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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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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.
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."
Read the book and think about these revelations...
For far too long 'animals' have been regarded as some sort of 'other'; something different from humans. It was a case of 'them' and 'us'. As a result other creatures have been abominably treated by man throughout history, and tragically still are. However, recent research shows that we are far more alike than we are different. We are all 'us', humans and other animals included. Other animals are just 'different kinds of us', that's all. They have minds as we do. They have personalities and all that goes with them. They have their own sense of self and their own viewpoint on the world.
As a result, Professor Bekoff's book is a biological Copernican revolution. It is a total change of mindset on how we view our fellow creatures. And not before time either. Professor Bekoff explains that we must regard other animals in a new light because of these findings. Because we are all so similar we have a duty to treat other animals with the respect they deserve. We must show them the kindness and compassion that we would members of our own species. We cannot continue to abuse them as we have done, and sadly, still do on a colossal scale and in colossal numbers. And by diminishing our fellow creatures we diminish ourselves.
Please read this marvellous book. It will open your eyes. You will never regard other animals the same again. There can be no progress in the world until we treat our fellow creatures with kindness and compassion.