On Knowing (and Not Knowing) Animals
The relationship between people and nonhuman animals is codified in social culture as hierarchical and fundamentally impermeable: we are in here, they are out there. People are alienated from animals, with only token points of connection that are so heavily conscribed and artificial as to hinder any significant experiential association across the divide. The classical construct of a Great Chain of Being, or its near-variant, the ladder of evolutionary progress, endures essentially unchallenged: all creatures are linked together in some cosmic schema, in which some pigs (us!) are considerably more equal than other pigs. The predominant Western moral code positions humanity with regard to animals as unilaterally supremacist: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1: 26–8).
KeywordsNonhuman Animal Asian Elephant Brush Stroke Primary Connotation Artistic Intent
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