Thursday, January 22, 2015

Interspecies Play

Play is a very important activity for human childhood development, as well as often for what we might call adult emotional maintenance.  Other animals also engage in play, some to a very great extent.  I have no profound observations to offer, but I sometimes enjoy playing with dogs about as much as I do with people, and I find it interesting that play can become as subtle a method of interspecies communication as anything we've found so far.  In science fiction, a human mind can be merged with that of another being, including another species, and experience things through the senses of the other organism (sometimes even with something of the quality of existence that the other being experiences). If this is even possible, I suspect it would have to be a very long way off in our future, but it would be a direct way to address the issue people raise when they wonder what it is "like" to be some other animal.  What is it like to be a dog?  What is the nature of its reasoning, emotion, etc., and what does it feel like just to exist?  Regarding the last part of that series of questions, we might acknowledge that we can't even know for sure what another person's subjective experience of life is.  However, I think it's very reasonable to assume lots of commonality from one of us to another, and I also am convinced that there is much in the rich emotional life of a dog that parallels my own.  I don't know if your experience of colors is the same as mine, but I know that my dog Ziva experiences joy very much the same way that I do.  The same would of course be true of suffering, which is why I would go to very great lengths to protect her from that.

Yes, in the following pictures, you see a portion of a cow bone.  I recognize the inconsistency of protecting one animal while participating in the use of another one that may have been raised for slaughter.  The world is filled with carnivores, predators in every available niche.  The constant struggle for survival is how the incredible variety of microorganisms, plants, and animals (including people) came to be.  However, we can, and should, at least ensure humane treatment of any animals that we humans use for our own purposes.  We can be sure those purposes are good and necessary, and we can certainly avoid frivolous or cruel mistreatment of any creatures, including our fellow humans.


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