Plight Of Animals At Bangkok’s Rooftop Zoo Above Department Store
September 21, 2010
All I can ask is… How would We i.e. human beings, like to be treated in this way?
These are sentient beings, just like ourselves. For those of you who might not understand what sentience is, please read the following (lifted from Wikipedia, due to time constraints today) to see how other groups of human beings, who reside here on Earth with us, presently view our neighbouring and fellow life forms…
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Sentience… What Is It?
Western Philosophy And Sentience
Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive. The term is used in science and philosophy, and in the study of artificial intelligence. Sentience is used in the study of consciousness to describe the ability to have sensations or experiences, known to Western philosophers as “qualia“. In the philosophy of consciousness, “sentience” can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or “qualia”. This is distinct from other aspects of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts that mean something or are “about” something). Sentience is a minimalistic way of defining “consciousness”, which is otherwise commonly used to collectively describe sentience plus other characteristics of the mind.
Eastern Philosophy/Religion And Sentience
In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care… While most of Eastern philosophy is strongly connected to religious aspects of understanding i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, they nearly all recognize nonhumans as sentient beings. In Jainism and Hinduism, this is closely related to the concept of ahimsa, or nonviolence, toward other beings. In Jainism, all matter is endowed with sentience; there are five degrees of sentience, from one to five. Water, for example, is a sentient being of the first order, as it is considered to possess only one sense, that of touch. Man is considered to be a sentient being of the fifth order. According to Buddhism, sentient beings made of pure consciousness are also possible. In Mahayana Buddhism, which includes Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, the concept is related to the Bodhisattva, an enlightened being devoted to the liberation of others. The first vow of a Bodhisattva states: “Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to free them.”
Sentience is, from a Buddhist perspective, the state of having senses (sat + ta in Pali, or sat + tva in Sanskrit). In Buddhism, the senses are six in number, the sixth being the subjective experience of the mind. Sentience is simply awareness prior to the arising of Skandha. Thus, an animal qualifies as a sentient being.
Animal Rights And Sentience
In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience implies the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Animal-rights advocates typically argue that any sentient being is entitled at a minimum to the right not to be subjected to unnecessary suffering, though they may differ on what other rights (e.g., the right to life) may be entailed by simple sentience.
In the 17th century Thomas Tryon, a self-proclaimed Pythagorean, raised the issue of non-human suffering. Soon thereafter, many philosophers used the anatomical discoveries of the Enlightenment as a reason to include animals in what philosophers call “sympatheia” – sympathy, affinity of parts to the organic whole, mutual interdependence (the organic whole is similar to what Spinoza referred to as the notion of “God, or Nature”) – the principle of who or what deserves sympathy. Benjamin Franklin‘s autobiography identifies Tryon’s writings as an influence in his decision to try vegetarianism; later in the book, he reverts to eating meat while still following Tryon’s basic philosophy. Joseph Ritson coupled Tryon’s work with Rousseau‘s for “Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food” as many Rousseauists became vegetarian. Voltaire compared the Hindu treatment of animals to how Europe’s emperors and popes treated even their fellow men, praising the former and heaping shame upon the latter; in the 17th century Pierre Gassendi, and Francis Bacon also advocated vegetarianism.
The 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham compiled Enlightenment beliefs in Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (second edition, 1823, chapter 17, footnote), and he included his own reasoning in a comparison between slavery and sadism toward animals:
The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor [see Louis XIV's Code Noir]… What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
In the 20th century, Princeton University professor Peter Singer argued that Bentham’s conclusion is often dismissed by an appeal to a distinction that condemns human suffering but allows non-human suffering, typically “appeals” that are logical fallacies. Because many of the suggested distinguishing features of humanity — extreme intelligence, highly complex language, etc… — are not present in marginal cases such as young or mentally disabled humans, it appears that the only distinction is a prejudice based on species alone, which animal-rights supporters call speciesism — that is, differentiating humans from other animals purely on the grounds that they are human. In my eyes, this is akin to any type of bigoted racism.
Gary Francione also bases his abolitionist theory of animal rights, which differs significantly from Singer’s, on sentience. He asserts that “all sentient beings, humans or nonhuman, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.”
Andrew Linzey, founder of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in England, is known as a foremost international advocate for recognizing animals as sentient beings in Biblically-based faith traditions. The Interfaith Association of Animal Chaplains encourages animal ministry groups to adopt a policy of recognizing and valuing sentient beings.
In 1997 the concept of animal sentience was written into the basic law of the European Union. The legally-binding Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam recognizes that animals are “sentient beings”, and requires the EU and its Member States to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals”.
The laws of several global states include certain invertebrates such as cephalopods (octopuses, squids) and decapod crustaceans (lobsters, crabs) in the scope of animal protection laws, implying that these animals are also judged to be capable of experiencing pain and suffering.
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I hope this at least causes one to think about the big long line of cause and effect in their actions… Whether the innocuously packaged meat on the shelves of our supermarkets not only hides the blood and gore behind the murder of these animals, but whether it also blinds us to the honest truth that all animals are really sentient in the same way that we are… And thus, if we treat any one Being with the slightest amount of disrespect, similar to that which is being shown to those animals in the so-called Bangkok “zoo” above the department store, then we are condoning malicious behaviour to sentient Beings… And, as we i.e. human beings, ourselves are sentient Beings, we are also propagating seeds for violence that might be towards ourselves.
It’s time to wake up… And realise that we can be Shepherds of the Earth. We have an ability to care for and tend to all Life that resides here in this intricate web of wondrous unfolding… We can use this long chain of interdependent memetic origination to make people aware of another’s plight… And so help change the causes that creates suffering. Perhaps then… Maybe… We can ensure that ‘nearly’ every living creature i.e. every “sentient” being, can have the chance to enjoy this garden of Eden that hangs in the inky black deserts of space and time, to live and do as “God, or Nature” allowed for it… Life is precious. It’s rare. And we are standing on one dot that has afforded many a chance to experience this lottery of existence. Everyone – all sentient beings – have a right… Maybe then we might well have a chance at being something more than blatant advocators of exploitation and usurpation… And so learn that Nature, too, in all its wonder and majestic splendour, is just as delicate and sensitive as the lover who lies by our side.
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If you’re having a hard time understanding that animals, like humans, have feelings too, and thus might not dig the kind of treatment that they’re being subjected to in that Bangkok ‘zoo…’ Then please check out Dr Jonathan Balcombe’s important work regarding animal rights by visiting his website here.
PLUS… If you’d like to read about how science is “grading” the facial expressions of mice while they are experiencing pain, in order to see if there is a common/universal language for mammalian expression, then please click here.
To find out how you can help prevent animal cruelty here in the UK, please visit the “RSPCA” by clicking here.
OR to visit the “World Society For The Protection Of Animals” website, please click here.