Comment on Animals, Agency, and History by David Atkins

I agree that it is difficult to know when we project human-like qualities and feelings onto animals and when they are exercising agency. It seems like a human definition of what animals are doing when they make decisions, and I find myself wanting to separate the two groups animals vs. human. I think from reading this and other posts this is a mistake. The two groups cannot be separated and are in an interaction with one another, each defining and affecting the others role. Thanks Laura!

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Comment on “Who Are We?”: Animals, History, Ethics, and Questions of Inclusion by David Atkins

Overcoming self importance is certainly a problem for humans in general. We live in a very self/human centered world and moving away from this way of thinking is difficult and perhaps even uncomfortable. As Walker mentions, only when faced with death to many humans ever realize they are not at the top of the food chain, even though it is something most learn at some point early in life. As far as answering the philosophical question of “who are we” it seems illogical not to include the natural world and the organism in it. I think they would play a role in the defining the human race or explaining our existence.

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Comment on Animals in History by hungyin

The connection of animal with the reading of last week is impressive. It makes me think of Haraway’s idea about animals: the distinction between animals and human has been canceled, as modern biology makes animals and human both organism. Thus, human and animals are one, and human cannot just dominate animals in the philosophical way because animals are not “others” from human. In this context, animal study will not threaten human history, but the idea of “human” itself changes because now human are not just “human”, they are organism, just like animals.

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Comment on Animals, Agency, and History by hungyin

I like this post and would love to know more about the ideas you got from the readings this week to contribute your project! No pressure, too.:)
The comments here also make me recall my memory of the first time I “found” my cat’s agency. She waited for her food and we didn’t feed her immediately. She jumped up on the table, looking directly into our eyes, and slowly push one goblet down to the ground. She was protesting! After that, I always see her as a subject.

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Comment on Animals in History by A. Nelson

I agree, and thanks so much for connecting this week’s animals to last week’s Deep History and the Brain! I especially like your musings about the sailor, which reminds us that our understanding of the “human” is also an evolving conceptual category.

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Comment on Lying down with the dogs by A. Nelson

You can’t imagine how gratifying it is to read a post like this, Carmen! You’ve helped me see the course material in a new way and confirmed my sense that we could somehow get from Ranke to animals in one semester and that the journey would help us see how nuanced and evolving historical inquiry is and always will be. Temple Grandin!!!! Is coming to VT on Thursday: http://news.cals.vt.edu/insights/2014/11/save-the-date-temple-grandin-speaking-on-december-4/ I can’t go but maybe some of you can?

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Comment on Rosie, Buddy, Agency and History by A. Nelson

I savored every sentence of this last lovely post, Faith! I have an agricultural background as well and could second (third, and fourth) everything you relate here. (But I will spare you!) Do you know this book by Brad Kessler called Goat Song? http://www.amazon.com/Goat-Song-Seasonal-History-Herding/dp/1416561005
I think you would love it. I agree that animals should be part of history. In fact they just are part of history – take away the horsepower, food, predators, herders, and companions and what’s left?

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Comment on Animals, Agency, and History by A. Nelson

The question of agency is intriguing and I’m glad you’re finding it interesting to think about. I find it helpful to think about difference rather than hierarchy. Dogs (and horses, and dolphins) are good at many things I am not — “reading” people’s emotions, following a scent, hearing high frequencies, navigating vast territories without a compass or GPS, mobilizing as a group without exchanging email. And as for Robert, I think he can have agency and you can speculate (in human, anthropomorphic terms) about what’s going on in his little head — his agency is different from yours and doesn’t depend on what you think about what he thinks. Hmmmmm.

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Comment on Agency, Intentionality, Dogs, Cats, and the Black Death Fleas by A. Nelson

Not to complicate things even further, but it’s interesting to think about unintended intentionality when trying to draw the line (or at least position the markers). We see humans as having agency even if they have no idea about the outcomes of their actions. I intend to roast marshmallows and burn down the forest instead. The dog follows a scent to a long dead body and solves an otherwise baffling crime.

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