New date lecture Consciousness and emotions in animals: 23 March

My third Animal Winterlecture, on the subject of consciousness and emotions in animals, which had been originally planned for Saturday 23 February, has had to be cancelled, due to the severe flu I was suffering from. Because there had been a significant number of people that was interested in this particular lecture, I have decided to create a new date for this lecture. The new date is now set for Saturday 23 March.


Affection in animals

Description of the lecture: In this lecture I will address the question whether other animals have the ability to experience things like pain and pleasure. Are animals robots without subjective experiences or do animals experience sensations and other things in a phenomenally conscious way? The French philosopher René Descartes claimed that nonhuman animals could not be conscious. Behaviorism in psychology also led to a taboo on the subject of consciousness in general. Even today there are still scholars who do not ascribe consciousness to animals, often based on the absence of ‘higher’ cognitive abilities and language (Bermond, Carruthers). In contrast are positions that argue for the presence of consciousness in animals by argueing from analogy, using systematic analyses of the nervous systems and behaviours of animals. I will present the work of Jaak Panksepp on affective neuroscience, which shows that at least all mammals, and birds too, share a number of brain centers for the same emotional systems. I will also discuss the various emotions of animals. Which particular emotions do they have? Pleasure, pain, jealousy, guilt, gratitude? Which animals seem to mourn deceased conspecifics? And what similarities exist between humans and other animals with regard to altered states of consciousness, such as dreaming and being under the influence of drugs?

For whom? The lecture is organized for anyone who is interested in animals and would like to know more about recent developments in scientific research about the consciousness and emotions of animals. A special education is not required. The lecture will have room for questions and discussion, and will be enlivened by lots of pictures and short films. The lecture will be given in the Dutch language, but a passive knowledge of English is convenient, given that some of the films that I will show are not subtitled.

Time: The lecture lasts 3 hours, starting at 12.30 and ending at 15.30 hours. The date is Saturday 23 March 2013.

Location: The lecture will be held in the main building (Hoofdgebouw) of the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) at the De Boelelaan 1105 in Amsterdam. This location can be reached well by both public transport or car.

Price: The costs are 25 euro per person. Admission to the lecture is only given when payment has been received in advance.

Registration: You can register for the lecture by sending an email to

I hope to see you in Amsterdam on March 23!


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