Saturday, September 1, 2012

animals without faces

what's behind this face?
atRifF

my previous post brings forth a different conversation that needs to happen. after the cambridge declaration a carnivore pet owner cannot say "i love animals" without a moral contradiction.

modern cities exclude all animals except for pets, which are kept confined. there is a possibility that as human animals ourselves, we seek non-human animal company. what does it mean to love animals? i don't mean love as ego-projection. for instance, pet-rearing in america, which boils down to a social practice of ornamental narcissism (thus the resemblance between pet and owner).


but there's an important difference: our faces are different. the metaphor is used by emmanuel levinas: a face for levinas, brings a more basic, essential connection. the face-to-face encounter means 1- the possibility of bridging a friendship, 2- the encounter opens up all sort of ethical possibilities.

levinas didn't really think of animals as "faces" (more of this later). for now, i'd like to stretch levinas' idea to fit non-human animals. the more human the animal looks, the easier the human projection. here, walt disney is a model. the legend goes that he loved animals & introduced a legion to the masses: goofy, donald, ronno, roger, minnie, goofy, bambi. though mammal face-to-face is easier. then there is jiminy cricket. later we have kaa (a python), ursula (a sort of octopus), sebastian (a crab) & aladar (a dino!).

what am i getting at?

disney, not levinas, tackles the problem. language is the divide of human/animal face-to-face. the animal cannot protest the treatment imposed on it nor articulate its environment, which is why heidegger thought animals are poor in world. this is why levinas doesn't walk the walk with bobby (the only animal in the prisoner camp where he spent the war years). jiminy cricket talks and acts smart, loyal & generous. of course, crickets don't talk, but by imagining they could, we can speculate a face all the way down to hexapoda.

the whole idea of face-to-face is that it should presuppose otherness unqualified. if i choose my other face all i'm doing is projecting myself-as-other.

jiminy has a cute face, only too human-like

on the other hand, disney's anthropocentrism reinforces animal bias: big bad wolf is, well, bad. his goal is to eat the three little pigs. so animal-empathy ends up building animal-prejudice. how?

we hate bad wolf because we're competing with bad wolf for three little pigs' meat!

in disney's dinosaur the evil carnotaurus is a carnivore. aladar, the protagonist is an iguanadon (an hervibore). a preselected view of the animal other: hervibores are good; carnivore predators are evil. yet, we don't see that we are the top carnivores! (this is a human blind spot we need to come back to).

disney's thought experiment can be improved. being aware of the animal-as-imagined-by-a-human hermeneutic circle, let's get rid of moral simplifications of animality: animals are neither "good" nor "bad." animals are not moral beings in the sense we understand the term (how about these moments of moral convergence even sacrifice?). the received idea is that animals are not moral because they lack freedom (the question of animal -or human- freedom is too complicated to be pursued here). 

but wait, are we really moral?

is the systematization of suffering upon animals brought up by modern factory farming moral?  twentieth-century biotechnological revolution has turned against animals & the environment. can one really say that this breeding/killing race cycle is about food?  capitalist biotechnology produces cheap commodities for global trade. the intense breeding/killing cycle carries a dangerous trade off of environmental pollution and pandemics
 
meat eating uses about three-fifths of the world's agricultural land yet produces less than 5% of its protein and less than 2% of its calories. meat production causes global warming through its effects on deforestation, both directly through pasture and indirectly through its use of feed and forage, and also because of the methane, which comes from the stomachs and manure of cattle.

the more animals we kill, the more demand there is and the more animals we breed. as meat consumption increases our environment gets more depleted, thus, producing more need for meat. can we stop this vicious cycle? not anytime soon. in spite of the millions upon millions of animals that are killed each year, they never die. we end up having more of them.

where do they go? packaging does the trick!

it absorbs brutal suffering and waste & turns it into a clean artificial display. packaging reminds one of standard anatomical representations of the human body with insets of representations of the male or female reproductive system: a lactating breast, a vagina, ovaries; body-fragments. they appear isolated, fragmented, in a way that reminds one of pornographic magazines, fragments to be consumed, devoured a bit at a time.


the label details what's valuable: processing company, weight, price, cut, calories, fat, safe handling instructions, etc. what is missing here is the animal's life. but, is a life designed to confinement & suffering really a life? the animal becomes a meat-tasting experience: we discuss cuts, flavor, tenderness, cooking method, etc. if the animal's fate or suffering is brought up, it's considered unpolite.

