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How Has Humanity Changed Animal Consciousness?

How has humanity changed animal consciousness? Animal consciousness is the conscious sensation or experience during the wakeful processing of sensory imagery, perception, or even dreaming in non-human subjects. The concept of animal consciousness is mainly discussed regarding animal welfare in bio-industrial farming, animal rights, and biomedical purposes (Yong, 2016). Therefore, to better understand how humanity has changed animal consciousness, it is essential to get insight into the consciousness of a conscious being. A conscious being is an act of having a subjective experience of the world and its own body. If one has a mental experience, it is said that they are conscious. The study concerning animal consciousness has extensively impacted animal sentience regarding animal welfare in procedures following ritual slaughter. Inquiring how humanity has changed human consciousness is an interesting topic that raises the question of whether machines have a level of consciousness since there is a high development of artificial intelligence at a point where human performance may be claimed in several areas via self-play. How humanity has changed Animal consciousness is a developing issue that has caused several questions for both people and scientists. Therefore, this paper explores emerging questions as one tries to understand the concept.

The first concept to understand how humanity has changed animal consciousness is dreams in animals. Animals have complex dreams where they can retain and recall a long series of events while asleep (Stewart, 1978). Any pet owner can know when their animals seem to dream, which is supported by studies showing that an animal’s brain follows a sequence of sleeping states like that of humans. After the introduction of the study of the subconscious as well as the examination of the contents of dreams as a strategy to understand the nature of behavior and cognition in humans, it has been a pathway for other researchers to bring the dream world into the research about animal cognition. If people could examine the dreaming state content, it would be easy to find why some events get replayed while others do not. In work by Stewart (1978), there are four questions regarding the dreams of animals. The first question is about whether they indeed dream.

The author uses poetic language to help us understand the question. One thing I found interesting about how this question was answered is when the author mentions that even stars can bear witness to animals’ dreams. Different parts of their bodies, tails, and claws indicate animal dreams. The second question is whether animals dream of the past or the future. From this question, one can learn that the animals dream about their past due to the examples the author provides. The illustration of a cow on how they sleep indicates that dreaming is part of the conscious part of the animal.

Additionally, I find question three more interesting regarding whether animals dream about this world or another. Even though the words are used to explain and elaborate on what world the animals dream about at the end, the authors offer the solution to the audience’s rising suspense. Animals dream of another world (Stewart, 1978). The last question is about how we can learn more, which gives one more questions than answers. It leaves one thinking about what sources can be used to learn and understand the concept of animal dreams.

From the article by Stewart, one can learn a range of concepts that enrich their understanding of the inquiry. I learned that how humanity has changed animal consciousness could be explained through different forms of writing, such as poetry. Linking multiple and diverse literacy devices together brings us to the ultimate goal of answering the question under investigation. For instance, the use of personification is key to understanding animal dreams. For example, the work literature by Stewart entails several uses of personification, like when she states, “the wind and grass cry out to the arms of their sleep as the shores cry out, and buries its face in the bruised sea”(1:3). It indicates that to gain better knowledge of whether animals dream, several factors, such as land itself and its components, can attest that animals dream. However, this analysis raises questions concerning the long-held assumptions regarding animals’ consciousness processes. Only a few animal species were thought to be able to recall and evaluate a delayed series of events after they took place. Some of these animals were dolphins and chimps. Dreaming is the final offline experience and is part of animal consciousness. Thus, the main lesson from the article is that animals can re-examine their experiences when they are not present in their mindset.

Humanity has a considerable influence on animals’ consciousness. The article “I contain multitudes” by Ed Yong (2016) is a story that allows one to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are. The author argues that these vital creatures sculpt our organs, prevent diseases, and provide people with knowledge about our immune systems. The article informs us of the story of the microbes found within and around us. Therefore, to demonstrate that microbes are also conscious, the author begins by expounding on the critical ubiquity of microbes, thousands of which are found in food, air, water, and everywhere else. He follows a narrative that shows how these creatures can affect our bodies and the way human beings have indulged in changing them through maintenance and manipulation. From the article, the part I found interesting is the one about Wolbachia due to its widespread and the way it plays a crucial role in human illness. This category of microbes globally is known as one of the successes due to its 40% presence.

Additionally, in the article, the author shows notable discoveries within the microbiology research world, thus incorporating some examples of current research that are essential to his themes. I found that the article holds a feeling of wonder, which is not present in other books with the same topics. He illustrates the beauty of interaction between microbes and other animals. It clearly shows that he wants to appreciate the interesting parts of the microbes, instead of perceiving them as a cause of dirt and disease, to view them as a crucial part of the world. I contain Multitudes is essential to instill appreciation and wonder in the audience, thus helping them figure out the multiple dimensions added into our lives by microbes as part of understanding animal consciousness.

From this course, I learned that the consciousness issue, like other animals’ behavior aspects, tends to be confused by the lack of agreement on its definition of people. People use the term “consciousness” to refer to various things. Some argue that if one can plan for years, it shows consciousness but not planning. Also, if one has a mental experience, they are conscious. However, the question remains whether other species have mental experiences or sense things without any sensation of what they are experiencing. For instance, do animals reach for fight or flight or even curiosity? I find it incredible that there is still debate regarding whether animals are conscious and also if human beings can know whether animals are conscious. If one can watch birds and other animals, as illustrated by the Stewart article, one can note that they respond to the world. They act frighteningly, they play, and they relax at the time when things are good. It is illogical for people to think that animals may not have a conscious mental experience of fear, play, and sleep.

Consequently, the course enables me to appreciate the presence of microbes in our daily lives. The research by Yong helps one gain insight into how diverse animal consciousness is, thus aiding insight into how they contribute to human wellbeing. Thus, as the subtitle suggests, a grander view of life “I found multiple extensive hypotheses, such as the immune system idea as one of the instruments used by humans to alter animal consciousness.” Also, the course assisted me in understanding the presence and importance of wonderful feelings. Through this feeling, the article enabled me to begin to notice the beauty in the world around us.

The way humans have changed animal consciousness is a developing issue that has not yet been explored, thus making researchers venture into different fields to understand consciousness concepts. While researching the topic, several questions have emerged, such as whether animals dream. The study by Stewart was of great importance to answering this question regarding the four questions about animal dreams. Another question that has emerged is, apart from humans, whether other creatures have consciousness and what scientists believe about animal consciousness. Additionally, there was a question about how important microbes are in our daily lives. This question was extensively answered by the article by Yong on I Container Multitude. Thus, I learned that the consciousness issue, like other animal behavior aspects, tends to be confused due to a lack of agreement on its definition of people. From the Stewart and Yong articles, I learned that an explanation of how humanity has changed animal consciousness could be explained through different forms of writing, such as poems and narratives.


Stewart, S. (1978). ‘Four Questions Regarding The Dreams Of Animals.

Yong, E. (2016). I contain multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. Random House.


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