Do plants have minds?

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(2024-07-09, 07:59 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: I guess it just exceeds my "boggle threshold". Just one objection would be the Intelligent Design one. Presumably, ultimately, Consciousness is an immaterial essence imbued into matter for a purpose by the Designer(s), and that intelligent purpose starts with the Designer(s)' desire for living organisms to carry this consciousness into the world in order to experience the world, manipulate and interact with it, and make a life in it. Bacterial consciousness would not seem to be part of this manifestation.

It seems to me that there must be some level in the tree of life below which the complexity and level of abilities of the "body" becomes insufficient for consciousness to make sense, and that would be somewhere between insects and bacteria.

I guess to me it seems trying to explain why the the Designer(s) did something is quite difficult. Most of this universe is a cold empty void, and the stretches between worlds that have sentient life are so vast we might never make clear contact with extraterrestrials.

A great deal of life on earth itself involves what seems like purposeless suffering and the allowance of great evil through history.

A bacteria seems to be as much a viable choice for a soul to experience the physical as an insect or rodent, if these same souls are willing to be born into abject poverty where they have a strong chance of experiencing the evils of this life?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


I don't like to eat raw vegetables. It bothers me to cut up living things and grind them into paste with my teeth and then swallow them.

I would rather eat dead meat then live plants.
The first gulp from the glass of science will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you - Werner Heisenberg. (More at my Blog & Website)
(This post was last modified: 2024-07-10, 01:08 AM by Jim_Smith.)
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(2024-07-10, 01:07 AM)Jim_Smith Wrote: I don't like to eat raw vegetables. It bothers me to cut up living things and grind them into paste with my teeth and then swallow them.

I would rather eat dead meat then live plants.

The problem here is that the dead meat got to that condition by a cruel process of factory farming the steers or pigs under terrible circumstances and then brutally slaughtering them. The steers and pigs are definitely conscious beings. That seems to me to be much more cruel than eating live plants which only maybe have at least some form of rudimentary consciousness. It seems to me that being a thoughtful meat eater today requires the ability to tolerate a considerable cognitive dissonance about eating. That is the case for myself. I have found meat eating necessary for my health, and I very much like it; those two factors outweigh the discomfort of the cognitive dissonance. 

It is interesting that some societies (such as the Japanese) make a regular practice of blessing and thanking the animal or plant and its spirit which contributed its substance to the meal. This practice could be a recognition of the true nature of our relationship with our living foods which are actually living beings with spirit, or (cynically) it could just be an unconsciously motivated way of rationalizing and relieving the cognitive dissonance.
(This post was last modified: 2024-07-10, 04:22 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 2 times in total.)
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(2024-07-10, 03:45 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: It is interesting that some societies (such as the Japanese) make a regular practice of blessing and thanking the animal or plant and its spirit which contributed its substance to the meal. This practice could be a recognition of the true nature of our relationship with our living foods which are actually living beings with spirit, or (cynically) it could just be an unconsciously motivated way of rationalizing and relieving the cognitive dissonance.

Yeah I've been thinking sometimes I should go back to some kind of prayer thanking my food for giving its life to me.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2024-07-10, 03:45 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: The problem here is that the dead meat got to that condition by a cruel process of factory farming the steers or pigs under terrible circumstances and then brutally slaughtering them. The steers and pigs are definitely conscious beings. That seems to me to be much more cruel than eating live plants which only maybe have at least some form of rudimentary consciousness. It seems to me that being a thoughtful meat eater today requires the ability to tolerate a considerable cognitive dissonance about eating. That is the case for myself. I have found meat eating necessary for my health, and I very much like it; those two factors outweigh the discomfort of the cognitive dissonance. 

It is interesting that some societies (such as the Japanese) make a regular practice of blessing and thanking the animal or plant and its spirit which contributed its substance to the meal. This practice could be a recognition of the true nature of our relationship with our living foods which are actually living beings with spirit, or (cynically) it could just be an unconsciously motivated way of rationalizing and relieving the cognitive dissonance.