wolf man reinforces the unbridgeable duality of the "animal" in us. but we can turn the metaphor on its head: wolf man is the pressing to fact coming from the inside (the "other side", our truer? face): the expression of our self-destruction 

the moment the animal face shows up we confront our bad faith. we hate the idea that our meat comes from a vicious cycle of suffering of our own design, but make no mistake, this suffering is narcissistic, i.e., briefly us-as-them in the slaughterhouse (right before the 300 volt electric shock of the captive bolt pistol). nah, what we hate the most is ourselves: our weakness at suffering their suffering.

a defense mechanism suddenly kicks in: now we wished we were animals (i.e., we want to have it both ways: as animals, eating each other in a state of necessity; as humans, enjoying the taste of meat at the restaurant). this second order of hate best expresses why human language doesn't necessarily precludes a face: having language doesn't make us any better.

is there a way out of this impasse? perhaps animals don't need language to have faces (as we conceive of language, anyhow).  
    
we'll try to tackle the issue in a forthcoming post.

35 comments:

Alfredo said...

I agree that there is great suffering in the slaughterhouses. But suffering is not the purpose of places. Meat is the purpose. Whatever means are necessary to arrive at a profitable meat sale. I'm not sure why this seems like news ?
Animals have been elevated, through Disney's anthropomorphous toons, to the emotional level of man. This is an aberration that even Aesop would find disturbing. But it's 'A OKAY' with America's love affair with domesticated animals. After all, in order to keep an empire afloat it helps to have a population of sedated, overfed and chemically neutered ding dongs running around.Good job Disney ! I would write more about this issue ...but I'm watching the cartoon network...

Christian said...

The reality is, we don't feel sorry for these animals that we eat on a daily basis until it is imposed on us to feel that way; a PETA pamphlet is handed to me and suddenly I feel like a monster for evening contributing to this, then I go home and have myself a pan con bistec or a vaca frita or what have you, and don't give it much thought... I'd never eat a dog, maybe it's a "western" mentality that dog is man's best friend? I'd never eat an animal which I can befriend. They do have expressions, in turn giving them "faces", making them perfect outlets for compassion and, as you stated, symbols of narcissism. I wonder where Confucious would stand on this, he did in fact prefer his meats cut properly.

Brian Farin said...

I think that it takes courage to tackle on the task of representing the rights of non-human animals to simply living life devoid of suffering. In general, humans avoid things that cause discomfort or bring up controversy. If you've ever been asked a question that exposes your weaknesses or stresses a mistake you've made, you know what I mean. So the approach towards non-human animals for thousands of years has been of a dominant nature. We've held of the perspective that animals are, I don't know, subconscious. So humans have domesticated animals and put them to work. They've killed countless animals for convenience and food. I think that we can see a parallel in how explorers of the New World saw the Native American "savages". In that case it was on somewhat of a lesser scale, since the natives spoke, and looked similar to European humans. I like the insight about how Disney helped making animals seem more humanistic. Practically though, I don't know what to suggest. I guess I'm kind of caught up in my own hypocrisy of delighting in meat eating and fishing for recreation....

Melissa said...

Before colonization of the Americas, this idea of a separate West from the rest of the world didn't exist. Now, there is even a Western Worldview, which is a relatively new idea. This view basically reflects the idea of Manifest Destiny, saying that things only exist to be taken over and dominated. There is another world view that reflects a much older perspective. This is the Deep Ecology Worldview, which basically says that we are a part of a much bigger system, just a part, and we are meant to respect everything in order to have balance. Disney made a non-cartoon version of "The Jungle Book," that is not all that easy to find these days. I have a suspicion that this is because the message in it is so strong(I had to order the movie from Taiwan). Basically, the jungle law says that you can only kill to eat, nothing more. But with colonialization came mass production. Animals are basically sent to death row, waiting in a cage to be killed. These creatures are alive, who are we to enslave them? I'm not saying you can't eat them, but we used to only kill when we were hungry. We used to hunt, now, we shop. And for what? Convenience. We torture, enslave, and murder animals for our own convenience. I believe it is natural to have a connection to the world, but we are cut off. Natural connections include relationships with animals, even with plants. But we have domesticated them to better suit us. This is not to say that you can't have a relationship with them, but the focus is in our control of them. A real relationship is an exchange of energies. We could learn from each other if humans excepted that we are definately not the most important of creatures. Afterall, the world would be just fine without us.

atRifF said...

