[Replying to post 46 by Divine Insight
Isn't consciousness and awareness really the same thing?
No, consciousness and awareness are not the same thing although I'm all in favor of Humpty-Dumptism as long as one's terms are clearly defined. One can be unaware of something without being unconscious. If one is asked, "are you conscious?" the answer would most naturally be, "yes," (unless one is in a hypnotic trance and one defines such hypnotic states as "unconscious.") On the other hand, if one is asked, "are you aware?" the most natural answer is, "aware of what?" That is, consciousness is a general state of mind whereas awareness denotes specific knowledge of something.
I don't know if you recall, but I once gave you a rather more restrictive definition of consciousness than "the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings". I suggested consciousness means not only awareness of ones surroundings, and awareness of oneself, but also awareness of awareness, (the later condition being, apparently exclusive to humans, as far as we can tell.)
There have been many debated over just how "sentient" chimpanzees might actually be. Are they truly self-aware like humans are? Or are they merely just aware of their surroundings?
Many arguments have been make that Chimpanzees do indeed have a high degree of sentience or sense of self.
In fact, we can ask these same questions of other animals like dogs, cat, or mice, etc. There are currently debates over whether or not mice are "sentient" or have a sense of self-awareness.
There is plenty of research, (for example the mirror experiments I mentioned earlier,) that demonstrates that not only apes and other mammals, but even some birds are self aware. As far as invertebrates are concerned, I suspect many of them may well be self aware too, (there has been some interesting research on octopus intelligence.) I suspect that social insects such as bees, ants, and termites probably have an awareness of, perhaps not individual self, but of colony. The behavior of ants toward their sisters infected with ophiocordyceps would suggest as much.
I doubt that self awareness will ever be demonstrated in single cell organisms, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. When it comes to simple awareness of surroundings, on the other hand, I suspect that even protista may evince that, although there does come a point where one my wish to draw a distinction between "awareness of environment" and "reflex response to external stimuli". I would suspect that plants turning toward sunlight is probably more of the latter than the former.
awareness (or consciousness) is required for sentience.
As I said, awareness is not consciousness, and your definition of consciousness is far too loose to be very meaningful. (In fact, there's so much slack in that definition that you are eligible for an immediate Archbishopric in the Church of the Subgenius!! Apply Now! No Waiting! Be sure to mention that Cardinal Pixelero referred you.)
On the other end of the spectrum from simple awareness of environment, awareness of awareness, appears to be unique to humans. This is indicated by the fact that only we ask questions. When one is aware that one is aware of some things, one is therefore aware that one is unaware of other things. Therefore one asks a question in an attempt to gain awareness of that particular unknown information. In the five decades or so of research into animal-human communication, a number of apes, especially chimpanzees and gorillas, have learned to communicate with visual languages, such as sign language, or pictographic written language. Although such apes have demonstrated an impressive ability to accurately answer complex questions, not one has ever attempted to ask a question, despite the tools and clear examples being available. I would say therefore that consciousness may be described as a kind of hierarchy of awareness. So far, only humans have displayed evidence of the highest level, but I'm open to the possibility that apes may develop it, (or even have it but hide it! That remains to be seen.)
The one thing that is quite clear however, is that consciousness does require awareness. It would also appear to be the case that awareness requires perception, and perception requires a mechanism, such as a nervous system, however rudimentary. All this is supported by observation and evidence obtained by experimentation. On the other hand, the proposition that inanimate matter is aware, let alone conscious, is mere unsupported speculation. Furthermore, the only "arguments" you have presented to support this outlandish claim are demonstrably fallacious.