Nowadays we all agree that chimps, cats, parrots, dolphins, and dogs have surprisingly smart and emotionally rich minds, but it’s not always been this way.
Virginia Morell’s last post in Slate.com explains how the human understanding about animals cognition shifted to a Darwinian approach. As she coments:
“Darwin argued that animals and humans differ in their mental abilities only in degree, not kind. He was certain that animals would share some of our talents for reason, memory, and language, and would even possess an aesthetic sense. Because all of these talents are tied to our biology, Darwin said that they had not appeared out of nowhere; that they are just as much the products of evolution by natural selection as are our bipedal stance and large brain.”
In the article she summarizes the approach shift into: “Scientists no longer ask, Do animals think? Instead, they want to know, How do animals think?”