Several years ago, while walking with my dog, Skipper, that's him in the picture behind me, I began throwing a stick into a creek for him to retrieve. Now Skipper didn't like to swim. We were on a gently sloping part of the creek bank and I tried to throw the stick, so that he only had to wade into shallow water to retrieve it. At one point though, the current carried the stick out too far and it went downstream into deeper water, where a steep bank made it impossible for Skipper to wade in. Skipper could easily have given up on the stick as it disappeared downstream. This is what many young children would've done. They'd simply say, "Oh, gone." Instead, I watched Skipper figure out what to do. He investigated the bank further along the creek, and then ran ahead to a smoothly inclined spot where he could wade in. He waited for the stick to arrive. Now there could be many explanations for Skipper's behavior. But one of these surely must be that he had a rudimentary understanding of causality, and the ability to adjust his own behavior to intervene in the action. This simple activity I argue, indicates a sense of self. By this, I mean the ability to reflect on oneself as an object. Skipper saw himself as an object, in the sense that he moved himself downstream to accommodate both his desire to avoid swimming and his desire to grab that stick. This involves monitoring one's own performance in a sense saying, "If this happens, I do that. If that happens, I do something else." In the previous lesson, I mentioned that the starting point for sociological research on the self is in the ideas of George Herbert Mead. In Mead's view, non-human animals can have no sense of self. Lacking the ability to use language, animals allegedly lack the inner worlds that we humans experience. For Mead, any subjective experience we might see in our animal companion is only wishful anthropomorphism. In my research, I heard people over and over described feeling a connection with their dogs and cats. Rather than dismissing this as anthropomorphism, I wanted to find out how they sense that connection. It didn't involve spoken language. So what did it involve? By searching for where else we might find evidence of an inner life without language. I discovered the research on subjectivity among human infants. I learned that evidence of a set of basic self experiences appears in infancy well before the acquisition of language. The experiences consist of agency, coherence, affectivity, and self continuity. Combined, these experiences compose what's considered a core self, which forms the basis for additional senses of the self as we develop. Whereas normal human development moves us toward language acquisition, the experiences of the core self don't rely on language. I reasoned that because all mammals, including humans, have the same structures of the brain, nervous system, musculature, and memory, at least some animals might also have the same core self. Let's consider some examples. First, agency, the active self-experience. The term agency refers to seeing oneself as the cause of action. An agentic being has desires, wishes, and intentions, along with a sense of having those things. Agency also implies having control over one's own actions and awareness of the felt consequences of those actions. For example, the intention to sit brings the felt consequence of sitting. Among human beings, several indicators of a sense of agency appear in the first months of life. Examples include reaching for objects and hand-to-mouth skills. Around four months of age, infants use visual information to shape their fingers to accommodate the size of objects. My story of Skipper, figuring out how to get to the stick as it went downstream in the creek, demonstrates his sense of agency. That short example shows that an average dog experiences control over his own actions. Another example is in dogs use of the play bow. They get down on their elbows to initiate play. From the dogs perspective, that bow signals that I intend any behavior that follows as play. It shouldn't be mistaken as say, fighting, or mating. Coherence, the embodied self-experience. If agency indicates the ownership of action, coherence gives agency somewhere to live. It refers to the knowledge that the self and the other are embodied physical entities. Evidence of a sense of coherence appears around two or three months of age as infants recognize the faces of their primary caregivers, they also begin to associate specific voices with particular faces. Cat owners observe coherence regularly in the act of hiding. Hiding involves understanding oneself as an object to conceal from others. Cats, having evolved as skilled predators, rely on hiding to hunt. Companion cats frequently adapt their hiding skills into play. This common behavior shows an awareness that the embodied self is in some sort of danger and that concealment is in order. Affectivity, the emotional self-experience. If agency refers to experiences of self as the initiator of action, and coherence locates that action within a body that affectivity associates embodied action with emotion. Affectivity doesn't require language. For instance, in play between mother and baby, the baby smiles or makes a face and the mother reacts with laughter or mock surprise. On experiencing pleasure at the mother's response, the baby repeats the gesture to elicit the feeling once again. The infancy research associates two types of emotions with the core self experience of affectivity. The first is the familiar categories of emotions such as sadness, happiness, fear, or anger. Ample research documents that animals experience these categorical emotions, and we'll discuss this in lesson 4 of this module. A second less well-known type of emotions, which we'll discuss here, is known as vitality affects. These are ways of feeling rather than discrete emotions. If you've ever known someone who lights up a room, you know about vitality affects. Lighting up a room doesn't involve a specific emotion. It comes more from an emotional disposition. Likewise, if you've ever known someone who's always gloomy like you, for instance, you understand vitality effects. In our interaction with animals, we read vitality affects and perceive certain individuals as suite, mellow, hyper and so on. These are characteristics of individual animals of the core self rather than the expressions of particular emotions brought on in situations. For example, in my research, a woman who described her dog as sweet connoted the dogs overall calmness and a couple who called their cat a character used the phrase is shorthand for the cats combination of confidence and curiosity that kept them laughing. Self history, the continuous self-experience. Rounding out the core experiences, a sense of continuity or self history exists through the mechanisms of memory. A core self wouldn't last without continuity of experience. Memory preserves the meaning of events, interactions, objects, others, and their associated emotions. The memory required for self history begins to operate very early in life. It enables infants to learn to sit up, to recognize familiar faces or toys, and to smile on doing so. The memory required for self continuity is pre-verbal and it appears in animals. Anyone who has ever taken a dog or cat to the veterinarian knows that animals remember places. Skeptics might dismiss this as instinctual saying that the animal just smells fear. However, even if such a reaction we're only instinct, consistently registering an emotion in a setting nevertheless implies a sense of continuity. Place memory among animals has been well-documented in research. Dogs remember hiking trails even long after any evidence of familiar sense has faded. Cats remember certain places for sleeping. Thinking about the self in terms of the capacities outlined here, expands the experience beyond the ability to use spoken language. Doing so doesn't equate humans and animals. It leaves room to acknowledge that our sense of self differs from that of other animals, but differs in degree rather than in kind.