Friday, 17 August 2012

(What) do animals feel?

Not my words, but well worth pondering once we get past the women bishops thing:

We can never get inside the mind of an animal to find out how it feels: we can never know if it “feels” anything. But that is true of humans, too: I can never know what it is to be you, and so I can never be certain that you are not a zombie, walking and talking like a person but feeling and experiencing nothing. But we accept that our fellow humans are thinking beings. Whether or not animals can feel emotion is unknowable, but the safe bet is with Bentham, not Descartes.

Read here

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  1. Of course I can't prove it, but from my extensive examination of cat behaviour, I am absolutely convinced that they feel pain, both physical and emotional, anger, fear and also are able to exhibit almost human levels of disdain and contempt.
    It occurs to me to wonder why if scientists (some), claim that animals are totally unlike humans, and unable to feel in the way we do, they consider it makes any kind of sense to use them in laboratory experiments to test medicines etc.
    Surely if they were that dissimilar, the tests would be pointless.

  2. At 2.30am today I trod on the cat, asleep at the top of the stairs. Given the noise he made, the response with his claws, and the fact that he spent the rest of the night on the wardrobe, not even tempted down by the sight of a can of tuna and a tin opener, demonstrated to me that he was experiencing a sense of unhappiness.

    Having my leg gouged open and my head rammed against the banister as I fell demonstrated to me than pain is a universal concept.

  3. "True of humans, too." Indeed: what do others feel about the women bishops thing? They could be zombies, or they could have intense feelings. "I can never know what it is to be you." Fair point.

  4. Animals may have feelings, but, with humans, emotions can be changed and willed. Thus, in Scripture we are commanded to love, rejoice, and delight in God. Our sorrows can be changed by thinking of the goodness of God. We are commanded to be disgusted by sin, and mourn our sins. Humans, therefore, have "emotional intelligence." In contrast, animal feelings seem to be merely physical instincts.

    Ro Mody, Bournemouth