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  1. I think you’re right; it sounds like “How are we different from animals?” to me, too.

    People really don’t want to call mankind animals. We are. We’re made out of meat!

    I’m not sure that I believe that animals don’t understand life and death. There’s many animals who mate for life, and several who will linger with a dead animal until they realize it’s truly dead. (Elephants and whales are the ones I remember. Maybe some birds, but it’s been too long.)

    Lots of animals prepare for the future and plan ahead; foxes cache food when they’ve eaten enough, and can usually find it.

    I think we often discount what animals think and feel because they don’t hang about in coffee shops writing gothy poetry and angsting about it. They have to eat and have to keep doing the things they do, and do so until they can’t any more.

    Humans were much more like that not so long ago, but we have refrigeration, written language, and Open Mic nights to distract us and allow us to linger over things others – even others of our own species – have to get over with quickly and move on.

    Or so I think.

  2. That’s kind of what I thought too! ;)

    Perhaps the student was looking for a slightly different definition of ‘true consciousness’? I don’t know… but I do know there are a few very social animals which have marvelously rich interpersonal communication, some of which occurs through senses we don’t consciously use in that fashion. I’m not sure if it’s truly ‘conscious’ of me to automatically exclude them as well, you know?

  3. I thought that archeological evidence has been increasingly suggesting that the Neanderthals had a rich, complex culture and would definitely qualify as ‘conscious’.

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