Posts Tagged ‘culture

The Neverending Story: Our Treatment of Animals

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(copyright Mark Cox; source)

I am not hypocrite. I do not hold that it is ok to kill pigs for food, but it is not ok to kill dogs or dolphins with the same aim. “Superior” flesh-eating animals (humans included) always kill in order to feed themselves. This is nature’s food chain. Moreover, what we eat is determined by nature in case of non-human animals, and by culture in case of humans. So probably an Indian is equally outraged by the thought that I eat cow, as I am outraged by the idea that Chinese people eat dogs.

The problem is not so much the fact that we kill for food – the problem is rather what we eat and how we treat those animals before eating them. I hold it is immoral to kill animals from endangered species for food; and it is immoral to treat animals with cruelty before or in the course of killing them. Moreover, to mistreat and kill animals just for fun (as toreros do in Spanish bullfighting) reveals (at least for me) something very ugly about human being as such.

But toreros are not the only mean exponents of human nature. There are also the inhabitants from the Faroe Islands. They kill every year hundreds of whales and dolphins, and they really seem to find a lot of fun in this show. Indeed, everything looks like a popular festival. What kind of festival? You can read the story and watch some pictures (don’t look if your heart is weak!) here. You can find out more about the history of whaling in the Faroe Islands here. And the proof that they also kill dolphins is to be found here.

Of course, they defend their practice by saying that this is their tradition. But tradition alone, tradition in itself can never be a good argument. The human being must adapt itself and change its habits, if these habits have disastrous physical and moral consequences. But probably I’m too naïve.

[By the way: aren’t whales and dolphins endangered species?]

Written by Andrei Stavilă

noiembrie 17, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Andruska’s Ten Commandments for a True Intellectual

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[Note. Of course, no intellectual I know has succeed to comply with all these ten commandments. This is not the worst thing. The worst thing is not to try…]

1. Keep your sense of self-irony alive! [Some intellectuals have the tendency to believe that their truth is “the” truth. This kind of fundamentalism seems to be as bad as religious fundamentalism. Practicing self-irony will help you not to become a fundamentalist]

2. Keep your sense of irony alive! [Be an “agon” (i.e., fighter)! The same irony you should engage against other’s “fundamentalist” attitude. Be the “devil’s advocate”! If you see a religious fundamentalist, shake his / her beloved opinions! If you see an atheist fundamentalist, do the same thing! Try to persuade them to be more relaxed in what regards their own views – the only way to build a better self and a better world]

3. Try to be a moral person! [If the books you read don’t make you morally better, then you read them for nothing. It might be the case that your perspective on morals is different than other people’s perspective. You might be a utilitarian, or a Kantian, or an intuitionist. Or you might be a Christian, or a Buddhist in what concerns moral issues. Be that as it may, try to be moral in your sense, and respect other’s moral sense. You won’t succeed to be a moral person every time. But the important thing is to try]

4. In every conversation, respect the ethics of dialogue! [First, don’t cover your identity! Secondly, take seriously what the other has to say! Thirdly, respect his / her opinions: remember that his truth is not less a “truth” than your own truth! Fourthly, don’t deviate the discussion to other subjects (don’t elude the topic under discussion)!]

5. Respect the freedom of thought! [Remember this: “Freedom is not the freedom of the thought you love, but freedom of the thought you hate – hate the most!” (Larry Flint). This means that even a Nazi has the freedom to say whatever s/he wishes. This also means that everyone has the right to be politically incorrect, if s/he chooses so. This also means that everyone has the freedom to reply to what you have said]

6. Don’t adopt a view only because it is a mainstream one! [Unfortunately, many intellectuals really do this (in politics, as well as in philosophy). Be honest with yourself!]

7. Be an active part of the civil society! [The intellectual has the knowledge and the means to “enlighten” people. Not in the patriarchal sense, of telling them what to do – but in the moral sense, of presenting them alternatives. Even if the mainstream idea is that intellectuals do not have a social duty – I think they have! So come into public space (be it virtual or not) and let the others know what you think! There is a marketplace of ideas, so test your ideas here!]

8. Don’t let the days pass by without doing some non-intellectual stuff! [This is against what I call a “cultural fanatism”. To be culturally fanatic is to consider all other things – except the cultural ones – as being less worthy of your attention. I know some persons that are culturally fanatic. They are monsters. So do whatever you want: take your dog outside, make love, cook something…]

9. Take care of your look! [Be trendy! The worse thing I ever know is a fat intellectual, dressed in some outmoded clothes, with outmoded glasses, thinking that to take care of his / her look would be a thing not worthy of his / her attention]

10. Bring the nature into your house! [Take care of an animal (I recommend you a dog)! Take some plants into your house (I recommend you some cactuses). They will really change your worldview – it will make it better! Sigmund Freud, Konrad Lorenz, Lord Byron and many, so many others did that – and they didn’t regret it!]

Written by Andrei Stavilă

noiembrie 30, 2007 at 5:23 pm