Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds

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Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds

Pallab Ghosh

Quote:Prof Chittka’s experiments showed that bees would modify their behaviour following a traumatic incident and seemed to be able to play, rolling small wooden balls, which he says they appeared to enjoy as an activity.

These results have persuaded one of the most influential and respected scientists in animal research to make this strong, stark and contentious statement:

"Given all the evidence that is on the table, it is quite likely that bees are conscious," he said.

It isn't just bees. Many say that it is now time to think again, with the emergence of new evidence they say marks a "sea change" in thinking on the science of animal consciousness...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Brian
That the question even has to be asked is profoundly discouraging.
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(2024-06-20, 08:24 PM)Laird Wrote: That the question even has to be asked is profoundly discouraging.

I was going to post the same myself.  It's unfathomable that anybody could have thought differently!
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(2024-06-20, 08:24 PM)Laird Wrote: That the question even has to be asked is profoundly discouraging.

I don't know.
Will we at some point have the same response to for example Sheldrake's question, "Is the Sun Conscious?"
Not wishing to distract from the original topic, though it often feels to me as though the world at large is not yet willing to consider the planet we live on in any terms other than "how can we exploit* this?", for example tropical rainforest or wildlife is not valued in its own right, but only as a possible source of some new drug or medicine and so on.

* Exploit - one of those words which can sometimes be neutral, but does also carry connotations of abuse and mistreatment.
(This post was last modified: 2024-06-22, 03:11 AM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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Totally agreed re our exploitative attitude and anthropocentric utilitarian valuing of the world at large, and, having respect for animism, I am open to the possibility of a conscious sun too - but the obviousness of animal consciousness is of a much higher degree than that of solar consciousness (if the sun is conscious), and the consequences of denying it much more obvious as severe, wouldn't you agree?
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(2024-06-20, 08:09 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Are animals conscious? How new research is changing minds

Pallab Ghosh

I think that at least part of the aversion of mainline biology to recognize that animals in general are conscious is caused not only by materialism and the supposition that some of our human brain structures and sizes are necessary for consciousness. Also affecting this attitude is undoubtedly the psychological and ultimately economic profit-related threat that this recognition will make a lot of people very uncomfortable with eating beef and pork and chicken, for instance, because of the appalling cruelty occuring to the millions of factory-farmed food animals raised to satisfy the apparent bodily and psychological need for animal protein. This recognition could create a lot of uncomfortable cognitive dissonance conflicts conscious or unconscious, and perhaps drastically reduce the consumption. This in turn would be threatening to some big money interests, and could affect funding for such scientific projects. This business and economic pressure would engender funding sources' reluctance to fund research that scientifically endorses the notion that we have consciousness in common with all these unfortunate food animals raised under appalling conditions, since this industry presently generates unimaginable amounts of innocent suffering on the part of the animals. It doesn't bear thinking about.
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