...we don't feel sorry for these animals that we eat on a daily basis until it is imposed on us to feel that way; a PETA pamphlet is handed to me and suddenly I feel like a monster for even contributing to this.

good point, christian but PETA is not imposing anything on you anymore than purdue or arby's is. of course one could make the case that if one is brought up in carnivore habits one may not even question it.

I guess I'm kind of caught up in my own hypocrisy of delighting in meat eating and fishing for recreation...

you're not the only one that feels this way brian.

Afterall, the world would be just fine without us.

this is a very interesting point that should be debated. obviously one can entertain a moment around 10 million years ago, before the first humanoids. that present was certainly one where things were ok by themselves.

Paul said...

I am not sure how to put this in simple terms. It seems that anything can be argued right or wrong based on arguments alone. Whether or not to eat animals is funny to me, in terms of hunger, and culture, we have eaten every and anything we could find(elders,insects, loose leaf paper, elmers glue, etc.). I strongly believe that people choose not to consume animals, because of the effects that can occur overtime.(diseases, obesity,in the United states).If you compare an animal cell and a plant cell, the biggest difference is their walls, they are made up of the same organelles, that have some of the same functions.
This typically means that you would have to kill a plant to eat it.
I've only made this comparison because I think that people have too good of a relationship with food, to the point where they don't have to know when or where it came from, just that they have a place to put it when it comes out.

I would also like to comment briefly about animals and there faces.Just because people are conditioned away from there natural ability to connect with animals, doesn't mean that the animals can't see through our(Individual)facades.

Anonymous said...

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Migdalia Ortiz said...

From my perspective human beings have a guideline in which they assume that what lacks knowledge/communication cannot be considered a member of society; per se animals.


I recall reading the novel " The Jungle," by Upton Sinclair which exposes the corruption in the American Meat packing industry during the early 20th century that called upon government regulation.

Most of the stockyard workers during that time period consisted of immigrants who connected with the slaughtered animals. Some of the workers regarded the animals as human beings that were protesting within their rights, they had done nothing wrong to deserve such fate.

If you think about it the slaughterhouses are a mere resemblance of todays dehumanizing labor work in America.

Apparently many individuals neglect to accept that they share a connection with animals, and that them as individuals are animals themselves.

To end my thought there is an array of factors that have led to the number of slaughter animals to sky rocket.

1) We are selfish
2) The media distracts us from the more pressing issues that are occuring globally. Shifting all its focus on business in politics.

Just think about it when was the last time that " Slaughterhouses" became a breaking news? never, it has always been considered a secondary news report.

3)We are accustomed to follow regulations/principles and since " the killing of an animal" its not legitimate written in a text or scripture then it can't be considered as " morally" bad.

4) Final thought; I believe that as long as we are not jeopardizing something ofmoral importance then I guess its safe to say that instead of devouring the flesh of an animal we can turn to other food sources that will provide us with the equivalent amount of protein that its found in meat.



Definitely eating more lentil/split pea soup.


Domonique Devereaux said...

This contradiction is very unnoticed by a majority of people, and pet owners. The fact that our pets in which we have chosen to domesticate (ex.dogs,cats) serve no purpose other than to be domesticated (because they cannot survive in the wild like a wild cat, or wolf)means that they are around for non other than our human benefit. If it was culturally excepted to domesticate goats and pigs, then it would probably be okay to eat a dog. But are there exceptions ? people who are vegans, and have pets not only for human benefit but so that they wont be put to sleep? the truth is confusing but there is an undeniable notion that humans are possibly self serving creatures and we condition ourselves to justify whatever we want to believe is ethical.

caio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
caio said...

Loving life, is actually knowing it, being aware of the most you can that is involved.
Ridding yourself of meat eating should be a consequence to this, not the gateway, because if you really think about it, it is impossible.
Your whole life will revolve about the fact that you stopped eating meat, and while that is not bad, you will be focusing on that, distracting you of other more beautiful things.

I think the biggest problem is the feeling of hypocrisy that we have when talking about this issue, because we cant help but end up saying things like "but i love hamburgers" and yet somehow feel we are no longer a part of the problem just because we acknowledged that they are being treated horribly. We can not really put our feet down and say WE HAVE TO STOP KILLING AND EATING ANIMALS. Though most of us would be ok with just not treating/killing them the way they are.
But how would I feel if every look i get says to me "I am going to eat you later."?

We really are just shooting bullets to the sky because many of us have not had contact with cattle more than a visit to a farm or a zoo, but still we hide behind the comfort of opposing to their abuse.

