All animals – including humans – can use their brains to think and their thoughts can then be transformed into actions.  However, only human beings appear to have the capacity to reflect on their actions.

Conscience, free will, self-mastery, imagination etc., are all facets of reflection. When we think and act, we are like our fellow animals.  When we think, act and then reflect we begin to develop our uniquely human capacities.  This process gives us access to a vast ability that allows us to be in control of our actions and not simply driven by our physiology.

Seems a shame not to use it more.


Photograph – Corean Beauty, c. 1904 – Collection: Willard Dickerman Straight and Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations, Cornell University Library.

Identifier: 1260.74.12.06

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  1. Good thoughts. Animals may be able to reflect on their actions to some extent, but we are far more “conscious” . . . if we remain mindful of our choices.

    1. Good distinction about animals, thanks – you are right of course, they can reflect insofar as they can learn from their actions which must involve a type of reflection . Good old Pavlov!!!!! We do that too, I think but we often mistake that sort of adaptive ‘reflection’ for mindful reflection. Consciousness is so mysterious don’t you think?

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