Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

All Animals Equal? Including Brutes?

October 30, 2015

That All Animals Are Equal, is a most respected philosophy in the USA and other parts where plutocracy reigns. I explain why below.

Philosophy is not innocuous, far from it: it’s how people are ruled. Ruling over others is intrinsically evil. So evil, actually, that baboons, these super aggressive and militarized animals, have diluted rule in three ways. Baboons have two sort of “guides”, the rulers, and the innovators. In a baboon troop between alpha females, alpha males and numerous innovators, few adult baboons are just subjugated.

This makes the present situation of the human species all the more remarkable. We are subjugated. Rousseau said it was because of civilization itself. That was stupid (yet, it led to Nazism and Sovietism). In truth we are subjugated because of particular philosophies. Generally I target the (sort of) wisdom known as Abrahamism (Judeo-Christo-Islamism), because rather rabid citizens in America and the Middle East claim to believe in it enough to bomb others (see invasion of Iraq, etc.).

This French Spider Monster Is Your Equal, Says Princeton

This French Spider Monster Is Your Equal, Says Princeton

But then there are those philosophies which are a bit more sophisticated in the way they subjugate. The animal rights movements first blossomed under Nazism. Coincident with the rise of plutocracy, and the decay of everything else, this time in the USA, not Germany, it has also blossomed in the USA.

Peter Singer claimed in 1974 that “All Animals are Equal“. This made him extremely famous. He got a prestigious appointment at Princeton University. Many professional “philosophers” throughout the Anglo-Saxon juggernaut claim loudly to view Singer as the “greatest philosopher alive”. I have an adverse interpretation, naturally. Before I come to that, I should expose Singer’s fundamental idea. Let’s quote him extensively, lest I be accused to distort him. (Those who are more interested by what I have to say about them rather than what I view as sophisticated inanities, can hyper-jump after the quote.) Peter Singer wrote:

“I gave reasons for believing that the fundamental principle of equality, on which the equality of all human beings rests, is the principle of equal consideration of interests. Only a basic moral principle of this kind can allow us to defend a form of equality which embraces all human beings, with all the differences that exist between them. I shall now contend that while this principle does provide an adequate basis for human equality, it provides a basis which cannot be limited to humans. In other words I shall suggest that, having accepted the principle of equality as a sound moral basis for relations with others of our own species, we are also committed to accepting it as a sound moral basis for relations with those outside our own species – the nonhuman animals.

This suggestion may at first seem bizarre. We are used to regarding the oppression of blacks and women as among the most important moral and political issues facing the world today. These are serious matters, worthy of the time and energy of any concerned person. But animals? Surely the welfare of animals is in a different category altogether, a matter for old ladies in tennis shoes to worry about. How can anyone waste their time on equality for animals when so many humans are denied real equality?

This attitude reflects a popular prejudice against taking the interests of animals seriously – a prejudice no better founded than the prejudice of white slaveowners against taking the interests of blacks seriously. It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own beliefs, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among them. What is needed now is a willingness to follow the arguments where they lead, without a prior assumption that the issue is not worth attending to.

The argument for extending the principle of equality beyond our own species is simple, so simple that it amounts to no more than a clear understanding of the nature of the principle of equal consideration of interests. We have seen that this principle implies that our concern for others ought not to depend on what they are like, or what abilities they possess (although precisely what this concern requires us to do may vary according to the characteristics of those affected by what we do).

It is on this basis that we are able to say that the fact that some people are not members of our race does not entitle us to exploit them, and similarly the fact that some people are less intelligent than others does not mean that their interests may be disregarded. But the principle also implies that the fact that beings are not members of our species does not entitle us to exploit them, and similarly the fact that other animals are less intelligent than we are does not mean that their interests may be disregarded.”

There are so many wrong idea in the preceding quote, which contains all what Singer is famous for in a nutshell, that it’s hard to know where to start. I will keep to the mains (what gives electric shocks, yes).

Notice the preeminence of the word, and concept, of “interest” in Singer’s thought system. This may sound innocuous. It’s not. In Islam (as in Judaism and Christianity) charting interest to a fellow-man is forbidden (haram). I believe in moods.

By making the notion of INDIVIDUAL interest, which is the center, and crux of so-called “capitalism” or so-called “markets”, as in “free markets”, the highest value imaginable, Singer and his accomplices are, not so implicitly, putting “the market” (aka American imperialism), at the very top of the pyramids of all values.

So notice, that if we want no more sexism and raise, Singer says we have to embrace interest, thus markets. Plutocracy shall make you free!

No wonder Singer joined in 2011 the professoriate of New College of the Humanities, a private college in London, in addition to his work at Princeton. Instead of lashing out, with high taxes on plutocrats, and thus trample their delicate interests, Peter shall strive to prevent their suffering.

After all, plutocrats may be of lesser intelligence than us, yet, we have to respect their interests, because they are animals, and their right to life and no suffering, are primordial..