The whole idea of living is just so mesmerizing that we do not really consider everything that is going on, we detach ourselves from our own lives, so its easy to just follow an opinion you heard or become numb. Modern times force you into this, and it is frustrating that even getting near to these topics is considered a cliche, because most of them end with "But what can you do?"

You can do something it is just a matter of having the courage to accept what you like and not feel guilty. Not using the word "but"

The part about packaging hit me hard and made it clear to me, that we are distant from our own surroundings, we are truly customers in the whole sense of the word like we are not living all of our world. It scares me how something can end up so void of substance so removed from where it came from.
I wonder if this feeling of displacement could lead to autism.....

I strongly believe that it is our natural instinct to love animals but are afraid of admitting it.

caio said...

The whole idea of blaming the media is bullshit. it is just an excuse for how powerless we feel that even when opting out, it will still continue.

We have to stop shifting the blame, and be patient, set the example for our future generations, we cant expect something like this just to change overnight.

Tabitha Lima said...

Personally i believe that this is the world our ancestors have chosen us to live in. It is brough on by our families who raised us to be meat eaters so we cannot escape our "fate". we are force fed to eat meat and grow up in a society of hypocrites. It only gets to the point where, stated above, you get a peta pamphlet and only then you realize what you have truly been eating. But as soon as you go and eat your burger from Mcdonalds, you forgive the meat industries and forget, our societys meat cycle. You can not unbrainwash those who live in ignorance.

P.S. Hi Rebecca :)

Rebecca Kitchens said...

As humans, I do not think it's any secret we love to exert power over less capable races, religions or in this case, species. We have perfected the art of manipulating reason to fitting our wants and desires rather than admitting our real motives.

While we live in a world were we have been socially and economically subordinating others of the same species for centuries, because of the absence of language animals have not been able to protest their conditions.

http://www.spaceavalanche.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/dog.jpg

The image above shows what looks to to most animal lovers to be a playful bonding session but afterwards the pet is shown in the police station traumatized and violated.

How can the animals really tell us that they feel marginalized?

A cat may spray on the walls to mark his territory or confront house guests that it might feel threatened but all its "owner" is going to do is use a spray bottle to subdue the cats natural urges.

The owner doesn't think,
"Hmm, he is a real animal who naturally needs to stalk prey and hunt, prowl large territories and scratch trees. Maybe I am not capable of satisfying his natural needs and wants."

They think
"What an ungrateful cat. I give him 500 square feet to walk around for the rest of his life and eat pellets of chicken by-product and fish meal. I protect him, since he can't protect himself(because I de-clawed him so he wouldn't scratch that rug that pulls the rooms together so nicely)I even made time to stop by PetSmart last week"

The idea of pet ownership is not about intentional animal cruelty or even purposeful ethical injustices. We as humans have internalized the idea that animals are happy under our control and that the relationship is mutually symbiotic. Humans misinterpret what the animals actions are trying to communicate because humans are to concerned with how cute they are.

When we consider ourselves such loving pet owners, we consider ourselves animals lovers.

We don't love animals, we love saying we love animals and what we like most of all is that we can pretend they are saying it back.

Jonathan Kohn said...

Something I have accepted is that for my survival I must eat meat. In laymans terms the smarter the creature the more energy it needs to keep the brain working. Sheep dont need too much energy, which is why grass does it for them. But for powering a human brain, it is a completely different manner. If we spent our time eating grass, we would not have time for any advancement in the civilization. The solution to this problem is of course not a pretty one, being a predator is the most effective way to keep our brain powered. Although in some sense hypocritical, I will add that I am for a certain degree of rights for wild life. I think the laws put in place to protect animals from extension are a good start. I do not believe that people should be going hunting in Africa for big game such as elephants. There is much to be discussed, whether possibly lowering our consumption as a society, but even so, something dying for our species to continue is inevitable.

Llompart said...

Ok, well a lot of interesting points. I think to look at it another way we can use a thought experiment. Suppose and a superior alien race comes to Earth and being vastly beyond our technology and comprehension finds a way to subjugate us and exploit us for food, because to them, we're tasty. Furthermore, they can't understand our communication and while we seem to have some structure in society they treat our society building capability like a novelty, much like the way we marvel at colonies of ants, hence they don't recognize our sentience. Does this superior alien race have the right to farm and eat us? Now I am under the school of thought that there is no right or wrong, merely things you like and don't like. I don't like to be farmed for food, I do like a hamburger on occasion. What do you all think?

Anonymous said...

