Sentientism: Evidence, reason and compassion

FAQ YouTubePodcastCommunity Updates!

Welcome! – thank you for visiting and, hopefully, for being curious about Sentientism: “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.”

Sentientism is a philosophy or worldview – a way of thinking about what’s real and what matters.

Sentientists use evidence and reason to work out what to believe in, so don’t hold supernatural beliefs.

Sentientists also have compassion for every sentient being – any being capable of experiencing, particularly experiencing suffering or flourishing. Roughly speaking, that’s human and non-human animals, but other types of being could conceivably be sentient too.

“Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings” sounds fairly obvious, but it has some radical implications and most people on the planet disagree with it – so far…

This site has video, audio and writing about Sentientism and we have a YouTube channel for your eyes and a podcast for your ears. This FAQ answers some common questions. We post updates here!

For a more personal touch, you might like to read some of the messages people are leaving on our “Wall of Sentientists”. See if you can spot the “celebrities” on the wall or on our Suspected Sentientists page. You can even add yourself if the philosophy fits personally.

There’s a global movement starting to grow up around Sentientism. Anyone interested is welcome to join our forums – Sentientist or not.

The commitment to evidence and reason means that Sentientism, like secular humanism, doesn’t hold to any supernatural beliefs. Having compassion for all sentient beings means sentientists see causing harm or death to a sentient as morally negative.

Beings that have sentience (or sentients), are those that can experience – both suffering and flourishing.  Sentient beings today include humans and non-human animals – the clear priorities. However, sentient beings could potentially include artificial and alien intelligences should we create or encounter them.

If Sentientism sounds interesting, come and join our friendly, global community here. Anyone interested is welcome, whether or not you count yourself as a sentientist. We have people from around 80 countries involved to date – a mix of academics, activists, writers, policy people and interested lay people like me.

If you’d like to find out more you can read our Sentientism FAQ and some magazine articles on Sentientism here , watch video here and listen to some the podcasts about Sentientism here. Please let me know what you think – in comments below or on one of our community groups.

Once you’ve learned about Sentientism, you might consider yourself a sentientist. If you do, visit our “I’m a Sentientist!” page and add yourself to our wall. No detail needed – you can just leave your first name or add some thoughts depending on what you’re comfortable with.

Sentientism might feel like a fairly niche idea, but it has far reaching implications. This piece sets out some ideas about what might disappear in a sentientist world. and our “How?” section has ideas about how you might be able to make the world a little more rational and compassionate.

Here’s another piece that compares sentientism to some related philosophies and movements.  Hopefully this helps to clarify why I think it is distinctive and valuable. The following slides show some of those comparisons and set out where Sentientism came from.

This is a short read covering my thoughts re: “Is Humanism good enough” and pointing out where sentientism is an improvement.

This piece argues we should integrate animal, human and even artificial or alien intelligence rights into sentient rights. Here, I’ve set out what a Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights might look like.

To date, there’s little mention of sentientism outside of philosophical circles. Given its importance — I feel that’s odd. If you’re interested in talking about the topics raised or finding out more, we run a range of online forums you can find here. Anyone interested is welcome, you don’t need to consider yourself a sentientist.

If you think sentientism is important and would like to help raise awareness of the idea, I’ve written some ideas about how you could help here.

There’s a Sentientism Wikipedia page, a Simple English Wikipedia page and an Animawiki one – feel free to help improve them.

