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Through Our Eyes Only?: The Search for Animal Consciousness
     

Through Our Eyes Only?: The Search for Animal Consciousness

by Marian Stamp Dawkins
 

What goes on inside the minds of other animals? Do they have thoughts and feelings like our own? To many people, particularly pet owners, the answers seem absurdly obvious, while others feel that the issue of animal consciousness is beyond the scope of science. Yet exciting new evidence in animal behavior points to the existence of higher consciousness in some

Overview

What goes on inside the minds of other animals? Do they have thoughts and feelings like our own? To many people, particularly pet owners, the answers seem absurdly obvious, while others feel that the issue of animal consciousness is beyond the scope of science. Yet exciting new evidence in animal behavior points to the existence of higher consciousness in some species, such African Grey parrots which have been shown to connect words with their consequences and rats which have demonatrated an elementary grasp of numbers. Through Our Eyes Only? is an immensely engaging exploration of one of the greatest remaining biological mysteries: the possibility of conscious experiences in other species. Dawkins argues that the idea of consciousness in other species has now progressed from a vague possibility to a plausible, scientifically respectable view. Written in a lively style accessible to the general reader, the book aims to show just how near—and how far—we are to understanding animal consciousness.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Although Dawkins credits Donald Griffin and others with collaboration on this text, Through Our Eyes Only does not measure up in quality to Griffin's own work on animal thinking and consciousness, Animal Minds ( LJ 11/15/92). This book is targeted to two groups of readers: those who are skeptical of animal awareness and those who firmly believe in it. Although its purpose is clearly stated, the text's organization is unfortunately not as straightforward. Dawkins states that consciousness has many definitions but never clearly defines this term as she uses it. While she examines the three criteria for what she considers conscious thought--complexity of behaviors, thinking, and experience of emotions--the many thorough examples of behavior she provides assume a fair amount of familiarity on the part of the reader with the field of animal cognition. Another weakness is the bibliography, which lists articles and books that only those who have access to research collections would be able to obtain. A marginal purchase for most libraries, which will want to stick with gurus in the field such as Griffin.-- Edell Marie Peters, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
Angus Trimnell
Do circus horses, by stamping their feet, show us that they can count? Does the yelp of a kicked dog express physical pain and/or a conscious feeling of betrayal or rejection? Professor of biology Dawkins has carefully studied these and other questions and ably contends that it is important for us to understand how much other animals think and feel "like us." Dawkins combines philosophical arguments for the detectability of consciousness with experimental data indicating the capacity of species of many different types to abstract from reality and to choose alternatives for themselves. Her approach (defining goals, presenting evidence, and then rigorously questioning it) is impeccable. Despite a repetitious tendency, her writing is highly accessible, lively, and illustrative. The product is a quality study that plumbs not only what other beings think and feel but also how exhaustively critical we must be in our own thinking. Recommended for all psychology and general science collections.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780716745013
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
12/31/1992
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Marian Stamp Dawkins lectures in Animal Behaviour at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford. Her doctoral research at Oxford, completed in 1971, was carried out in collaboration with Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen. In 1991, she received an award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for "Innovative Developments in Animal Welfare".

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