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Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animalsby Jonathan Balcombe
Synopses & Reviews
For centuries we believed that humans were the only ones that mattered. The idea that animals had feelings was either dismissed or considered heresy. Today, thats all changing. New scientific studies of animal behavior reveal perceptions, intelligences, awareness and social skills that would have been deemed fantasy a generation ago. The implications make our troubled relationship to animals one of the most pressing moral issues of our time.
Jonathan Balcombe, animal behaviorist and author of the critically acclaimed Pleasurable Kingdom, draws on the latest research, observational studies and personal anecdotes to reveal the full gamut of animal experience—from emotions, to problem solving, to moral judgment. Balcombe challenges the widely held idea that nature is red in tooth and claw, highlighting animal traits we have disregarded until now: their nuanced understanding of social dynamics, their consideration for others, and their strong tendency to avoid violent conflict. Did you know that dogs recognize unfairness and that rats practice random acts of kindness? Did you know that chimpanzees can trounce humans in short-term memory games? Or that fishes distinguish good guys from cheaters, and that birds are susceptible to mood swings such as depression and optimism?
With vivid stories and entertaining anecdotes, Balcombe gives the human pedestal a strong shake while opening the door into the inner lives of the animals themselves.
"Who knew that chickens and humans find the same faces beautiful? Or that fish choose reliable partners for 'dangerous predator inspection missions?' Referencing such intriguing studies, Balcombe (Pleasurable Kingdom) builds a compelling case for blurring the line between animal and human perception, thereby questioning the prevailing scientific orthodoxy that humans alone possess the ability to reason. Over the years, studies have shown that animals have intelligence (dolphins have been known to teach themselves to delay gratification to get extra treats), emotions (like humans, baboon mothers show elevated levels of glucocorticoids after losing an infant), cunning (gorillas divert the attention of rivals from food, often by grooming); that they can communicate (nuthatches can translate chickadee chirps), can be altruistic (chimps who know how to unlatch a door help those who can't). Yet philosophers have routinely dismissed animals as unthinking, unfeeling beasts — Descartes grouped non-human animals with 'machines,' a line of logic that has been used to justify callous treatment of laboratory animals. Balcombe's brief, marred only slightly by sermonizing, builds to a passionate and persuasive argument for vegetarianism on both humanitarian and environmental grounds." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Do baboons have a sense of right and wrong? Do cats and dogs have their feelings hurt? Animal behavior expert Jonathan Balcombe makes the case that animals, once viewed only as mindless automatons, actually have rich sensory experiences and emotional complexity. Drawing on new research, observational studies, and personal anecdotes to reveal the full spectrum of animal experience, Balcombe paints a new picture of the inner lives of animals that diverges from the “fight or die” image often presented in the popular media. He challenges traditional views of animals and makes the case for why the human-animal relationship needs a complete overhaul.
Did you know that dogs recognize unfairness and that rats practice random acts of kindness? Did you know that chimpanzees can trounce humans in short-term memory games? Or that fishes distinguish good guys from cheaters, and that birds are susceptible to mood swings such as depression and optimism? With vivid stories and entertaining anecdotes, Balcombe gives the human pedestal a strong shake while opening the door into the inner lives of the animals themselves.
For centuries it was accepted that human beings were the planet's only sentient creatures. But new research shows that the animal kingdom is full of surprising demonstrations of emotional intelligence, moral judgment, and mental perceptiveness. Jonathan Balcombe, animal behaviorist and author of the critically acclaimed Pleasurable Kingdom, draws here on the latest scientific evidence, observational studies, and personal anecdotes to reveal the full spectrum of animal experience. Where we once dismissed their reality as simplistic, Balcombe shows that animals engage in sophisticated social networking and display highly individualistic behavior--for example: - many animals--especially dogs-- recognize unfairness and are able to empathize with other beings, even humans; - birds are susceptible to mood swings such as depression and optimism- the language of prairie dogs contains words for different types of humans--such as those carrying weapons or bearing food- cats, mice, and cows show a deep level of consciousness and self-reflectionAs our society becomes better informed about the degree to which animals enjoy and suffer the same feelings we do, we gain a new appreciation for creatures with whom we share the earth and must begin an informed debate about how we treat them. And this, Balcombe eloquently argues, will help us attain a better understanding of ourselves--in particular, what makes us human.
About the Author
Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., is a former animal behavior research scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and currently a consultant based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Pleasurable Kingdom. For more information visit www.jonathanbalcombe.com.
Table of Contents
PART I: EXPERIENCE
Tuning In (Animal Sensitivity)
With Feeling (Emotions)
Knowing it (Awareness)
PART II: COEXISTENCE
Conveying it (Communication)
Getting Along (Sociability)
Doing Good (Virtue)
PART III: EMERGENCE
Rethinking Wild Existence
The New Humanity
What Our Readers Are Saying
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