I bless the butchers who incur bad karma for me so I can eat bacon.
The first gulp from the glass of science will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you - Werner Heisenberg. (More at my Blog & Website)
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(2024-07-10, 03:45 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: The problem here is that the dead meat got to that condition by a cruel process of factory farming the steers or pigs under terrible circumstances and then brutally slaughtering them. The steers and pigs are definitely conscious beings. That seems to me to be much more cruel than eating live plants which only maybe have at least some form of rudimentary consciousness. It seems to me that being a thoughtful meat eater today requires the ability to tolerate a considerable cognitive dissonance about eating. That is the case for myself. I have found meat eating necessary for my health, and I very much like it; those two factors outweigh the discomfort of the cognitive dissonance. 

It is interesting that some societies (such as the Japanese) make a regular practice of blessing and thanking the animal or plant and its spirit which contributed its substance to the meal. This practice could be a recognition of the true nature of our relationship with our living foods which are actually living beings with spirit, or (cynically) it could just be an unconsciously motivated way of rationalizing and relieving the cognitive dissonance.

I used to live about a quarter of a mile away from a slaughterhouse and as kids we would sit and watch live pigs being driven in, saw the unloading of the animals. A few minutes later the doors would open and we'd see the carcasses hanging, sliced in two from end to end.

Yet one of the farm animals I meet on my travels are sheep. In Britain they inhabit some of the roughest terrain, great hiking country. As I'm standing there taking in the sky and rolling hills, with the gentle bleating of sheep in the background, I can't help but feel that for much of their lives they are able to roam free in such beautiful places, I almost envy them.

I don't force myself into a rigid pattern but very often I do give thanks for the creatures which will be part of my meal. There is certainly a case for giving thanks to plants too. In my case it would probably extend to a giving of thanks for everything from a glass of water to the sunshine and rain, a sense of gratitude is not out of place for it all.
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(2024-07-10, 03:45 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: The problem here is that the dead meat got to that condition by a cruel process of factory farming the steers or pigs under terrible circumstances and then brutally slaughtering them. The steers and pigs are definitely conscious beings. That seems to me to be much more cruel than eating live plants which only maybe have at least some form of rudimentary consciousness. It seems to me that being a thoughtful meat eater today requires the ability to tolerate a considerable cognitive dissonance about eating. That is the case for myself. I have found meat eating necessary for my health, and I very much like it; those two factors outweigh the discomfort of the cognitive dissonance. 

It is interesting that some societies (such as the Japanese) make a regular practice of blessing and thanking the animal or plant and its spirit which contributed its substance to the meal. This practice could be a recognition of the true nature of our relationship with our living foods which are actually living beings with spirit, or (cynically) it could just be an unconsciously motivated way of rationalizing and relieving the cognitive dissonance.

There is a profound problem here. I mean cats and dogs arguably make the best pets, they are obviously conscious, and eat a carnivorous diet (particularly cats). I think it is kinder to let a car enjoy an outside life, and that in turn means that he/she will torture and kill a fair few animals over his/her lifetime.

If we were all vegan, it isn't even clear to me whether we could maintain crops without animal dung (does anyone know) unless we kept farm animals just for their dung!

Eating meat is probably necessary for health, as you say, so I eat meat and also serve meat products to our cat!

I'd certainly like farming to be done humanely, but I doubt whether it is reasonable to go further than that.

As for your final suggestion, imagine that we discovered that we were being farmed for a breed of super-intelligent animals. Would we a appreciate any blessing they bestowed on us?

David
(2024-07-13, 10:57 AM)David001 Wrote: There is a profound problem here. I mean cats and dogs arguably make the best pets, they are obviously conscious, and eat a carnivorous diet (particularly cats). I think it is kinder to let a car enjoy an outside life, and that in turn means that he/she will torture and kill a fair few animals over his/her lifetime.

If we were all vegan, it isn't even clear to me whether we could maintain crops without animal dung (does anyone know) unless we kept farm animals just for their dung!

Eating meat is probably necessary for health, as you say, so I eat meat and also serve meat products to our cat!

I'd certainly like farming to be done humanely, but I doubt whether it is reasonable to go further than that.

As for your final suggestion, imagine that we discovered that we were being farmed for a breed of super-intelligent animals. Would we a appreciate any blessing they bestowed on us?

