Thesis (Open Access)
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
Philosophy of Mind
Humans have an understanding of a concept called consciousness. This idea of consciousness has been the main separating factor between animals and humans regarding humankind's purported superiority of intelligence: humans are conscious and other animals are not. Specifically, it is self-consciousness, awareness of oneself as oneself, that is. Yet extensive research throughout the last few decades shows that this may not be the case. Animals and humans alike show a variety of forms of consciousness and self-consciousness based on the structure of their bodies, brains, habitats and other contributing factors of survival. Hence, I will argue that humans are not the only beings on this Earth that have the ability of sophisticated consciousness and even self-awareness that we take as the result of a seemingly higher power of intelligence. To do so, I will examine a variety of cases where animals show various levels of consciousness. These animals include the four types of great apes, dolphins, horses, corvids, cephalopod mollusks, cows, lions, and canines. Such examples of higher consciousness derived from these animals include a being's understanding of self, creating non-heritage based friendships, tool-making abilities, functional memory usage, and spatial awareness. Humans must now act upon this inheritance of knowledge regarding animal consciousness. If we know that other animals behold higher levels of intelligence, we must learn to treat them justly.
Varnell, Conner Lee, "A Pedestal of Power: Analyzing Consciousness in Nonhuman Animals" (2014). Senior Theses. 7.