Saturday, July 25, 2020

do they feel?

I love this little vignette. Are they communicating? Yes. Are they aware of one another? Yes. Is each bird aware of itself? Yes. Do they care for each other? Yes. There’s a good chance they are siblings still hanging out together. 

Why do I even ask these silly questions? 

The French philosopher René Descartes believed that animals operated purely by instinct, like machines or mechanisms. They did not communicate, care or even think about the other animals around them. They didn’t use words, they didn’t feel but were mere automata. His views justified the notion that somehow we were separate from the rest of nature. Human beings were above it all and it was acceptable to be cruel to animals, to beat them, behead them or drop them into boiling water, because they simply do not feel.

As anyone who has taken care of wild animals or even had a dog knows Descartes was insensitive and WRONG.

You can tell that it is the 132nd day of my quarantine if I am starting to pick on long dead French philosophers. 

I love the above photograph sent to me by my friend Betty Thompson in Kansas. It’s three western kingbirds, a species I have never seen. Thank you Betty!

And for those on the go, a gram in an Instant. 

Author of Natural HistoriesGhost Birds and Ephemeral by Nature all published by the University of Tennessee Press.


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