Octopuses are super-smart … but are brains alone enough to make them ‘conscious’?
The Conversation
122

Living in the forest all we see are trees. 
The seeds of original scientific thought have long obscured that the human is capable of other equally valid forms of thinking. When I was a kid, my father, who was a Professor and a Scientist (and later went on to form a department of interdisciplinarian study at a time when it wasn’t yet done,) poo pooed a sci-fi story I had read and was sharing. He said it wasn’t scientifically possible. I just stfu.

Later he explained what he meant, that Science had its rules of measurement and that those rules ensured that what you proved with science was true in as much as the rules and scope could measure. The Scientific Method. If you tried to prove something outside the Method, it didn’t fit on the scale of Science and was therefore questionable. My little sci-fi story was unprovable, therefore to his at then scientifically moded mind, more fiction and no science. (I actually wonder if this helped kick him towards interdisciplinarianism, a thing now common but then NOT at all.)

So to your point, Joshua, I think we’re running up more and more against the biological limits of our intelligence. Animals most certainly feel pain. But Science has been very careful to qualify this because Pain is defined in HUMAN terms of interpretation. A person with a higher threshold of Pain as opposed to a person with a low threshold as opposed to an octopus whose screams we don’t know how to interpret yet.

Thus when we come to determining consciousness, we get into a definitional quagmire. Most certainly Animals have consciousness, but few who can understand those consciousnesses have ever been placed studied to chart the animals minds mostly because Science doesn’t have the reach yet to quantify or interpret the animal experience.

I believe that the problem isn’t in whether or not they have Mind, it’s in how WE humans measure our own Minds.

I’m still struggling to comprehend the Mind/Body/embodied mind ideas of Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, but I believe when we can break out of the “Head” consciousness, we’ll find many new inroads into the consciousnesses of other species.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Dave Araki’s story.