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The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy ― and Why They Matter Paperback – May 28, 2008
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If the onus on Emotional Lives of Animals author Marc Bekoff was simply to prove that nonhuman creatures exhibit Charles Darwin's six universal emotions (anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, and surprise), then his book would be very brief. As anyone who has ever had a pet dog, cat, rabbit, or even bird can attest, animals not only possess such emotions but broadcast them clearly and often. Bekoff's goal, however, is much grander: To show that wild and domestic species have a kaleidoscopic range of feelings, from embarrassment to awe, and that we dismiss them not only at their peril but our own. And if an endorsement squib by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and Foreword by renowned animal scientist Jane Goodall doesn't give it away, then readers quickly learn that Bekoff also has an agenda: showing that using animals for scientific experiments, amusement, food, and the like is reprehensible and unconscionable.Not that The Emotional Lives of Animals is a polemic. By turns funny, anecdotal, and deeply researched, the book is all the more persuasive because it's so compelling. As Bekoff (professor emeritus of biology at the University of Colorado) points out, "It's bad biology to argue against the existence of animal emotions. Scientific research in evolutionary biology, cognitive ethology, and social neuroscience supports the view that numerous and diverse animals have rich and deep emotional lives. Emotions have evolved as adaptations in numerous species, and they serve as a social glue to bond animals with one another." And with us, as Bekoff argues in this absorbing and important book. -- Kim Hughes
This thought-provoking book could very likely change your life.”
The Animals Voice
Marc Bekoff ably presents the richness and variety of the emotions in nonhuman animals and doesn’t hesitate to draw the ethical conclusions implicit in his findings. I hope this book will be widely read by those who care about animals and even more widely by those who don’t.”
Peter Singer, professor of bioethics, Princeton University
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Bekoff opens the book by defining his field of study (cognitive ethology) and building a case for animal emotion. He also touches on anthropomorphism and how this is a useful and meaningful way to describe animal emotion even though (hard) science has occasionally derided the person who assigns "human" emotion to animal behavior. The remainder of the book presents evidence and examples of animal emotion and behavior in support of his thesis.
An unattributed quote on p.23 sums up the book well: "If I assume that animals have subjective feelings of pain, fear, hunger, and the like, and if I am mistaken in doing so, no harm will have been done; but if I assume the contrary, when in fact animals do have such feelings, then I open the way to unlimited cruelties...Animals must have the benefit of the doubt, if indeed there be any doubt."
It is a fascinating read and may well change your life too. I respect his writing and his view points and encourage you to read this eye-opening book, and by so doing, you may never look at animals in quite the same way again. And that would be a good thing!!!
The author does not shy away from the harder questions like do animals fall in love and do animals have a sense of fair play and right and wrong. Enjoyable, entertaining read with true scientific proof to support his conclusions.
I really enjoyed his book.
Read the book and think about these revelations...
Top international reviews
This is a study which anyone who has an interest in animal behaviour will delight in. Behaviours such as loneliness and weaving amongst elephants, bereavement of donkeys and affection shared by whales remind us that all mammals share many neuroanatomical similarities, even if we cannot be sure that they experience emotion in the same way.
The book might be seen as a series of self-contained essays, tackling topics such as what animals feel and ethical questions about how we respond to what we know about animal emotion. Bekoff doesn't pretend to know the answers, but he challenges fellow scientists to use common sense alongside their quest for the perfect `scientific method' and to stop seeing animals as little more than moving objects. He argues that anecdotes gathered from repeated observations aren't to be brushed off as fool-hardy irrelevancies, and even suggests that there's a time and place for carefully applied anthromorphism.
Whilst backed by extensive research - the end notes alone reach over 30 pages - Bekoff's writing style is simple, speaking to the lay reader and written from the heart. I actually felt I could picture him sitting at his window wondering what it's like to be the fox standing on his lawn, whilst the whole book is written from a desire to better understand and co-exist with the animals he so loves. As his co-founder of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Jane Goodall says in her Foreword, `I only hope [the book] will persuade many people to reconsider the way we treat animals in the future.'