Norman Allan
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  Two Observation on the Animal Mind

I've been searching for the mind, trying to understand "the self". I recently had two observations about the animal mind that, perhaps, illustrate the difference between the cognitive mind and the experiential mind, both of which we share with other animals..

I was walking with my dog, Lucky, and Susan; an acquaintance. Susan was walking Beau. Up on the hill we can see Hutch, a young lab, a very submissive young dog. Hutch rolls over on his back when anyone approaches him, no matter who. And Beau, a crotchety, rheumatic curmudgeon, had been picking on Hutch of late. So now Lucky has taken to walking between Beau and Hutch, and shouldering, nudging Beau away Hutch.
     Surely we are observing forethought in this behaviour : that is a cognitive process. It is a goal direct process and, in this case, the goal is altruistic.

The second observation needs a little bit of background. Lucky hated loud noises. (Once he jumped up at Jeff's hammer wielding hand to try to stop the noise. And when Nando would do ceremony in our front room, singing loudly and drumming, Lucky would creep from the room and watch, forlorn, from the doorway.)
     I need to mention, briefly, the concept of displays: like when two strange dogs meet through a fence, they crouch, bark fiercely, and furiously wag their tails. Not quite a game : a dog thing : and a display.
     So: Lucky and I were walking in the ravine, and we heard a chain-saw. Knowing my dog, I put him on his leash. As we approach a man cutting through a stump, Lucky goes into his display, barking fiercely and pulling on the lead. The old leash snapped and Lucky lurched forward, only a couple of steps, and stopped.
     Same thing again, another time, on the street outside our house : a youth on a noisy skateboard. Lucky displays his noise-rage. This time his old collar snapped. Again, he staggered a couple of steps, and stopped.
     What I'd like you to consider... imaging yourself in a similar situation : a sudden, urgent, change of circumstance. No time for verbal thought, or reflection. One reacts. The consciousness of such events is experiential, is non-verbal. And I believe we can sense, here, that our experience is much the same as the Lucky's.

There is a cognitive consciousness, which is in some part verbal, and rational, yes: and an experiential consciousness, which sometimes may involve non-verbal concepts, may involve decisions, and this we share with other animals.

Oh: and some years back i wrote a rambling essay on the animal mind, that also could be of interest, so I'll give you the link to the animal mind








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