Week 7 Consciousness_ PIero Vallarino Gancia

Consciousness

 

The other day while walking to my class in the math sciences building I witnessed one of the most incredible things in my life.

As I was going up Bruin Walk, I spot this squirrel walking by my side. If you have ever been up before 7 o’clock on campus, you may have noticed the large quantity of blackbirds and squirrels roaming around.

The squirrel followed me for quite some time when it stopped right next to the radio desk. Clearly it was looking for food, it would not take its eyes off of the bin where a blackbird was eating.

I stopped to observe its attitude and see what it would do.

Believe me, what happens next would seem as unlikely to you as it did to me.

Positioned behind one of the legs of the desk, the squirrel gave me a glance and immediately looked back at the bin. It repeated this for a few times before it started walking towards me.

It froze and went back behind the desk where it stared again at the bin.

I knew what it wanted. I started walking towards the bin to scare the blackbird off. As soon as it flew away, the squirrel went into the bin and got his food.

As it spawned out of the bin with a piece of bread in its hands it gazed back at me and went up a tree.

 

Animals certainly have a consciousness. This squirrel knew it could count on a human being for doing something it would not have been able to. This demonstrates a very high degree of consciousness and memory. The animal has taught itself that it can rely on things outside its own power to be able to solve some of the challenges in its life.

 

The most astounding aspect of this event, was that the squirrel knew it could rely on me, a creature with its own free will to help it. The squirrel knew it could influence my actions by doing what it did; it lured me into assisting it.

 

Surely, it must have been through a similar situation before. However, the fact that it knew how to explore the variables of its environment proves a very high degree of consciousness and memory, since situations like these are not embedded into the animal’s instincts.

 

Another good example of animal consciousness commented on by Siddharth Ramakrishnan is the elephant that looked at itself on the mirror and touched a fleck it had on its face. The animal was completely aware there was a flaw on its face and that it should not be like that. It is unlikely that we discover if the animal was trying to take the thing off because it thought it posed a problem for its health or because it had a sense of image and did not want to look bad. What we can conclude though, is that it knew that mark was not supposed to be there. This shows it had a good enough memory to remember its face without the mark, and that it knew how to use a mirror, something not every animal would find self-intuitive.

 

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