The centrality of fear in nature

Wolves eating a deer

Anyone who's ever interacted with a wild animal knows how skittish they are compared to any domestic animal. I think of the squirrels on my university's campus. In general, people leave the squirrel population alone there, so they tend not to be afraid of humans. Although there are still occasional predators, such as cats, dogs, … Continue reading The centrality of fear in nature

Dimensions of animal consciousness

The journal, Trends in Cognitive Science, has an interesting paper up: Dimensions of Animal Consciousness.  After noting the current consensus that some form of consciousness is present in at least mammals, birds, and cephalopods, it looks at how to evaluate it in various species.  The authors take the position that consciousness can be present in … Continue reading Dimensions of animal consciousness

Kurzgesagt on intelligence, and prospects for engineered intelligence

It's pretty nice to see Kurzgesagt finally continuing its "Big Questions of Life and the Universe" series.  I shared the first part on consciousness over a year go.  The series is funded by the Templeton Foundation, which I know many people have issues with, but so far the content has been reasonably scientific. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck4RGeoHFko As … Continue reading Kurzgesagt on intelligence, and prospects for engineered intelligence

Final thoughts on The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul

This is the final post in a series I've been doing on Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka’s book: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul, a book focused on the evolution of minimal consciousness.  This is a large book, and it covers a wide range of ideas.  A series of relatively small blog posts can't do them … Continue reading Final thoughts on The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul

The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

I'm still working my way through Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka's tome: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul.  This is the second post of a series on their book.  I'm actually on the last chapter, but that last chapter is close to a hundred pages long, and the book's prose is dense.  Light reading it … Continue reading The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

Viruses and the definition of “life”

One of the things we often debate here is the definition of "consciousness," but consciousness is far from the only concept that is difficult to define.  Others include religion, democracy, free will, and biological life. Life has a number of definitions, many of which are suitable for particular purposes.  If I recall correctly, NASA, for … Continue reading Viruses and the definition of “life”

The sensitive soul and the rational soul

I think examining the evolution of consciousness in animals helps shed light on it in humans.  Admittedly, there are difficulties.  Animals can't self report using language, which limits just how much of their experience can be garnered from experiments.  Still, taking data from human studies and combining it with animal studies can provide a lot … Continue reading The sensitive soul and the rational soul

For animal consciousness, is there a fact of the matter?

Peter Carruthers has been blogging this week on the thesis of his new book, Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Question Laid to Rest.  I mentioned Carruthers' book in my post on global workspace theory (GWT), but didn't get into the details.  While I had been considering taking a fresh look at GWT, his book … Continue reading For animal consciousness, is there a fact of the matter?