Do animals have feelings?

#21
(Feb 16, 2019 04:08 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote: Are other animals aware of death?

Quote:Even if long-lived creatures as intelligent as elephants and chimpanzees do recognize that the dead are gone for good, they may not recognize that death eventually will come for all, a knowledge that may be solely human. Still, Anderson says, “Pining or grieving for a dead relative or friend is possible without any knowledge of death.” An important point, because if some species share our painful awareness of the permanent loss mortality brings, then death may be a greater equalizer than anyone previously suspected.


Tree of knowledge? She didn't die but she knew she would at some point. Big Grin

Temple Grandin posits that animals think with perceptual or sensory memories. Which raises the question of what a general concept of "death" would look like to an elephant (IF they possessed such) as opposed to a particular instance of individual death. The latter could be recalled but the former would have to also be a feat of imagination derived from multiple memories of specific deaths (an idea or even principle).

Grandin claims that she thinks with pictures because of her autism, and the account of the car accident below would have to employ imaginative images rather than just those from recall or near-immediate experiences. But because the human mind is still contaminated with language (including hers) and cultural conditioning, it's not a pristine attempt to infer what transpires in an animal's thoughts -- at least as far as any moments of generalized thinking or even rare creative reflection would go.

Dogs may have dreams, if their occasional behaviors of distress while asleep -- as if having a nightmare -- is an indication. So that would involve patching together such oneiric hallucinations from the bits of a variety of particular memories.

Grandin, who responds to the authors' critique in a special commentary, suggests that "the basic disagreement between the authors and me arises from the concept of details--specifically how details are perceived by humans, who think in language, compared with animals, who think in sensory-based data. Since animals do not have verbal language, they have to store memories as pictures, sounds, or other sensory impressions." And sensory-based information, she says, is inherently more detailed than word-based memories. "As a person with autism, all my thoughts are in photo-realistic pictures," she explains. "The main similarity between animal thought and my thought is the lack of verbal language." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20...203603.htm

[...] In the following description of how I avoided a car accident, I explain how I use thinking in pictures to make conscious decisions. This example illustrates a level of consciousness that may be in some ways similar to consciousness in higher mammals. The near-accident occurred in fairly light traffic on a sunny day while I was driving to the airport on Interstate highway 25. Cruising along at 70 miles per hour in the southbound lane, I suddenly saw a huge bull elk running full speed across the northbound lanes. I knew I had to react quickly to avoid hitting him.

Instantly, three pictures appeared in my mind. Each picture represented the end result of an option available to me. The first picture was of a car rear ending my car. I knew from experience that slamming on the brakes could cause this. The next picture was the elk smashing through my windshield. From my understanding of animal behavior, I knew that swerving or any sudden movement of my car might cause the elk to stop or slow down. The third picture was of the elk passing harmlessly in front of my car. In this picture I saw what would happen if I gently applied the brakes to slow down.

These pictures were like the picture menus one can click on an Internet web page. They appeared in my mind one at a time, but all within one second. This was enough time for me to selectively compare the options and chose the slow down gradually picture. I immediately calculated the elk's trajectory and speed coming across the highway, and my speed and position in the southbound lane, and began to slowly apply the brakes. This choice prevented me from being rear ended, or having the elk crash through my windshield. The conscious choice was a visual process without the use of internal verbal dialog. https://www.grandin.com/references/anima...sness.html

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#22
(Feb 16, 2019 08:31 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote:
(Feb 16, 2019 08:20 PM)Syne Wrote: I would agree that, to the extent all emotions are unbidden instinctual reactions, animals are likely capable of all the physiological analogs to "feelings", in the human sense. They just lack any internal contextualization.

Contextualization? You mean like this?

Well, that's certainly an example of an "unbidden instinctual reaction", but there doesn't seem to be any "internal contextualization" displayed therein.
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#23
Once when I was around 8 and came home from school, I had forgotten that I was supposed to go to the Sunbeams church class my mom was involved with. I was devastated and collapsed on the floor crying. (I was a sensitive child. lol) My dog Rex immediately started howling to my crying. I hugged and comforted Rex, amazed he could so strongly empathize with my grief. You can't tell me there were no feelings in that dog. You don't have to be conscious of feeling in order to have it.
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#24
Personal experience coming up...
When I was about 20 I caught glandular fever and (probably) a side effect was that I became partially deaf. I gave up trying to talk to people and would walk in the loneliest places I could think of. I found that the internal dialogue we all have (do we?) became a bit wild after about a week on my own and after a few more days it would stop almost completely. I don't have any deep and meaningful insights from that time - just O and she - end of story.
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#25
(Feb 16, 2019 08:07 PM)C C Wrote:
(Feb 15, 2019 04:48 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Am I to believe that evolution has only once in 3.5 billion years, OK the last 500 million if you like, designed a thinking organism?