David

I don't think these additional considerations or ramifications of the problem change the apparent moral dilemma we experience in merely the necessity of eating in order to survive. Presumably wild predator animals' apparently cruel killing of other animals for food constitute a much reduced or nonexistent moral dilemma, since being animals they do not enjoy having spiritual/moral principles to contend with - they simply do not and cannot know any better - their predatory behavior is hardwired into them so to speak. Whereas humans have a spiritual dimension through which they have a moral obligation to at least minimize the suffering inherently  involved in their eating to survive, and hence invoking some form of cognitive dissonance in some humans.

If we somehow discovered that we ourselves are really food animals being raised for consumption by some sort of very technologically advanced and superintelligent beings, we being somewhat intelligent technologically advanced humans of course would hardly appreciate any supposedly palliative blessings they might bestow in the cruel process. Aside from the impossibility of this actually being the case in that the facts of our society and biology and history totally contradict the surmise, the blessings being given in Japanese and other foreign cultures onto the living entities being used out of necessity for food (and other purposes) all assume a spiritual world dimension in which food animals and plants have an intended place in some sort of heirarchy of life in which they exist as intended in order to allow humanity to survive and exist. This could also involve Intelligent Design of nature by higher and more  spiritual beings that could not acheive perfection, just a complicated best tradeoff. This spiritual system may not be just superstition, but a sensing of the true nature of things, and of course precludes your suggested superior beings farming humans scenario.
(2024-07-14, 03:58 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: I don't think these additional considerations or ramifications of the problem change the apparent moral dilemma we experience in merely the necessity of eating in order to survive. Presumably wild predator animals' apparently cruel killing of other animals for food constitute a much reduced or nonexistent moral dilemma, since being animals they do not enjoy having spiritual/moral principles to contend with - they simply do not and cannot know any better - their predatory behavior is hardwired into them so to speak. Whereas humans have a spiritual dimension through which they have a moral obligation to at least minimize the suffering inherently  involved in their eating to survive, and hence invoking some form of cognitive dissonance in some humans.
I suspect that all life is conscious to varying degrees, and that there is a lot of continuity between us and other animals. Some of the evidence for a spiritual dimension suggests this. NDE experiences often include dead pets. Strange friendships sometimes develop between animals that would normally think of each other purely as food or a source of deadly danger.

Some zealots would indeed like us to eat a "plant based diet", and if they got their way, we would all end up eating a very artificial, and probably unhealthy diet. Meanwhile, food animals would be phased out, and the lack of dung to fertilise the fields might become a serious problem.

I think moral arguments need to be balanced by a recognition of how those arguments are likely to be used.
Quote:If we somehow discovered that we ourselves are really food animals being raised for consumption by some sort of very technologically advanced and superintelligent beings, we being somewhat intelligent technologically advanced humans of course would hardly appreciate any supposedly palliative blessings they might bestow in the cruel process. Aside from the impossibility of this actually being the case in that the facts of our society and biology and history totally contradict the surmise, the blessings being given in Japanese and other foreign cultures onto the living entities being used out of necessity for food (and other purposes) all assume a spiritual world dimension in which food animals and plants have an intended place in some sort of heirarchy of life in which they exist as intended in order to allow humanity to survive and exist. This could also involve Intelligent Design of nature by higher and more  spiritual beings that could not acheive perfection, just a complicated best tradeoff. This spiritual system may not be just superstition, but a sensing of the true nature of things, and of course precludes your suggested superior beings farming humans scenario.

Oh dear, my remark was partly meant as a joke, but also to point out that if we really did discover something of that sort, we would presumably decide that life was still worth living, even if we would be culled at the end of it.

I do agree that ID almost certainly involved some complicated tradeoffs - because the entities that did it were not omniscient or omnipotent gods.

David
I have one additional thought regarding food. I have always had an exrtgemely strong dislike of seeing food wantonly wasted. I expect that is because I was born a few years after WWII and my parents knew the value of food.

Some people will do into a restaurant and order food just to be social and then hardly touch it.
For a while this was thought of as a US phenomenon, but gradually it has spread over here and elsewhere too.

Restaurants with a buffet are particularly incredible - people will stack their plates and then leave much of it - yet they could decide exactly how much food they want.

This habit seems particularly disrespectful towards food.

David
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