Nature’s consciousness

One of the most interesting things of all of our readings so far this week is the fact that many, if not all, of them have argued and shown that humanity’s perception of nature is skewed. The 22 Theses on Nature is no exception, it talks about how nature is composed of many parts from consciousness vs sentience, to how past thinkers have tried to interpret nature, to continual flows of energy. For me the part that stuck out the most was the differences between consciousness vs sentience. 

Putting nature aside, I think that the question of which is which, regarding consciousness and sentience, is fun to think about. In the reading, the author makes the connection that the definition of sentience could mean that a thermostat is sentient, which initially to me sounded absurd. But taking a second to think about it fully, I could actually make sense of it. When I initially read it I was very confused but when I re-read the paragraph, the idea that because the thermostat is an information processor means that it is sentient, like a tree.

Going to nature: From the reading I had a thought that maybe because sentience is far more widespread than consciousness and that sentience is a “lower” level of information processing, it leads to humans thinking that they are superior to sentient things. While this, probably, isn’t a revolutionary idea the passage helped me visualize this. The fact that trees only process information and change accordingly means that they are only sentient, but a dog is, to a degree, self-conscious puts them at a higher value in the eyes of some. 

Because people have thought about these differences, they’ve concluded that the harm of polluting, for example, has a less negative effect because it doesn’t impact humans. It is a very “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking but because it doesn’t have instant feedback, like the bark of a dog, many people have minimized the impacts of climate change. 

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