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Do even simple lifeforms such as insects or spiders have consciousness?

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posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 03:59 PM
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And if they do, could it come from elsewhere?

Hi all,

It's my first post in this forum. Although it's a very long one, I'll do my best to make a good first impression. By the way, English is not my mother tongue. I hope you can look at the message and not at the packaging.

What follows is not a belief or even a theory that I want to defend, it's just a thought I was entertaining because sometimes it seems as even basic creatures have some form of consciousness. So I thought to share it with you in the hope of getting an interesting discussion and maybe some new insights.

I've always been convinced that we were just flesh and bone and that there was nothing else. No god, no paranormal phenomena or other things that are beyond perception.
I'm a strong believer in the evolution theory to explain the diversity that we see on our planet. But sometimes I see things that I can't easily explain, if we maintain that consciousness comes from our complex brains and simple species don't a nervous system complex enough to develop consciousness.

Just as a warming up, I started thinking about this when I saw a spider weaving a web. AFAIK, science claims that this is encoded in their DNA. That's the current state of understanding and it sounds credible but, on the other hand, I think no biologist can tell exactly how any spider's gene sequence translates into all the actions required to construct a specific type of web. So it's the best theory we have, but it's also just a theory.
There are a lot different types of webs, used in different manners by different spiders, even as a kind of fishing net to catch insects. So there would be a lot of different genetic blueprints in those different spiders.

That made me think that the spider could be similar to my Google Home Mini speaker. After years or research, a 19th century scientist would come to the conclusion that this speaker understands language, knows the weather in Paris or the age of all actors and that all this is encoded in a memory device inside the speaker (the "DNA") and processed by the little device that we now call a microprocessor (the nervous system).
Of course, we know that the speaker simply records your voice, sends it invisibly over wifi and the Internet to a huge server farm to process it, look up the requested information and send the audio with the answer back to the device. The software and microprocessor on the device are just there to perform basic local tasks and get the rest from "the cloud".

Could the spider be like the Google speaker, a dog like a smartphone and a human like a laptop? They have some functions on board but all tap into the cloud for "special needs" for which they don't have the software or lack processing power?

- continued




posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:01 PM
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I was too lazy to dive deeply into the academic stuff about the examples below, but I do find them curious

A bit more impressive than the spider is the honey bee waggle dance, discovered by von Frisch in 1967. He described how bees use a "language" to explain to each other how to fly to arrive at how much food .
I'm not a linguist, but at some point, we humans got the genetic ability to start using language. But that doesn't mean that man suddenly spoke a first language. To communicate, you need to invent some sounds and the other needs to understand. If you use the word "tree" for the first time, the other person looks at you with a blank face and you need to start pointing, gesturing, taking them by the hand and dragging them to the tree to make the word part of a common language. That requires consciousness and persistence, I would assume. How did one bee start dancing and the others understand what was meant while they're simply observing it in the hive?

Even harder to understand is the Glyptapanteles wasp. As many parasitic wasps, they lay their eggs in a caterpillar. But I don't understand how evolution can create the sequence decribed below, as many steps (mutations?) of this sequence don't make any sense until you arrive at the end of the story. I once saw a video explaining the full sequence, but can't find that exact video anymore and some of these steps are maybe not perfectly worded, scientifically speaking. But I think it was the Glyptapanteles.
1. The wasp lays it's egs in the living caterpillar. OK so far.
2. The larvae feed on the caterpillar's intestins but, unlike many other parasites, they eat only the non-critical parts so the caterpillar stays alive. I can still understand that, it may increase the runway for the larvae to mature.
3. When they are ready to leave the caterpillar, they gnaw holes in the caterpillar's skin to get out. But they leave the back part of their own shell behind to close the holes in the caterpillar's skin, so it can remain alive. This doesn't make any sense on its own.
4. The last larva only leaves the caterpillar halfway, and remains partly inside the caterpillar. This doesn't make any sense on it's own, it's one less to come to maturity and survive.
5. That larva interfaces with the nervous system of the caterpillar, making it able to completely control it. This doesn't make any sense on it's own.
6. It then makes the caterpillar spin a protective silk cocoon for the other larvae to hatch in. Something they could have done on their own.
7. Then it even controls the caterpillar to ward off other insects that want to prey on the larvae in the cocoon.
The whole sequence makes sense of course, but it puzzles me how the individual steps can have spread in a population, waiting for steps 6 and 7 to occur and increase their reproductive success, many generations later.

So these things make me wonder if there is not a kind of "cloud computer" or central consciousness that every living creature can tap into for certain needs. That would also explain things that are regularly reported and that we call "paranormal nonsense" if we just analyze them with the current state of science.

