Do you think animals have thoughts?

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Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Stephen K » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:51 am

Well?
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:01 pm

do we have thoughts?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby appicchato » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:39 pm

Stefan wrote:Well?


You might try an animals forum Stefan...you'll probably get a quicker answer...placed here you might receive replies like: Where's the benefit in pursuing this?...How is this going to help your practice?...Will knowing(?) this help you shed your greed, ill will, and delusion?...stuff like that...

Since we're animals, I would venture to say: yes...

Be well friend...
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Stephen K » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:44 pm

Well I asked this question because, if they do, then they must make use of some [internal] language in order to have thoughts. This, the possession of some kind of language by animals, more complex than 'meow', was what I was curious about.
Last edited by Stephen K on Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Stephen K » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:50 pm

You said: "Since we're animals..."

Well, could I counter that with: "Since we're animals, then other animals could speak too."

Obviously, there are things humans don't share, or have in common with, other animals.

But, I do think it is far more probable that animals have thoughts, than not.

Best wishes
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:41 pm

they think in pictures kinda like some autistic people
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:25 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:they think in pictures kinda like some autistic people

This is an interesting documentary.

The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:38 pm

Dear Stefan,

I watched a documentary this week about intelligent birds.

Scientists did tests with mirrors.

To recognize yourself in a mirror requires self awareness.

Many animals and also small human beings don't realize they perceive themselves in the mirror.

But some Great Apes can.

Some birds can too. Parrots and the family of ravens.

Magpies were shown a treat in a transparent pipe, with a small pit. A thin stick was placed beside the pipe.

The magpie picked up the stick with the beak and pulled the treat out.

But when the treat was placed behind the pit, and when the magpie tried to pull it out with the stick, the treat fell into the pit! :o

So, next attempt:

Same scenario. Same bird.

The magpie now balanced the treat ON the stick ACROSS the pit!!

So, that allows the conclusion they think ahead= plan, and have intentions.

Which requires thoughts.

We also know this:

Some magpies, not all, recognize themselves in the mirror.

If a yellow dot is put on their chest without them noticing, and they suddenly see themselves in the mirror, they stop and try to get rid of it at once and check in the mirror if it is gone.

So, intelligent animals have a sense of self, they know they "are".

This is highly fascinating.

We also know that many animals have complex sound systems they produce to communicate with one another.

Dolphins and whales "sing", birds sing, and if you're a lot out in the nature, you'll notice that they are communicating with each other, because you pick up WHEN they use them.

For instance.

Blackbirds use a very special chirp before a rain will come.

All song subsides shortly before the rain begins, and the birds strive to protected places using only this chirp.

Hunters will imitate the calls of a female to lure a male out of the forest.

And then they showed a grey parrot, who was not just talking nonsense, no, he used words for the right things, and he made sense.-

Shown carrots, he was asked: "What is this"?

"Carrrrrot!".

Asked how many items were displayed on a hand, he gave correct answers. This proves a parrot can count!

I'm not surprised, to be honest with you.


So, yes, animals communicate, in their own sound system, but less complex than we do, and what they say, we are too ignorant to grasp, just as we can't understand a word of Kongolese if we haven't studied it.

I hope that answered your question a bit? :smile: :anjali:

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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:44 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:they think in pictures kinda like some autistic people

This is an interesting documentary.

The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow


Watched it on TV.

:twothumbsup:
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:50 pm

Yes, definitely. I base this on several points, including:

1. Humans are members of the Animal Kingdom and we think. We ain't nothing but mammals.
2. The difference between humans and other animals is just a matter of degree; the degree of intelligence and reason.
3. Numerous scientific studies including the classic Pavlov's Dog and many others.
4. Any observation of animals will demonstrate some thinking and reasoning must be going on. For example, I have seen a dog look for a ball that is thrown over a fence. When he can't find the ball, he thinks for a moment, reasons and then goes to the other side. I have seen one of my cats survey a room, look to the top of the refrigerator (wanting to go there), check for some obstacles to jump on first (such as a chair, kitchen counter) and then make the jumps up to get to the top.
5. Chimpanzees and gorillas who have learned some words in American Sign Language and other studies as shown in other posts above.
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:51 pm

From a Buddhist POV, animals "have" the five aggregates - form, feelings, perceptions, volitional formations and consiousness. They "have" a mind (citta) just like we do. They have intentions (cetana) and there are results resulting from those intentions (vipaka) but much of it is ruled by impulses/instinct.

If the above qualifies as "thinking" to you, then yes, they do. How exactly they do it isn't really a Buddhist topic. But the Buddha did say (only when pressed hard for the answer) that if you adopt animal like behaviors and attitutes with single minded perserverance you will gradually take on that character, and are subject to birth as that animal. I don't think many of us are into such a thing, at least not as single mindedly as Punna and Seniya. ([url=Wants to get software installed that is not in SR system
GA#2329448]The Dog Duty Ascetic[/url].

I think this indicates though that while we may typify things into categories (human, animal, insect) and realms that there are still sub-planes or different levels within those planes in terms of how thinking and consiousness can work. Some people may be closer to animals and others may be more deva-like or something.

-M
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:45 am

Maindzei, your last sentence was particularly interesting:

Some people may be closer to animals and others may be more deva-like or something.


This is something I tend to agree with.
The same would also count for animals then, meaning that some animals may be more
human-like, and some not.

I'm thinking this because of my first hand experience with my cat Jeannie. (I know you're a cat owner too, and may like this story.

