are plants sentient beings?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by stranger, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. stranger

    stranger Member

    meaning, are they alive? do they have feelings? do they deserve respect? if you think they have feelings or conciousness, what do you think the extent of it is?
  2. i think they have consciousness -- not sure about feelings. I do think they should be treated with respect. I know for a fact that interaction with plants is healthy for both the human and the plant.
  3. velvet

    velvet Banned

    I think that everything should be treated with respect.. to me everything has some kind of energy and it's own story.. even a simple pebble. I have a book where they discribe a test that they did with measuring the electric fields that plants have.. very interesting.. they meisured it while someone 'tortured' the plants (ripping off leaves and such) and the field changed.. more dramatically.. when the person that did this walked in the room a couple days later, the fields changed without the person touching the plants.. the plants didn't react that way with other people that treated them good or that were strangers. Weird eh?

    They don't have a central nervous system or a brain though, so it's not like they have the same conscious as animals for example.. but still.. everything has an energy field and I do believe that field changes when influenced (that can also explain why african masks can be 'cursed' or other objects are seen as 'protective talismans')..

    Just a thought..
  4. NeoPascal

    NeoPascal Member

    yes. plain and simple. they can even be trained.. please dont think i'm insane..
  5. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin

    I believe that plants do not have an individual consciousness that is associated with each plant alone ... but I also believe that throughout the entire universe flows a sort of "universal consciousness" that is akin to many people's concept of "God," and is the driving force behind reality. I believe that plants are, essnetially, One with this universal consciousness, and that plants are basically ideal for maintaining and restoring balance and harmony throughout our planet and others.

    But that's just a belief. The truth behind your question is obscured by the mysteries of the universe. =)
  6. i think they have consciousness. they follow rules that are simple, like growing toward the light, roots growing down and finding water, quit growing or grow around it when you run into something...sounds like the same stuff psychology applies to our consciousness. beyond actions, you can't even tell if WE have consciousness. we just have a brain that lets us run longer, complicated operations.
  7. thumontico

    thumontico Member

    Indeed ALL life deserves respect. But my desire to live dwarfs my desire to give respect to plants.

    Growing toward light, adjustment in growth, and root growth are NOT indicative of consciousness. Most of it has to do with chemical reactions. These chemicals do not require any sort nervous system to be released. I am not a botanist, I cannot explain further.

    What evidence for a consciousness similar to mammals and birds do you guys see that is present in plants? There is no evidence. Science attributes consciousness to the nervous system [the brain]. Plants have no such structures, therefore, aside from unfounded assertions, there is no reason to believe plants are conscious in any sense of the word.

    What reason do you have to believe in some sort of ''universal 'consciousness' ''?
  8. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin

    I believe in a universal consciousness (1) because that, for reasons either unknown, subconscious, or illogical, seems to be a belief that is closer to being true than most other beliefs, and (2) because I like to think that I have met a manifestation of such said universal consciousness, through the psychoactive Salvia divinorum.

    Considering that it felt more real to meet Mother Salvia than reality does ... as a relatively logical person (being a computer programmer since I was 10), I recognize this belief is largely illogical, but for some reason, am unable to just "shrug off" the belief and remain agnostic; it was a very powerful experience.
  9. thumontico

    thumontico Member

    I cannot speak to your subjective experience.

    What is Salvia divinorum.
  10. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin

    Salvia divinorum is a plant which contains salvinorin-A, a highly psychoactive substance. It's actually a type of sage plant. There is a lot of hype that went around saying that Salvia is "over 10 times the power of LSD," but I doubt that is true. I haven't tried LSD yet (though I want to as soon as I get a chance), but most of the people who I have talked to who have tried both Salvia and LSD say that Salvia is more powerful, though not "10 times" more powerful. Potency-wise, LSD is chemically more potent than Salvinorin-A, as LSD has noticable psychoactive effects at 50 mcg, and Salvinorin-A has noticable psychoactive effects between 100 and 200 mcg. As the dosage increases, however, the Salvia experience seems to increase exponentially compared to LSD (according to others' experiences and descriptions), and virtually all people who have taken Salvia agree that using over 1mg of Salvia is generally such an intense, mind-blowing experience that it is "frightful." At even higher doses, users have been known to lose consciousness, or at least not be able to remember anything about the experience.

