Scientists Give Animals Consciousness

Scientists have given animals consciousness. Not through complex manipulation of the brain or through genetic manipulation, but by publicly acknowledging the consensus, for the first time in such a straightforward way, that non-human animals, including some of our evolutionarily distant cousins, have awareness and experience like we do.


Talk about non-news. :stuck_out_tongue:

The material soul has been said to have consciousness, in Catholic philosophy, since at least the time of Aquinas. That this is just now being put forward by scientists is what surprises me, quite frankly. We know that animals are conscious, we can see that from basic experience and experiments.

Peace and God bless!

So when will science admit it’s just proving the Bible correct?

Here is the declaration:

We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non- human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

Okay, I am not up on neurophysiology and the like, but let me try to break that down into English I understand.

*1. Animals have emotions

  1. Animals can decide to act a certain way or try to achieve a certain goal

  2. Animals have more thinking abilities than we previously admitted. This includes not just mammals, but birds and octopuses too.*

At least, I think that is what it says. :o

It seems in line with common sense and the observations of naturalists, not to mention pet owners and farmers. :smiley:

Is this something we didn’t know?

I agree with the second post–the idea that animals have consciousness is nothing new in Catholic thought, going back to ancient times… Anyone with a pet will come to realize that they have emotions, for one thing. People are different because they have rational thought.
But I agree that animals shouldn’t be mistreated, which seems one idea that the article linked in the first post is promoting.

Now, it would be actual news if they were able to give politicians a conscience…


Have I been mistaken in thinking that some persons here have asserted that the immaterial thing we call consciousness must have a source outside the brain and that that source is what they call the "rational soul’?

What distinguishes the consciousness observed in these other animals from human consciousness?

So? Most of us that have had pets or observed animals closely have always known that. Just because scientists have at last admitted the obvious, doesn’t make it something new. Few of us think of animals as carbon based robots.

That’s a pretty poor choice of words, “scientists have given” since God is the author of life. He has given us these things. He does everything in a superb and generous way.

I think the emphasis here, on the basis of accumulated research, is that the level of consciousness of animals is nearer to that of humans than ever imagined. For example, birds, dolphins, and whales have mirror recognition of themselves, something that dogs and cats do not have; chimps can learn by observing the behavior of other chimps; various species have empathy for the suffering of other members of their own species. Findings such as these and many more on animal cognition, emotion, drive, and behavior show a more highly developed animal consciousness of themselves and others than was once thought.

I think I speak for anyone who has ever spent more than a few moments around an animal:


I hope there wasn’t too much money spent on whatever study found this, although I fear there was.

… by people who have no experience with animals. I’ve always taken all those for granted - including mirror recognition among cats and dogs (I had a cat that would freak out at the sight of other cats, but didn’t care when he saw his own reflection in a mirror).

Your cat recognized itself in the mirror? That ability would be unique among cats or dogs. (Didn’t you mention this a while back? It sounds familiar to me.) However, as I stated, birds have been found to have mirror recognition.

My bolding.

If non-human animals aren’t carbon-based robots, doesn’t that imply that they have some degree of free will?

No offense intended, but the findings of these scientists only exacerbates the problem of non-human animal suffering – and its reconciliation with the notion of an all-loving god – for me.

I think it’s important to have our intuitions confirmed, or not, by actual data.

'bout time! Dogs who wrapped me around their paw taught me that a long time ago. :slight_smile:

As a psychologist, I agree with you, because we tend to anthropomorphize animals’ behaviors. However, as an animal lover and pet owner, I agree also with many of the other posters’ comments.

Consciousness is not the real issue.

From the link:

"What’s The Significance?
The signatories have indicated that we cannot, at least certainly not for the reasons we have been giving, ignore the fact that animals have the same type of experiences that gives us a reason to treat other humans humanely.
Beyond the ethical ramifications, this declaration is another step in a long line of conclusions that the animal brain displays remarkable plasticity and is able to accomplish highly complex tasks in multiple ways."

For some interpreters, the real issue is that the concept of a spiritual rational soul is no longer viable. This is because both humans and non-human animals are doing the same thing regarding highly complex tasks. Or since consciousness and/or sentience is found in both humans and non-human animals, from a natural science position, both are equal species.

The flimflam is that consciousness, whether material or non-material, is the determining factor of species equality. Thus, it is easy to miss the fact that it is not what consciousness is but what it does which makes the human species peerless.

I saw this article a while ago. This is non-news and makes people wonder about all the money that’s going into research… is this what they’re doing all day? Can’t they do something a little more productive? I hope they do.

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