"I think to look at it another way we can use a thought experiment. Suppose and a superior alien race comes to Earth and being vastly beyond our technology and comprehension finds a way to subjugate us and exploit us for food, because to them, we're tasty. Furthermore, they can't understand our communication and while we seem to have some structure in society they treat our society building capability like a novelty, much like the way we marvel at colonies of ants, hence they don't recognize our sentience."

Yes.

Goda said...

I think humans are just selfish beings and that says it all. As long as it doesn't touch them they will most likely not care about what is happening in the world. As long as it is not their beloved cow or sheep they are eating they wont care, as long as it is not their dog they are eating they wont care, as long as global warming doesn't affect them directly, in a sense that water level rises and floods their house, they wont care. And when they are being exposed to the truth of how the cow they are eating got slaughtered, they feel uncomfortable and disgusted, but not particularly because the cow was suffering, but more because the view was gross. And they dont liked being exposed to such truth. So they might stop eating meat for a day, a week, or a month. But after a while they forget it all and the vicious cycle starts again. And about American mania in domesticating animals... you can see all kinds of creepy things these days in the elevators. How old women have their baby dogs in little carriages, and even talk to them like with other human beings "honey, please be quite, there are many people in the elevator". In this case even the argument that the only thing that differentiates us from animals is language is no more an argument. Because if you listen to those "conversations" you might get confused and think that dogs started speaking too. So I completely agree that you cannot say I love animals and dogs, and then turn your back and eat pork. Because, have you seen how cute baby pigs are (by the way, there are those mini pigs, that are meant to be grown at home and they are the size of a little dog)? So it is definitely not possible, in my opinion, to "love" dogs, but then eat other animals... because at the end how are they different from us other than their inability to speak OUR language?

atRifF said...

go on, nice discussion. don't mind me.

Louis-Jeune said...

I don't necessarily disagree that animals don't have consciousnesses. I have read over the posts about how humans and mankind are "selfish" "cruel" etc.

I do see a problem with giving domesticated animals a higher stool than given to other animals. Domesticated animals in the western world can serve as food for someone else. And that isn't something that I find irrationally despicable. Why can't they; it seems like another ploy for westerners to westernize cultures that they feel are unfamiliar.

Animal cruelty in this country is horrible. There has to be another way to bring food to the american people, the choice can only be made by the consumer. Giving animals consciousnesses can only get us closer to formulating that animals aren't as animalistic as we once thought they were, and that we are closer to animalistic than we thought we were. The problem is, I don't think this will change how we see meat in the grocery store. What will change our view on meat will probably be the inevitable shortage of poultry and other meats in this counrty. That is when this new discovery will fit into our worldview, because it will be a convenient humane reasoning that history loves to tout. It will be always written in the future that the reason that meat isn't consumed is because we see them as closer to us and it is the "humane" thing to do. (Not that there was an economic and agricultural shortage that caused us to have to seek other options).

Now, my biggest problem with the "inhumane" aspect is that people always want to talk about how "selfish" and "cruel" humans are. And how acknowledging animal cruelty and attempting to fix it will prove that we are as compassionate as we say we are. This really just "grinds my gears". Giving an animal a face is great, and yet you don't think that wearing your PETA shirt which was probably made in a sweatshop where the kids have less clothing than your dog serves for a contradiction? I find the inhumane thing about our society is that we are more concerned about the issues of animals (being some of the top non-profit orgs in the world) then we care about the condition of those in our "likeness". How can we concern ourselves with "others" and yet give no real passion to the human race itself? Again, I don't disagree that there is a problem with animal cruelty. They can't speak for themselves, but we don't even properly entertain the cries and voices yelling out for help.... How can you speak about humane?

Seems like another Western elitism ploy to me.

Alfredo Triff said...

Giving an animal a face is great, and yet you don't think that wearing your PETA shirt which was probably made in a sweatshop where the kids have less clothing than your dog serves for a contradiction? I find the inhumane thing about our society is that we are more concerned about the issues of animals (being some of the top non-profit orgs in the world) then we care about the condition of those in our "likeness".

louis jeune, i follow your point & sympathize with both the social and the animal issue. but the investigation of the face-to-face of the human & animal has nothing to do with PETA or sweat-shops in china or the bad faith of a PETA activist. let's say that factory farms and sweat shops are both problematic.

Juan Lopez said...

Superb post and discussions. This is something we have to deal with everyday. To think of a piece of steak being once a living creature with a face troubles me. Humans have entered this state of denial I believe, including myself, and that is why we have pets, create organizations for the protection of animals, and create cartoons such as Lion King. In a way, we are evading the problem and, in response, create more turmoil. Very shockingly true.

