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Author Topic: Animism and the Gods  (Read 6169 times)
Altair
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« Reply #12: July 05, 2010, 11:27:55 am »

I have to ask - what do you see as 'sentience' and 'spirit' and the relationship between them?

Apparently I've been careless with my terms. I've always used "sentience" the way they do on Star Trek: a thinking thing that is self-aware. But at least according to Wikipedia, sentience is a lot more basic than that, and varies in Western vs. Eastern philosophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

Anyway, I don't see the spirits of rocks, trees, insects, etc. as thinking things that are self-aware. What I mean by spirit is essence, an intangible, unquantifiable "something more" that all things possess.

For example, take a person. Each person is really a bunch of cells that are communicating and coordinating activities. But that collective activity translates into something much more than that, creating a functioning unit unto itself. That unit--a person--has a spirit.

Similarly a rock is more than a collection of molecules; it's a thing that can be thrown, skipped on a pond, used to grind something, etc.  My garden isn't just the plants I've put there, but has a life all it's own that flows through its boundaries.

Basically, if you can name it, it has a spirit.

I don't really see a relationship between having self-aware thoughts and having a spirit.

Is it that the entire spirit is sentient (somehow conscious), but the different bits of it aren't? If so, can you address the whole spirit by addressing just one bit of it?

I don't apply the terms "sentience" or "consciousness" to the Great Goddess, the one spirit that's manifest as this universe. Those terms are just too limited, the concepts of symbol-skilled primates that are probably as relevant to the Goddess as the electrochemical reactions inside bacteria are relevant to our thoughts. I don't know if or how She "thinks", except that we think and are part of Her.

(For the tiny part of Her that is this planet--the Earth goddess--I like to think that we humans are that goddess's brain cells, our cultures Her personality, our history Her memory. In which case, considering how we ruin and overrun this planet, I'd say She has brain cancer.)

I don't know if that clarifies things.
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