This is motivated by Glistening’s new post of her lifetime project: “we can begin to formulate a hypothesized set of basic prerequisites that a planet sized being might need to become functionally self-aware.”


In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations (known in philosophy of mind as “qualia”). In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care.

How might the “qualia” for Gaia differ from human experienced qualia?
Should we “respect and care for” Gaia, because we are “parts” or because Gaia “is like us”?

Sentience, as defined, doesn’t imply agency.  Would Gaia respond to being sentient?  The issue of Zombies in human consciousness studies would apply to Gaian sentience; might there be a Gaian Zombie?

Is it the whole planet or just Gaia that would be sentient, or just a global enhanced humanity?
What are some operational procedures we might perform to determine sentience? Which of these “measures” will be necessary and sufficient to define sentience?
Do you wish to include “agency” for your sentient Gaia?
Can we discover whether Gaia is already sentient?

All life forms are “sentient” in that they detect and respond to sensory stimuli. Whether they “experience” (and not be Zombies)  remains controversial. But, science is tending towards “animal experience”. Some animals recognize their self in mirrors, most don’t.  Is self-awareness a requirement you seek?

If you seek humanity or Gaia to have a human style “consciousness” you must go beyond mere “sentience”.
To what extent do you imagine all life forms – from bacteria to biomes – as contributing to Gaian sentience?
Do you consider an evolved humankind analogous to the brain of a sentient Gaia?
Or, are you limiting the sentience to a humanity embedded in intelligent technology – a collective consciousness?

How might the “consciousness of a collective” differ from “collective intelligence” (as studied by George Por and Tom Atlee).
Your diagram suggests this limitation, along with your hope that sentience might be engineered to catalyze. Also, your use of the phrase “planet sized being” could limit sentience to enhanced humanity, globally distributed.
Do you believe there exists a “collective unconscious” that has more reality than metaphor?
Do you believe there exists “metaphysical beings in ethereal hierarchies”?

A halfway query would be whether very tight teams are sentient and have agency (more than the sum of their parts). Is there a dyadic sentience for identical twins; a psychic resonance possibly enabled by identical DNA and entanglement?

In my NU GENESIS mythology, Gaia is not only sentient, but can forecast and has agency through feedpast bootstrapping. Humankind is hypothesized as a “tool” by which Gaia can gain shift/evolve from networked ecologies to integral organism.
I speculate there is a “cosmic rule” that only sentient biospheres can agree to interact. Individual species are forbidden to visit other biospheres except as welcomed emmisaries. This is why we have not been visited or contacted by other species; we are not sufficiently mature.

How does your search differ from the strong Gaian hypotheses?
How does your search differ from George Por’s Spanda Journal chapter for which you are an invited participant?

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

gdeepwater moderator

Thank you for the most excellent questions Larry, these can serve to guide a greater exploration of the concepts surrounding the inquiry. I will compose a worthy response, and I will respond to George, as soon as I have a free day. 

Meanwhile, looking at an integrating organismic whole Gaia - I have begun to wonder, why is she exhibiting suicidal tendencies? is there anything other than anthropomprhisation that we can use to help us understand this?

Happy to be involved in the long range inquiry - more to follow as time permits.