Intellectual and Emotional Understanding
There is both intellectual and emotional understanding of the
consciousness of animals. Intellectual understanding is the
acceptance of the fact that all animals can feel pain to some
extent, and that many animals are sufficiently developed to feel
emotions and to have some degree of cognitive powers.
Emotional understanding is the human bond between humans and animals.
Almost anyone who has taken care of an animal, such as a cat or dog,
can recognize and sense when the animal is happy or sad or distressed.
Humans and animals are not all that different in emotions; I've met some
dogs with more capacity for emotion than some people I've met.
Aside: In the same way, I would speculate that if statistics result in a
few extremely intelligent humans, then there are a few extremely bright
dogs out there who are smarter than the average eight-year-old human,
and are capable of basic reading. I have heard that some people have
taught themselves to read without any help. If this is true, then I would
bet that some dogs have taught themselves to read. There is enormous
resistance from the scientific community to the idea that animals
could have such intellectual or emotional capacities, and resistance
to the idea that animals have *any* intellectual or emotional capacity!
This resistance is not based in science but in the common problems of
human psychology and ego.
Humans tend to think of themselves as better than animals for religious,
philosophical, and egotistical reasons. We may be the best at abstraction
and logic and science, but can that alone make us better? I consider
the human race to be emotionally and ethically deficient in relation to our
"intelligence". We have the intellectual and physical capacity to
solve all of our problems, but we are usually too selfish and greedy
to even consider it.