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Previous to Darwin, it has been considered that animals had nothing in connection with humans, since their brutish behavior had been very different from the sociable and civilized one displayed by people. French philosopher Rene Descartes apparently thought of animals to be nothing but machines that acted in conformity to the same laws to which inanimate matter had functioned. Quite the reverse happened when concerning humans, as, in spite of the fact that their bodies reacted similar to those of animals, they possessed a soul given to them by a divine being.
Darwin believed that there had been several similarities between the thinking of an ape and that of man. However, even he accentuated the fact that there had been great differences in cerebral power between the most primitive man and the most intelligent ape. It seems that Bambification firstly appeared as a result of people being inclined to anthropomorphize, leaning to understand various actions performed by animals according to their correspondence in human behavior. Darwin and his followers had been certain that humans shared several feelings, such as a mother's love for her infant, fear, jealousy, and rage with animals.
However, it is also possible for people to associate certain actions performed by animals to those performed by humans, ultimately believing that animals are able to express the same sentiments as people.
It is not that animals are constantly devoted to harm people, but it is that people fail to understand the way that they should handle animals because of the Bambification that they are being supplied with all the time.
The characteristics which man and animals have in common also work in exposing what the differences are between them. The fact that animals share some of the abilities that humans have does not mean that animals will ever be equal to humans. The capacities to speak and to have a better developed sense of right and wrong are just some of the factors which contribute in making people superior to other species.
The finding of several dead dolphins on the banks of the Percuil River in Cornwall has lead experts in believing that the animals have performed a mass-suicide. It is a mystery why animals, that presumably have no capacity of expressing human emotions, have performed an act which had been believed only humans could execute. According to the Guardian, the suicidal dolphins had swallowed dirt and trash in order to make sure that they would achieve their purpose. A possible reason for their behavior is that they had been disturbed by the fact that the Royal Navy had used the sonar in the area during one of its exercises. The authorities generally prefer to contradict with the concept of animals committing suicide, claiming that the idea is ridiculous.
The very belief that animals could go as far as painting might seem to be absurd to some, not to mention the concept of animals being able to paint self-portrait of themselves. However, Paya, an elephant from Thailand has been reported of painting a picture of an elephant, what Victoria Khunapramot claims to be the animal's self-portrait. The elephant appears to be one of the six animals that have been trained to paint by their keepers. In reply to the case, Dr. Joyce Poole, who is an elephant expert, said that it is possible for animals to paint, but, even with that, there is a small probability that Paya had intend to paint its self-portrait.
John Berger's essay Why Look at Animals? relates to people having gradually changed their perceptions on animals and on their conduct. Humans have a lot in common to animals, but, they are separated through a social division involving the intellectual capacities that humankind has. Berger asserts that humans had initially communicated through symbols that had had animal characteristics. The paintings in caves can almost be compared with the self-portrait performed by Paya, the elephant in Thailand. However, in Berger's opinion, humans have evolved beyond just communicating through symbols, as the language that is used in society today expresses much more than what it actually is.
Animals today are frequently compared to machines, and, vice-versa. People have gone as far as using animal descriptions for various machines, with this being an example of the advancements experienced by symbolic language. While mankind has evolved greatly, people still express their desire to be at one with nature, noticeably wanting to pass their prehistoric legacy further. In order to have animals contribute to the superiority that mankind posses, the animal reign has been compared to a society of machines that have no soul and only act according to their instinct, without any emotions being involved in the process. Descartes had reportedly killed a dog and dissected it similar to how one would dismember a machine so as to demonstrate the theory that animals work automatically. The French philosopher considered that while the mechanical characteristics employed by animals could reproduce emotions, reason could have never been reproduced by the reign.
Berger criticized the advancements performed by society during the last hundreds of years, as he observed that wild animals have slowly but steadily began to disappear ever since the appearance of urbanism in the nineteenth century. In contrast, the number of domestic animals has undergone an impressive growth ever since the period. Unlike wild animals, domestic ones displayed a much better relationship to their masters, and, thus, these respective animals resemble humans more than those in the wild do.
It can almost be said that animals have turned from real to artificial as a result of human intervention. People have performed actions which lead to animals behaving according to human laws.
"Artificial" animals have provided material for people to create the concept of Bambification. A sort of connection has been made between children and animals, to the point where various animation movies show them socializing and appearing to share similar characteristics. Children virtually create a bridge between humans and animals, with people eventually being given the false impression that animals are perfectly capable of behaving comparable to human beings.
According to Berger, "The zoo to which people go to meet animals, to observe them, to see them, is, in fact, a monument to the impossibility of such encounters." (Berger 1980 pp.19) The animals being displayed in zoos are similar to paintings, being framed and exhibited in order for people to appreciate their rarity. Considering the way that things are going at the moment, and the fact that more and more animals are becoming close to extinction, zoos will become even rarer, and, one should feel privileged consequent to viewing some of the last wild animals. Zoo architects are struggling to provide animals with environments as natural as they can. However, this should not be considered as an example of humans wanting to make life better for animals, since zoos shouldn't exist in the first place.
The artifice of the natural: how TV's nature shows make all the earth a stage, written by Charles Siebert, manages to describe several moment from the lives of animals in a fairytale-like manner. Siebert argues that the various TV-shows involving wildlife damage the way in which people comprehend nature. The filming crews dealing with providing material for TV-shows appear to present a distant image of nature, presumably because of the fact that their getting too close to their subjects would bring tension into the situation. From their position, viewers are inclined to forget that the images that they see on TV are edited and produced in a manner that is mainly meant to attract audience. Consequently, the public ends up receiving a false image of the natural world.
The TV posts that are actually interested in providing the public with reality are normally overlooked by the public. The reason for this occurrence is that people want to see action and sensational stories of animals engaging in various adventures and reacting like human beings would.
Believing that animals are more like humans than they are like machines brings along both advantages and disadvantages. Of course, it is wrong to consider that animals are machines, but, it is also wrong to attribute human-like characteristics to animals. The presence of anthropomorphism is unavoidable when one attempts to abandon the concept that animals behave robotically.
When people visit the zoo, they are not necessarily amused at all the animals, since most are not funny at all. However, in most occasions when individuals come across the place inhabited by primates, they tend to laugh at the animals. This is not necessarily because primates are funny, but it is because "the laughter reflects anthropodenial: it is a nervous reaction cause by an uncomfortable resemblance." (De Waal 2001 pp.72) People are apparently distressed by the fact that primates are very similar to themselves.
1. Berger, John (1980), 'Why Look at Animals?' In About Looking, London: Writers & Readers. (book)
2. De Waal, Frans. (2001). "The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections by a Primatologist." Basic Books.…[continue]
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