In Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein:
(281.) …It comes to this: only of a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees; is blind; hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious.
Where do we draw the lines between human and the rest of the world? Humans have a set of behaviors and a language that seems to differentiate them from the animal world. Is this a difference in complexity, in self-awareness, or some other unnamed quality?
(250.) Why can’t a dog simulate pain? Is he too honest? Could one teach a dog to simulate pain? Perhaps it is possible to teach him to howl on particular occasions as if he were in pain, even when he is not. But the surroundings which are necessary for this behavior to be real simulation are missing.
Anyone who has a seen and heard a dog howl after someone accidentally steps on its paw knows, or thinks, that dogs experience pain. Many animals, even away from any human contact, would cry out if they were caught in a trap or injured.
Wittgenstein makes much of the fact that a person could be mistaken about pain. Our memories could be faulty in such a way that when we feel pain we cannot be sure that the pain we currently feel resembles our earlier pains in any way. Even more damning is the potential for dissembling. Someone could pretend to be in pain and we would never know by listening to or watching them. (e.g. a culture where people hide their pain and never talk about it)
But would we ever be mistaken about the pain of an animal? Wittgenstein suggests that dissembling could be taught to a dog but the surroundings necessary for a real simulation are missing. Is this surrounding language?
Is it the case that anything complicated enough to have recognizable behaviors is complicated enough to learn how to dissemble?
(284.) Look at a stone and imagine it having sensations. – One says to oneself: How could one so much as get the idea of ascribing a sensation to a thing? One might as well ascribe it to a number! – And now look at a wriggling fly and at once these difficulties vanish and pain seems able to get a foothold here, where before everything was, so to speak, too smooth for it.
And so, too, a corpse seems to us quite inaccessible to pain. – Our attitude to what is alive and to what is dead, is not the same. All our reactions are different. – If anyone says: “That cannot simply come from the fact that a living thing moves about in such-and-such a way and dead one not”, then I want to intimate to him that this is a case of transition ‘from quantity to quality.’
Quantity to quality of what? Isn’t Wittgenstein indeed claiming that part of pain is the behavior that comes with it and the language that we use to talk about the behavior?
Perhaps Wittgenstein is positing some sort of continuum from stone, to animal, to human along which behavior becomes more complex. The question is when do we switch from talking about behavior to talking about pain. On the one hand it seems like Wittgenstein claims that there is no way to know when or where to draw the line among these many behaviors. On the other hand he seems to suggests that sensations are only attributable to human beings alone, but there is always an out – resemblance. That W is a wily old gent.