Is Jainism Right About Animal Consciousness?
Animal rights are new to the West, at least compared with India’s minority Jainism religion. For centuries, Jain monks have taken pains to not harm animals, from microbes to pigeons, believing that they’re conscious beings. Now even Western scientists are starting to catch up, agreeing that primates and some birds perceive and process experiences.
Are we getting closer to “lesser” beings? A growing body of research suggests that even some insects can synthesize information well beyond what’s attributable to instinct, raising the possibility that Jains could someday be celebrated for divining this truth before the rest of humanity.