Can animals be "conscious"/ self-aware?
Well, if you factor Eastern philosophy into this, then even a rock has consciousness, or at least the flow of qi.
The standard emperical test is a mirror and a mark on the subject's body. Dolphins and primates tend to pass this test. Can't remember
if any others do.
Humans are animals, so I said: some.
And again, somebody found a loophole in my question ;)
Lower animals, such as dogs or cats, do not have "selfs" and certainly don't think in terms of me and I. They can still love you and feel pain as well as joy, they just aren't aware they themselves are in pain or joy.
I wouldn't refer to cats and dogs as lower animals but it doesn't invalidate your point.
I think cats and dogs also have the ability. Not all but some. They seem to sense your feelings and be very in tune if they really love you. And I always know when my cats have an attitude and what it's about. Same with my dogs.
At least a few with apes being the most promising. Unlike most others, they seem to recognize themselves in a mirror and with learned sign language refer to themselves as individuals while a parakeet will never realize it's him in the mirror.
Lower animals such as insects imo are basically natural machines.
The video of Koko crying when her pet cat dies gets me every time :'-( I don't think you can really understand death without a conception of self first.