8 Comments

  1. (Some sections removed by administrator)

    Hi to whom this may concern,

    My name is Constantine Stambolitis. I don’t like speciesism. What can we do to stop speciesism because we allow people to post on mainstream websites like Reddit of not liking “dirty animals” like dogs… Look at this speciesist Reddit… https://www.reddit.com/r/dogfree/about You can go lie about how dogs have no feelings and then turn around and say I know they feel, I just dislike them and say otherwise. It makes no sense because “dirty animals” are naturally occurring creatures and some of these people go as far as saying we should exterminate them… They act like they were created to be killed by humans or if not on the belief of doing that, just hate them because they are dirty and for their creation by nature. And then they have the nerve to say in response to scientific articles that say animals feel, including the “dirty animals” I know I’m lying, I am expressing hate and I need to lie, that’s the difference. I would not believe someone the minute they admit to lying and come up with excuses for us to believe them… It is sickening a person can right in BBC.com I dislike dogs… They are not using the hate colloquially most of the time, it’s literal, literal like hating a murderer who killed a love one in your face… If you have allergies or mental health issues that cause it, that’s excused to a degree. If not, you are a speciesist. These people need to be censored.

    Best,

    Constantine

  2. Whilst I agree that animals and all sentient beings have feelings and that Humans have a great deal to learn about increasing compassion, I see no solid reason why our efforts should be centred on anything but Humanism. Animals have no means of organising and effecting any change in the desirable directions. Humans have so much put down other humans that the correction of humans must take priority. As an example of how to correct things I have no objection to animals being chosen for exemplar demonstrations . I.e. If you cannot show kindness and reap the benefits of compassion to a cat then it is unlikely that you will be fully successful with Humans

    • Thanks David. Sentientism is less about expecting non-human sentient animals to organise and drive change. It’s more about “correcting humans” as you put it – including encouraging humans to seriously extend our moral consideration to all sentient beings. Some Humanist organisations and many Humanists are already open to that. But sadly, most of the humanist movement remains exclusively focused on humans and more specifically on resisting religious privilege. Those are important causes, but, while we work on them, there’s no reason to continue needlessly causing suffering & death to the non-human sentients we share the planet with. You might find this short piece interesting Is Humanism Good Enough?

  3. The cetaceans (whales and dolphins) evolved before humans did. Their brains are larger than ours and as they have no hands they do not need to waste any brain power in motor control of these limbs. Nor do they need to spend so much brainpower on the consideration of all things material. They do not have that human intellectual “hand” icap, which must surely be our greatest obstacle in comparison. For example, pure mathematics, therefore, is more likely to be of interest to them than applied mathematics. However, I wonder if they apply their maths to aspects of navigation, and the understanding of space, especially living outdoors as they do all night long and every night, under the stars. Those stars must be far closer to their minds than they are to human minds.
    Scientists have discovered there are areas of the cetacean brain for which they have no explanation and which humans lack. They also have more of the special fibres that are associated with compassion. What might they use these mysterious zones for? I do wonder.

    As a fiction author it is my job to explore that and I have come up with some suggestions in my work. However, I am unfortunately only human and therefore limited. But possibly things we think of as fictional, like astral travel and telepathy. In fact I have experienced what felt uncannily like dolphin telepathy when I was kayaking among dolphins once. I videoed the experience here:
    https://youtu.be/Pb9z1YNDF10

  4. This was very interesting to come across! I’m a transition/newbie vegan. I also might lack empathy, lack remorse and I also have violent/antisocial urges and desires due to my mental condition. I am what people would (and have) describe as a ‘sociopath’

    It is kinda hard transitioning and trying to advocate for all sentient things but I am trying.. I feel like I can’t be a sentientist right now but I like the fact that this ideology or whatever it is focuses on evidence and reason! I see myself as either logical or just not caring and acting according to my own rules. That definitely brings me more into sentientism! I will check this out 🥰

    • Congrats on the vegan transition – hope it’s going well. So many are making the same change now. So many reasons and it’s getting easier all the time.

      Thanks for your perspective re: your mental condition. For some, there’s a strong emotional drive to their compassion – a feeling of empathy/connection/seeing from the perspective of another. For others, it is a more “logical” thing e.g. “I don’t like suffering, I’m pretty sure other sentient beings don’t either so I’m just choosing not to cause them to suffer…”. For most it’s a mix. Hopefully the naturalistic angle to Sentientism feels helpful re: driving your compassion even if you don’t feel an emotional empathy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 − two =