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Smithsonian asks, Do insects have consciousness?


Interesting question. From :

While the human midbrain and the insect brain may even be evolutionarily related, an insect’s inner life is obviously more basic than our own. Accordingly, bugs feel something like hunger and pain, and “perhaps very simple analogs of anger,” but no grief or jealousy. “They plan, but don’t imagine,” Klein says. Even so, insects’ highly distilled sense of self is a potential gift to the far-out study of consciousness. Probing the insect brain could help quantify questions of what it means to think that vexed the likes of Aristotle and Descartes, and could even aid the development of sentient robots.

A lot depends on what one thinks consciousness even is. Jealousy would likely be meaningless to an insect because it depends on conditional, potentially changeable relationships. Middle Dog is jealous of Top Dog because he sees that he could be Top Dog himself and appreciates the advantages. But how likely is it that a worker ant is “jealous” of the ant queen?

See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?


Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?

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I believe I've noticed there is a kind of psychic communication between insects of the same kind, as well mutually between still lower life-forms. As for a sense of humour, how far down the chain that extends might surprise us. We know birds taunt cats, and I saw our late, great cat, Percy, watching some insects by a skirting-board ; and believe me, it was clear that he was tickled to death by them. Like us watching puppies playing. He had no intention of eating them, as he didn't find them tasty, He could barely drag his attention away from looking at them for long enough to look up at me with a smile, and say something like : 'How abut these little 'nutters' ! What tickled me most on this topic is that I could have sworn a spider was playing peek-a-boo behind a toilet roll on the cistern, with me. I don't think it was curiosity, yet if he'd only been concerned about survival, having retreated to it, he would have 'played doggo'. Not a matter I'd care to raise, if I were writing a post-graduate thesis, just the same. Axel

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