sentience

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sentience

(sĕn′shəns, -shē-əns, -tē-əns)
n.
1. The quality or state of being sentient; consciousness.
2. Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.
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In Darwin's Floral clock scene, the tensions between mechanistic fixity and organic change over time, as well as between conceptions of endogenous and exogenous stimuli motivating plant movements, limit these organisms' potential for sentiency and agency.
Charlotte Smith, publishing verses on the Floral clock eighteen years after "The Loves of the Plants," produces greater scientific distance from Linnaeus and mechanism, reevaluating debates about horological flowers' movements as demonstrating sentiency and agency, as well as Time's capacity to generate "domestic Bliss.
Smith's image of leaves "mingl[ing]" with "Time's feather'd wing" alludes to what contemporary naturalists called "winged leaves," the leaves involved in the "most widely investigated" plant rhythms, coined by Linnaeus as "sleep movements," in a phrase lending itself to human analogues for horological plants' motions and potential sentiency as well as agency.
I say "planetary object" with caution because although we cannot imagine highly developed animal life such as ourselves -- with brains big enough to harbour sentiency and bodies big enough to mount and sustain such brains -- other than within such a stable environment, it is by no means clear that the very beginnings of life, perhaps even to the bacterium, could not have demanded rather the very different physical circumstances of a much smaller planetary system, such as a comet, as has been argued cogently if still short of conviction.
Nor must the planet be too large, or its gravity would be too strong to permit the evolution of creatures able to carry brains big enough to harbour sentiency.
THE AVAILABILITY of water seems essential for the emergence of any form of life complex enough to harbour sentiency, at least any that we can imagine.