WEEK 2 – Bulliet

Chapter 1
Picking up this book the prospect of reading 79 pages at once (my original plan) was a little bit daunting, but I’m already 10 pages in and it seems to have flown by. The writing is easy to comprehend and yet technical and precise enough to serve as a scholarly text. I find myself agreeing completely with Bulliet’s definition of Domesticity and Postdomesticity, and I really like the way he uses his definition as the basis for his entire premise (thus far).

Here’s an interesting phrase: “Repetition… is normal, dulls the senses.” (13) The quote refers to animal slaughter and animal sex, but what about in reference to human capacities for evil? Does the same basic wiring in our brains that’s responsible for a dulling of the senses in the face of repeated animal slaughter/sex help contribute to the bystander effect of something like the Holocaust?

Speaking of the Holocaust, what about Charles Patterson’s equating the Holocaust with our treatment of animals? (31) Despite what the comparisons between the mechanical processes of slaughtering animals and slaughtering people, I think it’s making direct comparisons between the two actions is absolutely ridiculous, and that Patterson’s attempt to portray “animal eating and genocide is as part and parcel of the same horror” (32) is wrong.

Regarding the urban terrorism practiced by animal rights groups (33) such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), I believe they should be prosecuted and treated the same way you’d treat any other terrorist group that undertakes the same actions. The worthiness or empathy their cause my generate should not translate to differing treatment by the state.

Chapter 2

I like Bulliet’s definitions and explanations of the differences between tame and domestic. (44) If animals were originally all considered wild, and only became domestic by the taming and breeding of tamed wild animals together, then how would humans know which animals to try and breed together?  The obvious answer is to simply choose the animals that were the most tame and use those as the parents, but would their tameness be a result of genetic inclination toward being tamed (in which case the domestication process should eventually work), or simply having been tamed for the longest period of time (in which case the domestication process probably would not work)?

It would be interesting to see the reactions of Descartes and other thinkers who believe animals exhibit no reason to videos such as this or that.

Chapter 3

Trying to identify a definite point of separation between man and animal is likely impossible. I think that the only way to truly describe the separation is with a type of Venn diagram, with animals on one side, humans on the other, and a gray area in the center which is not definable.

The theory that Homo erectus might have been able to travel across the globe due to their meat eating disposition makes a certain sort of sense, but it glosses over one or two things. What about poisonous animals (like frogs)?

Chapter 4

I’d really like to see someone discuss dogs in depth. Bulliet mentions that dogs were the first domestic animals, and were domesticated before even plants were made domestic. But what were dogs used for? Different breeds of domestic dogs implies different uses, so when did breeds arise? He mentions that even before cattle were used for plows, they were most likely used as a source of wealth, meat, and milk. So what purpose did dogs serve?