Marisabel Lavastida said...

so i just spent a great deal of time writing something that got deleted but i'll try and repeat what I wrote the first time...

I recently hear the comedian Louis CK speaking on the subject of eating animals and I really respected him for it. He declared the he knew eating meat was extremely evil but he just did not care. The reason I respect his opinion was because of his honesty. I can not stand people who try to justify how we get our meat in this country. They get defensive about it because they can not admit that the staus quo needs to be changed.

When talking on this subject I am not so much talking about killing animals as much as I am about torturing them. Factory farms not only represent how we have all let this country be run by a corptocracy but also how we have no respect for life.

another main issue we have a society is the thought that we can somehow OWN life. Religious institutions have done a great job of feeding the arrogant notion that animals were put on earth for our use. I believe in the bible there is a section that declared that we are supposed to take dominion over the plants and animals of the earth.
This mentality will cause are demise as a species.

I recommend everyone watch the film "Earthlings". The film goes through every relationship people have with animals. It was a 2 hour film that took me about a week to watch because of its gruesome nature. I recall a part where a fox is being skinned alive and then thrown into a pile of foxes that were still alive but convulsing in pain. I hope human beings can try and regain power by informing ourselves of the harsh realities that make us uncomfortable and develop some empathy.

uriel perez said...

\after reading this post I ask, what might it take for us(humans) to finally accept non-human animals as equals, not cognitively or physically, but as living creatures equal to us in rights. Unfortunately, humans seem to be so deep in the consumption of meat, that just like in drug use, a total rock bottom hit, may be necessary for us to change our behavior. But that rock bottom may just be too low recuperate.

Leonardo Leon Nogueira said...

I consider myself a hypocrite over this issue because I have actually seen many of the animals I eat be killed in front of me, and even thought I love dogs I have actually tasted them as also many other animals that would be unknown for many. The issue for me is that although I sympathize with the idea of not killing animals I also think I will not stop eating them. As for the way we threat our animals I consider myself guilty but not to the extreme of having to take my dog to a walk on a baby stroller. The cause I think we treat them like this apart from being today socially accepted is because we see them every day. I think that if having cows as pets was socially accepted we would threat them much differently. In the end for me it’s easy to contradict myself because I love eating meat and I have seen many of these contradictions in my family. The real problem for me is the low yield cows give to us and the space they use , and the impact they cause to the environment I have seen these even in my country where there was a forest now is plain. In many ways raising an animal for our amusement is our own way of showing compassion towards the so many we have killed and will keep killing for our needs and desires.

Jacob Sims said...

I don't believe that an animal should only really be valued as a significant life form on the basis that it has a complex form of oral communication. At this point in time as a society we have become so dependent on eating meat that I don't see it in our near future to completely stray away from eating it. Nowadays for people's meals meat is practically a given. It is almost always the main part of the meal that is eaten immediately. An observation I have made is majority of people opt out from even eating the side salad or anything that doesn't at least have some form of meat. So that really answers the question about whether or not we can truly deviate away from this red meat-intensive diet in the next 10 years or so in my opinion.
I truly believe that if people weren't so detached from the whole meat production process that a lot more people would be less inclined to eat it. This goes exactly with the point made that shows that people won't eat meat that has a face. This harvesting is done behind closed doors and is never really mentioned in the media aside from a very rare outbreak of some disease. We have become so desensitized to the fact that we are eating a once living creature. Society justifies this diet on a massive scale, only furthering how people will be less open to confront our demons.

alevalde said...

After reading this post, it is a nice reminder as to one reason why I am now vegetarian. I do not believe it is wrong to eat an animal to nourish our physical body, however, I do not agree with the unmerciful and inhumane way many animals are now being treated and butchered for human consumption.

tHe big corporations are looking at the meat industry as a number system, I believe. They seem to use the quickest and fastest way to make the most profit, completely disregarding the way the animals are treated, which happens to be very tortuous for the animals, which brings me to my next point. I feel as if Walt Disney put human-like faces on their animals to symbolize to children that animals , in a way, are like humans. They have feelings just like us. I believe they do have a consciousness, although their mental faculties may not be as developed as human beings.

Alexander Valdes

Lazaro Corrales said...

