Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 03 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by Replay, Auditor

By sentience, I mean the "something it is to be like" - or, the "inside" of a living thing. Like, for example, you have an "outside" (your body, your brain, etc.) and an "inside" (your mind, feelings, memories, etc).

If an object only has an "outside" (a "vacuous entity"), then it is considered insentient. Objects with and an "inside" as well as an "outside" are considered sentient.

Ok that makes sense. And whilst I have a different idea of what sentience is and think it is a mistake to really think there is such a thing as an inside and an outside, I have no problem with such a classification. From a certain point of view, it can certainly be helpful in describing it in such a way. The problem comes though when we get caught up in these classifications and begin to think they are real things by themselves.

Due to all the classifications we have in the world today, such as night and day, hot and cold, static and dynamic, inside and outside, sentience and insentience, it can often seem like we live in dualism. When you look closely at them though, you can see that this just isn't so. They are just labels we put on things to make it easier for us to discuss them. And as I said, the problem only comes when we take the label for something concrete, instead of looking closely at the thing it describes.

For instance, hot and cold are not really two different things, they are just different phases of heat. And heat is not something that stands by itself either.

The same goes for night and day, static and dynamic, inside and outside or sentience and insentience. They are all just phases.

Basically what i am trying to say is that nothing stands by itself and that even though it is hard to see, everything can be tracked back to see how it interrelates. This is why i said in my previous post that I really have no problem with there being insentience and sentience without moving into dualism, as to me, they are just labels.

Reading the rest of what you said, i think you pretty much grasp this though. Especially the bit about saying rocks have some primordial sentience; something that makes them really no different to us, just at a lower stage of development. So the question once again becomes the one I first asked you: Just what is this sentience?

Don't worry about answering that though as i don't really expect an answer. Its one of those questions that runs far deeper than it first appears and can perhaps take years to answer (and even if you do, there is always room to deepen that understanding). I am just hoping to point out that perhaps it is a question worth spending more time on.

The only other thing i would say is that while from a certain point of view i would agree that things are composed of "occasions of experience", i don't really agree that they are only made up of what you call external objects such as colours, sounds, mass etc. Whilst they are certainly a part of what makes a thing what it is, i think you would find your time much better spent looking for the source of these attributes. view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown