I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

562. Animals - Empathy, Emotion, Sensation

562.  Animals - Empathy, Emotion, Sensation

Some people deny the human cognition to be unique enough to be a fundamental difference between animals and humans.  I consider this cognition as unique by its effect of enabling only humans to have a conscious identity as an individual.   The decisive criteria for this conscious individuality is one special quality of the human cognition:  It allows the insight, that rejecting procreation is beneficial for individuals, especially for women, who are those most directly harmed by breeding.   
As long as no animal has the cognitive ability to prefer not to breed, I will continue to consider humans as very distinct from animals.

One of the arguments against the distinction between humans and animals is the alleged empathy of animals by the interpretation of research results finding active mirror neurons in brain scans.   

Of course I recognize that animals suffer pain and that not making them suffer is a moral issue. 
But apparent suffering or contentment of animals does not imply, that they feel emotions and are not just reacting like programmed robots to sensations by either avoidance of unpleasant stimuli or appetence to pleasant stimuli.

I prefer to define as a sensation any perceptive event triggering an instinctive automatic reaction, no matter if the reaction is innate or learned and no matter if it comes from inside the animal's body as is for example hunger or from outside as is for example fear.
I prefer to restrict the word emotion to what is consciously felt, reflected upon, remembered, communicated about in a way, that requires the use of the unique human cognition.  
In this sense, empathy is a human emotion.   Mirror neurons may trigger instinctive behavior in animals, but I am reluctant to call this empathy.
There is no way to get direct answers from animals concerning how much, if any cognition any of them might have.   There is no unequivocal method to decide, if animals have emotions or only sensations.  

But I am not the only one with doubts concerning the empathy of animals:

"Empathy -- recognizing and sharing feelings experienced by another individual -- is a key human trait and to understand its evolution numerous studies have looked for evidence of it in non-human animals."

"'To prove empathy any experiment must show an individual understands another's feelings and is driven by the psychological goal of improving another's wellbeing. Our view is that, so far, there is no proof of this outside of humans.'"

"The ability to rescue another individual in distress, a typical empathic response of humans, appears in several other animals. ....  such studies are not rigorous enough to separate examples of 'pro-social' behavior, the tendency to behave so as to benefit another individual, from genuine empathy."

''however, the reproductive benefits of this kind of behavior are relatively well understood as, in nature, they are helping individuals to which they are likely to be genetically related or whose survival is otherwise beneficial to the actor."

"It would also need to disentangle empathy from acting simply to stop the trapped animal's stress signals -- something that can be psychologically selfish and does not need to involve empathy."