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ANT376H1 Study Guide - Quiz Guide: Immanuel Kant, Caste System In India, Grotto

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Hillary Cunningham
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2) Beasts, Brutes and Monsters
Mary Midgley
The Problem
· Different perceptions of what an animal is
o It can include humans all the way to worms
o Some people draw a significant line across this continuum
· ‘you have behaved like animals!’ says the judge to a set of defendants found guilty of highly complicated
offences such as drinking and driving
· no animal would be capable of doing this, the judge is banishing the offenders from the moral community
o page 35 judge- ‘you you have offended against standards and ideals which are by no means just
local rules of convenience. You have acted on motives which human beings are supposed either
not to have at all or to prevent from ever giving rise to actions. You have crashed through all the
barriers of culture, which alone preserve us all from sea of abominable motivations.the horror of
your act does not lie only in the harm you have done to your victims,. It springs also from the
degradation to which you have rashly laid yourselves open, and which may infect us all.
· This notion of ‘an animal’ clearly carries us into areas of moral and emotional meaning which are both vast
and by their nature, threatening, so they are hard to explore.
· The notion of an animal stands for the unhuman, the anti-human.
o It is a symbol for the forces which we fear in our own nature, and do not regards as a true part of
o It displays those forces as continuous with ones which we far in the world around us- with floods,
earthquakes and volcanoes- and thereby dramatizes their power.
o By speaking of those forces as ‘animal’ we imply that they are in some ways alien to us, therefore
· But the peculiar alarm which they produce suggests also that they are not altogether alien- that we too carry the
seeds of them in our nature
· Our animal nature exists already as a Trojan horse within the human gates
o Only constant vigilance can stop it play an active part in human life
· The word animal serves continually as a reference point in the forming of our communal self image
· Both of its uses contribute to this
· First use
o Inclusive
o it names a class to which we all belong
· second use
o it names one to which we do not belong, and whose characteristic properties can be used to
supply a foil, a dramatic contrast lighting up the human image
· history of the word accounts for the problems underlying the double use of the world animal
· in latin, animal was used to translate the greek word zoon, a living creature
· the greek word zographos, a painter, means one who depicts any living creature, the difference between people
and other animals for this purpose is overlooked
o this is how Aristotle and his successors used zoon and animal in scientific enquiries which were
the source of modern zoology
· middle ages the word animal crept gradually into scholarly use as a term of art, then to everyday English
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o oxford English dictionary cites in 1398-all that is comprehended of flesh and of sprite of life…is
called animal, a beest
· the word in normal use were still beast and brute, both with exclusive sense only
· more inclusive definition to be built up
o ‘shakespeare's hamlet declares ‘what a piece of work is a man! The paragon of animals! And this
is followed by a remark from Milton: ‘man hath his daily work, while other animals unactive
· Human inclusion
· Exclusive one had spread itself fully to animal from brute and beast-carrying all of its old connotations of
alienation and disgust
o Shakespeare’s as you like it
§ Call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the stalling of an
ox? His horses or bred better.
· Animalis varied from bestial to spiritual and English ‘animal’ had an equally wide range
Outer Darkness
· What is admirable for humans is naturally viewed as typically human, and because social life poses us great
difficulties, and culture is hardly won, the notion of the great dark outside non-human area is bound to be
o This area includes, in uncertain relations, the unacceptable parts of our own nature and the entire
natures of the other animalte beings around us
· An obvious horrors attends situations such as human beings being treated as animals, or do things which only
properly belong to animals
o Ie: drunk drivers or others who have behaved like animals or ‘made beasts of themselves’ are felt
to have degraded their very nature and admitted sinister outside forces to the supposedly safety
citadels of civilisation
· First, hostile, exclusive attitude
o Species barrier
o ‘the chief emotion involved in this is, I think, our fear of our own vast and ill understood nature.’
· In the enlightenment an effort was made to simplify this distracting picture by treating the darker aspects of
human life as historical accidents-mere effects of unnecessary moral and political failures
· With the exception of Darwin, almost all scholars said that the species barrier gap should be viewed as
unbridgeable wide
Widening the Gap
· In human case the normal form of explanation is in terms either of culture or free will or both
· However, for animal psychology exactly the opposite position obtains
o Here was is tabu is the range of concepts which describe the conscious, cognitive side of
o The preferred, safe kind of explanation is that from innate programming
o Ie highly simplified accounts of what creatures do, which are repeatedly shown up as inadequate
§ Ie Donald Griffin points out the work of leaf cutter ants is far more subtle and complex
than it is usually described as being
§ Highly complicated performances by simple animals can be accounted for to some extent
by positing that they possess inborn ‘neural templates’ which they use as patterns
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§ However, considering the skill and flexibility with which they adapt these patterns to suit
varying conditions and materials, it is scarcely plausible to suggest that the template
reigns alone and can work itself.
o Ie birds that lead predators away from their broods by distraction behaviour
§ Inborn drive?
§ Griffon comments:
· Why has conflict between motivations been so commonly accepted as an
adequate explanation that does away with any need to suppose the bird has the
slightest idea of what its doing?
· Perhaps the preference tells us more about the scientist than it does about the
bird. If we pull ourselves out of this negative dogmatism, we can begin to ask
what birds engaged in predator distraction behaviour might be feeling and
· Sceptics and Solipsists
o Solipsism
§ The belief that one is oneself the only existing conscious object, may not be internally
inconsistent, but It is incompatible with so many basic conditions of human life that
nobly can intelligibly adopt it
o The same thing is true of total skepticism about the subjective life of others, even if it were
combined with a theoretical admission that they may have one
· Ignoring Elephants
o People who spend their lives dealing successfully with extremely demanding animals cannot
endorse the psychologist's’ view of their animals as mindless, unthinking machines.
o Example of the elephant
§ An elephant does not work mechanically, like many animals. He never stops learning,
because he is always thinking. Not even a really good sheep dog can compare with an
elephant in intelligence..
o Uses elephant example as proof than animals are not mindless.
· Author devotes most of chapter to discussing that ‘species solipsism’ and the general sense of alienation from
other species which underlies it
· Quite often we are moved by a strong darwinian sense of kinship with other living things, which can be as
influential as the distancing and revulsion which at other times replaces it.
· What is really worrying at present is the impression many people have that the revulsion accords better with
o These people believe that science ought not to be guided by emotion and whereas love and
admiration are emotions, disgust and contempt are not.
Moral responsibilites of humans towards animals-if we think of them like many scientists do, we are not as
compassionate to them.
3) The Black Cat
The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe follows the account of a man who has been experiencing supernatural
events. The short story spends time discussing the man’s love of animals as a child and his caring disposition.
He narrates that as he became a man his love of animals only grew. He married young to a woman who was
also fond of animals and did not judge him on his strange affections. They ended up purchasing all sorts of
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