Thoughts On Thought In Animal Minds By Hobbes And Searle

1802 Words 8 Pages
PHI 1000
Fall 2016
Prof. Drain
Essay #2
Thoughts on Thought
After examining the several angles to the issue of animal cognition, it is my conclusion that non-human animals are in fact capable of thought. Although humans certainly display a superior cognitive ability, I believe the cognition of animals is not of an entirely different type, and that whatever difference remains is simply one of degree. While Davidson and Descartes tend to argue that language is a necessary component for rational creatures, Hobbes and Searle give non-human creatures more “cognitive credit,” citing their ability perceive, and to have and correct beliefs, as proof of being conscious, thinking, beings. Pointing to the immense biological similarities between humans
…show more content…
Searle opens his essay “Animal Minds” by arguing that, “Many species of animals have consciousness, intentionality, and thought processes” (Animal Minds, 206). Searle goes on to define consciousness, more or less, as feelings of awareness during our waking lives, intentionality as the direction of the mind towards objects or affairs in the world, and thought processes, as sequences of intentional states that are related to one another. For Searle, these three phenomena are all related, and present, in far more creatures then just humans. He defends this idea by writing, “if the animal has a casually relevant structure similar to our own, then it is likely to produce the similar mental states in response to similar stimuli.” (Animal Minds, 217). Based on these assertions, it seems hard to argue with the fact that animals have consciousness just as we do. They go from sleeping to waking states after all, just as humans. Additionally, it is hard to deny that ability of animals to direct their minds towards something, as animals constantly have the desire to eat food. Even the ability to have a thought process seems a given when you watch as a falcon tracks the movement of, and finally descends upon, its prey. Perception is the root of intentional states. It is from the ability to perceive that beliefs are formulated, and from those beliefs that action is taken. The hunting hawk first perceives …show more content…
He writes, “a creature cannot have a thought unless it has language. In order to be a thinking, rational creature, the creature must be able to express many thoughts, and above all, be able to interpret the speech and thoughts of others” (Rational Animals, 322). Davidson argues that the differences between humans and animals is substantial enough to be a fundamental difference in kind. He asserts that it is propositional attitudes that are indicative of cognition. Propositional attitudes consist of things like belief, desire, intention, and shame. In effect, Davidson states that rational animals must be able to express some kind of judgement, something he regards animals incapable of. Davison defends his stance by saying that in order to have one belief, one must have many other beliefs, a network of beliefs, in fact. This premise is based on the idea that having a belief means one is able to contrast that true belief from other false belief, something animals have no way of demonstrating without

Related Documents