Or maybe we're just living in the Matrix, of course :-)

Your thoughts are welcome as are links to interesting information discussing this topic.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:04 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

If spiders have consciousness I'm moving off world.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:08 PM
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Insects are very different from us. I would start looking at why when they are "born" they do not require any teachings from their parents. They appear to be born with the knowledge and tools to perform what is to become of their lives. I don't know if a spider ever really learns from its mistakes in insect combat when trapping and killing prey much less its abilities to choose a mate that don't work out etc etc. they to me appear to be pre programmed to survive in this world. I do not understand how they adapt without cognitive and progressive trial and error learning in its most simplest forms.

I ask the question, do spiders learn from their mistakes if they survive the encounter or situations they are programmed for that goes wrong.

Does a spider cognitively change web locations after periods of no prey, how do they choose the locations.

Do ground dwellers like wolf spiders and tarantulas learn from combat mistakes if they survive?

ETC ETC

good thread, thought provoking I would like to know if everytime I crush a spider if somehow they as a species learn from this and are actively plotting revenge



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:10 PM
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There are theories that even rocks are conscious.
Panpsychism: Quartz.com
edit on b000000312020-08-09T16:18:32-05:0004America/ChicagoSun, 09 Aug 2020 16:18:32 -0500400000020 by butcherguy because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:11 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

They probably do.

They have to have some form of such to even function as hunters, or get away from predators themselves.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:12 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

Given how they're able to find me...I think they do.

Save room for me...



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:15 PM
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originally posted by: Brotherman
good thread, thought provoking I would like to know if everytime I crush a spider if somehow they as a species learn from this and are actively plotting revenge


I usually pick them up and put them outside. Not taking any risk



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 04:17 PM
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originally posted by: nononsense35

originally posted by: Brotherman
good thread, thought provoking I would like to know if everytime I crush a spider if somehow they as a species learn from this and are actively plotting revenge


I usually pick them up and put them outside. Not taking any risk


I secretly hope they are I've been trying to convince the little lady I need a new shotgun, if I could prove the spiders are plotting revenge she might beg me to buy 2



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 05:01 PM
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yes. Even atoms have consciousness. They have an unfathomably small consciousness with extremely limited choices but I do think they have a consciousness.

I think the fabric of the universe is consciousness.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 05:05 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

The simple answer is yes, lifeforms such as insects or spiders are conscious, of there surroundings at least, but that does not make them in any way sentient in the same or similar manner to humans.
edit on 9-8-2020 by andy06shake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 05:06 PM
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a reply to: booyakasha

I've read such theories too. Not necessarily disagreeing, but I've never seen a stone or atom do something which would require consciousness. With simple animals you can observe things that make you wonder.

Anyhow, I'm keeping an open mind.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 05:11 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

Thanks for the interesting thread subject and your opening post.

I have thought and considered consciousness much. I also see evolution as the explanation of life's development and diversification through this whole universe (the stars being a kind of life too). It is universal and the same principles and variables would happen anywhere life was able to form out of the processes that establish it.

I believe that the Bible explains evolution as the olive press and wine press. If we think about it that is what evolution is doing constantly in the here and now. It works so slowly. Even over the course of a million years we as humans have not changed a great deal, but we still are changing. How long we can continue without becoming extinct is anyone's guess. What we evolved out of, those creatures, are still here. We are them. They are our ancestors that changed over millions of years from apes around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda. My display name means Big Brother. It is a place in Kenya. I have no doubt my big brother was from that place originally. We should respect those countries because that is where we all evolved from and began spreading over the earth. They deserve respect and recognition for this.

I also find in the Bible the metaphor/parable of Adam and Even in Eden to be most enlightening. If we recall that Yeshua of Judea spoke mainly in parable and metaphor to make his teachings known then it is excusable to be an evolutionist and still find the Bible to be very much a tool and record of recent human conscious development. The onset of civilization has run totally in parallel to the Bible. No doubt it is what has civilized us in the West and made us change at ever-increasing "warp" speed. Isn't that quite amazing. Even those who do not believe in the Hebrew Vision have to accept that it has been the very means by which we have established even our law and social values. I believe the fall of this in the West has fragmented us and is bringing much chaos. It was bound to happen. Even the New Testament says it would happen, that even the Saints would get weary.

The Eden metaphor describes the Original Sin of Consciousness. Our human consciousness is totally flawed. It is the human condition. We only have to consider our brutal history and current status too to see that as clear as day. Consciousness in this sense is an awareness of good and evil, what is creative and what is destructive and what is right and wrong. In Genesis the Almighty sighs that we dared to tread where Angels feared to. We still do not have a clue about what right and wrong is. I make errors every day, no matter how hard I try.

I believe animals, plants and all matter don't have a sense of good and evil, right and wrong. They do not question as such. They just go according to their program. They feel and think though, no doubt. Even the Corona Virus is thinking hard collectively. The viruses are cleverer than we collectively. This virus is wiping the floor with us and destroying our economies.

