What is consciousness? What makes us conscious? How do you prove consciousness in others?|
Are animals conscious; do they feel pain? Or are they, as the mathematician Rene (I think, therefor I am) Descartes asserted, simply machines that do not feel pain?
Spendelow quotes the work of James Rose, who compares the processing of pain in humans and fish and concludes that, since fish do not have a neocortex, they do not feel pain. But following this same line of reasoning, Spendelow demonstrates that fish cannot see either, something we know cannot be true. He then demonstrates how it is that fish can feel pain, enumerating many things that fish can do without a well developed cerebral cortex.
He also brings up some of the incredible things accomplished by other animals, such as the Clarks Nutcracker, Chickadee and Plover, and the beaver, all of whom demonstrate senses and abilities far beyond humans.
Spendelow spends some time exploring instinct versus reasoning and consciousness versus intelligence.
An interesting, educational and provacative presentation, exploring areas of science which, it seems, have not caught up with the common sense of those whose daily life interfaces with animals. They do feel pain; they surely must be conscious.
BR> Much of our blindness concerning animals lies with our dependence on definitions which often limit our ability to openly experience the natural world. There is a certain amount of ego in this; our viewpoint is human centered, anthropocentric, as our perspective of the solar system was once earth centered, geocentric
Scientists have been threatened and even executed for articulating theories claiming that Earth and human beings were not the center of God's universe. Just one example, in 1600, the Italian scientist Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for asserting that the sun was the center of the solar system.
Spendelow's presentation demonstrates in both scientific and common sense terms that the attribution of consciousness to only human beings is not only erroneous, but debilitating.