Animal Mind

2117 Words Apr 17th, 2013 9 Pages
The Complexity of the Animal Mind Do animals think? This question has been debated for centuries and no clear answer has yet to be decided. By looking at television, comic books, and children’s literature it would seem that animals do think and act intelligently. The fictional characters are given human movements, behavior, and language. In contrast, science, philosophy, and many other academic fields do not believe animals to think, feel, or behave intelligently. Animals are merely machines that have neither feelings nor conscious thought (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). René Descartes first expressed the view of animals as machines in the early 1600s. It was not until Charles Darwin speculated about animal mental experience …show more content…
Terrace (1984) believed that Washoe’s multi-word requests were not grammatical. They were merely “creative juxtapositions of signs” (Terrace, 1984). This was also found to be the case in other chimpanzees—Nim, Ally, Booee—along with Koko the gorilla. These animals were showing signs of learning and possible signs of thinking. Upon later review of the video footage from the teaching sessions, Terrace (1984) found that an interaction between the primate and handler caused the signing. The trainers gave unintentional cues causing the primate to make a certain response in order to receive a reward. Boysen, Rumbaugh, and Savage-Rumbaugh (1978) express the view “that there is no evidence, other than richly-interpreted anecdote, to suggest that Washoe and other signing apes are producing anything more than short-circuited iconic sequences.” This data confirms that primates were not thinking about the words, but became classically conditioned to respond. Other animals have not shown any language learning abilities. Is there any evidence that animals think without language? Yes, there are two studies with elephants that display thinking. First, young male elephants in Africa formed groups in order to raid villages. These “problem elephants” (Hoare, 2001) intentionally raided the crop fields of villages located on the edge of their territory. The elephants did not attack individually, but only in groups. Hoare (2001) noted that

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