Review the evidence for self-awareness in animals and .
Discuss whether it helps in understanding human self-awareness.
According to Griffin, (1982), self-awareness is the ability to be conscious of oneself in the context of recognising that you are a unique individual, and that it is you who is experiencing certain feelings, having certain thoughts, or being aware of certain objects. This opinion is largely undisputed when it comes to defining exactly what self-awareness is, the problem arises when attempting to determine whether we, as humans, are the only species capable of experiencing it. The presumption that animals have no mental life arises in part from the viewpoint outlined by Descartes famous statement "I think, therefore I am." The implications of this are that due to an awareness of your own mental life you can be positive that you exist, but, lacking the same evidence about anyone, or anything else, it is possible to doubt the existence of everything but yourself. However, due to the use of language, we are able to determine, with little hesitation, that other humans also have this self-awareness, given that they are able to inform us. When it comes to other animals, however, we do not have the luxury of verbal communication that permits us to make this assumption. The question then arises as to whether or not the absence of language also implies the absence of either consciousness or thought, or in fact whether the communication between animals is in fact related closely enough to that of humans that language ceases to be an issue when investigating the difference between human and animal consciousness, (Lea & Kiley-Worthington, 1996).
There is reasonably strong evidence to suggest that not only can animals communicate with each other, but they can in fact learn to communicate with humans. Apes, in particular have been proven to be particularly adept at learning American sign language, or other symbolic versions of communication to the extent that in 1998, a gorilla called Koko reportedly communicated via American Sign Language her hopes for freedom, and to have a baby, over the internet, (www.