Reading for the Eighth Meeting — ON BEING ANIMALS


For the meeting on Monday, December 14, 2015, we will read Beyond Words: How Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina.

In this book, Safina focuses in particular on the day-to-day experiences of elephants, wolves and killer whales, three species which — who — have highly developed social lives, as do humans.

By doing so, he draws our attention to the practice of considering animals as subjects instead of objects; in other words, to step outside of our human-centered worldview, established by thousands of years of habit. He urges us to see ourselves as merely one possible subjectivity among many.

If we learn to relate to these and other animals with the term “who” rather than “what,” how will that change us?

Certainly vegetarianism arises as a pertinent question, but there’s more than that, isn’t there? Does this shift in worldview change our self-understanding in a significant way? Are there notable effects on how we live our lives?

If I know that we are merely one of many species who feel and recognize joy, heartbreak, jealousy, loyalty, even stress… If I finally accept that my ability to describe such experiences with spoken or written words does not set me apart as much as I assumed, what then? Will this awareness flatten experience or heighten it? Will I act more primate, or less? (Or can we change that at all?)

Enjoy the reading. See you at the meeting.

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