reply to post by MemeticHarvest
First, we have to define consciousness.
I carry on "conversations" with many animals. Granted - it's rather basic, and there are some barriers - but it doesn't take much more than
giving an animal the time of day and you will begin seeing eerily human traits about their expressions and behavior.
Dogs, cats, and foxes kept as pets are well known for their tendency to fake injury to get attention - or even to get another of the owner's pets in
trouble ("crying to Mommy/Daddy"). Many birds demonstrate problem-solving ability (such as crows dropping pebbles into a container of water).
What does it mean to be "conscious?"
What does it mean to be "sentient?"
Awareness is a little more straight-forward - but not by much. The line between environmental awareness and self-awareness is rather blurry. A
strong environmental awareness coupled with a sense of self-awareness should naturally lead to an intrinsic understanding that one's self is capable
of interacting with its environment and influencing various factors.
A human can pick up an unfamiliar device and, often, reverse-engineer its function (or improvise a new one. . .) based off of its design and how they
understand it to interact with them and the environment. Yet, the dog doesn't understand there really isn't another dog in the television (well,
some dogs don't gaheet it, at least).
So... defining what is what can really become a challenge... especially when factoring in our neurology.
A common structure has a lot to do with the way we think and perceive the world. Many of our expressions are directly linked to the physical forms of
our bodies (as are our ways of describing/visualizing events and concepts). It has become increasingly popular in neurology to consider the physical
structure of any intelligence to be one of the most significant factors regarding the ability for that intelligence to communicate and understand the
world around it.
But then... what makes me...me, and you... you? Sure - upbringing, genetics, all of those have a hand in the making... but, what actually puts all of
what you see and hear into... well - what you see and hear? I am able to tell when my thoughts are being disrupted by fatigue or temporary bouts of
rage/insanity - but where does my mind get the reference for that self-judgment?
The reality is that we don't have all the answers. We have ideas and theories... but it's another one of those areas where science gives way to