A Moment When Animals Started to Seem More Like People
Any self-respecting pet owner will confidently claim that their dog or cat (or rabbit, or gerbil) seems sentient, exhibiting a distinct temperament and emotional responses. I know my many beloved pets over the years could feel pain, and fear, as well as love and trust. But are our pets truly conscious creatures? Or are we merely projecting our own thoughts and feelings onto our animal companions?
It likely depends on what you mean by consciousness. On one end of the scale there is basic wakefulness and sentient awareness—which we share with all living creatures—and on the other, more sophisticated end there is self-awareness. But there are many other systems and terms advanced by various researchers to categorize and describe consciousness. Part of the confusion stems from the great complexity, largely still unknown, of how the brain gives rise to consciousness.
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