consciousness

Eugene Khutoryansky ekhutory at glibm8.cen.uiuc.edu
Thu May 22 10:42:52 EST 1997



On 22 May 1997, F. Frank LeFever wrote:

>     Please read the fine print.  If the comment in the last paragraph  
>     (re self-recgnition in mirrors) wass to someone else's post, I     
>     apologize  , but in my (earlier) reply to the original question,
>     I distinguished between the concepts "conscious" and "conscious    
>     OF".  I cited studies (some presented at the NY Academy of Sciences
>     program I referred to) using the mirror paradigm to approach the 
>     question (n.b., APPROACH) of an animal's "consciousness OF SELF".
>     Don't re-make my man as a straw-man!

What I meant is that it is (also) useless in determining an animal's 
consciousness of self.  You can be conscious of your "self" and still not 
recognize your reflection for what it truly is.  The fact that an 
orangutan does not recognize his reflection does not mean that he is not 
conscious of his self, only that he did not realize that his reflection 
was, in fact, a reflection.


> 
>     re your longer post: we all have such opinions, and as a practical 
>    matter, act on them; but they have absolutely no bearing on the     
>    question.
> 

Of course they have bearing on the question.  There are still many 
"scientists"  who live their life believing that most other animals are 
not conscious, 
and indoctrinate their students in this same belief.  Many people do not 
even realize that they are being indoctrinated, since this is taught as 
"fact" along with everything else.  When pressed to justify their 
position, they simply reply that there is no way to test for 
consciousness in animals, and that therefore we should assume they are not 
conscious.  What they do not realize, though, is that there is no more 
evidence for the consciousness of other humans than there is for other 
species.  So if they want to be consistent, they should believe that no 
human other than them self is conscious either.

If you think this is just a trivial linguistics game, think again.  In 
the animal rights debate, there are still many people who believe that it 
is OK to perform any experiment for any reason because other animals do 
not actually feel anything.  Dispelling such myths has a moral urgency, 
do to the immoral behavior believing in such myths will lead to.



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