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Encyclopedia > Sentience

Sentience refers to utilization of sensory organs, the ability to feel or perceive subjectively, not necessarily including the faculty of self-awareness. The possession of sapience is not a necessity. The word sentient is often confused with the word sapient, which can connote knowledge, consciousness, or apperception. The root of the confusion is that the word conscious has a number of different usages in English. The two words can be distinguished by looking at their Latin roots: sentire, "to feel"; and sapere, "to know". Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Not to be confused with sentience. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Self-consciousness. ... Not to be confused with sentience. ... Not to be confused with sentience. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Apperception is the cognitive process by which a newly experienced sensation is related to past experiences to form an understood situation. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. ...

Sentience is the ability to sense. It is separate from, and not dependent on, aspects of consciousness.


Philosophy and sentience

Many philosophers, notably Colin McGinn, believe that sentience cannot ever be understood, no matter how much progress is made by neuroscience in understanding the brain. Holders of this position are called New Mysterians. They do not deny that most other aspects of consciousness are subject to scientific investigation, from creativity to sapience, to self-awareness. New Mysterians believe that only sentience cannot be comprehensively understood by science. There continues to be much debate among philosophers, with many adamant that there is no really hard problem with sentience whatsoever. Colin McGinn (born 1950) is a British philosopher currently working at the University of Miami. ... New Mysterianism is a philosophy proposing that certain problems (in particular, consciousness) will never be explained or at the least cannot be explained by the human mind at its current evolutionary stage. ...

In Indian philosophy

In the books by Indian philosopher P. R. Sarkar he talks about sentient lifestyle referring to the qualities of the Creative principle of which the sentient is the most subtle, "Every object of the world is dominated by one of the three principles – sentient, mutative, and static. Food is no exception, and according to its intrinsic nature, is divided into the same three categories." Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell Part 4 [a compilation]1970

Sentient food: Food which produces sentient cells and is thus conducive to physical and mental well-being is sentient. Examples of sentient food are grains, nuts, pulses, fruit, vegetables, organic milk and milk products.

Mutative food: Food which is good for the body and may or may not be good for the mind, but certainly not harmful for the mind, is mutative such as coffee, tea, cocoa products, etc.

Static food: Food which is harmful for the mind and may or may not be good for the body is static. Onion, garlic, wine, stale and rotten food, meat, fish, eggs, etc., are static.

"Cells generally grow out of light, air, water and the food we eat. The nature of food and drink has its effect upon the cells, and consequently also influences the human mind. Obviously each and every sádhaka, or spiritual aspirant, should be very cautious in selecting food. Suppose a person takes támasika, or static, food. The result will be that after a certain period, static cells will grow and exercise a static influence on the aspirant’s mind. Human beings must select sáttvika, or sentient, or rájasika, or mutative, food according to time, place and person. This will lead to the birth of sentient cells, which in turn will produce a love for spiritual practice and help in attaining psychic equilibrium and equipoise, leading to immense spiritual elevation." -- R.R. Sarkar

Non-human animal rights and sentience

In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience is commonly seen as the ability to experience suffering. The 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham raised the issue of non-human suffering and sadism in An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation: The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... For the album by Moby, see Animal Rights (album). ... Suffering is any aversive (not necessarily unwanted) experience and the corresponding negative emotion. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Jeremy Bentham (IPA: or ) (February 15, 1748 O.S. (February 26, 1748 N.S.) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. ... Flogging demonstration at Folsom Street Fair 2004. ...

The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor... What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but, "Can they suffer?"

As Peter Singer argues, this is often dismissed by appeal to a distinction that condemns humans suffering but allows non-human suffering. However, as many of the suggested distinguishing features of humanity - extreme intelligence; highly complex language; etc. are not present in marginal cases such as young or mentally disabled humans, it appears that the only distinction is a prejudice based on species alone, which non-human animal rights supporters call speciesism - that is, differentiating humans from other animals purely on the grounds that they are human. For other persons named Peter Singer, see Peter Singer (disambiguation). ... The relevance of particular information in (or previously in) this article or section is disputed. ...

On the other hand, some have argued that modern science cannot determine exactly where sentience begins, going from bacteria to animals. This would pose considerable complications for a theory of unnecessary suffering. Others take no objection with the conclusion that it's wrong to cause unnecessary suffering, but contend that on this issue the moral concept of right/wrong shouldn't mirror human nature but should instead be modelled from nature. Since animals routinely kill each other and inflict (at times unnecessary) suffering on each other, then as part of animalia it wouldn't be wrong for us to also. This is a view most of the world's population follows, whether intentionally acknowledging it or not. Therefore, the reason the rules of nature regarding killing aren't applicable towards other humans is because we are then dealing with the human realm. Our own psychology and the collective sociology make it unfavorable (ie. less safety, added stress, reduced efficiency) to partake in killing other humans. Seen in this light, it would not be speciesism to kill animals but spare humans, but instead an outgrowth of humans' (as a species) naturalistic adaptation while observing all natural ethics regarding suffering. The relevance of particular information in (or previously in) this article or section is disputed. ...

