Sometimes, the most basic principles on a particular subject are the points we overlook. Sometimes, it’s so obvious that we might overlook it.
I feel this can be the case for the study of self-awareness and state of consciousness in animals.
One of the key factors in determining whether an individual has self-awareness is play. If an animal enjoys playing, that animal is self-aware and thus possesses a state of consciousness. One must be, I contend, self-aware to enjoy something – from a tasty donut for you or me, to tossing around a stuffed toy or enjoying that same tasty donut for a dog or cat.
And of course, I can’t stress this point enough, as I’ve done in the past. We should not willfully inflict pain and suffering on anyone or anything that is self-aware.
How far down the tree of life are animals self-aware? I’m not clear on that one. I would theorize that possibly, at some point for lower-order animals (for lack of a better phrase) the degree of self-awareness might be reduced. We might consider the gold fish is not as self-aware as the cat. Or the fish’s self-awareness might not be as complex, as compared to the feline.
This is where you jump in with your thoughts ….