When the noted primatologist Frans de Waal was being interviewed about his book on Animal Culture, the reporter's dog came up to him with a toy, dropped it into de Waal's lap and barked. de Waal said, "Sometimes I read about someone saying with great authority that animals have no intentions and no feelings and I wonder, doesn't this guy have a dog?" This anecdote was especially meaningful for me because I've said with great authority that animals, like people have a sense of self. Initially, this notion was controversial for sociology. The field has defined its subject matter as that which is uniquely human. Along with culture rationality in language, the self is one of the entities for which animals purportedly lack the tools. The word tool is important here. For tool use and tool-making, long served to distinguish humans from and portray them as superior to other animals. When Jane Goodall reported to Louis Leakey that she had observed the chimpanzee David Greybeard, not only using a tool but also making one, her observation called for redefining the existing boundary between humans and animals. Leaky famously said, "Now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans." If some animals have the ability to make and use various physical tools, perhaps they also possess the conceptual tools required for self hood. In other words, if we humans were wrong about tool use among animals, there are likely other things we have underestimated and overlooked, such as their capacity for self hood. In my field of sociology, when we want to study the self, we have to engage with the ideas of George Herbert Mead, who lived from 1863 to 1931. Mead argued that having a self involves seeing oneself as an object. This means, for example, that not only are you aware of watching this at this moment, but you can be aware that you are aware of yourself watching. For Mead, both your image of yourself, the object that you see and the subject that sees that object are created and communicated through language. Mead basically argued that having a self required the ability to talk about having one. Because animals don't use spoken language, they don't have the inner lives that we humans have. Without the capacity to use language, Mead said, animals are not self-aware any self-awareness we attribute to them is just sentimentality. This is the barrier that any sociologist interested in animal self hood confronts. When I bumped up against it, I had to wonder, didn't this guy have a dog? As I learned, Mead did have a dog, but he apparently didn't pay much attention to him. Although we can't ask animals about their inner lives, we can gather clues from their behavior. I began to investigate this while studying how people decided which dogs and cats to adopt from an animal shelter. In interviews, people consistently mentioned the importance of feeling a connection, quote unquote, with an animal. As I asked, connection with what? They described characteristics of an inner life, a sense of self. From a sociological perspective informed by Mead, I would have had to dismiss this as silly sentimentality. I heard about the connection so often, however, that I took people seriously. I said, what if they're not just being silly? I looked for other ways to understand how we sense the selves of animals. In this lesson, I'll provide some background on the study of animal selves. In the next, I'll discuss how I approached the topic among dogs and cats. I'll follow that up by extending those ideas to animals in the wild. In the late 1990s, I became one of several sociologists studying animals self hood. Researchers from other fields had also been interested in the topic and had approached it from various angles. The best-known research involves what's called the mirror self-recognition test. In the 1970s, psychologists Gordon Gallup placed chimpanzees in rooms with full length mirrors. The chimps initially took their reflections to be opponents, but they soon begin using the mirror to engage in self-directed behaviors such as grooming and making faces. This suggested that they recognize the image in the mirror as me, something normal children, human children do at around 18 months of age. Gallup then placed a spot of nontoxic red dye on the chimps brow ridges in places visible only in a mirror, and recorded how they reacted when seeing their reflections. The chimps touched the spots and then examine their fingers indicating that they recognize that the mark they saw was actually on them and not on the other chimp in the mirror. Subsequent research reconfirmed mirror self-recognition in chimpanzees and documented among bonobos, orangutans, bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, and Asian elephants. Getting back to Mead's emphasis on language, I wonder what he'd make of the evidence suggesting that language is not a uniquely human capacity. Washoe, the first chimpanzee to learn sign language, had a working vocabulary of a 140 American sign language gestures and twice as many two sign combinations. Koko, the lowland gorilla, can use over a thousand signs and recognize about 2,000 spoken words. But language involves more than words and many animals can go beyond just using signs. Koko can communicate about objects not present and reflect on the past, for example. Likewise, Alex, an African gray parrot famously demonstrated abilities beyond just naming objects. Alex often violated the rules of his language drills, suggesting that he understood both the rules and the abstract idea of distorting them. For instance, when Alex became bored with the drills, he would begin giving wrong answers so often that he was clearly doing so on purpose. He would also give different incorrect answers each time, frustrating the researchers until they gave up. Although this could have been chance rather than defiance, the odds of giving so many wrong answers in a row are slim. Even if humans alone use language, designating it as the sole vehicle of the inner life overlooks the importance of other forms of communication. Consider how much a sigh, a raised eyebrow, a wink, or a shrug can convey about what a person thinks or feels. Limiting the focus to language downplays how subtle aspects of interaction contribute to self hood. In the next lesson, we'll look at how the behavior of dogs and cats hold clues to their inner lives.