Now, i'm not going to suggest my tortoise loves me, or hates mazuri, or ever gets lonely.
But, like all higher animals they do have a certain amount of emotional response.
Dogs, cats and people are all warm blooded mammals and are much more closely related to each other than tortoises are to us, it is not surprising that their emotional responses are more recognizable.
Just because most tortoises are primarily solitary does not mean they are emotionless.
Lots of ramming, and forcing themselves around each other etc. Lots of men (and some women) exhibit very similar behaviour, or it least where I used to hang out in the evenings at weekends. Male-male combat that may occasionally end in bloodshed. Sexual assault and rape occur even within marriage with alarming regularity even today. Some people are sociopaths, which is not normal in our society, but tortoises are natural sociopaths, it is how they are 'programmed', so comparing their behaviour to ours is in itself anthropocentric.
Now, although we should all resist the temptation to be anthropomorphic, there is also the tendency to go in the other direction and think that animals don't feel like us, haven't the same depth of emotion, and aren't capable of this and that response. Although this is true, it doesn't mean that they don't feel to some degree and/or in a different way.
Love is too strong a word, but tortoises will prefer one food to another, one place to the next , like the feel of the sun on their skin, or a head rub, or a shower. These are not just reactions but actual emotional preferences.
They feel fear, pain, and contentment, why not some degree of like and dislike ?
If the enclosure is too small they feel discontent,ie. are not happy.
It may only need the basics to survive, but so do we. But we want more, and I put it to you, M'lud, that so do torts. Their quality of life can be greatly enhanced by varying their diet, giving them objects of interest in their enclosures and , yes, being nice to them, they (or at least some of them) 'like' head rubs and a nice sunny day.
Just because they are solitary creatures does not mean they have no feelings.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please be nice to your tortoises, they may not love you for it, but they will be 'happier.'.
I rest my case.
As a behavioral specialist I agree with everything, but then being born sociopaths. They are more narcissist than anything. Sociopaths feel almost nothing and this is because they lack basic emotional understanding and most of all lack empathy. Anyway, back to your point. I understand completely that many experts, breeders, etc. Would agree that reptiles are the exception to the rule, but I have witnessed very different things as a behaviorist in my many plus years of studying humans and animal behaviour.