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QUESTION Self-awareness not unique to mankind

Humans are unlikely to be the only animal capable of self-awareness, a new study has shown. (Link)

I believe all animals have some sense of self awareness. Charles Darwin also believed this and I recently read a comment from an article I liked:

"Darwin did believe that animals had some sense of self, and also championed the notion of evolutionary continuity, leading him to also write, "Nevertheless, the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind." Thus, there are shades of gray and not black-and-white differences between humans and other animals in cognitive abilities. So, while animals might not ponder life and death the way humans do, they still may have some sense of self"

There must be a scale of self awareness. And perhaps we are not yet at the highest level of that self awareness. Perhaps some animals (dolphins?) or aliens that have evolved further than us have an even higher/different level of self awareness? Just thinking out loud there.


ripcurldane 7 Jan 4

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Self-awareness is difficult to measure objectively, but I am very confident that many animals have it in varying degrees. Can't prove it, though.


I am enjoying here in the house 3 chihuahuas, each with different personalities and sizes. There is the Alpha Lone Wolf Female, The Needy Overweight Female and the Cute Little Princess Female. The Needy do not leave me alone. I am her thing.


I wouldn't be at all surprised if within a few years we'll have found that self-awareness is quite common among non-human species. We've been aware for a long time that certain species of ape are self-aware, and in the last few decades there's been plenty of evidence that cetaceans, pigs, corvids and even cephalods are too - other animals may soon be added to the list. If humanity hadn't spent so long believing that we were "special" and created in god's/the gods' image, perhaps we'd have noticed this a long time ago.

Jnei Level 8 Jan 4, 2018

No arguments here on all points.


Interesting but I'm not versed in science. I would say my dog and cat have self awareness but that is completely subjective.


I agree.


Apes ,monkeys,elephants,dolphins,have been known to possess this . These animals have been tested through mirror self recognition


I love how tortured Darwin was about the truth. I respect him so much for that.

Personally I think self awareness is a binary condition. As in something either has sense of self or not, but I think most animals are self aware.

Interesting, I wonder at what point in the evolution of an animal they attain this quality of self awareness? I think it's more of a continuous scale but it really comes down to an actual definition of self awareness too. What's the minimal requirement of this quality of self awareness?

There are levels of awareness, for sure, but in the question about whether something is self aware, I believe any animal that can be trained via reward and punishment must have some level of self awareness because it has attached it's behavior to that reward and punishment. This is distinct from moss growing on the north side of a tree as that is a biological response and not a trained response. I think there are a few animals that we haven't trained or perhaps cannot train that are also likely self aware, but I think that reward/punishment learning is evidence of self awareness that covers large swaths of the animal kingdom.


"While animals might not ponder life and death the way humans do, they still may have some sense of self."
I truly believe this, especially after loving and losing so many pet companions over the years. I wish all humans could respect the life of every creature on this planet.

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