Polling is now closed. Results:
Descarte was right; animals are not sentient beings: 1
Gertrude was right; animals recognize others, so are sentient: 9
It is more complicated than that/undecided: 2
What I found interesting about this post was that it had ~80 views, but only 12 people voted.
When Rene Descarte posited “I think, therefore I am.” the necessary secondary conclusion is that those unable to form that simple declaration of self-awareness are, well, not. Were they able to perform the linguistic gymnastics (and thereby proving they “are”), one presumes they would posit “I cannot express my thought, therefore I am not.” Less well known is Gertrude Stein’s declaration of existence, “I am I because my little dog knows me.” Her proof of life is just as conclusive, except that it relies on the ability of her pet to recognize its person. In Descarte’s view, dogs cannot feel love, or any other actual emotion, because they are unable to voice their own self-awareness. In Stein’s view, her own self-awarewness is defined by her dog’s ability to love her. What is your view?