How come such stupidities have become so famous and respectable? Precisely because they force the philosophically minded, if they want to graduate, to respect stupidity. Thus the mood of abject submission to stupidity is enforced as the highest moral value, and proof of the highest smarts.

Now of course, Singer’s incredibly offensive message is disguised with mould red herrings about (correct) trivialities. Singer’s Key Idea is that equal does not mean the same (who could say otherwise?). Example: one doesn’t have to assign a right to abortion to men in order to assign it to women.

The real issue is the concept of equality. We make a mistake in thinking that it requires equal rationality, says Singer. Singer claims that rights used to be denied to women and non-whites on the grounds of their limited rationality.

To “prove” this, Singer rolls out an example. A woman feminist in England wrote an essay on women deserving equal rights: She pointed out that, just across the Channel, in Paris, a strong attempt had been made to give women the right to vote. A Cambridge philosopher replied by asking if “brutes” also deserved equal rights. That was in 1794. Singer says, then, yes, even brutes have rights.

Women had been fighting for their rights, and getting some, sometimes, for 22 centuries, ever since Roman Pater Familias were deprived of their right to kill their wives.

However Singer exhibits his own limitation: “limited rationality” was an Anglo-Saxon argument: in Antique Rome, there was NO assumption of limited rationality on the ground of difference of origin! Similarly for the successor regime of Rome, France. Racism, race, limited rationality, exclusion are ANGLO-SAXON concepts, enshrined in the congenital slavery of “blacks” (some of whom were white).

As a child I lived in Africa. French speaking Africa (more than 200 million people in Africa ). Once I crossed over into an English speaking African country. To my amazement, I found there were two sets of toilets at the customs. A first set, immaculate, very fancy, for “Ladies and Gentlemen”. In the distance there was another set, rough and disgusting, of a suspicious brownish color, for “Males and Females”. That was my first introduction to racism. (In French Africa, there were only one type of toilets.

When the Franks got to England in 1066 CE, they freed the slaves. They conducted a census: 20% of the population was enslaved. Recently the buried corpse of a Black African was found in England, post Frankish conquest. He was a free man.

Singer’s thesis of deep racism in history is not correct. Rome was NOT racist. The two large empires which made Western civilization, Roma and the Imperium Francorum, believed exactly that. That’s why seven queens of the Franks reigned around 600.

So what is the connection with Nazism? If Nietzsche were here, he would say: nihilism. By claiming that mold, lichen and arthropods have “equal rights”, Singer is trashing the human race, he may as well say cow dung has equal rights.

The Nazis were crafty enough to find that angle well before Singer. Nobody could accuse the Nazis to be inhuman, quite the opposite: they passed strong laws preventing cruelty to animals, and created vast and numerous national parks.

It was all a smokescreen. The interest of Nazis was to kill people, so they could suck their riches, from their hair, to their teeth (!), to the properties they owned before the Nazis stole them.

The solution to Nazism was to inflict on Nazis enough pain, suffering and death, so they will quit by force their pretense to animality.

The rise of plutocracy is directly connected to the mood we have equal right to sheep. No wonder Mr. Singer is well employed.

Patrice Ayme’

Animal Minds, As NATURE IS NURTURE

February 25, 2014

Descartes famously pontificated that animals were machines. Actually, Descartes was just parroting famous stoic philosophers from way back (Chrysippus, Diogenes, etc.). Not to worry. According to his own logic, Descartes, being a parrot, was a machine. (Descartes may have had an anti-theocracy agenda, but that’s another story.)

Darwin, a non-peer reviewed, non academic hyper intellectual, dared to show more subtlety in the Origin of Species when he wrote: It is a significant fact, that the more the habits of any particular animal are studied by a naturalist, the more he attributes to reason, and the less to unlearnt instinct” (1871, Book I, page 46)

I pushed that point of view further in Instinct Is Fast Learning”.

We Think, Therefore We Floss

We Think, Therefore We Floss

Lions premeditate when hunting in the wild. They spent hours plotting under the weary eye of their potential prey. They reveal each other presence by discreetly pointing up their dark circled ears. Lions are good scientists with a knowledge of the minds of others, and excellent geography. Don’t ask me for a link, I saw it done as a child in West Africa. A few days ago, I ran below a rock where a puma was contemplating a gigantic panorama. It was not just to admire the forests tumbling in the Pacific Ocean.

Some will feebly object to my use of the word “science”. I stand ready to devour them, having long premeditated this. Science means to know, and lion knowledge has to be effective enough to feed them, it’s an excellent thing. Take much of today’s physics: differently from aerospace engineering, it could be completely wrong. Planes fly, but not necessarily the Big Bang. Lion science is much more true than much of physics. Why? The proof is in the pudding, or more exactly the buffalo lying in his own blood.

(See note.)

