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Ivan Mutavdžić (M)
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    From notthisbody
    Challenging Evolution
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    Interspecies respect
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    Interspecies respect

    Most vegetarians and animal rights activists would say it is important to respect animals. I have to ask:
    Is it even possible to respect other species?

    If humans believe they are superior in any way, isn't this respect condescending? If humans have the ability to eat a pig, and they choose not to, in order to spare the pig's life, is that even respect? Or merely self-indulging arrogance?

    How do you respect a species, any species, if you have a very limited capacity to even understand them?

    Fri, May 9, 2008  Permanent link

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    ParanoidMystic     Fri, May 9, 2008  Permanent link
    This is a very interesting question and worth exploring in detail. It reminds me of the prime directive from Star Trek: non-interference. Of course, it seems like there was a reason to revoke the prime directive in almost every episode...

    There is something of an uphill climb in the course of consciousness evolution. Which is to say that the next step runs counter to common sense wisdom. From the solitary cell's perspective, what sense does it make to join forces with other cells? Especially if your lot is to weather the beatings on the external of the new body while other cells safely idle inside the protection you provide. Turns out, the cover you provide that internal cell allows it to specialize in ways no solitary cell could afford.

    Respecting other species means turning the tables on our modus operandi. We are not condescending to the lower species. We are *helping ourselves by following the law.* We are rapidly nearing the close of the "live and let die" consciousness. Already the door has opened to the new truth, the new power. Put simply, "I want you to thrive" is the recipe for success. Illogical as it may seem, that is actually the nature of reality. When we look out for other species, provide for them, allow them to thrive, they will in turn enrich us in ways we cannot imagine.

    Respect is not a matter of understanding, imho. It's not something you think. It's something you do.

    disclosure: I don't eat the meat.
    meika     Fri, May 9, 2008  Permanent link
    I think it's okay (and possible) to respect GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and DMOs (domestically modified organisms) like the photo of the dog above. The dog is a fine example because it's a species which has been manipulated through the centuries to behave and look more and more like human babies and children.
    Respecting animals that might eat us is another matter entirely.
    To respect our modified organisms is to respect ourselves, admittedly respecting ourselves in this mirror of manipulated and selected canine flesh is basically stupid but if people want to own pets (are pets really animals, or are they just non-homo people?) why not let them?
    And why not criticise them for it, I say!
    I know the Canadian broadcaster David Suzuki thinks it's good for people to own pets and so relate to animals and thus to 'Nature', but really, pets and other DMOs are about as natural as a block of concrete, I mean, would David Suzuki believe one can study geology by looking at concrete instead of rocks? After all they are both hard and heavy aren't they?

    I do eat the meat, but only if it's sustainable, ie, in Tasmania this means the pademelon.
    sjef     Sat, May 10, 2008  Permanent link
    I think it's important to respect animals, but only at the same level I try to respect anything living, ie it shouldn't be killed if it doesn't need to be. If I'm hungry though, something lower on the food chain is gonna die. When it does, I hope it has a quick death and that as little as possible goes to waste, but that's about the full extent of my caring. When that vat grown meat has been proven safe and they can engineer it to taste as good as premium grass-fed cattle I'll switch to that.

    Pets are a different story. I don't think it's respect so much as that instead of being useful or tasty, some animals are cute and entertaining. You care for an inferior being, and it provides you with amusement or companionship in return.

    If I really respect an animal, it's probably because it can kill or seriously injure me (not that I hang out around any of those much). I respect that and will generally stay the hell away from them.
    Robokku     Sat, May 10, 2008  Permanent link
    This is a good topic to raise! I think it has much to do with the Branding the Species and Great Enhancement Debate projects. A note on the pig example in the post, though: If a human chooses not to eat another human, even though he has the ability to, is that showing respect? It goes some way in that direction, I think. So that hasn't convinced me about pigs...

    I really like meika's idea that we can respect people by respecting animals, in many cases. However, I'm not sure I can see your point, Paranoid Mystic:

    If "cells" are to sacrifice their selfish interests for the sake of group benefit, there is still a degree of selection involved - and so a degree of interference, regardless of what Star Trek taught you. Some cells should promote themselves: if every one gave up its most immediate drives then none would produce any benefit to itself or any other. That's plain to see in your model. You seem to recognise that cells have different roles within the groups they form: if something is "weathering the beatings on the external of the new body", then it is for the sake of the others' thriving. If we all say, "I want you to thrive", at the expense of thriving, then we will all be disappointed.

    Your model also requires that the body has boundaries. The model therefore has exclusion and segregation built into it. Since it seems everyone agrees that there are these limits to the "body" (I suppose the "body" in your metaphor is meant to go at least as far as a society, and maybe to an ecosystem...?), the question raised by this post is, very roughly, Where are the limits? After meat, but before vegetables? Why? That's the point at which it starts to get interesting, and after which I can't see what you want to say.
    Spaceweaver     Tue, May 13, 2008  Permanent link
    Respect to other species starts with being mindful to their existence as beings.

    I do not think all species deserve the same measure of respect. A bacteria, a worm, a dog, a human, show different capacities of interactivity, intelligence and perhaps experience. Not all life forms are born equal.

    I think respecting something, another individual or another animal, is first and foremost an important perhaps the most important way of self description. What we respect and how we respect (i.e. the behaviors that are chosen as manifest of respect), reflect who we are.

    To respect to other species one should leave behind an anthropocentric perspective on life, and approach an interconnected interactive view of all life.
    hunter     Tue, May 13, 2008  Permanent link
    Maybe schools should put more emphasis on the fact that early humans and neanderthals actually lived at the same time at some point. That would make people aware of the fact that there can be more than one highly intelligent species on a single planet. Humans would probably find it easier to respect a species on a similar intelectual level and the term "respect" might take a braoder meaning. It would then be easier to respect other animals as well.
     
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