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Sentient

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Sentient

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:04 pm

• sentient •


Pronunciation: sen-chênt or sent-shee-ênt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Having sensation or feeling, as opposed to being numb or dead. 2. Conscious, awake, even acutely conscious and aware, finely attuned to sensations.

Notes: Sentient does not mean "conscious of oneself or one's existence", as it is sometimes used. This meaning is not completely correct, as the definition shows. Rather, this Good Word refers to an acute consciousness of everything around you that causes sensation: sight, sound, taste, smell, feel. The adverb, of course, is sentiently, and the noun sentience is used far more frequently than sentiency, though both are available.

In Play: The basic meaning of today's Good Word refers simply to the perception of stimuli: "Andover Hand's frost-bitten toe was numb, but the others were painfully sentient of the cold." Andover would also be sentient of the cold in this word's second meaning, "conscious". Sentient can also mean acutely sensitive or conscious: "I was sentient of some tiny movement in the room, as though a mouse had shuffled just slightly in the corner."

Word History: Today's word comes from the Latin stem sentient- "sensing", the present participle of sentire "to sense, perceive". The same verb is at the root of English sentence and what a sentence expresses, a sentiment. The logical cognate of the original Proto-Indo-European root in English would be send. If the original meaning of the root were something like that of send, there must have been a time long past when sensations were interpreted as things sent to us and captured by our senses.
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Re: SENTIENT

Postby Slava » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:13 pm

Question on this one. Given its fairly basic meaning, are animals other than humans sentient? A dog's sense of smell is far more aware of scents and odors than a human's.

Second question: is there a word for the "aware of oneself" misuse of sentient?
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Re: Sentient

Postby call_copse » Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:15 am

I don't know of any expression used beyond 'self-awareness' or self-aware.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

The tests described in the 'Animals' section of the link above indicate to me at least that animals (even magpies) do possess a sense of self-awareness. I'd assume sentience as defined above to be a given really with regard to animals as they clearly sense things.

The link to the (fairly tenuous, scientifically I might think) mirror neuron stuff is quite interesting in that regard.
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Re: Sentient

Postby Slava » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:22 pm

I do believe I have it, as long as we accept the awareness of knowledge as the tipping point: Sapient.
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Re: Sentient

Postby call_copse » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:17 pm

For me sapience refers to an ability to act with judgement ; I think that might come without self-awareness (computers have passed the Turing test now?), and also self-awareness might be possible theoretically without sapience. If you accept neither of those at best I'd say sapience is merely dependent on self-awareness not actually equivalent. It's close though.
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Re: Sentient

Postby misterdoe » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:02 am

This word is often used in fiction to denote, say, artificial intelligence or inanimate objects that have somehow become self-aware. Don't ask me how I know... :wink:
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Re: Sentient

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:24 pm

You've watch many episodes of Star Trek, not that
I'm asking.
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Re: Sentient

Postby misterdoe » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:33 am

Not really, Luke, not that many anyway. I was talking about something more... participatory. :)

But sometimes writers, at least the ones I've read online, tend to use this word to denote self-awareness where it would not "normally" be found (computer or other object).
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Re: Sentient

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:58 am

In season 6 of Star Trek, Data, who is an android
discovers some worker robots created for a mining
mission on some moon, are sentient. And he uses
your term: they have become 'self aware'.

I was only being probably silly - no offense I hope.
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Re: Sentient

Postby misterdoe » Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:31 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:I was only being probably silly - no offense I hope.


No offense taken. I think I recall that episode. And the series Andromeda was all about that trope, with Rommie -- an embodiment of the ship's computer -- being fully sentient. Anyone who watched the series will always remember the scene when the bot first saw Captain Hunt with her own eyes after years of being "only" a face on a screen. For his part the captain would always remember it too, since she was... out of uniform. :!: :o
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Re: Sentient

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:11 pm

yuppers. neat stuff.
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