Artificial intelligence

The issue of sentience also frequently arises in science fiction stories describing robots or computers with artificial intelligence. Intelligence and sentience are quite distinct, so the question arises as to whether computers with artificial intelligence will become sentient. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... ASIMO, a humanoid robot manufactured by Honda. ... The NASA Columbia Supercomputer. ... Garry Kasparov playing against Deep Blue, the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion. ...

Some science fiction, most notably the Star Trek franchise, uses the term sentience to describe a species with human-like intelligence, but a more appropriate term for intelligent beings would be 'sapience'. The current Star Trek franchise logo Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series and media franchise. ... The hierarchy of scientific classification. ... Not to be confused with sentience. ...

Eastern religion

Eastern religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism recognize nonhumans as sentient beings. In Jainism and Hinduism, this is closely related to the concept of ahimsa, nonviolence toward other beings. In Jainism, all the matter is endowed with sentience; there are six degrees of sentience, from one to six. Water, for example, is a sentient being of first order, as it is considered to possess only one sense, that of touch. Man is considered to be sentient being of the sixth order. According to Buddhism, sentient beings made of pure consciousness are possible. In Mahayana Buddhism, which includes Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, the concept is related to the Bodhisattva, an enlightened being devoted to the liberation of others. The first vow of a Bodhisattva states: "Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to free them." Hinduism (known as in modern Indian languages[1]) is a religious tradition[2] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ... A silhouette of Buddha at Ayutthaya, Thailand. ... Sikhism (IPA: or ; Punjabi: , , IPA: ) is a religion that began in fifteenth century Northern India with the teachings of Nanak and nine successive human gurus. ... This article is under construction. ... Ahimsa (Devanagari: ; IAST ) is a Sanskrit term meaning non-violence (literally: the avoidance of violence - himsa). ... Relief image of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin from Mt. ... Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism notable for its emphasis on practice and experiential wisdom—particularly as realized in the form of meditation known as zazen—in the attainment of awakening. ... Tibetan Buddhism is the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet, the Himalayan region (including northern Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh), Mongolia, Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia (Russia), and northeastern China (Manchuria: Heilongjiang, Jilin). ... Lands Bhutan â€¢ China â€¢ Korea Japan â€¢ Tibet â€¢ Vietnam Taiwan â€¢ Mongolia Doctrine Bodhisattva â€¢ Bodhicitta Karuna â€¢ Prajna Sunyata â€¢ Buddha Nature Trikaya â€¢ Eternal Buddha Scriptures Prajnaparamita Sutra Avatamsaka Sutra Lotus Sutra Nirvana Sutra VimalakÄ«rti Sutra Lankavatara Sutra History 4th Buddhist Council Silk Road â€¢ Nagarjuna Asanga â€¢ Vasubandhu Bodhidharma      A statue of a Bodhisattva, Akasagarbha. ... In the Bodhisattva vows (sometimes called the Bodhisattva Precepts) of Mahayana Buddhism, the bodhisattvas take vows stating that they will not realize or attain Nirvana until all sentient beings have done so. ...

Western religion

Western religion is increasingly becoming aware of the concept of sentience. Rev. Andrew Linzey, founder of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in England, is known as a foremost international advocate for recognizing animals as sentient beings in Biblically-based faith traditions. The Interfaith Association of Animal Chaplains encourages animal ministry groups to adopt a policy of recognizing and valuing "sentient" beings. Animal chaplains provide a wide array of services to the community, including pet loss grief support, animal memorial services, praying for animals who are sick or injured, comforting bereaved family members, holding hands with pet owners during surgery or euthanasia at a veterinary clinic or animal hospital, and performing animal... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... The term ministry can refer to the following: A ministry is a department of a government. ...


  • Jeremy Bentham - Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
  • Book about A Theory of Sentience Readership: Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists interested in sensation and perception. Authors, Austen Clark, Professor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Sentient Suffering: A website for an upcoming documentary about animal sentience

  Results from FactBites:
Self-replication, emergence, evolution, self-evolution, and sentience (685 words)
Sentience is a by-product of the complexity required for the ability to self-evolve.
To self-evolve, there must be some sort of sentience or self-awareness (in other words, there must be a "direction" that is present that tells an organism its status in relation to its environment).
Sentience is a by-product of (the complexity required for) the trait of self-evolution.
Encyclopedia: Sentience (1270 words)
Sentience is the capacity for basic consciousness—the ability to feel or perceive, not necessarily including the faculty of self-awareness.
The word sentient is often confused with the word sapient, which can connotate knowledge, higher consciousness, or apperception.
Many scientists today consider sentience to be exclusive to homo-sapiens.This may be due to many religions that see the human being as the central creation of god, and thus the only creature capable of "truly thinking" (create art, use tools, invent things, etc..), and by the concept of sentience coming from a soul.
  More results at FactBites »



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