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I. EMOTIONS, COGNITION, AND ANIMAL SELVES: “WOW! THAT’S ME!” ONE OF THE HOTTEST FIELDS in the study of animal behavior is the study of animal minds—what they are like and what is in them. Researchers in many disciplines are asking questions such as “What is it like to be a specific animal?” “What does it feel like to be that animal?” and “What do animals know about themselves, other individuals, and their environment?” In this part of the book, “Emotions, Cognition, and Animal Selves,” I first consider emotions because there is wide interest in what animals feel and how they express their feelings. To understand why countless people form very close bonds with animals or why we are concerned with how animals are treated, what they feel is more important than what they know. The four essays in this section reflect my longtime interest in animal minds, providing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary overview of the important issues in the science of cognitive ethology. Cognitive ethology is the comparative , evolutionary, and ecological study of animal minds, including thought processes, beliefs, rationality, information processing, and consciousness. The essays build on one another thematically, although they are not presented in chronological order. I also present material that centers on the use of what I call the two a words, namely anthropomorphism (basically, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman animals) and anecdotes, to inform explanations about the content of animal minds, animal emotions, self-awareness, and empathy. These are all hot topics for researchers and nonresearchers alike. Parts of this essay are excerpted from Bekoff, M. 1994. “Cognitive Ethology and the Treatment of Non-Human Animals: How Matters of Mind Inform Matters of Welfare. Animal Welfare 3: 75–96; Bekoff, M., and C. Allen. 1997. “Cognitive Ethology: Slayers, Skeptics, and Proponents.” In R. W. Mitchell, N. Thompson, and L. Miles (eds.), Anthropomorphism, Anecdote, and Animals: The Emperor’s New Clothes? SUNY Press, Albany, New York. pp. 313–334; and Bekoff, M. 2000. Strolling with Our Kin: Speaking for and Respecting Voiceless Animals. Lantern Books, New York. When I reread the essays in this section, I realized that most of the ideas, if not all, were present in my mind and heart for decades and began to appear in some of my essays in the mid-1970s when I seriously began to ponder the ways in which dogs, coyotes, and foxes communicated their intentions and desires to engage in social play (see Part III). However, I had not yet collaborated with the philosophers Dale Jamieson and Colin Allen, so my thinking was not especially focused or rigorous in some areas. When I met Dale, I was ready for some broad and deep interdisciplinary thinking about animal cognition , animal emotions, and philosophy of mind, and how matters of mind might inform matters of well-being. Dale and I used to get so excited about our joint ventures that we actually outlined the two volumes of our Interpretation and Explanation in the Study of Animal Behavior as we stood eating lunch in a parking lot. Much of our work also was done drinking margaritas and taking long hikes with our dogs Grete and Jethro, who seemed bored by our musings but to whom we nonetheless dedicated these books. What is so very interesting and significant to me is to reflect upon how my own and others’ ideas have changed over the years with (1) the accumulation of comparative data for diverse organisms to whom many of my colleagues were loathe to attribute any sort of mind at all, (2) the widespread acceptance of the inevitability of being anthropomorphic, and (3) the infusion of theory with philosophical discourse, common sense, and folk psychological explanations. THE A WORDS: ANECDOTES AND ANTHROPOMORPHISM Neither of the a words is discussed explicitly later on, so I want to consider briefly why anecdotes and anthropomorphism have frequently been used to bash the field of cognitive ethology. There are many different ways of describing what animals do. How one chooses to summarize what they see, hear, or smell depends on the questions in which one is interested. There is not just one correct way to describe or to explain what animals do or feel. Anecdotes, or stories, always find their way into people’s views of animals. Some of my colleagues dislike or ignore anecdotes because they are “merely stories” with little or no substance; they are not hard data. However, although much of our theorizing about the evolution of behavior...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781592133499
Print ISBN
9781592133482
MARC Record
OCLC
614991568
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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