Re: Re: Finding a definition of Human (was Re: Fetal tissue)-sentience

Entropyfoe (
Wed, 4 Mar 1998 22:49:23 EST

Yes sentience is the key. My Extropian values include sentience and
consciousness high on the list. The term "sentient being" is massivly studied
in Buddhism. If any religion can be said to be Extropian, Buddhism is the
greatest in extent. Their use of mental disciplines for higher
consciousness/enlightenment, their emphesis on direct experience and
experiment rather than dogma, and their athiest/agnostic cosmology, are very
Sentience is an emergent property of complex systems. The degree of sentience
is a function of the system's complexity. A just fertilized egg, dividing
into 8 or 16 cells has negligible complexity and awarness. I think pigs and
have some rudamentary sentience, and in Buddhist thought, certianly a fetus
does. [Does a dog have Buddha-nature?
A goal is to maximize sentience and minimize suffering. Abortions should be
minimized, used only where birth would increase suffering. Killing of animals
is unnecessary, except in emergencies, when to not eat their meat would
result in loss of human life, which is of greater sentience.
For me the Extropian position is to increase sentience, through all means,
both human and machine, and reduce suffering, through medical technology and
The notion of the sentient being is directly related to the 'singularity' when
machines readily attain human or greater intelligences. At what point are the
machines awarded the rights of "persons". This topic is heavily the subject
of science fiction [Bruce Sterling, Greg Eagen, Jean Mark Gawron etc] and at
the a focal point of several Extropian beams.

In a message dated 3/5/98 12:50:54 AM, you wrote:
>The question should be : "When does a human being become sentient?"
>IMO a fetus is not a sentient being. And if the parent(s) do wish
>it NOT to become a sentient being, they should be allowed to "murder"
>IT, BEFORE it does.
>IMO it's even questionable if a newly born baby is a sentient being.
>I get the impression that a baby, less than a couple of months old,
>seems even less sentient than a dog. Furthermore it is commonly
>accepted to murder pigs. And pigs are claimed to be even more
>intelligent and sentient than dogs. Following this reasoning it
>should also be acceptable to murder babies.
>However personally, because of emotional reasons, I think we
>should draw the line at hte point at least before the moment
>of birth.
>And after all, I wouldn't kill a dog too (at least when I'm not
>extremely hungry :-> )
>The most rational way however, would be to determine for each
>case separately if the baby in question has become sentient
>enough to claim the right to live.
>However what is sentient enough?
>And furthermore this procedure would be quite impractical and
>probably not fail-proof.
>>What's so special anyway about the moment of conception that a 'person'
>>begins to exist there?
>I guess that most people who claim this, assume that a non-physical
>spirit is entering the biological body at this moment.
>>Hkl ------> Technology & Future at http://
>Transcedo --> Dutch Transhumanist Society
>Because the future is where we will spend the rest of our lives ...
>You see things and ask "Why?" ; I dream things and ask "Why not?"