I am conducting an investigation into the topic of the intelligence of animals, in particular farm animals. I would be interested to hear a scientific and biologic perspective as to what is perceived to be self-awareness, whether it be in a human or not. Specifically, I am interested in the high-level self-awareness that we as humans experience and that is only now, beginning to be theorised as possible in other mammals (e.g. Dolphins).
The question is framed in a robotic context, where a being (natural or artificial) is defined to be self-aware if it can approximate enough human behaviour and thought, that it becomes indistinguishable from a human. This term we could label sentience, but this is a subjective term, and so I will avoid using it for the purpose of this question. I will define a being as self-aware in the robot context, as a being capable of both conscious reflection of itself and of its own conciousness.
One of the problems I have found in my investigation, is a serious misunderstanding about the nature of self-awareness, amongst the general public.
It seems that many people incorrectly assume that self-awareness is a product of a being having a soul. This is rather unfortunate for animals as orthodox Christianity teaches that animals do not have souls, and therefore are incapable of attaining self-awareness.
My investigation aims to bring to mainstream public attention, a new definition of self-awareness, and to end the centuries-old misconception that we are the only intelligent, self-aware creatures on the planet.