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Minding Animals, Minding Earth: Old Brains, New Bottlenecks

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I emphasize the importance of broadening behavioral, ecological, and conservation science into a more integrative, interdisciplinary, socially responsible, compassionate, spiritual, and holistic endeavor. I stress the significance of studies of animal behavior, especially ethological research concerned with animal emotions in which individuals are named and recognized for their own personalities, for helping us to learn not only about the nonhuman animal beings with whom we share Earth but also about who we are and our place in nature. We are best understood in relationship with others. To this end I develop the notions of “minding animals” and “deep ethology.” Animals are sources of wisdom, a way of knowing.

We are all citizens of Earth, members of a global community in which intimate reciprocal and beneficent peaceful relationships are mandatory. A world without cruelty and with boundless compassion, respect, grace, humility, spirituality, and love would be a better world in which to live. We have compelling responsibilities for making Earth a better and more peaceful habitat for all beings. It is essential that we do better than our ancestors. We must reflect and step lightly as we “redecorate” nature. Time is not on our side.

I plead for the development of heartfelt and holistic science that allows for joy and play. Science need not be suspicious of things it cannot fully understand. We must not avert our eyes or other senses from the eyes and voices of other beings who urgently need our uncompromising and unconditional aid and love. We can do much more than we have done for animals and the Earth.

Keywords: animal cognition; animal emotions; animal play; cooperation; deep ethology; fairness; forgiveness; minding animals; nature's wisdom; social morality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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