    It's definately a very ... religious, and philosophical experience, only for those with an open mind. It's often said that one of the major reasons Salvia isn't all over the black market nowadays is because the experiences are too much to handle for most people. It's sparked a large amount of interest in some of the upper echelon psychoactive researchers, like Dr. Alex Shulgen and Daniel Siebert. Another odd thing about it is that it is completely unrelated to pretty much every other psychoactive known to man.

    I urge you to go read some of the experiences and information on about salvia (it's right on the main plants/drugs page).

    Another thing ... what appears to be the majority of Salvia users (who aren't frightened and never try it again, which is already the minority ...) often report encountering some kind of entity, usually in very different forms, but presenting a similar aura and essence. The entity is oddly always described as a distinctly female and motherly presence. I, personally, believe that I've encountered what we commonly call "Lady Sally," or "Mother Salvia."

    Salvia's more common names are Ska Maria Pastora, and its name translates to mean, "Sage of the Diviners." It's been used for thousands of years in healing and meditational rituals by the Mazatec Indians.

    Anyway ...

    The Salvia experience has helped me open my mind quite a bit, and as much as I logically want to dismiss the experiences I've had as "part of the trip," this is one psychoactive that I find myself unable to do that for; not even necessarily because it was "too real," but because it actually made sense, and tied together a lot of random conclusions I've had about life and existance.
  11. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    The fact that a plant contains chemicals which affect human perception doesn't mean they are sentient beings. If they were, we'd have to say LSD molecules were similarly sentient.
  12. TrippinBTM

    TrippinBTM Ramblin' Man

    First of all, your consciousness is nothing but the result of chemical reactions in your brain. Plants might not be conscious in the same way we are, but who is to say they don't have their own "plant consciousness" that we fail to see because of human bias?

    The chemical messenging within a plant, as well as BETWEEN plants (group communication) is very fine and well developed. Agreed that plants are in many ways simpler, but that's because of what they need to live. Most don't need to move or chase prey or look for anything, so they don't need a nervous system for complex actions like that.

    By the way, what evidence is there that cows and birds are conscious or that they think? There isnt any. Their brains work just like computers, input in, some computations, output out, the whole process being electrochemical in nature. Really that's how our brain works, only much more complexly, and from the subjective view we have, it looks like consciousness. But really it's input in, output out.
  13. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin

    I didn't mean to suggest that the condition of containing psychoactive substances was a symptom of sentience. =P

    I see plants as conscious in the sense that they, like pretty much everything else, are connected with and serve the will of the universal consciousness that flows throughout all in the universe. Basically, that the consciousness of plants is the same consciousness that flows throughout the Earth.
  14. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    OK-but I don't think plants have anything like the same degree of consciousness flowing through them as animals or humans. But I do think they have some kind of rudimentary awareness.
  15. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Are consciousness and thinking the same thing? I don't see it that way. We are conscious of our thoughts, but they are not consciousness itself.
    A human baby is conscious, but not able to think. Because like the animal, there is no structure there to think with. All that comes with language - symbolic language.
  16. thumontico

    thumontico Member

    Trippin, the variable = the brain

    that is why I assume plants do not have a consciousness similar to mammals or birds
  17. Varuna

    Varuna Senior Member

    Joseph Campbell, when asked about consciousness, told Bill Moyers (in The Power Of Myth) about a vine that grew up the side of a tree near their Hawaiian vacation spot. Every morning the vine opened its leaves and then turned to face the sun. To quote Joseph Campbell "You can't tell me that plant doesn't know where the sun is."

    There is a belief, similar to Panentheism, Pantheism, and Animism, which states that all things have consciousness. Every Human, every animal, every plant, the earth, the air, the water, the stones themselves, even the molecules, atoms and particles (and superstrings) have some variety of consciousness that is perfectly in tune with their state of existence.

    Because our relationships with reality (the same, ultimate, reality) can be so radically different from those of one another, everyone's consciousness, and the vast collections of "things" of which we are conscious, is more or less different.

