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Are there, or are there not, sentient animals.


Raider5678
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Split from Anti-Human thread.

 

First, what makes an animal sentient?

 

I defined it as A: Being able to think logically. B: Having emotion and being self aware C: Having a language of some sort.

 

I would, if I had to, say dauphins were the closest animal to meeting all three of these requirements.

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To the intent of your question, Yes, I agree with Dolphins as fitting your criteria. However, your choice of word is wrong. The word Sentient derives from the Latin word for "feel" and is already defined in many dictionaries-- your definition is not the correct one. Sentient beings are those that feel things (subjective reaction to their environment)-- which is different from the ability to reason-- which is what I think you are getting at. Most living animals are Sentient.

 

sen·tient
ˈsen(t)SH(ē)ənt/
adjective
adjective: sentient

able to perceive or feel things

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To the intent of your question, Yes, I agree with Dolphins as fitting your criteria. However, your choice of word is wrong. The word Sentient derives from the Latin word for "feel" and is already defined in many dictionaries-- your definition is not the correct one. Sentient beings are those that feel things (subjective reaction to their environment)-- which is different from the ability to reason-- which is what I think you are getting at. Most living animals are Sentient.

 

sen·tient
ˈsen(t)SH(ē)ənt/
adjective
adjective: sentient

able to perceive or feel things

What would be the correct word?

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Mollusks have no brain, therefore do not process pain in the same way other animals do.

 

There is an exception. Octopus, which oddly enough is the most complicated brain in the entire animal kingdom. Physically nine brains, one for the body and one for each tentacle. Hence Class Cephalopoda, meaning "brain foot".

 

While it's questionable whether they feel pain, they hunt strategically and appear to express defensive or aggressive behavior with chromatophores.

Squids have a tiny brain that forms a ring around the esophagus.

Edited by rangerx
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Split from Anti-Human thread.

 

First, what makes an animal sentient?

 

I defined it as A: Being able to think logically. B: Having emotion and being self aware C: Having a language of some sort.

 

I would, if I had to, say dauphins were the closest animal to meeting all three of these requirements.

 

 

I disagree with your definition of sentient.

 

But, given that definition, I would say that humans are the only species we know fits. Dolphins can communicate but whether that constitutes a proper language or is just the same as birdsong, the howls of primates, etc. is, I suppose, unknown. I'm not aware of any evidence it is different from other animal communication systems.

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I wonder if there's also a requirement that the entity in question should be capable of experiencing "qualia", which I believe is roughly defined as the experience of sensation (for example, the taste of chocolate, or the smell of a flower, or seeing the colours in a rainbow). Although that may be more on the philosophical side of consciousness rather than a scientific definition.

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I think the word you're looking for is sapient.

Is "intelligent" better?

 

Animals are routinely described as intelligent -to differing degrees.

 

I don't think "sentient" is a remarkable attribute. What animals are not sentient.?Even vegetables could be described as "sentient" (awareness of their environment is all I think it implies)

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Is "intelligent" better?

 

Animals are routinely described as intelligent -to differing degrees.

 

I don't think "sentient" is a remarkable attribute. What animals are not sentient.?Even vegetables could be described as "sentient" (awareness of their environment is all I think it implies)

Which is why the three things I asked for included A: The ability to think logically.

Ravens have that ability.

Also, since we can't seem to be able to agree whether it should be intelligent, sentient, etc, we should come up with some way to class animals based on their mental and social abilities. I'm gonna try to come up with a class system. Give me some slack, it's basically so we can have some guidelines. We can change it if need be.

 

Like humans would be a class 5. Not because I think humans are perfect and beat everything, but we have A: The ability to think logically. B: The ability to create language. C: The ability to feel emotion. D: The ability to question our own orgins. E: A lot of other things. Either way, here goes.

 

Animal Conscientiam Classes

 

Class 1 Animal: Little to no logical ability, no ability to communicate, operates mainly on instinct.

 

Class 2 Animal: Small to little logical ability, little to no ability to communicate, Sometimes reasons against instinct.

 

Class 3 Animal: Moderate logical ability, small ability to communicate, Can reason against instinct, little to no emotions.