When Jeannie caught her first mouse, she was overly happy to present it and meowed excitedly.

My teacher was present.

The mouse was still alive. My teacher took it from her, let it run and we both told her: NO.

She seemed utterly embarrassed to get critised, and hid behind something, with a meak meow...beat me, but it appeared like an: "How was I supposed to know?"

Now you may argue I am attributing too human aspects to her, but dig this:

I have never seen her catch a mouse again.

She would bring birds though, but also unharmed, and trade them in for 'cat' food...!! (She would sit before the fridge and meow with the bird in her mouth...) :lol:
She would then watch how we made sure the bird was ok, and watched it fly away, trembling with excitement, but then eating her treats..."good girl!"

I thought that was pretty amazing...

Second example with Jeannie, showing compassion and good intentions:

I had painted a room, and after I was done and all wet paint was removed she was allowed back in.

She walked in and curiously inspected the change.

I then proceeded to shove the furniture back to the walls.

One resisted all my attempts. I took a photo, so you can see it.

Jeannies cupboard 002 m.jpg
Jeannies cupboard 002 m.jpg (242.3 KiB) Viewed 474 times

Jeannies cupboard 003 m.jpg
Jeannies cupboard 003 m.jpg (225.1 KiB) Viewed 474 times


No matter what I did it just wouldn't move.

I rested a bit and suddenly saw how Jeannie looked up to me, with her head quizzically on the side.

"Jeannie, I can't move it anymore!"

Then I got up again and tried again, on the left corner. She watched me pushing it, then got up on her hind legs, and put her tiny paws on the right corner, gave me a confident look straight into the eyes,( I looked at her quite perplexed ) and we tried again, "together"....

'We' moved it. :shock: :woohoo:

Perhaps it was that little bit of encouragement that lent me the extra strenght to get the cupboard back into place.

I was touched in the heart that she was "with me", that she wanted to be helpful. Or just do what I do. Who knows?

But I felt it was compassion on her side.

I also did the mirror thing with her, and think she recognized herself. I'm not sure though. She was very calm. Didn't attack or anything.
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby OcTavO » Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:30 am

I worked in a zoo for several years. It was my observation during that time that the minds of human animals and non-human animals seem to be separated only by degree, not by kind... Just a sliding scale of complexity with no qualitative difference.

Sometimes I even doubt the degree. :smile:
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:51 am

My dog has many thoughts, such as: "I want to sleep on my cushion but the damned, nasty cat is on it."

One of her favorite thoughts is: "I want to bite rabbits."

And definitely there is: "You cannot go riding in the car without me!!!"

The cats heads seemed to be filled with, between the cotton and cobwebs, thoughts such as: "Feed me"; "I need to poop."; "I am tired, I need a nap."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby notself » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:53 am

We could go on for days about cats. :tongue: My cat is half Siamese. This breed is known for its vocal ability. My cat can clearly and appropriately say "hello" and does so every day. He even says hello to my sister when she comes to visit.

I volunteered in a wildlife center. Animals of all species think and plan and learn. If they didn't, they would never live long enough to reproduce.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:56 am

OcTavO wrote:I worked in a zoo for several years. It was my observation during that time that the minds of human animals and non-human animals seem to be separated only by degree, not by kind... Just a sliding scale of complexity with no qualitative difference.

Sometimes I even doubt the degree. :smile:

I'm sure the range of intelligence found in animals overlaps the range found in people. :tongue:
I'm not absolutely sure that the top end of the range found in animals (dolphins?) is lower than than the top end of the human range. How could we know, since we can't communicate with them?
:thinking:

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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:38 am

Great posts!

Loved to read them.
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:43 am

appicchato wrote:
Stefan wrote:Well?


You might try an animals forum Stefan...you'll probably get a quicker answer...placed here you might receive replies like: Where's the benefit in pursuing this?...How is this going to help your practice?...Will knowing(?) this help you shed your greed, ill will, and delusion?...stuff like that...

Since we're animals, I would venture to say: yes...

Be well friend...

:thumbsup:
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:47 am

Notself, a cat that says hello is fun!

I had a parakeet.

My Dad said he welcomed him every morning with a deep: "Pua-pua!" (Papa=Daddy)

I heard him say that too... :smile:
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Re: Do you think animals have thoughts?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:11 am

Another quick cat story.

Shows perhaps a bit of deceptive behaviour and planning. :tongue:

I was eating a chicken. My cat sat near me on the couch, and watched me through half-closed eyes, appearing sleepy and totally uninterested.

She made no attempts to beg for some chicken.... :thinking:

So I thought it would be safe to leave it on the table when I got up and went to the kitchen to fetch something!

I found her on the table eating from my plate when I returned...

Since she knew I wouldn't punish her she just sat there, and looked at me, chewing....I had to pick her up, tried to take it out of her mouth since she wouldn't let go, -and ended up giving her that part of the chicken, bone removed.

(I had more chicken) :D

Our next cat, Jeannie again...she was allowed to sit on a chair by our table, had a saucer in front of her, and was given a small piece by everybody, and sat upright and still like a good child while waiting for that. It was more of a symbolic donation than actually feeding her.

She never begged or misbehaved. She ate with nice manners too.

Oh, my, what a cat that was.

So easy to handle.

She also appeared in my first Buddhist dream, with a high Buddhist teacher. She waited for me to come home, next to him.

I still wonder what that meant.

But I do have a feeling she (re)gained a high rebirth.
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