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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-consciousness-universal&WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

There is no compelling evidence to show that non-human creatures, or even all of reality, are without consciousness or a soul. Yet the doctrines of many religions and countless individual human beings hold to the idea that only human beings are conscious, aware beings, the only beings to have souls. Why? It makes those who hold on to that idea feel special, singled out by God or whatever to have consciousness, the power of conscious choice and thus will, and an emotional life that is the basis of the soul, or psyche. Yet every living creature displays willfulness as it strives to survive and, if possible, reproduce, expending energy to that end, even if it can't afford the loss of that energy or doesn't have that energy at all. As for thought and emotions, countless types of creatures have been observed exhibiting strategic planning and all the signs of an emotional life. So why do so many people ignore that evidence, and choose to believe that we are all alone in having intellects, emotional lives, and willpower? This article asks these questions and more about the possibility that all life is conscious, and that consciousness may even permeate the non-biological cosmos.

Remember: Aleister Crowley said, "Magick is the Art and Science of causing change in conformity with Will." By that measure, all living creatures are Magickians, constantly working to obtain food, get rid of wastes, avoid noxious stimuli, repairing themselves when injured or sick, reproduce, interact socially with others of their kind, and otherwise go about the second-by-second, minute-by-minute, year-by-year business of living.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
brezhnev
Jan. 3rd, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
The way I've heard it, consciousness means being aware of one's surroundings. Every organism reacts to its environment in one degree or another. The more complex the organism, the greater this awareness is. Conjecturally, I'll say that it's the frontal lobe that enables thought. So a dog can think in a non-verbal way, though it would be quite surprising if the dog could pass an algebra exam or write an essay about philosophy.
polaris93
Jan. 4th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
Yes. Dogs and their relatives, wolves and coyotes, often display stategic and tactical intelligence (ever see a dog team up with a cat to get that pot roast laid out on the counter for the two of them?). That requres thought, though perhaps couched in symbols such as images of trees, people, cats, squirrels, other dogs, and so on, rather than in the verbal symbols we use while thinking. As for the frontal lobe, yes, in animals that have them, it seems to be involved in thought, though so does the rest of the cerebrum, with support from the limbic (emotional) brain. In other creatures, who know?
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