Reflections on Animal Emotions and Beastly Virtues
Appreciating, Honoring and Respecting the Public Passions of Animals
Keywords:religion, nature, culture
Interdisciplinary research into animal behavior, cognition, and emotions can illuminate important questions of meaning, including those that are often discussed in religious works. Such questions include who we are in the grand scheme of things, the role science plays in our understanding of the world, and what it means to ‘know’ something. I argue that cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds), properly understood and carefully applied, can integrate both anecdotes and anthropomorphism, and reliably inform studies of animal behavior. Moreover, cognitive ethology can be viewed as the unifying science for understanding the subjective, emotional, empathic, and moral lives of animals, because it is essential to know what animals do, think, and feel as they go about their daily routines in relationship to the others with whom they interact. The more we come to understand other animals the more we will appreciate them and ourselves.
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