 

Class 4 Animal: Large to Moderate logical ability, moderate ability to communicate, doesn't rely on instinct, has emotions.

 

Class 5 Animal: Large logical ability, Ability to communicate with a complex language, doesn't rely on instinct, has emotions.

 

 

Now to clear some things up.

 

A complex language can include sign language, but it has to have nouns, adjetives, verbs, etc. Even ancient languages, simple as they were compared to today, would easily be considered a complex language. A moderate ability to communicate can include Apes, which some have been taught some sign language. While not overly complex, it's a fairly decent ability to communicate. Dogs, I would say have small ability to communicate. They whine when they want something, bark to signal somethings up, they have play bows, etc. Fish I would say have little to no ability to communicate. Maybe I'm wrong, correct me here. And for no ability to communicate, I'd say worms or germs. Stuff like that.

 

As for the instinct part. I didn't say humans have no instincts. I said we can reason against them, and we do on a fairly common basis. The strongest instincts obviously, like fear, is a different matter. Other animals, like snakes, rely on instinct much more.

 

I'd also say, any animal capable of using a complex language, would be considered a class 5.

 

Tell me what you think about this. Remember, it's not a scientific thing. It's just something I figured would be useful. We can figure out specifics later.

Edited by Raider5678
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I wonder if there's also a requirement that the entity in question should be capable of experiencing "qualia", which I believe is roughly defined as the experience of sensation (for example, the taste of chocolate, or the smell of a flower, or seeing the colours in a rainbow). Although that may be more on the philosophical side of consciousness rather than a scientific definition.

The problem with making that a requirement is that it is impossible to know without a common language. And even then you can't be sure.

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That's true. I was recently re-watching an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Measure of a Man", in which the android crewmember Data had to legally prove himself to be a sentient person.

 

It got me thinking, how exactly would a flesh-and-blood Human go about proving to others that they themselves were properly sentient? And if you can't do that for yourself, how could you prove sentience in other people, or even animals?

 

We take it on faith that other Humans are sentient, but how could we provide conclusive proof of that?

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The problem with making that a requirement is that it is impossible to know without a common language. And even then you can't be sure.

True. But it'd be a lot easier to assume something can experience sensation if they have language and can talk about the sensations.

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True. But it'd be a lot easier to assume something can experience sensation if they have language and can talk about the sensations.

Though that is a bit like making "left fossils" as a requirement for classifying something as a dinosaur.

 

Yes, if it didn't we won't know about its existence and will therefore be unable to classify it as a dinosaur, but there are likely plenty of things that we would certainly classify as dinosaurs that we will never know about because there isn't sufficient or extent evidence of them for us to find.

 

The ability to communicate certainly makes it easier to accept the sapience of another being, but utilizing language is not necessarily a pre-requisite for having sapience. You'd expect to find that in a social intelligence, which is what we are, but while social structures are likely part of the driving factor of humanity's evolution of intelligence, it is not the only thing driving it and it may be possible for a less social creature to develop advanced intelligence by taking a different evolutionary route, in which case it may not co-evolve with anything we would recognize as language.

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Though that is a bit like making "left fossils" as a requirement for classifying something as a dinosaur.

 

Yes, if it didn't we won't know about its existence and will therefore be unable to classify it as a dinosaur, but there are likely plenty of things that we would certainly classify as dinosaurs that we will never know about because there isn't sufficient or extent evidence of them for us to find.

 

The ability to communicate certainly makes it easier to accept the sapience of another being, but utilizing language is not necessarily a pre-requisite for having sapience. You'd expect to find that in a social intelligence, which is what we are, but while social structures are likely part of the driving factor of humanity's evolution of intelligence, it is not the only thing driving it and it may be possible for a less social creature to develop advanced intelligence by taking a different evolutionary route, in which case it may not co-evolve with anything we would recognize as language.

I assumed language should be a requirement for advanced life. Because unless they're in the form of hive mind, they would have to be able to communicate ideas and knowledge to each other to make any significant progress.

Its hard for a species to start wiring things with electricity, if the idea on how to build generators and how to use wires is only with one of them, and the others must examine it to figure out how it works.

Knowledge would be lost with each generation, but knowledge would also be gained. But the net worth would be stupidly slow.

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