Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


According to Reber’s model, Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience had its origins in a unicellular organism and is an inherent property of living, mobile organic forms. He argues by analogy to basic physical forces which he considers to be inherent properties of matter; I suggest that they are instead the stuff of scientific investigation in physics. I find no convincing argument that sentience had to begin in endogenously mobile cells, a criterial attribute of the originator cell(s)for sentience according to CBC. Non-endogenously mobile cells, (i.e., plants or precursors) in a moving environment would suffice. Despite my concerns and the need for at least a small “miracle” in his and others’ models to instantiate sentience, I applaud a bottom-up approach such as Reber’s for our scientific investigation of consciousness.

Author Biography

Carolyn A. Ristau is primarily a cognitive ethologist. Her research includes field studies of cognition and communication in human infants and non-humans, in particular primates and plovers. Other work entails explorations of human conflicts and community, predominantly in Africa. 251-25 Gaskell Road, Little Neck, NY 11362 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carolyn_Ristau/info