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Equating Characteristics to Equal Equality

ZoeHlmn's picture

In Coetzee's novel there seems to be the controversy over whether or not animals are on the same level as humans. Whether they have the same type of conscience as us or whether or not they think as we do. Elizabeth Costello seems to think that since we are all beings that we should be able to put ourselves into the thoughts of an animal and understand how it is thinking. This way we can understand where certain animals are coming from and how they think. I do not agree with this. How do we know that animals have a conscience that is simlar to ours? Couldn't they have a conscience except it is structured differently than our own? Are we as humans so closed to other possibilities that animals may in fact actually have a conscience that we just cannot understand. Just because we cannot prove something does not mean it was true. In Elizabeth Costello's speech she proposes that Descarte did not have sufficient information about Apes and Dolphins and was therefore only capable of making his assumptions based on what he had. In the future we may in fact prove that animals have a conscience adn can think, except they may just think differently than us. It is possible that we just haven't prgressed that far to prove it.



Shengjia-Ashley's picture

My interpretation

My interpretation of the book Cozetzee is saying: because animals do not have same conscience as humans, human should not use human’s conscience to evaluate the worldview of animals. From the human’s prospective, a squirrel’s worldview is mainly structured with acorns and pine trees. However, there may be deep thinking or more complicated actions going on, as I observed the squirrels tend to “play” with one another. I believe animals can have sophisticated conscience and think beyond merely survival, but they do not think in a way human can understand.

Barbara's picture

There are some responses that

There are some responses that you may find interesting on my silent writing paper of today's class. People had different feedbacks on the question "what it is like to be a bat?" (1) Do we think think we can experience life as a bat does? (- This may be a question or a doubt?) (2) That is what shamans do! (Someone else: to be a shaman!) ... evolution: the bat, as a mammal, is our cousin... (3) ... I don't know if a person could really truly do it -  experience life as a bat that is. (- Sounds like a doubt) (4) EC argues that we are able to "think" herself into a fictional character. However she needs to recognize her character is human. (-which we sort of agreed in class.)

I feel most people doubt that we could really emphasize with animals. The fundamental is we do not know what they think and how they think. But personally I don't think the question that whether the conscience of human and other animals are the same is so crucial in how we treat animals. However animals think, we can tell from their behavior that they strive for survival - that they would prefer not be consumed, whatever the hidden logic is. I think the problem more worth thinking is again human's manipulation over other beings...