Backtracking to that... As far as an outright technological degree of sapience being predetermined to arise in the course of overall biological activity... That's why some are skeptical about there being other alien intelligences in our galaxy (of that specific kind and level, anyway).

It took billions of years just for complex life to arise on Earth, and even then it required the rare, chance convergence of multiple environmental factors upon primates over millions of years -- and contingent cultural influences late in the game -- to finally yield a progressive tool builder/user with self-programming abilities. Neanderthals and Denisovans were locked in the same, unchanging lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of years -- going nowhere.

Those skeptics sound about as anthropomorphic as one can get. Kind of worries me that future space explorers might not recognize intelligent life if they’re looking for a reasonable facsimile of themselves. Why couldn’t an extremely intelligent Earthbound organism not equipped with technology or tool making attributes, ever have evolved here?

I stand to be corrected but didn’t the Garden of Eden contain a tree of knowledge. Oh, the irony...lol
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#26
It wouldn't matter if other intelligent life could evolve here or elsewhere if no one could recognize it. And if we'd have to make anthropomorphic guesses in order to presume some ambiguous degree of intelligence, it's no more useful than fantasy.

And no, it wasn't a tree of knowledge. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You know, discernment, like that needed to separate reason from anthropomorphism.
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#27
(Feb 17, 2019 03:08 AM)Syne Wrote: And no, it wasn't a tree of knowledge. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You know, discernment, like that needed to separate reason from anthropomorphism.

Oh ya. Still pretty damn smart for a tree Smile.  Too bad nobody ever recognized that.   Is there a term for describing humans using plant characteristics?
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#28
In my opinion, I think there is probably a certain amount of projection that we humans do, when imagining what our pets for example, might be going through on a day to day basis. But, I believe that animals process pain in their own way, and it could be similar to how we process it. I'm quite amazed though that it would seem that many domesticated animals have a marvelous way of seeing when humans are in emotional or physical duress, and they instinctively attempt to comfort us.
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#29
(Feb 17, 2019 04:11 AM)Zinjanthropos Wrote:
(Feb 17, 2019 03:08 AM)Syne Wrote: And no, it wasn't a tree of knowledge. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You know, discernment, like that needed to separate reason from anthropomorphism.

Oh ya. Still pretty damn smart for a tree Smile.  Too bad nobody ever recognized that.   Is there a term for  describing humans using plant characteristics?

The tree didn't possess that trait, it only imbued it. It could be a metaphor for the human evolution of that trait or could even align with theories of the evolution of human intelligence being a result of contact with psychotropic plants or fermented fruit.
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#30
(Feb 17, 2019 02:18 AM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: [...] Why couldn’t an extremely intelligent Earthbound organism not equipped with technology or tool making attributes, ever have evolved here?


A giant but immobile, mound organism might have something going on inside it akin to a simulated reality. Those complex activities transpiring inside it would still be affairs that broadly resemble our activities -- like an author writing a novel. Because of the hidden nature of that private world, its "existence" probably would not be detected by outsiders.

But what makes such a creature improbable is how it would ever acquire the knowledge and interest to be fashioning a coherent, inner dream life if it lacks the capacity to wander, engage, or interact with its external environment. (IOW, those latter deficiencies being necessary for how it could ever avoid the notice of humans to begin with in terms of being recognized as intelligent.)

Quote:[...] Those skeptics sound about as anthropomorphic as one can get. Kind of worries me that future space explorers might not recognize intelligent life if they’re looking for a reasonable facsimile of themselves.


One way to look at it is that the classification of "being intelligent" (at whatever high threshold) was originally abstracted from humans, or the latter set the standard and qualifications for such. So the category inherently entails activities that at least resemble some of ours. A thing whose actions (or lack of action, like a rock) could not be recognized as fitting under the classification via any aspect whatsoever would thus actually belong to a different classification. Like a cube being rejected because it doesn't belong in the membership of spheres.  

CAVEMAN: "Yes, after those examples of a balloon, an airplane, a helicopter, and so forth I see now what you mean by 'air vehicle'. But what if there is an air vehicle that floats and travels only on water?"

Even the planetary intelligence in Stanisław Lem's Solaris must engage in complicated occurrences or patterns that at least have some general familiarity to our own output, in order for the scientists on the station to interpret it as sapient. It's just that its mode of communication is nonsensical or too exotic for the humans to relate to. But today we wouldn't accuse primitive savages of being devoid of intelligence because of their strange incomprehensible customs, or the same with an insane person (the latter patient could still potentially fix, build, plan, or accomplish things which the "rational" psychological expert examining him or her might not have the specific skills or knowledge to do).

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