Animal Cognition and Consciousness
- Thinking Animals: Animal Cognition and Consciousness?
Wednesday, 28 March 2007. 4-5:15pm. 618 Crawford Hall.
- Dr. Hillel Chiel: Concepts for Cognitive Neuroethology
Dr. Chiel will argue that the ability to perceive cognition and
consciousness in other human beings is predicated on observation,
analogy, and operational definitions, and this provides a basis
for extending the concepts of cognition and consciousness to nonverbal
and nonhuman organisms. He will briefly outline a research program,
cognitive neuroethology, that could be used to explore the neural
mechanisms of cognition and consciousness in a wide variety of animals,
and describe some of the technology that is being developed that
may be important for such research.
Dr. Per Aage Brandt: Animal Consciousness
In humans, consciousness comprises an integration of two essential
constructions: a neutral surround space and a first-person angle
space. Within this integrated present-state space, there are at
least 4 types of sign 'windows' allowing us to attend to other (conceptualized)
spaces only related to our present-state space through these 'windows'.
Do other mammals have the same or comparable 'windows', or do they
live in a 'windowless' present space-time? I would like to make a suggestion
as to the existence and the nature of certain animal 'windows'.
Dr. Sara Waller: Animal models for cognition and consciousness
Dr. Waller will review Nagel's main points in the article "What
is it like to be a bat?" and present arguments for making the
leap to attributing mental states to other creatures. Using recent
evidence for higher cognition in non-human primates, dolphins and
wolves, she will discuss the role of imagination and interpretation
in understanding animal cognition and consciousness, and clarify
the functions of our notions of consciousness, categories for concepts,
and empathetic understanding in theorizing about animal minds.
Dr. Jutta Ittner: Imagining the Animal
Dr. Ittner will present two contrasting examples of literary animal
constructs by Virginia Woolf and Paul Auster that reflect the move
from traditional to “new” anthropomorphism. Imagining
nonhuman existence raises multiple questions about human and nonhuman
cognition and consciousness: Can we imagine animal alterity without
anthropomorphizing? When we imagine entering the animal mind, are
we “becoming animal”? Do fictitious representations
of Otherness offer insights into animalness, or are they just mirror
images of the human condition? Etc.