Does consciousness presuppose:

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Does consciousness presuppose: language? long-term memory? the ability to understand that you have mental states? If not, is consciousness merely a recurrent, fleeting state of awareness? If so, SERIOUSLY, is it considerable that animals have consciousness (minus long-term memory, language, social cognition)? Thanks for any insight, this has been bugging me.

The question has been bugging a lot of people! I suggest that the case for some nonhuman animals (great apes, chimps, dolphins....) being conscious is pretty strong. Sometimes the evidence includes appeal to language or communication, memory, recognition, but also a wide set of behavior (apparent pain avoidance behavior), anatomy (brain and nervous system resembling ours), and evolution. You ask about consciousness and its relationship to language, memory, and the ability to understand that a subject has mental states. Off hand, doesn't it seem that rather than consciousness presupposing language, language-usage presupposes consciousness? After all, without consciousness (and without memory) it seems that language acquisition and development is going to be difficult. As for whether consciousness would have to involve or presuppose the ability to understand mental states, the terrain is not obvious. Some philosophers have argued that one can have different levels of awareness. On this view, my dog may know it is now the time of day that he usually gets food, but does he know that he knows it? Does he have a concept of himself as a substantial self enduring over time, understand the word "treat" (even if he has no syntax), recognize me over time, and so on? I am not sure, but some days he seems to be only too conscious and rather convinced that he deserves an extra treat.

But if you are looking for arguments on the other side, you might consult Peter Carruthers. Also, Donald Davidson thinks that without language, you do not have beliefs. R.G. Frey has also argued against animal consciousness. In all the best book might be Carruthers' Language, Thought, and Consciousness. Though you might compare such efforts to Bernard Rollin's The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness.

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