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Sentient: The Sensory World of Animals

A café climatique event

 

Jackie Higgins in conversation with Eva Meijer

We’re often described as “sentient” beings, but what does that word mean? Is it our ability to feel and experience the world? In other words, is it interchangeable with “consciousness”? Or does sentience more simply describe sensitivity, the ability of our eyes, nose, tongue, skin to sense our surroundings? This latter definition would make sentience the foundation on which the more elusive notions of experience and consciousness waver. Scientists debate whether animals experience consciousness but they readily ascribe sentience to them. So we can turn to the natural world to explore what we mean by human sentience.

Join documentary maker and writer Jackie Higgins on a journey through the sensory world of humans and other animals. In conversation with Eva Meijer, philosopher and author of Animal Languages, Higgins will tell the stories of a menagerie of animals to reveal how we humans sense and make sense of the world. In this way, the sensory powers that lie dormant within us will be revealed.

Jackie Higgins grew up by the sea in Cornwall and has always been fascinated by the natural world. She is a television documentary director and writer. She read zoology at Oxford University, as a student of Richard Dawkins. Across her career, she has directed numerous wildlife films and written three books on photography. Her new book Sentient: A Journey Through the Sensory Worlds of Humans and Other Animals will be published in June by Picador.

Eva Meijer is an artist and postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and the author of many books, including 
Animal Languages and When Animals Speak, both published in 2019. evameijer.nl  / twitter.com/meijereva

 

Jackie Higgins in conversation with Eva Meijer

We’re often described as “sentient” beings, but what does that word mean? Is it our ability to feel and experience the world? In other words, is it interchangeable with “consciousness”? Or does sentience more simply describe sensitivity, the ability of our eyes, nose, tongue, skin to sense our surroundings? This latter definition would make sentience the foundation on which the more elusive notions of experience and consciousness waver. Scientists debate whether animals experience consciousness but they readily ascribe sentience to them. So we can turn to the natural world to explore what we mean by human sentience.

Join documentary maker and writer Jackie Higgins on a journey through the sensory world of humans and other animals. In conversation with Eva Meijer, philosopher and author of Animal Languages, Higgins will tell the stories of a menagerie of animals to reveal how we humans sense and make sense of the world. In this way, the sensory powers that lie dormant within us will be revealed.

Jackie Higgins grew up by the sea in Cornwall and has always been fascinated by the natural world. She is a television documentary director and writer. She read zoology at Oxford University, as a student of Richard Dawkins. Across her career, she has directed numerous wildlife films and written three books on photography. Her new book Sentient: A Journey Through the Sensory Worlds of Humans and Other Animals will be published in June by Picador.

Eva Meijer is an artist and postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and the author of many books, including 
Animal Languages and When Animals Speak, both published in 2019. evameijer.nl  / twitter.com/meijereva

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Date

Jul 08 2021

Time

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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