Tex wrote:The basic definition is usually something like "conscious life forms" or "beings with a mind". Plants and some life forms like bacteria would not be included. Ants and other insects definitely are included in "sentient beings".
A good qualifying question might be "Is the being capable of making decisions?". Plants, bacteria, etc do respond to stimuli, but there is not a mind making a decision in there.
Riverbend wrote:Thank you for taking the time to answer. Isn't it very difficult to know what has a mind? An ant, for instance. How can we say it has a mind and isn't just responding to stimuli? Humans have a subjective self awareness. We act and ask questions about it. That's the difference between just responding and making decisions.
Riverbend wrote:But talking of ants, what would be the action of a Buddhist if confronted with thousands of ants in his kitchen where he keeps his food?
octathlon wrote:Is there anything in the teachings on where the 'line' is drawn? I tried searching and couldn't find it. Maybe whatever Pali term was used would help, as opposed to trying to guess based on the English translation?
I was thinking the answer be related to creatures in whose bodies rebirth could occur, but couldn't find any clues on what those would be.
Tex wrote:Riverbend wrote:But talking of ants, what would be the action of a Buddhist if confronted with thousands of ants in his kitchen where he keeps his food?
This exact question was asked and the majority of the responses were things like thoroughly cleaning the kitchen to remove the source of the attraction for the ants and I think there was something that ants don't like the smell of that was recommended to be used as a repellent, but I can't recall what it was.
Riverbend wrote:I have no idea if ants can suffer, but I'll play it safe.
Riverbend wrote:I prefer this criterion as experiments suggest humans are not consciously self aware until the age of about two.
One standard definition of sentience is does the organism in its functional state respond to painful/pleasurable stimuli ..
By that criterion ants are certainly sentient. They are drawn to honey. They avoid heat etc.
" suffering " is too narrow Riverbend. A more broad definition held by many is that a sentient organism responds to painful or pleasurable stimuli.
Sanghamitta wrote:Sure its problematic..and for every philosophical solution there will be a problem..
In Theravada Buddhism we tend to the pragmatic. To whatever reduces suffering, and aids insight into the way things are. We tend not to do abstract verities. So we have a rough hewn working definition of a number of things. Including sentience. Buddhadhamma is a verb, Its what we do. Rather than a coherent belief system.
Sanghamitta wrote:All we can do is take responsibility for our own actions and leave as small a footprint as possible.
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