Apparently animals are conscious of their behaviour and can exhibit regret. Just like us!
He (Eugene Linden) tells of a young tiger that, after tearing up all the newly planted trees at a California animal park, covered his eyes with his paws when the zoo-keeper arrived. And there were the female chimpanzees at the Tulsa Zoo that took advantage of a renovation project to steal the painters’ supplies, don gloves and paint their babies solid white. When confronted by their furious keeper, the mothers scurried away, then returned with peace offerings and paint-free babies.
Looks like there may be a case to be made for humans being wired to regret. Just like the animals!
Thanks to Jack for the link.
Thankfully we humans do not require shows of regret in order to express remorse. And it is a sad sad world that sometimes DOES require a show of regret…
2 thoughts on “Are Animals Conscious Of Their Behaviour?”
A dog I am very friendly with bit me a few weeks ago. I believe to him it was a nip to get my attention. Unfortunately his teeth are so big & sharp they ripped my thumb. Once I had cleaned up his person insisted on showing him what he’d done. He turned away at once, knowing things weren’t good. When she left I went across to him & we exchanged a really powerful look. It was sorrow. The animal definitely had sorrow in his eyes, as did I. I read it as – “this is how I am” not so much as regret, but there was a powerful sense of sadness between us.
Things are OK again with us but I am more careful now. I truly believe he didn’t intend to hurt.
This post and the one linking Dan Dennett’s talk (All in the mind) raise for me the whole question of the nature of consciousness. And Dennett seems to me not to even approach the issue. He doesn’t really seem to acknowledge that we are all in our own phenomenal experience; there is no Archimedean point. One must arrive at one’s own position regarding this. There is interesting work looking at animals, babies and children seeing their reflection in a mirror. This work sort of suggests to me that one needs a certain ego to get that what is being seen is what is looking. And this would seem to point to the question of communication between humans; our need to relate. Now when Dennett and his approach have some thing rich to say at that level then good. Until then it’s just not the space we live in. I recall a tale of DT Suzuki playing with a kitten- looking into its Buddha nature.