Are We That Different?

Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience). In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations. In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that require respect and care. The concept is central to the philosophy of animal rights because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, and thus is held to confer certain rights. Sentience implies the ability to experience pleasure and pain. It has been argued that although animals do not have all the desires we humans have and do not comprehend everything humans comprehend; nevertheless, we and they do have some of the same desires and do comprehend some of the same things. The desires for food and water, shelter and companionship, freedom of movement and avoidance of pain.

Consciousness, on the other hand, is the state or quality of sentience or awareness of internal or external existence. It has been defined as the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self-hood or soul, the fact that there is something ‘that it is like’ to ‘have’ or ‘be’ it, and the executive control system of the mind. According to Max Velmans and Susan Schneider, “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.

Intelligence is the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context. Intelligence is most often studied in humans but has also been observed in both non-human animals and in plants. Intelligence in machines is called artificial intelligence, which is commonly implemented in computer systems using programs and, sometimes, appropriate hardware.

Are we that different?

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