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DOES DESCARTES DENY CONSCIOUSNESS TO ANIMALS?

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Abstract

Contrary to longstanding opinion, Descartes does not deny all feeling and awareness to non-human animals. Though he undoubtedly denies that animals think, a case can be made that he nonetheless would allow them organism consciousness, perceptual consciousness, access consciousness and even phenomenal consciousness. Descartes does not employ or accept an ‘all-or-nothing’ view of consciousness. He merely denies (not that this is a small thing) that animals have the capacity for self-conscious reflective reception or awareness of sensations and feelings.

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