‘I saw a sentient being’
So said a scientist on the radio the other morning, as he described being on an oceanic dive whilst coming eyeball-to-eyeball with a sperm whale. What confused me was that I was sure that not a few moments before he had admonished the radio interviewer for rank anthropomorphism.
Anyone has ever lived with a pet, is unlikely to find this a revelation. What animal does not have its own personality, different from another, even of the same species? Some while ago we had tropical fish. Even they were distinguishable from one another, not just by their markings or colouring, but by their character alone.
The morning radio interview continued along the usual lines. We do not know if animals communicate and so forth… Well actually we do. They do communicate, but not in ways that humans can understand. We humans have become so much the stars of our own show that anything that sits beyond our immediate cognisance, our limited range of five empirical senses, is somehow in doubt.
This says nothing at all about the abilities of animals to communicate, or to understand; rather it says everything about the assumed current supremacy of humankind in what could be a more collective cross-species experience of the world. This seems to me a shame. There is so much more to life than what we limited creatures can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.