ANIMAL IDENTITY AND LIFE EXPERIENCEThis page is mostly empathic guesswork – a necessary starting point.
How do animals sense themselves, 'what am I?'.
Animal identity is based on their internal body awareness, this is constantly with them. They have and give mutual confirmation within their social group and usually identify with their territory.
Their inner-body sense and their relationship with the world are experienced and understood by a wide variety of physical senses and both the panoramic and focused use of these senses.
Basic Self-IdentityFor warm blooded animals, the warmth and the feel of their own bodies from the inside is a very intimate sense of being.
When we remember how our bodies felt after eating a curry, and if we recognise that animals are sensitive; we will realise that animals have a very clear sense of the tastes of their own bodies from the inside. Perhaps it will take a few years of body awareness with smells and tastes to fully appreciate this idea.
I am certain that sounds like their stomach rumbling and heart beating are felt far more actively by animals than humans. And animals with a high visual accuity would have a vivid imaginary picture of how they look inside.
These ideas may seem highly speculative, but apart from doing body mindfulness with the senses (not only touch), the only objective method of getting near to the truth would be to get a consensus of opinion from small children, (draw how it looks, sounds, smells and tastes inside your body).
Inner-body feelings are central to an animals identity. And they are conscious, unlike the human subliminal inner-body awareness.
Those animals who lick themselves clean, have a very clear sense of how they taste from the outside. Added to this, most animals know their own scent, especially those leaving territorial markers, and they identify intimately with the sounds they make, (rather than with the abstract meaning of that sound as humans do with words).
Smell and taste stimulate and are regulated by the lower brain. The senses of taste and then smell existed long before animals developed eyes and ears. Animals are far more in touch with and reliant on their lower brain.
I feel sure this connection with the lower brain has a far greater significance than i can describe, experts in the field would know more.
Human vs. Animal Social IdentityAnimal identity usually involves their territory and a deep unquestioned sense of belonging and social confirmation with their partners or social groups.
These traits are to some extent evident among humans. However modern humans identify ourselves with others mainly through beliefs and ideas.
In practice we identify strongly with visual appearance. This is confirmed with mirrors and selfies. Animal identity is completely different. There are only around 10 animals who can recognise themselves in a mirror.
Animals have no choice about clothes or hair styles, even chameleons and stick insects who disguise themselves don't do this for social recognition. Birds who display their hair styles at mating times are exceptions. Generally speaking animals rely far more on sounds and scents for recognition and social confirmation.
Animals' social sense of bonding and belonging is grounded in tactile reality and this is vastly different to our human sense of social identity. (See Beliefs and Their Confirmation for more on this.)
The Two Modes of SensingAnimals are not lost in abstract thought about their identity. And they have two different sensory systems for sensing themselves and relating to the outside world. Focusing and panoramic.
And in the same way as how we sense the world, determines how we we understand it and ourselves – an animals sensory abilities, determines their understanding, their relationship with, and their feeling of identity in the world.
This is mainly empathic guesswork, but i suggest: An animals experience of focusing must result in a feeling similar to ours – of being an active subject doing something to, with, or at, an object.
But throughout evolution, the panorama mode has been fundamental to their survival. And for animals, this is a constant reminder of how it feels to be still inside, receptive to and connected with everything.
So, in the few moments animals have, when they can just doze and don't need to fight for survival, it is safe to assume that they are far more practiced than we are at turning off any thinking, and instantly feeling their bodies warmth and reality with all of their physical senses.
It's an habitual rut which animals have. And this inner sense of self sufficiency in their own bodies is what sustains them, it gives them an underlying background sense of peace with themselves and the world. A sharp contrast to their daily fears of being eaten alive.
The abstract walls humans have around us, make us feel solid; they fill us with memories, often unable to forget and unforgiving. Animal identity, how they feel, is much more actual and spontaneous, it has to be.
This openness, even nakedness, to an outside world without any walls; makes an enormous difference to a creature's sense of self and others, in terms of vulnerability, and also connectedness. Their ability to love and to fear is understandably very high.
If you want to, you can compare the above viewpoint to Wikipedia: Animal Consciousness. I prefer to use my research time empathising with animals, perhaps children's books have interesting information, but scientific and objective sources seem to miss the point. Contact me if you have any ideas.