What is the Difference Between Sentient and Sapient

The key difference between sentient and sapient is the type of intelligence developed by individuals. Sentient intelligence is developed through emotions and sensations, while sapient intelligence is developed through knowledge and wisdom.

Developing intelligence is an individual perspective determined based on the stimuli a person receives. An individual’s response may either depend on the emotions he or she feels at that particular moment or may depend on the level of knowledge, education, and exposure. Thus, the process of responding to a particular phenomenon differs based on the level of intelligence developed by a particular individual.


1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Sentient  
3. What is Sapient
4. Similarities – Sentient and Sapient
5. Sentient vs Sapient in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Sentient vs Sapient

What is Sentient?

Sentient intelligence or a sentient life is the type of cognitive intelligence that is directed towards experiencing feelings and sensations. This is in contrast to wisdom. Sentient life is more directed towards the ability to perceive emotional sensations such as pain, happiness, love, suffering, and hatred. Therefore, the sentient quality of a person depends on the individual quality, personal experiences, and individual background. The term sentience plays an important role in determining an individual’s response towards different exogenous stimuli. Sentient characteristics mainly rely on self-awareness.

Sentient intelligence is an important factor in analyzing ethics when selecting animals for various commercial applications.  In this regard, sentientism is the ethical concern applied to sentient animals. The believers of sentientism consider that animal morals are based on the sentient intelligence of the organism rather than on intelligence or wisdom.

What is Sapient?

Sapient intelligence is the intelligence directed based on wisdom, understanding, and common sense. The phenomenon of sapience is dependent on the level of education, exposure, and cognitive functions in terms of memory and technology. Sapience shows five key important characteristics. They include problem-solving skills with self-knowledge, contextual knowledge of positive and negative impacts, value-based actions, tolerance, and empathy. Apart from knowledge and wisdom, other factors like religion, ethnicity, law and judgment also play an important role in sapient intelligence.

Sapient intelligence requires a lot of processing in order to gain conclusions on a specific incident or occurrence. Therefore, active brain functioning is essential in sapience. Moreover, the efficiency of sapient intelligence decreases with age.

What are the Similarities Between Sentient and Sapient?

  • Sentient and sapient are two terms related to intelligence.
  • Moreover, both are related to the behavioral pattern of an individual.
  • They involve brain activity.
  • Both are related to the mental stability of an individual/animal.
  • They are important in maintaining relationships between individuals/animals.
  • Moreover, both ensure the acceptability of individuals in the community.

What is the Difference Between Sentient and Sapient?

Sentient and sapient are two levels of intelligence. Sentience is more based on emotions, while sapience is most based on wisdom. Thus, this is the key difference between sentient and sapient. The level in which various factors like reasoning, conclusion-making, and relationship building varies in the two levels of intelligence. Some factors like education and exposure are more important in sapience, while emotions and personal values play a more key role in sentience.

The below infographic presents the differences between sentient and sapient in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Sentient vs Sapient

Sentient and sapient intelligence differ in the manner in which an individual responds to stimuli. While sentient intelligence is based on emotions and sensations, sapient intelligence is based on knowledge and wisdom. Sentient intelligence is dependent on emotions such as love, sadness, happiness, and hatred. Sapient intelligence, on the other hand, is mostly dependent on wisdom, knowledge, education, and exposure. Thus, this summarizes the difference between sentient and sapient. In common, both intelligence patterns are based on individual behaviour.