Chapter 12: Animal Minds
- What things are conscious?
- Nothing. (Eliminativism)
- Just me! (Solipsism)
- Just we (humans). (Cartesianism)
- Just the living ("Vitalism")
- where do you draw the line?
- Everything? (Panpsychism)
- Cartesianism: "Descartes believed ... all other animals are
unfeeling automata" (166) as evidenced by their lack of language
- Macphail: "animals are indeed Cartesian machines, and it is the
availability of language that confers on us, first, the ability to be
self-conscious and, second, the ability to feel." (1998: 233
- Unknowability of what it's like to be them due to their different
- Greenfield proposes, "consciousness increases with brain size
across the animal kingdom" (2000: 180)
- Searle claims, "Humans and higher animals are obviously
conscious, but we do not know how far down the phylogenic scale
consciousness extends." (1997: 5)
- Consciousness: "You are not only aware of the world around you"
- Self-consciousness: "but of yourself as an observer." [higher
- The self-consciousness question: "Do they have a sense of
'I' as a conscious being observing the world?" (170)
- Test: can they recognize themselves in a mirror?
- dogs & cats: surely not
- birds: nyet
- fish: nada
- Chimpanzees learn to use mirrors as person grooming aids
- Gordan Gallup (1970): Mark & mirror me test
- chimps and other great apes (except gorillas, except
- [dolphins pass a altered version]
- Human infants: around 18 months
Theory of Mind
- To recognize yourself as a thinking would seem to require a
theory of mind.
- Associated abilities
- knowing what others can see or know
- Genetically encoded instances
- a bird the feigns a broken wing
- True deviousness requires a theory of mind, e.g., beliefs about
what others believe
- Machiavellian hypothesis: the evolution of self-awareness is
- the better to deceive you with, my dear ... if I know, that
you think, that I believe, that you want ....
- the better not to be deceived by you, my dear
- "Swiss ethnologist Hans Kummer watched for some 20 minutes while
a female ... baboon gradually movers herself about two meters, while
still sitting, until she was behind a rock where she began grooming a
young male, behavior that would not be tolerated by the leading
male. Had she worked out what the other baboon could and could
Knowing What Others Can See or Know
- Argument that monkeys do not have a theory of mind (Cheney &
Seyfarth 1990): they give the same number of alert calls regardless of
whether the would-be alertees can see the threat or not.
- Chimps do worse at the begging (what-do-you-see) task than 3 year
- "By 14 months of age toddlers can delay imitation for a week or
more, and they seem to know when they are being imitated by adults and
take pleasure in it' (Meltzoff, 1996)." (174)
- Thorndike's (1898) definition: "learning to do an act from seeing
- "There is clear evidence of culture in chimpanzees, in that
different groups of chimpanzees use different ways of processing food,
fishing for termites with sticks, or using leaves to soak up water, but
there is ongoing controversy over how much these cultural skills are
learned by true imitation rather than by other kinds of social
- "If the concept of self is a memeplex ... then it is the ability
to imitate that gives humans a sense of self and hence
- There are three paths to wisdom. Reflection, which is the
noblest. Imitation, which is the easiest. Experience, which
is the bitterest.
- "Perhaps the kind of mind you get when you add language to it is
so different from the kind of mind that you can have without language
that calling them both minds is a mistake." (Dennett, 1996b: 17)
- "Using true language means being able to put arbitrary symbols
together in an unlimited number of ways using grammatical rules to
convey different meanings." (177)
- Other animals lack syntax: "the meaning of the symbols is fixed
and new meanings cannot be made by combining them" (177)
- First signs of Wahoe, Nym Chimsky, Alex the African grey parrot,
etc. seem weak on their syntax.
- "[S]peculation aside, it seems we humans are unique in our use of
Dolphins Self Aware?
- "The snake can have no notion of object constancy and no concept
that there is one thing, a mouse, that it is catching and eating.
There are just sights, and smells, and feels, and then nice food." (178)