Many consumers of animal meat argue that plants have feelings too, and they use this as a defense for their food choices when debating a vegetarian or vegan. Long ago I came to terms with eating plants. I do not disagree that plants have feelings in part because I believe that all living things want to keep on living. I still have a hard time cutting into an onion or potato that has begun to sprout because it is obviously still alive. I hate to cause it pain because I actually do recognize it as having its own experience. You can always regenerate them, and I have found some success. These feelings at times emerge as I tend to my garden, harvest veggies and pick ripe fruits in the summer. I am grateful to the plant. But that is just how I perceive things. I need to live. And so, meat eater. I admit, you got me. I rationalize the consumption of plants and fruit for energy because their sensory organs are the least like mine. Plus, blueberries! They are so good, are packed with antioxidants and fight the effects of aging. I’d rather not consume the conscious experience of an organism similar to me. Consciousness, in simple terms, is the state of being aware. Catch my drift? I’d rather eat blueberries.
Working together for the benefit of the brain and toward formulating ideas, sensory organs include skin, tongue, eyes and the nose. I guess if you were a plant, your senses would be attuned to temperature and light, heat, and touch or contact. So, I am sure we can agree that those outfitted with these organs are continually building and forming perceptions. Just by living, subjective experiences are continually being assembled, and then, if you are an animal at least, in time they glob on to long-held customs and habits.
We share space and time with a multitude of life forms on Earth without fully knowing if they have reached consciousness or not. You can better assess stimulation of phenomena, though. Take the earthworm. No, annelid is a better term as the word worm is strangely gross to my senses! Until proven otherwise an annelid has no ability to think of itself as an individual or to ponder its own existence. That does not mean it does not occur, it just remains unproven. Though, if I touch one, it will likely wriggle in defense and will react to stimuli.
"The question is not what you look at, but what you see” is quite an interesting Thoreau quote to end on. To me the quote is analogous to philosophical concepts behind qualia or quale: the subjective, conscious experience that occurs from the stimulation of phenomena. Essentially because I am my own being, and you are your own being, we will perceive pain, taste, color, smells and sound differently than each other. Our experiences, even in the same instance, are forever different because we inhabit separate bodies, and a shared language can never bridge this gap entirely. You may see meat, and I will see that same animal as possessing a subjective conscious experience. Welcome to my qualia, to my site and to my perspective.