Who says animals don't speak a language? I believe they do. They may not speak to us in English or in another verbal language, but they do speak to us in body language. You can observe a dog and figure out how it feels based on its body language, how it wags its tail when it looks at you or when it puts its tail and head down when you scold it. Step into a Gorilla’s territory, watch it beat on his chest and look at you, I guarantee you will get the point, he is saying get the fuck out of my space. The point of language is to express yourself and you can accomplish that with nonverbal cues. And if you don’t believe my argument, well then you can always put yourself in the animals “shoes”. Let me keep you in a cage all day then put a rope around your neck and drag you around town telling you where you can and can’t relieve your natural body functions and serve you what ever food I deem adequate. And if you only have a heart for mammals and not for other less intelligent animals, like fish, let me stick a dagger in your mouth and then hold you underwater where you can’t breath so you go through a similar experience of what a fish goes through. For us to pretend we don't understand what the animal is feeling or going through is b.s.

If you aren't aware of the health ramification of a continued diet based primarily on meats, you are ignorant and should take a nutrition class. Whether you believe in eating for your blood type or the paleo diet, animal based products should not be the primary source of your diet. Scientists have proven the link between consuming animal products and a plethora of common dieses. However, unfortunately for animals - they do serve a purpose in the nourishment of humans. The solution is balance. You should eat a variety of meats for your health, but keep your meat consumption to a minimum weekly. Consult your physician and see what your body needs and what foods to consume for you to maintain a healthy balance. If you limit your red meat consumption to once a week and your white meats to 3-4 servings a week it will be a step in the right direction. However, this doesn’t address the manner in which we grow, maintain and kill our animals for consumption. Clearly the way we are doing this is wrong too. Animals should be kept in their natural environment and not feed chemicals to grow for our consumption. I understand there is a demand and the greedy people that depend on animal product to make their money will do anything to continue selling animal products, but if we as a consumer curb our enthusiasm for meats and demand better conditions for our food – perhaps we will see a change.

I believe the some Native American tribes had it figured out when it comes to consuming animals. Clearly there is a circle of life, so they paid reverence to the animals and treated them the best they could until it was necessary to kill/sacrifice the animal for consumption. We should treat animals as best as we could because we too are animals or you can treat them well because we are not animals – we are humans and should know better.

My solution, maintain a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and a small fraction of animal based products. Demand that the animals you consume be treated kindly, maintained in organic conditions, if for no other reason (if you don’t have a heart) other than the fact that animals pumped full of chemicals and treated inhumanly do produce toxins in their blood stream that may not be harmful to humans in one meal but do gradually over time build diseases within the human. Whether you want to look at this issue from a spiritual or practical perspective it doesn’t make sense to treat animals badly and it doesn’t make sense to eat a lot of animal products. Don't be a hypocrite, curb your meat consumption, demand organic food when possible and continue these kinds of conversationsand perhaps someday things will be better for Babe. Laz

King Felix said...

After perusing the article and subsequent comments it's my conviction that there are three issues that need to be addressed: i.e. the main issue that is being presented to us by Prof. Triff, the tangential issues and important questions about definition. I'll begin with the latter.

The stress on verbal clarification is at the heart of philosophical inquiry and no doubt that of all the sciences. So, by necessity, heady words (especially those that lie within the realm of the abstract) necessitate serious consensual elucidation prior to any coherent discussion, which seeks to lift off from this fundamental requirement, can take place. Love, equality, rights et. are all words that if improperly defined can have and have had catastrophic ill-effects on the individual and society.

In my conviction I find it well within and in fact at the heart of reason to recognize that reality shows us unequivocally a hierarchical order of ontological preciousness. I believe our consciences affirm this reality. Our sympathy for a speck of dust, if there is such a thing, is incomparable to the empathy a sane person has for a child lets say. So, speaking of animals in terms of ontological equality and civic rights seems to me not only to be unreasonable but dangerous.

In regards to love, I share along with Pope John Paul II, St. John of the Cross and the Vatican document Gaudiam et Spec, that "man" realizes "himself" only through a sincere and complete gift of self. This gift of self seems contingent upon an appropriate recipient of such a gift, what one could call the "proper" beloved. It seems in good reason that this proper beloved cannot be an inanimate object and I will argue an animal. So, ultimately, I'd have to say that a claim of a human loving an animal by necessary consequence diminishes the dignity of the definition of the most precious ontological reality in the universe, love. That isn't to say one can not care for an animal at all. Merely that for the sake of preserving the meaning of love within our minds, and for the purpose of taxonomizing real things and thus living sanely, that we should refer to our affections to animals appropriately.

