Alex The Plant Thinks

I just listened to a program on NPR about plants. Apparently plants think. This is arrived at by observing plants learning; that is, new behavior being repeatable. Not just that, but plants defending themselves when it seems they will be harmed, based on a new negative action they were originally receptive to. In other words, Alexander the plant allows a pin prick to be delivered by a pin. The next time a pin appears, Alex closes his leaves. This is in the plant type that Alex is, one capable of closing its leaves.

This is only a slight exaggeration, I’m sure there are many more limitations other than capability. Or at least I would think so.

But this leads to further observations within the thinking-plant continuum.  For instance, this does not mean that plants are conscious. Though they may well be and articles have been written on such. The point is—thinking alone is not proof of consciousness. Alex the plant may well think, but he may not be aware he is thinking. Another step is involved with this—Alex may be aware he is thinking, but not be aware that he is Alex. Or Alex doing the thinking. Awareness of agency, awareness of self.

The mind jumps to humorous applications of this knowledge, or at least mine does. There are singing ants. Just because Joey the ant can sing, it does not necessarily mean he can learn new notes. Even if Joey can learn new notes, I doubt very seriously that Joey will be writing any new songs. At least he won’t be writing and printing the “New Songbook For Ants” anytime soon.

A photo of Alex the plant in bloom

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