Monday, March 28, 2011

Sentience....

I ran across an elaboration on the meaning of this word that I liked very much...Sentience:
Sentience is a capacity to have the basic experiences—called “qualia” in the Western philosophical tradition—that are fundamental to being alive: seeing, hearing, smelling, experiencing pain and pleasure and emotional attachment. This is not the same as human consciousness: when animal rights advocates talk about animals’ sentience, we don’t mean that they can engineer bridges, compose verse in iambic pentameter, draft a constitution, or perform open-heart surgery. (By the way, there is very good research to prove that some animals do experience something very close to human consciousness—the capacity to prioritize, to think in a premeditated way, and so on. But for the purposes of this particular point, let’s put that aside). When we say that animals are sentient, we mean that they participate in the most fundamental parts of lived experience, and that this makes them worthy of our reverence and care....
This passage is part of an essay titled Vegan 101: The Ethics of Veganism  on the J.L. Goes Vegan website. I recommend the essay, it is well written and informative and comes from the perspective of someone that began following a diet free of animal products for health reasons and slowly became aware of the larger issues that accompany the practice of ethical veganism.

Now, here is a visual (from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary) showing you a living being who doesn't happen to be human but obviously enjoys being alive.



The video is an example of a sentient being participating in and expressing some of the most fundamental parts of lived experience. We human animals have no business interfering in the life of any sentient being, much less harming them. The most important way to diminish interference is to live your life as an ethical vegan. Please begin to do so if you haven't already.

6 comments:

Krissa said...

WOW! Go, Clover! Fun video - thanks for sharing. :) ... The first thing that ran through my mind regarding 'animals' and engineering is birds. I have read so many things about birds knowing stuff like to put rocks in a glass of water if the water is too far down for them to reach it, using sticks to get things out of tight places, etc. And everyday I see them carefully building nests - knowing what to use and what to not even consider. I know that chimpanzees and plenty of other primates and non-primates make and use tools. Anyone who has shared their life and home with a dog or cat or bunny or hamster or (you get the idea) has surely seen problem solving skills. There are birds who make just as beautiful music as anything man can make. And the list goes on. But the one way that we are exactly alike is that we all share the same emotions. ALL of us, maybe insects, too. I don't know for sure about that, but I personally think that they can at least feel fear and probably pain and I'm guessing happiness, sadness disappointment - and they clearly are engineers and problem solvers too. Us humans are so much more like our fellow beings than not like them - and yet almost none of our kind realizes that. Sadly, I'm not sure most of our kind even knows what sentient is or if they can grasp that concept beyond their own personal experience. But you know, our furry/feathered and from what *I've* experienced, scaly friends too are able to realize that we have the same emotions as they do. That's one of the most heartbreaking things about being aware...knowing how much suffering is out there and that they are so aware of exactly what they are going through. And mixed with the terror and pain and sadness and despair is the confusion of "why is this person doing this to me"? :( I am so ashamed of my species - and myself for most of my life. Because I've only been living right for a little over a year. That is inexcusable, but I can only try to make up for it like we all are trying.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Krissa. Your shame for our fellow human animals is shared by me.

As far as "smarts"...my take on all that is when rabbits and snakes and dogs and cats and all line up and say human animals are smart...then I might consider it...until then we seem to be the only ones calling ourselves smart...one species praising themselves lacks a great deal of credibility.

Especially a species that seems intent on destroying their own environment in a destructive and murderous rampage with no foreseeable positive outcome...to call that species "intelligent" seems not only to indicate no understanding of the term "intelligent" but also delusional.

Bea Elliott said...

Wow veganelder! I almost like your response to Krissa as much as I like your original post! As far as "smarts" go - You are right again!

And at the very least I measure sentience as "awareness" - I found Tom Regan's definition most fitting for my purposes: That all animals experience the world, they know they are "in it". To me, if an entity possesses that connection in the "grand scheme" of the universe - That in and of itself entitles them to experience that 'gift" of "beingness" or consciousness without my interference. It's not at all as eloquent as "qualia" is, but I think the basic tenants are there. (?)

Oh, and Clover --- Gawd! That's one sweetie-pie! (love!)

veganelder said...

The gift of beingness is an exquisite way to express it, I agree...thanks Bea.

Clover would rev up a zombie, I suspect.

Have Gone Vegan said...

Thanks for that link to the essay. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to read through all of the comments (which like in this blog are sometimes almost as great as the post), and now they're all gone. Poop!

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting H.G.V. Are you having some trouble with seeing comments?