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Episode 263 Dr Joe Layng Private Events Pt 3 Do Animals Have Consciousness?




This is Part 3 of a Three part series on public and private events with our guest Dr Joe Layng.

In part 1 Joe talked about Helen Keller who became blind and deaf after an illness when she was 19 months old. Without language she had no sense of self. It is through language Joe argues that we become aware that we are aware. Without language animals lack consciousness.


In Part 2 Joe began by holding up his coffee mug and describing it for us.

“It’s a black cup. It's got a handle. I can tell you a whole bunch of stuff about it,”

No one listening to the podcast can see the mug. You have to imagine it.

We can’t see what you’re seeing as you imagine Joe’s mug. But we couldn’t see what you’re seeing it even if the mug was sitting in front of you. I assume that you’re seeing the same mug I’m seeing, but even something as simple as color is something we assume but can’t determine.


Joe asks: “What makes one a public event and the other one private?

For answer he says: "There is no difference, except in how that seeing comes to be . . . The seeing isn't in the stimulus, it's in the relation of the organism to its environment.”


At the end of Part 2 Dominique brought us back to the statement Joe made in Part 1 that animals do not have consciousness. She asks again: what is consciousness?

That’s where the conversation picks up as we begin Part 3.


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