Now in regards to equality and rights, it seems that for the former's considerations, the discussion is one of ontology. I'll simply posit here, without having to go into serious polemics, that my hierarchical view of nature says enough about my views in respect to the claim that any known material substance, animate or inanimate, that is not human has equal ontological value and and civic rights as humans. That's not to say they (animals) have none. They certainly should and they certainly should. And expanding upon that in the light of logic, I ascribe to Singer's "no unnecessary pain should be caused" argument against the dietary consumption of animals. That is, on a logical plane, not a legalistic one. I also acknowledge the irrationality of cattle farming at the expense of more efficient and egalitarian non-animal forms of farming such as potatoes and tomatoes; which produce far more protein and nutrients per square mile than cattle farming could ever dream of.

With that said I'd like to end by highlighting, and by simply stating, what the great Mortimer Adler dubbed wisely as the title of his book "The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes."

Angel Martelo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angel Martelo said...

Before I tackle what I think this post is about, I feel that I must touch upon a few things.

Humans. One does not need to look far to begin to suspect that something might be horribly wrong with humanity. In fact, one does not to go far at all, they just needs to look to themselves to notice the same underlying problem that humanity as a whole is suffering from, and as a result, the rest of the world suffers as well. But why does the rest of the world, or at the very least its inhabitants, if not the world itself, suffer from our actions?

The answer is hidden within our very being and the capacity that our particular beingness possesses by nature. Though humans might be considered to be simple animals by some, I would argue that we are, in fact, something more; even if evolution is the vehicle through which we arrived to our current state. That "something more" is hinted at by the fact that there is no other living creature in this world that can effect the environment like we can, that can effect such a diversity of other life forms like we can. It is precisely that terrifying power, that ability to greatly effect or influence our surroundings that not only separates us from animals, but it points to our true identity. In that power lies our blessing and curse, our privilege as well as our responsibility. As spiderman's uncle put it, "with great power comes great responsibility."

I think part of the underlying problem, is that we don't understand who we are meant to be. In eastern catholic theology, it is the place of the human being to be the steward of creation. It is also taught within the creation myth that mankind was originally meant to, and ideally destined to return to, eating from trees and plants, not animals. But does it mean to be the steward of creation? It means that we are meant to take care of nature and those beings that dwell within it, which also happens to include the stewards themselves. That is our rightful place in the cosmos.

As long as we continue trying to convince ourselves that we are nothing more than simple animals, and then claim that to be the reason why we shouldn't eat them, because of some false and misguided sense of equality, the problem will never be resolved. The logic would naturally lead to the idea that if we're just animals, then what's the problem if we eat them? Animals eat each other all the time. We don't truly blame the lion for ripping out the throat of the zebra with its jaws, regardless of how gruesome or cruel we may find the act.

Those are my thoughts on the subject, however incoherent they may be. I also think it's interesting how the professor establishes how there's a difference that is artificially created between our plate and the life that used to be, I know I suffer from this illusion as well.

However, I doubt the solution is in seeing the animal as our equals. Though we are both created by the same God, we are made with a different dignity and moral obligation.

King Felix said...

By the way I'm Jonathan Pratt-Perez for the grade!

King Felix said...

Corrections to my comment:

the most precious thing in the universe being love is in my view not a platonic sentiment but the very substance of the super-intelligent creator of the universe, God.

**They certainly should and they certainly DO.

Maria Garcia said...

Humans are product of their society, in Western culture eating a dog is frown upon. While other culture see dogs as lunch. In our culture it is common to hide the public for the harsh truth-the suffering in slaugtherhouse-as along as we don't see the pain eating meat is going to be accepted. We feel horrible about eating meat only when faced with the hard truth but is soon forgiven because we don't identify the packed meat as an living animal.

Steve Gray said...

I consider myself a hypocrite over this issue because I have actually seen many of the animals I eat be killed in front of me, and even thought I love dogs I have actually tasted them as also many other animals that would be unknown for many. The issue for me is that although I sympathize with the idea of not killing animals I also think I will not stop eating them. As for the way we threat our animals I consider myself guilty but not to the extreme of having to take my dog to a walk on a baby stroller. The cause I think we treat them like this apart from being today socially accepted is because we see them every day. I think that if having cows as pets was socially accepted we would threat them much differently. In the end for me it’s easy to contradict myself because I love eating meat and I have seen many of these contradictions in my family. The real problem for me is the low yield cows give to us and the space they use , and the impact they cause to the environment I have seen these even in my country where there was a forest now is plain. In many ways raising an animal for our amusement is our own way of showing compassion towards the so many we have killed and will keep killing for our needs and desires.