All that is manifest here is real, is a stage and in state of change continually, DNA versus environment and in a constant feedback loop: Not through any spooky means, but by the simple equation that what works best will breed best and live to fight another day until it too becomes the weakened old Priest of Nemi waiting for the new kid on the block to take the priesthood away by sword combat, the fittest of the fittest winning Diana's favor in her grove, a performance of survival of the fittest in its most obvious brutal demonstration and metaphorical manifestation.

There is unique human consciousness with all its crazy magic while the rest of life collectively and unconsciously evolves according to its DNA integrity/improvement or its going off on a dead end tangent that does not work and does not breed to fight another day.

I love the human race, but we are so compromised and destructive because of Adam's Curse. Try to be good and kind to each other. You have so much beauty and amazing qualities if only you knew it. Here we all are making ourselves prisoners of our own attitudes and prejudices. We all came from Africa. It is best we say our Adam and Eve were black because we did come from dark skin. Eastern Africa deserves our respect as our birth place if we are to respect our species in its entirety. All the fossils of us say it is so.

One more thing: Sometimes we can have more important babies than children. Some of the most influential people in the West had no children yet have been incredibly influential and directed the very course of our societies. With humans there are other kinds of breeding we do. Ideas, creativity/art and inventions are clear examples. Even our digital creations are evolving. They are subject to evolution too. Think of how former technology evolved into "Machinosapien" and is still evolving. Everything happened that way just the same. Only the human is flawed though to the point that we destroy and unhinge our environment by our madness. The others have to keep changing too as their best examples produce the best next generation. They don't paint paintings that sell for millions a few generations later. Even "Star Trek" had to evolve into the "Next Generation", Captain!




edit on 9-8-2020 by Kakamega because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 05:51 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

It's a Very interesting subject.
Consiousness is something I'm always thinking about. (Pun intended)

For years acadamia thought they had it narrowed down to which location or receptor in our brains, our Consiousness was located.
Well, I did a thread a few years back that you might find interesting Op.
It sort of disproved sciences answer for where consciousness was located in our minds.

Where is Consiousness located

As for your post, currently a basic test to determine if something is conscious of itself is to observe it to see if it displays self recognition or if it has a desire to play.

It would be interesting to find two spiders chasing each other around the kitchen lol
edit on 9-8-2020 by Macenroe82 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 06:05 PM
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a reply to: Macenroe82

Our current understanding of what constitutes consciousness leaves a lot to be desired, like freewill for one thing.

Mr Siff raises some rather interesting queries regarding the topic.




Warning: Some colourful language at play in the short vids.


edit on 9-8-2020 by andy06shake because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 06:13 PM
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originally posted by: nononsense35

Just as a warming up, I started thinking about this when I saw a spider weaving a web. AFAIK, science claims that this is encoded in their DNA. That's the current state of understanding and it sounds credible but, on the other hand, I think no biologist can tell exactly how any spider's gene sequence translates into all the actions required to construct a specific type of web. So it's the best theory we have, but it's also just a theory.



If I had sticky stuff coming out of my bottom, something would naturally make me want to keep sticking it to other things too.
edit on 9/8/2020 by nerbot because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 06:21 PM
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a reply to: nononsense35

What makes a life form simple? Most larger multicellular life has some kind of nervous system that allows it do do things, retain memories etc. Even simple multicellular organism are made up of complex organized structures that retain information. Hell even single cellular organisms retain and pass on information through DNA and RNA and are made up of complex organized structures.

On another note, one time I sprayed a fly in my. bathroom with some cleaner or something, it dropped and landed on the faucet above the sink. I stood.there in front of it, it looked at me, tried to fly, realized it couldn't, looked at me again, looked down at the doom below, looked at me one more time, then walked off the faucet and plummeted down the drain.

I swear, that little bastard knew it was done and didn't want to give me the satisfaction of finishing it.

Basically, yes I think most life is concious even plants and fungi, some simpler eukaryotes. Maybe even bacteria, probably not viruses.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 06:31 PM
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a reply to: nerbot

Try a Phaal or Madras Curry, and you will be sticking your arse, to the toilet pan, for the foreseeables.



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 07:59 PM
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Well if rocks and stone are alive/conscience they must move so slow we cannot perceive it, this is interesting. a spider will see me looking at it and move accordingly, so if they can perceive me then i believe they know what they are about ie. knowing what is prey or what is an enemy, and since i believe their momma doesn't teach them the way our mom's do the programing is in the DNA. I'm unable to form a conclusive answer, maybe the miracle that is God/Gia, our pitiful mind's are inadiquite of understanding these questions, perhaps if we could stop fighting over God and politics, or whatever we could focus on real world around us etc, alas.........
edit on 03 08 2017 by TimHeller because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2020 @ 09:25 PM
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originally posted by: nononsense35

originally posted by: Brotherman
good thread, thought provoking I would like to know if everytime I crush a spider if somehow they as a species learn from this and are actively plotting revenge


I usually pick them up and put them outside. Not taking any risk

Good stuff!

I have a few tarantulas, and I think it's possible, lately, a lot of digging going on.




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