences that consciousness is possible, in the sense we typically mean by 'consciousness', rather than merely a response to the said experience.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Member Aurast's Avatar
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    I tend to think consciousness is illusory in the first place, and that animals are conscious in the same way humans are.

    Consciousness is an emergent property of a slab of meat with a certain internal organization.

    The components of a consciousness have been around since the big bang and will outlive consciousness far into the future, it not forever. Sometimes they come together to form a slab of meat that values its existence, but their destiny is bigger than that.

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    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercurial View Post
    I tend to think consciousness is illusory in the first place, and that animals are conscious in the same way humans are.
    It's a damn real illusion for me, though.
    But yeah, you might be right. Humans tend to think they are magical super-beings, because that's how they feel inside, but it might not be that special.

    Maybe we could define consciousness as the ability to have a point-of-view?

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