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Scientists ponder, how would animals show self-awareness?


A controversy in animal psychology centers on whether or not an animal can recognize itself in a mirror. But a number of scientists are beginning to doubt that the mirror test shows animal self-awareness:

Perhaps the question of whether dolphins (or great apes) pass or fail the mirror test should not be taken as evidence one way or the other about their self-awareness. Both species appear to have a sense of self; they perceive pain or pleasure, for example, as happening to them individually.

Unfortunately, doomed celebrity science efforts to teach human language to dolphins and apes confounds realism about their abilities. Many analysts resist the idea that these animals think but can’t think like humans because they lack the ability to use reason. They can and do, of course, feel emotion.

Denyse O’Leary, “Mirror, mirror, am I a self?” at Mind Matters News

You be the judge:


Articles on animal minds that may interest you, from Mind Matters News:

Did a fish just show self-awareness? What if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

The real reason why only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly


What do animal studies tell us about human minds? They show that human experience is unique.

Some apes and monkeys know when they are being cheated, as when they see another monkey getting a nicer treat for doing the same task. Feeling cheated or unfairly treated seems like an indicator of self-awareness. Then again, most psychological states are not precisely defined or measurable, so any discussion of self-awareness must be shrouded in uncertainty and subjective value. Fasteddious

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