• Viewing domestication with a biased lens

    Posted on April 20th, 2014 mollyo92 No comments

    I’ll have to admit that it’s difficult for me to read Darwin. I’m not much of a scientific mind, and especially this early, somewhat crude science is hard for me to follow, given that he tends to use vocabulary and discuss topics that I’m not at all familiar with. However, I was able to follow Brantz, and I was very interested by her work. I was grabbed from the start by the opening statement, a quote by Darwin: “From a remote period, in all parts of the world, man has subjected many plants and animals to domestication and culture…He unintentionally exposes his animals and plants to to various conditions of life, and variability supervenes, which he cannot even prevent or check.” This quote is so interesting to me as it completely portrays the subject of animals and plant/human relationships from what I see as a bias anthropocentric viewpoint. The story is of human history, but also of man allowing animals and plants to enter into their society, a society which is totally separate from what appears to be the rest of the natural world. This separation does not sit well with me, and I think it’s part of the reason humans have become so removed from animals and nature in modern times. As explained in the article, animals were used as status symbols for humans; they were always seen as something man could manipulate. Even the fact that organizations were created for the protection of pets before the protection of wild animals makes it clear that human actions have long revolved around selfishness rather than a concern for other living creatures. Additionally, the fact that stray animals are seen as a nuisance because they don’t have their place serving the needs of a human family just goes to show what a bias view humans have always maintained towards plants and animals. How can they serve me? What rights should they have? Should they have any rights at all? All these common discussions on animal topics make it clear that the whole subject of domestication is just bound to take place with humans squarely in the center. I’m not really convinced domestication ever happened as a mutually beneficial arrangement. I believe there was a point in history when humans began to see themselves as better than all other species, and since that point our outlook on the other living creatures in the world has been that they are all a step below us. I think what is needed is a change in mindset. Before humans can have a discussion about the place that animals should have in ‘our’ world, we must first understand that it is their world too.


    3 responses to “Viewing domestication with a biased lens” RSS icon

    • Kara Van Scoyoc

      I am also hesitant to say it was a mutual relationship as well just because of how much we have altered their lives in comparison to ours.

    • I agree with your point that if animals seem to serve no purpose to humans, then they are seen as a nuisance. I noted in my post, as I collected from the readings, that our views on what makes an animal important has changed vastly over time. Animals used to serve as a means for survival, and later became a means of social status in France.

      We also falter as humans when we ignore certain traits that could be extremely important, like color, for example.

      I think mutualism maybe exists within some species, such a household pets, but one could argue how important this “benefit” to the animal really is. We have increased the populations of livestock tremendously, which some would think makes a species successful; while others,note through a moral point of view that these overpopulated species suffer.

    • I really like the point that you made about how societies to protect pets were created before societies to protect wild animals. Early zoos, pet shows, and organizations about animal welfare were only started for the benefit they would provide to humans. I wonder if the focus towards actual animal welfare came about because of our world getting bigger and our improved knowledge of how everything affects the health of this planet, and therefore the future and health of mankind? If this is the case, could it be said that these societies are still created with the welfare of humans in mind above all else? Or do you think mankind has really become more selfless and empathetic towards animals and other life on this planet?

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