I had a friend who believed that humans did not achieve sentience (self awareness) until sometime in their 20s.

Consequently, for her, there was little difference between a child and, say, a dog or a cat. A child may have more sapience (knowledge, understanding and ability to reason), but it was not sentient.

A rather severe opinion, but I suppose it could be argued that people achieve sentience at various times in their life - or, perhaps, never.


KL said…
How do you define self-awareness? I had a dog who was absolutely mad at any dog, ferociously mad and jealous of any other dogs. But, he would never bark at his image in the mirror. Even when I used to decorate him and show his face on the mirror, he would not do anything, yawn and just move away. That is an example of self-awareness - he could identify himself in the mirror.
RennyBA said…
Interesting question and I'm not sure age matter. I've seen human achieving Sentience long before 20 and some never at all.
Have a wonderful weekend Richard:-)
Richard said…
kl: It came up during a conversation where she said that while she was happy as a child, she really was not aware - anymore than a dog or cat might be.

We used to have a dog as well who did not know she was a dog, since she acted in definitely non-dog ways.

rennyba: It is one of those things we could no doubt debate for hours.
It is complicated or doesn't need to be. Is it the same as self-actualization? Or self-realization? Or does it mean to know all parts of yourelf? Any way, I think none is ever fully achieved as we are always changing and evolving, adding new layers to ourselves from the inside out, ot the outside in....the whole onion deal.
freckled-one said…
I think it depends on the person. Take my sons for example. Both have their moments when they have the self-awareness but it is much less frequent than an adult. Although I know some adults who rarely show it.
Richard said…
MOI: as mentioned to rennyba, it is something we can debate for a long time. I simply shared a piece of a conversation I had many years ago.

freckled-one: there is no question that kids show to varying degrees some sense of self-awareness. But, as I have mentioned seveal times already, I just presented a thought a friend of mine shared with me.
vina said…
age definitely does not matter...yes, some people might not even get to achieve self-awareness at all!
Steve said…
Sentience is often used as an argument about the ethics of animal rights. Does Singer ring a bell?
tin-tin said…
some never. but some earlier in life. depending on their experience, i guess :)
b said…
As others alluded to...the definition of self awareness is crucial to this debate. Is it simply acknowledgment of oneself? I think that as we grow older, the potentiality to have a richer understanding of who we are, why we act/react certain ways/etc, given the amount of experiences we acquire. Yes, all of this is highly relative...a very interesting and complex debate.

(I know this is my thrid comment on your blog today! I really enjoy reading your posts!)
Richard said…
vina: I am sure the question of self awareness is something that is easily interpreted differently by each person who is asked to define it.

matt: I have no knowledge or awareness of Singer.

tin-tin: Is sentience something we can measure?

breal: comment as many times as you like (I impose no limits - though I may sometimes be slow to respond).

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