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Sapience is the ability of an organism or entity to act with intelligence. Sapience is synonymous with some usages of the term sentient, though the two are not exactly equal: sentience is the ability to sense or feel, while sapience is the ability to think about sensations, feelings and ideas. In usage, sentience and sapience both imply some form or state of consciousness, although consciousness is not strictly required in the case of sentience (as applied to plant life, which ordinarily react to the stimuli of warmth and ultraviolet radiation from the sun).

The word sapience is derived from the Latin verb sapere, which means (among other things) to be wise, and the present participle of which forms part of Homo sapiens, the Latin binomial created by Carolus Linnaeus to describe the human species.

An artificially intelligent agent could demonstrate sapience while not having any capacity to feel (see also Turing test), while an animal might demonstrate it can feel (or react to) pain while not behaving with intelligence.

While precise definitions of sapience and sentience vary, it is agreed upon that most humans (unless intellectually incapacitated) possess both. In some science-fiction (such as the right of self ownership of a very advanced artificial computerized being) and animal rights (such as the Great Ape Project) the term 'person' may be applied to any sapient being.

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