Consciousness, emotions, intellect, soul

October 23, 2017 by a b

(Ancient fable)

Long ago in the east, a teacher, famous for deep wisdom and having a kind heart, gave two chickens, one each, to two students, and said, “Take your chicken where no one will see, and kill it for tonight’s dinner.” The first student knew of a secluded area behind a building. He took the chicken there and killed it. The second student was gone for hours. The whole community got alarmed, for this student was thought to be the teacher’s most dedicated learner. Finally, the student returned with the chicken still alive. He came to the teacher and said, “Everywhere I go, the chicken sees.”

Ask yourself,Do I think that consciousness is different for animals than for humans? When I have an awareness of an emotion is my perception of that emotion somehow “more refined”, “better”, or “more subtle” than an animal’s? Am I better at being aware of fear and desires than animals, or, instead, do I just have different kinds, or more abstractly complex fears and desires?

Do I think that a chicken actually has consciousness? How smart does an animal have to be before it is “someone?” Do I think that ANY animal has consciousness to a significant degree? How do I explain the expressions on the faces of dogs and monkeys or the body language of cats?

If an animal has a language for emotional expression, does that affect whether I grant “consciousness status” to an animal?

Is ANY consciousness so precious that I do not want to destroy a “vessel” of it? Or, do I think that there has to be a certain amount of consciousness present before I start to “think twice about killing an animal?” What is the difference between swatting a mosquito and drowning a porpoise in a tuna net?

How much consciousness do I think an entity has to have before it is alive? Aware? Has a soul?

Can I increase consciousness? If a fantastic physician time-travels back from the year 3001 to today and magically treats me with “medicines” that increase my senses a thousand fold, so that I had eyesight better than an eagle, hearing better than a bat, a sense of taste better than a thousand French chefs, a more sensitive nose than a bloodhound, and a sense of touch better than a Times Square pickpocket, would I be more conscious or would I just have more data to be conscious of while I was using the same awareness I presently have?

If they ever build a perfect robot that looks human, acts human, and can fool other humans that it is human, would the robot be conscious?