Lions have to be very innovative. Protecting cubs require quite a bit of knowledge about physics and the ethology of various species. Including saurian: watch this lioness protect her cubs by deliberately attacking a crocodile. I have seen a lioness use what she knew to be the knowledge of antelopes have about crocodiles to foresee what said antelopes would do (and thus follow a trajectory that would make her prey fall under her claws).

That told me lions’ hunts depend upon a theory of other minds to feed themselves.

Alexi Helligar, objecting to my vision of lions premeditating when planning dinner: … “Birds do this as well, especially corvidae. Just because an animal is able to calculate a priori means to an end does not meet my definition of premeditation.”

Tyranosopher: Call it precalculation then! Some birds plan and make tools, others speak and outperform chimps mentally. Wild animals are smart. Underestimating the mental capabilities of animals is the first order of the rawest, crudest anthropomorphism.

Brazilian scientists are discovering that wild parrots speak and name each other (work in progress).

Alexi Helligar: “Overestimating the mental capabilities of animals is the first order of anthropomorphism.”

This reflects Ivan Pavlov who in 1927, wrote that animals should be considered “without any need to resort to fantastic speculations as to the existence of any possible subjective states“. The Oxford companion to animal behaviour (1987) parroted this: “one is well advised to study the behaviour rather than attempting to get at any underlying emotion”.

Well that’s Conventional, not to say Communal, Wisdom (let me not think of other things communal). Claiming that animals are not like humans, that various tales for children with animals as if they were human, were completely wrong, is what a whole line of thinkers following a gross interpretation of mysteriously subtle statements of the Stoics, took for granted. It fit perfectly well their religions. That became the philosophical party line: animals have nothing to do with humans. Some, all too many, scientists have goose stepped behind that.

The simplest observations show that claiming that animals don’t think is completely unthinkable. To survive in the wilds, one has to outsmart animals, and it’s not easy to do. I have extensively observed animals in the wild. I still do this. Call it Ethological Watching (in analogy to Bird Watching).

Observing animals in the wild is like observing a human outside of a small cage: it’s very different. According to my theory of mind, the mind is constructed by the environment.

NATURE BECOMES NURTURE.

Experiments on rats support this: a rat in a richer cage has a richer brain. The richest cage of all is the grand wild outdoors. Hence a wild animal will have more of a mind.

I have had dozens of bear encounters, typically when I run. Once I charged two mountain lions within 15 minutes (cautiously establishing a prudent life-saving hierarchy of ferocity: charging the enemy is often most wise).

Last week, during a run, I was loudly growled at, by a mountain lion (whom I did not see it). We had a short, but complicated interaction. S/he clearly wanted to scare me off, as s/he crossed the trail I just ran on (and ran back minutes later, because my way got blocked by poisonous vegetation).

Reason for the unusual growl? There was a dog with some hikers barking in the far distance, and the lion got worried that we were together doing lion hunting, and was legitimately worried. Hence the attempt to terrify me away.

I used to follow lions on foot in Africa. Using plenty of psychology.  General psychology applies to animals. It is not anthropomorphism, it’s life-saving. It’s ethology. Paleolithic natives knew well this science. Their lives depended upon it.

The animal kingdom on Earth is a bit like the network of mind on the planet Pandora (represented in the movie Avatar). Animals communicate, and they use their common psychology to do it.

Crocodiles concur. Their flossing and tooth cleaning methods are arguably more advanced than ours (as we can’t invent tiny cleaning robots yet). They can use them only because both birds and crocs have sophisticated theories of each other’s minds. Even feeding sharks under water involves shared theories of mind. The sharks know enough to have figured out they should not eat the feeder, lest the feeding stopped, and that, if they behave cool and nice, they will be fed tuna heads.

Why to think that animals don’t think? Descartes and his fellow theocrats would have to admit that animals had souls. That would have opened a vast can of worms: do worms have souls, can I eat them? Does that make me into the Devil? (One should get carried away in attributing too much equality to animals as Peter Singer tends to do; the main danger there is that deference to the individual animal could lead to the disappearance of the species; say by forbidding the incarceration of the last remaining specimen while attempting to save species.)

However the logical thing to do is that, considering we are animals, other animals do like us, and think. It’s the most natural approach: when a reasoning, or observation, works, so should what’s not too far topologically.

This is the line of inquiry that was started in Paris in the 1950s, where Eric Kandel was told to study the neurology of Aplysia Californica. The idea was that STUDYING THINKING IS ONE. That is the exact affirmation of anthropomorphism.

And it was highly fruitful. Ever since, and ever more, the minds of animals, all the way down to the fly Drosophila, have been studied, and the result of these studies has illuminated the way humans think.

We Think, Therefore We Floss.

Patrice Aymé

Note: A French scientist just found 120 gibberish published articles written haphazardly by computer, another scandal in peer review. Much of peer reviewed published biology is irreproducible, biotech companies such as Amgen have complained. This for those who have whined that I do not publish among my non-existent peers. Let them steal instead.


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