Safina comes to an unfamiliar but empirically based conclusion: prior to the domestication of plants and the invention of writing, the differences between human societies and those of elephants, dogs, killer whales, and dolphins was a matter of degree, not kind. Why, he asks, has it taken us so long to understand this? Are our egos “threatened by the thought that other animals think and feel? Is it because acknowledging the mind of another makes it harder to abuse them?”
The discovery of nonhuman societies composed of highly intelligent, social, empathetic individuals possessing sophisticated communication systems will force us to reformulate many questions. We have long asked whether we are alone in the universe. But clearly we are not alone on earth. The evolution of intelligence, of empathy and complex societies, is surely more likely than we have hitherto considered. And what is it, exactly, that sets our species apart? We clearly are different, but in light of Beyond Words we need to reevaluate how, and why.That is an excerpt of a review of 2 books about animals in the NY Times. The books are entitled:
Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina
The entire review is worth the read. Both books sound so interesting, especially the one by Safina, and are now on my reading list.
The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins by Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell
Both pictures are from the article in the Times.