Ng, Yew-Kwang (2016) Consciousness and evolutionary biology. Animal Sentience. 2016.152 11(11)
Arthur S. Reber, Caterpillars, consciousness and the origins of mind
Reber’s axiom: “Any organism with flexible cell walls, a sensitivity to its surrounds and the capacity for locomotion will possess the biological foundations of mind and consciousness” does not seem to be supported by things we know and the logic of evolutionary biology. The latter leads to the conclusion that conscious species are flexible in their behavior (rather than in their cell walls), as argued in Ng (1995, 2016). Locomotion may be completely hard-wired and need not involve consciousness. It is hard enough to explain how consciousness could emerge in a sophisticated brain: Isn’t it a harder problem to show or see how consciousness could emerge in a much more primitive organism, as Reber suggests? As we are unlikely to solve the hard problem of consciousness any time soon, surely a more immediate problem is to ascertain with high probability which species are capable of welfare (enjoyment and suffering).