Are Animals Conscious?

I recognize that I have consciousness and am aware of who and where I am. But what about animals? Are they conscious?

The relationship between humans and other animals is complicated, to say the least.

Some animals we fear. Sometimes, that fear is obvious: sharp claws or piercing teeth are things to avoid. Others may be an evolutionary development, like fear of snakes or rats.

At the other end of the spectrum are animals we love. Ones we keep as pets, in particular dogs and cats, can become emotionally bonded to us. They might cuddle with us or attempt to please us in some way.

Still others we treat as food sources. Cows, pigs, and chickens are raised alongside many human cultures, providing milk or eggs, as well as meat.

Still other animals may not fit neatly into any of these categories. However, we can recognize their innate grace or beauty, and also see them as an important part of our ecosystem.

Regardless of the relationship, we can ask the question: Are animals conscious? We recognize the consciousness of ourselves and our fellow humans, even if we disagree with them or fight with them. But what about other animals?

If an animal is thirsty and then finds someplace to get a drink, is that an awareness of itself and its surroundings? Or is that simply instinct and not true awareness? What role does intelligence play?

And whatever answer you give, what are the ramifications of that answer? If you think that animals are indeed conscious, does that change the way we should treat them? Conversely, if you believe they are not self aware or aware of their environment, what conclusions can you draw?

Related questions: Do animals have rights? How are humans like other animals? How are they different? What is your favorite animal?

What Is The Value Of Boredom?

Most of us will go to great lengths to avoid boredom for even a moment. But is there a benefit to being bored?

Let’s face it, it is no fun to be bored. In our culture that is so focused on being productive, having down time when you are not doing anything can seem like a colossal waste of time.

Technology to the rescue! With our smartphones, while waiting in line, for example, you can check your email, or scroll through your social media feed. Of course, you don’t have to be technologically savvy to avoid boredom. You can just as easily carry a book with you wherever you go.

While smartphones don’t have a monopoly on avoiding boredom, they make it very easy. The entire internet is available with the touch of a button. That’s never been true in human history before, and it shouldn’t be ignored. If we don’t want to be alone with our own thoughts, we don’t have to be.

However, is there actually an upside to boredom? Even though it feels unproductive and almost painful at times, could there be a benefit in being alone with your own thoughts?

It certainly seems possible. Many people find value in meditation, to improve mental health among other benefits. For some, meditation is actively doing nothing. No phone, no speaking. No activity, other than breathing. The goal is to be comfortable with doing nothing.

In addition, creativity is enhanced through boredom. Mothers everywhere know that children, when bored, find creative ways to entertain themselves.

What other positives might there be to being bored? Should we actively seek out boredom, at least once and awhile?

Related questions: When is it useful to fail? What is the value of inefficiency? Are we too busy? What do you think about when out for a walk?

Does Knowledge Have Inherent Value?

Knowing information can help in a variety of different ways. But does learning have value, even if you don’t use that knowledge in any way?

Kids attend school in their formative years, because learning is key to success. (Some kids don’t thrive in a formal learning situation, but that’s not important for this discussion.)

How is learning important?

For one, you have greater control over your situation. Knowledge helps you make better decisions, because you know more about how things work together, and how they fit into the world.

It also helps to not have to reinvent the wheel. There have been billions of people who have walked the earth before us, and in many cases, their knowledge is passed along to us. We can learn from their mistakes; no need to make them ourselves.

And learning can be fun. Experiencing an ‘Aha!’ moment when things click into place and you understand something for the first time feels good. Our brains evolved to solve problems, so using our big brains for their intended purpose feels right.

But what happens if you strip all that away?

A common complaint heard by teachers is “When am I going to use this?” And certainly, it is hard to accurately predict when something you learn might come in handy. You might very well be surprised at how often you call upon something seemingly unrelated in your life.

But what if it never comes? If you learn something that you cannot use in any way, is it still valuable? Or does knowledge only have meaning and utility in the way that it is applied?

Related questions: How do you learn? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do we know what we don’t know?

Offense Or Defense?

Which is more important to an effective strategy, a good offense or a good defense?

Share why if you wish.

Offense Or Defense?