    For example:

    Popular knowledge states that Eskimos have dozens of different words for snow. There is, of course, a lot of snow in the Arctic. Each Eskimo word for snow describes some vitally important information that the Eskimos need to know about the varieties of snow found in the arctic environment, information that our English-speaking predecessors did not need to be conscious of in order to maintain a healthy relationship with their reality. In Hindi, there is a single word (Baraf) which stands for both ice and snow. My guess is, Hindi-speaking Indians have never really had to be careful about dying in surprise blizzards.

    I'm sure that if ever we learn how to translate the language(s) of dolphins and whales into English, we will find that their vocabulary is rich with distinctive words for the rich varieties of seawater and fish of which they have to be aware. I'm sure their words for up, depth, surface and sharks are as primal a part of their consciousness as food, clothing, shelter and danger are to ours.

    What is even more interesting is the fact that dolphins have a much larger percentage of their brain dedicated to the processing of auditory information than we do for visual information. This means that they can "hear" their environment with much greater detail than we can see ours. I'm sure they have some consciousness of the auditory equivalents of color, shade, line, texture and perspective that we can't even imagine, much less actually, directly, perceive, not even visually.

    Honeybees see ultraviolet light, some snakes see infrared, dogs' sense of smell is thousands of times more acute than ours, it has been proposed that some birds and some whales can sense the earth's magnetic field, and many animals can sense earthquakes minutes before they "happen" for humans. And these are just some of the variations in animals' consciousness.

    To state the obvious, plants are alive and they respond to their environment. Their ability to respond may be seen as a good arguement that plant consciousness, regardless of however incomprehensible and "primitive" it would seem to us, does actually exist. What's more, plant consciousness is probably even more widely different from one plant species to another than it is between animal species. I would bet that the counsciousness of a Cannibis plant is quite different from that of a Ginseng plant, a Tea plant, a coffee bush, a Salvia plant, a Kava Kava plant, or a grapevine. If ever you find yourself paying some special attention to these plants (not to mention a bunch of others (that I won't mention) HA!!!) I'm quite sure you would find that they express themselves with some very widely varying ideas of what consciousness is.

    The full variety of consciousness is almost certainly beyond our direct comprehension. But, like the "mechanics" of gravity or the infinite range of electromagnetic frequencies above and below the spectrum of visible light, there is much that actually exists that is beyond our direct comprehension. It would probably be unnecessarily limiting, if not somewhat foolish, to refuse to consider the reality in which they exist.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go gather up the fragments of my fragile little mind. It seems to have wandered off every which way without me.

    Peace and Love
  18. TrippinBTM

    TrippinBTM Ramblin' Man

    You say consciousness isn't thinking, I agree (though it seems most people equate the two); I suppose we should define our terms before we start debating it. If it's just the "witness" to experiences, then there's no reason to assume for some reason plants got left out of the deal. They have to respond to their environment just like animals and humans.

    Yes, the brain makes our responses more complex. Animals, they see water (seeing being complicated enough in it's own right), the creature decides to move towards it, messages are sent to the legs, muscles contract, constant feedback keeps the animal balanced and moving, etc etc. For a plant, it's simpler, but still amazing. If the light is to the left, the plant can sense it (somehow), cells on the right side of the stem swell with water while those on the left are drained, so the plant leans left. All without centralized processing like in an animalian brain.

    Plants live more passively, but that doesn't mean they aren't responding or acting in the world. So what if the brain is involved for animals? Since when is a more complex system of response the same as "consciousness"? You can see this bias when vegetarians go on about not wanting to eat living beings so they eat plants. Plants are vividly alive, and are just as modern, developed and advanced as the animals that eat them; they aren't primitive life.

    I think to say plants aren't conscious speaks more to our human ego bias than to the true nature of consciousness in nature.
  19. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    I never said plants are not conscious - I said they don't think.

    I actually believe they are aware, although not in the way we are.

    As to the relative merits of a veggie diet over meat eating - perhaps plants suffer less in being killed than higher animals. But we can't live without killing something.
  20. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed & Confused Lifetime Supporter Super Moderator

    There is a book called The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, 1973 That addresses this issue. I was just inDaltons the other day and saw it sitting there, so its still in print.

    I don't know if its been revised or updated as it is now 30 years old and I'm sure some of its ideas must be dated by now, but its very good and thought provoking, as I remember it.


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