Do Chimpanzees Have Autonoetic (Self-Knowing) Consciousness?

Santino, the stone gathering and throwing chimpanzee in a zoo near Stockholm, raises a number of interesting issues—one of them being the degree to which animals (besides humans) might have AUTONOETIC CONSCIOUSNESS.

Accessing your “autonoetic consciousness” (your knowledge of yourself as a self) means that you access not just your sense impressions, but your mental impressions (derived from memory)—and that you can then MODEL in your head divergent ways you might BE in the future, and act in anticipation of what your senses and memory may be “saying” to your “autonoetic” self.

According to the BBC today, the behavior of the stone gathering and stone throwing chimpanzee suggests that chimpanzees in general may have this form of consciousness as well:

There are a number of examples of complex behaviour in apes that suggest forms of consciousness.

Planning behaviour like that of the current work is connected to so-called autonoetic consciousness, where information due to memory can be distinguished from that from the senses.

“I’m personally convinced that at least chimps do plan for future needs, that they do have this autonoetic consciousness,” Dr Osvath said.

“I hope that other zoos or those in the wild will look more closely at what is happening,” he added.

Here’s the famous primate scene, in Kubrick’s 2001, in which one of the primates discovers a crucial aspect of his “autonoetic” consciousness:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Do Chimpanzees Have Autonoetic (Self-Knowing) Consciousness?

  1. Pingback: Chimpanzee consciousness | Sejuiced

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