“all mammals, birds and other creatures, including octopuses, have consciousness”
I personally think this declaration has always been blatantly obvious, because without consciousness the poor animal wouldn’t know how to survive: But in neurological and scientific terms, yes, I wholeheartedly agree; And yes there are millions of religious and law-abiding citizens in the world who firmly believe that humanity is a God like creation and, as such, has no allegiance to the consciousness of other life forms on this planet, sometimes including other humanity.
Early Christians regarded human beings as greatly superior to all other animals. After all, human beings were made in the image of God, and God chose human form for his earthly life.¹
Should the attitude that God clearly decreed that human beings should have power over non-human animals be coupled with being entitled to seek power over other humans (as was the human attitude regarding human slavery and human wars in the 19th and 20th Centuries) the equation now reads like a horror story, where the earth is at the peril of power-hungry factions of humans. For outside of the compassionate animal practices of vegan Hindu’s, feeling and relationship focused Judaism, compassionate law-abiding Muslims, karmic animal re-incarnation retributions of Buddhists and stewardship compassion of Christians, it seems that the people most in conflict with animal consciousness, seem to be from human centric Christian and law-abiding citizen camps of various political denominations. Ouch! I didn’t learn this until I indulged in a few rounds of Google research for this article. It seems the problem began with the book of the early Genesis Bible which, according to BBC dot co dot Uk, stated that God gave human beings dominion over all living things. Today, Christian dominion is interpreted on the BBC website as:
stewardship, where all living things are to serve humanity and humanity, as part of their dominion, must also look after all animals.
Of course, more intelligent souls should look out for the well-being of less intelligent souls. Wasn’t compassion for the meek what Jesus stood up for or have I got my ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’ all muddled up, I think rhetorically. Yet, should the argument be that animals don’t have souls, as some traditional philosophical theorists would have it, then my above comment ‘of course’ changes into a philosophical thinking about ‘what is soul?’ and I’m not talking about R & B here.
If the noun ‘soul’ is to be taken literally, then the consideration becomes about the intellectual nature of a person or animal. I think, that should an animal not be conscious then it would have no intellectual nature at all, for consciousness is awareness and if animals are not aware, they would not respond to their environment. The fact that animals respond to their environment as uniquely as humans respond to theirs, simply means that we are all alive and as such, conscious of our surroundings in accordance to the sensory abilities of the organism we are.
Both animals and humans eat nature to survive. Humans are truly superior at wiping out species and the more of us there are to feed, the greater the extinction potentials. This is because most desire a good life and animals, through the good grace of the food industry, have become a commodity to be exploited for financial gain. This doesn’t mean that all animals, killed as food, get eaten. Most of them, whose bodies are sacrificed for us, are thrown away. The human race to win segregated food markets has spun out of control and oceans are being bled dry and animals throats are being sliced and bled in the name of agricultural and marine commerce, and not all of it is needed or necessary for our survival. For if all of this activity was just to feed the family, maybe, just maybe, there would not be a 21st century cry for help from environmental scientists, environmental protection activists and sustainability fiscal economists across the globe.
There is no doubt that humanity has developed amazing industrial capacities, that are once again, in need of a shocking reform, despite medical and life-style advances. It is a huge task for any group of concerned citizens to change yesterday’s cultural habits in favour of the need to change again, but change will be done, whether by “Gods hand’ or humanities, and my preference is for a harmonious balance between the two.
Phillip Low, with his petition, is offering animal researchers everywhere, the opportunity to re-think animal research practices through a recognition of shared consciousness. I believe we all share conscious reality, but to prove this using scientific method is something else and Phillip has made a productive start with his shared consciousness declaration of intent.
Scientific recognition of consciousness is always a good beginning, should the goal be an altruistic one. The very fact that the structures producing consciousness in animals are the structures that produce consciousness in humans does suggest that the brains of both animals and humans can be studied for consciousness. Yet, a reduction in animal testing seems to be the goal of the neurological consensus, and while the alternative remains questionable, the potential of reducing animal testing in favour of human testing, thankfully, still remains on the table, for both are undesirable and in litigation terms could also be an accountants nightmare.
The neurological shift of the 7 July 2002 suggests to me that today we have a hypothesis of cognition that challenges the old human view of difference equating to superiority. In my humble view also, the ability to learn is not unique in humans despite the human ability to learn more. The ability to feel is also not unique in humans despite the ability to emote more. I also consider that the ability to understand is also not unique in humans despite the ability to understand more, and understanding is what is required if humanity is to not only survive the technological changes of the 21st century, but to surpass them with a biological renewal designed to sustain all life as opposed to dominance of the few.
I think, if you truly want to have children and give your children the life enrichment they deserve, then more attention must be paid to altruistic claims of consciousness. Supporting the simple statement that animals have feelings is one almighty step for human kind in the changing pace of survival. For without animal giving of their lives for us, we increase the potentials of cannibalising ourselves. Consciousness for all, animal and human alike, represents an opportunity re-think the need for 'finding cheese' that still continues to keep human 'worker mice' running in a fast lane to nowhere. We need to be more careful. Evolution is the key and humanity is at a juncture where choosing well-being is fast becoming a consciousness about the need to change human awareness about the impacts of any change that smells like yesterday's cheese. A new way of looking at the world is essential if earthly life is to be nourished instead of consumed by consistent industrial innovations. While industrial innovation was the way forward for yesterday's thinkers, today demands a new way of thinking, better designed for the well-being of humanity as living in harmony with all conscious life, as opposed to reforming some out of existence. A focus on how to live with life instead of always trying to control it would also be nice, but such is the nature of some humans to practice change in the name of getting not what kind of soy cheese they need, but getting what cow 'cheese' that they want. In the 21st century 'cheese' greed is no longer a good, but an affliction against conscious life on earth because the truth is that, despite marketing hype, most humans are lactose intolerant despite their lactase persistence.² Why should animals suffer because of our inability to be consciously aware that what we are feeding our heads is not always good for us.
" We spend a lot of money trying to find intelligent life off the planet, while we are surrounded by conscious intelligence here on the planet ".
Be informed is Phillips message and it is also mine.
The Consciousness Petition
Phillip Low and 25 brain researchers believe that the brain structures that produce consciousness in humans are also in animals. "The brain areas that distinguish us from other animals are not the ones that produce consciousness," says Phillip Low, “all mammals, all birds and many other creatures, like octopus, have the nerve structures that produce consciousness. This means that these animals suffer. It's an inconvenient truth: it was always easy to say that animals have no conscience. Now we have a group of respected neuro-scientists who study the phenomenon of consciousness, animal behaviour, the neural network, anatomy and genetics of the brain. You can no longer say that we did not know. We spend a lot of money trying to find intelligent life off the planet while we are surrounded by conscious intelligence here on the planet. In the long run, I think society will depend less on animals. It will be better for everyone. Let me give an example. The world spends $20 billion a year killing 100 million vertebrate animals in medical research. The probability of a remedy, arising from these studies, being tested on humans (test only, may be not operating) is 6%. It is a bad accounting. A first step is to develop non-invasive approaches. I do not think (there is a) need to take lives to study life. © Chris Tyne, 2012.