Thursday 3 February 2022

Can you think?


Continuing our series of posts about knowledge. So far we have discussed Art (Rodin's The Kiss), then History (Henry VIII and the Tudors), and Nutrition. Today it is Philosophy.

Now I know that some of you do not like the TV and Film series Star Trek. But please bear with me. This has nothing to do with Star Trek per se.

I have just watched an old episode where a discussion takes place as to whether Data, (an Android robot), is a living creature or not.

By way of background; Data is a robot created by a human scientist. He looks perfectly like a human and acts as a human in the most part. He has super strength, is capable of faster reactions, reading speeds, calculations and problem solving as well as limitless memory functions. Basically, he is far better than any human and does not need sleep or feeding.

The question is: Is he a machine or a living being?

The debate develops that to be a living being you need to have intelligence. Data certainly has that and can deduce an outcome by analysing and considering various variables.

Another measure to have life is to be sentient. Data is that too. He has developed friendships and is able to learn, and he appreciates a joke.

Also, to have life you need to be self-aware. And yet again, Data is that.

Let's now move away from Star Trek. My thoughts turned to animals.

They are living beings. No one can dispute that. They live. They die. And they reproduce. The three measures of life.

But what distinguishes them from us?

Are they intelligent? Some animals are very intelligent. This has been proved to various degrees.

Are they sentient? Again, I would say yes. Some animals do develop friendships with humans and can communicate their feelings in different situations. 

Are they self-aware? I struggle with this. Does a dog know that he exists? Or does he just act on instinct? Does he reason that by behaving in a certain way he will be treated accordingly? Is he aware that he is getting old? Do the goldfish in my pond realise that it is me feeding them every day? Do the birds think the same at my bird table? Does the squirrel laugh at me when he steals the seeds from the bird table? Does the spider care how often I clean his web from high up in the ceiling? Do animals plot and plan like we do?

This is a two-way, or more-ways, conversation. What do you think?

 I need a beer.

 Now that's intelligent, sentient and self-aware. Unless I have too many beers!!!


  1. I need a lemon tea, with honey after ALL that..
    Scuse me while pop downstairs and make one....!

    The question about the difference between man
    and animals..which l learned in the early days
    of religious instruction..was that man has a
    Soul..and refers to the part of man that connects
    and communicates with God..!
    Animals possess 'NO' Soul..!

    I've seen the latest episode of 'Click' on the BBC
    News item on there was a presenter
    talking the the top half of a 'robot' Yes! a robot,
    if you closed your eyes, it was if they were talking
    to a normal human..amazing! :). BUT! Never~the~Less
    a robot..!
    Once again..the difference being the question of a

    HeHe! I need another lemon tea..and perhaps a couple
    of Bourbon bickies..! :).
    'And for the information of certain individuals... only have to eat the bikkies and drink the
    milk...! :O)
    🌷🌸🌷 🌷🌸🌷 🌷🌸🌷 🌷🌸🌷 🌷🌸🌷 🌷🌸🌷

    1. Yes, I have heard the argument about the soul. As C S Lewis said, "We ARE a soul. We have a body!"

      God bless, Willie.

    2. C. S. Lewis also said....
      "I believe in Christianity as I believe
      that the sun has risen..not only because
      I see it, but because by it I see everything

  2. ...I think, but perhaps not in this much depth.

  3. What is a bird table?

    You British, always doing horrible things to the English language.

    1. A bird table is a wooden platform standing on a pole. It stands in the garden and you put seeds on it. No need for chairs around it because birds just land on the platform and eat the seeds. Sometimes a squirrel climbs up the pole and eats the seeds too.

      I agree though, we keep changing the English language which confuses people even more.

      God bless, Sandi.

  4. I hate to admit my ignorance, but that is the first time I have ever seen the word 'sentient' used. I looked it up. It will not become part of my vocabulary, my limited vocabulary is already set. ;-), but I do not mind KNOWING the meaning of a word incase I read it in one of your books. I am enjoying reading 'Reflections'. It has helped in my knowledge and yes, I do laugh and smile a lot but I appreciate you taking time to lift us up.
    I did like the statement whether yours or Lewis's, "We are a Soul with a body." Wait, that wasn't in Reflections, musta been a book. ;-)
    Love from here, I know the above makes no sense, but I finally got old....
    Sherry & jack

    1. I shall try not to use the word sentient too often, Jack. I'm so pleased to learn you are enjoying my latest book "Time For Reflections". It is a sequel/companion to "Man and God".

      I believe it was C S Lewis who first proposed that we are all souls. Souls created by God and enveloped in a body. The body eventually disintegrates but the soul lives on. That's what it means to be in His image. A soul capable of love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

      Hope you and Sherry are keeping well.

      God bless always my friend.

    2. according to my old dictionary: "Sentient; having the capacity of sensation"
      To me sensation means feeling, (sensing) and I know that animals do have feeling, they feel pain for sure, and I am sure they also feel joy and love for those who care for them. They have their own version of a soul.

    3. Feelings ... nothing more than feelings ... trying to forget my feelings of love ...

      This is a song by Andy Williams, surely!

      God bless, River.

  5. I love this post, Victor ... one of your best!
    Yes, I believe what Mr. Lewis says; I wonder if he's not the same person who said we're all souls just going through a temporary human experience.

    1. Hi Mevely,

      I have discovered the following from my little knowledge of things.

      Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is supposed to have said "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

      He was a French philosopher, paleontologist, and Jesuit priest who thought deeply on the meaning of our existence and relationship with the Divine.

      Thank you for saying you liked this post. I try my best to please with variety and interesting articles.

      God bless always.

  6. Dearest Victor,
    Well, humans do have a soul; that is a soul belonging to God. Satan too has some 'souls' in his grip...
    As for animals, there certainly are extremely intelligent and loyal dogs for instance that have been trained to support humans in many ways. It is hard to believe that they have 'no' soul.
    There will be still many unanswered questions for all of us that get revealed later when we pass on into the forever life. Hope to see some of our favorite pets back though!!!

    1. As you rightly say, Mariette, there are so many unanswered questions that for now will remain a mystery to us. That's why we must have faith in God that He is in control and knows what He is doing.

      God bless you and yours.

  7. You're quite the thinker, Victor. Thoughts that I never even considered.

    1. I like thinking, especially when I am sitting down with a beer or a Guinness.

      God bless you, Bill.

  8. Data is one of my favorite characters and I remember that episode.
    We are a soul with a body - so true!

    1. Good plot-line. Good scripts. Good actors.

      I liked Star Trek.

      God bless, Happyone.

  9. The difference, of course, is the image of G-d in us, but not in the animals.

  10. I can't speak for spiders, but I do think other animals have similar feelings to we humans. Their need for food and comfort is the same and if we love them and treat them well, they will love us back. Dogs especially. As for Star Trek's Data, I would say he is a living machine, with circuits in place of circulation, but does he have a heart? Is it a battery? Does he need to be plugged in at night?

    1. Agreed; but do animals "love" us really? Or do they act on instinct? We feed them; they wag their tails, or purr or ...

      God bless, River.

  11. We have a robin who comes and gives me the evil eye if the seed feeder is empty. He stares at me angrily. So, yes, he knows who feeds him.

    1. I don't know ... is it just cause and effect? The robin has seen you put out feed and is asking for more. Or does he really reprimand you for not putting out food?

      God bless.



God bless you.