Category Archives: Ethics

Do animals have emotions?

Just revisited a book I bought sometime ago. “The Pig Who Sang to The Moon” by Jeffrey Mason. Subtitled “the emotional World of Farm Animals”.

I know, you’re wondering why I’m mentioning this book out of the blue. The title struck me as interesting when I came across it in a London bookstore. I certainly would not find this book in a religiously sensitive country where the animal or even the mere mention of it is considered offensive. (Won’t go into that at the moment except to say that not all followers of the religions that avoid pork are so ### but many governments pander to the whims of the insane minority).

The book really is not about pigs per say, but use the animal as one example among others, of the view that animals have the same ability to feel, and think, as humans. I am not against eating meat, and I do eat meat, although in much smaller quantities than I used to, as I grow older. Not because of the book or any belief system.

The book uses studies and examples of how certain animals in the studies, were found to be able to have fun, think feel, and therefore possibly anticipate the future. The horror of living a life in anticipation of being slaughtered in the prime of your life.

Death is not the only concern expressed for animals in the book. It is about the immense suffering we put animals, pigs, cows, goat, chicken, etc, when we breed and raise them in the sort of commercial farming systems so widespread today.


One interesting question raised in comparing dogs and cats (which we abhor the thought of harming, much less of eating), with farm animals is that the farm animals do not show an interest in us like cats and dogs do. “Can we only be interested in an animal who fawns on us? Is our vanity so terribly fragile that we require adoration before we accord even the faintest interest? It is not true that farmed animals are indifferent; they are frightened. It is true that all farmed animals are standoffish with us, because there is always a deep basic justified mistrust”.

Towards the end of the book the author asks the question of whether we mistreat animals we breed for food, because They are different from us. It seems a stretch of logic to go from here to inter human relationships.

But my own question is whether there is a connection with all forms of negative discrimination among groups of humans. I remember that at one time the term “positive discrimination ” was bandied around as the justification for some forms of racial discrimination. I am glad I don’t see this term in common use anymore, as it is one of the most ludicrous terms invented, to justify bad policies. Presumably it didn’t achieve the purpose of avoiding embarrassment in mixed company or the world is grown so immune to shame that you can call a black sheep white and to hell with anyone who disagrees.

How big or small, is the step, from ritual slaughter of animals, to that of human? What does it do to our own minds and psyche!

Liu Bei and Zhugeliang, a story that illustrates a potential reason for not accepting a advisory position

There’s an interesting story of how Liu Bei went to look for Zhugeliang three times to beg him to be his advisor. This was an aspiring emperor, who was already in command of a force going to what was a semi recluse (though with a reputation as a master strategist).

This story is worth studying. In today’s world where advise and knowledge is available for a price. What did Liu Bei do to finally get Zhugeliang to help him finally achieve the position of emperor of China? To bring peace under heaven? I’m not going to tell on this post because I want you to do some research yourself.

The point I wish to make here is the fact that while most knowledge can be bought, or obtained for free as on the internet, there are some essential insights that can only be achieved through long experience. The purpose of a trainer or master trainer is to help you shortcut the length of time it normally takes (it can also take you more than a life time, if you do not get exposed to the range of experiences needed). 

Even then, the master trainer knows that there are certain conditions necessary for a learner to be able to grasp the message. This is especially true in sports and particularly in the martial arts. You can tell someone to match an incoming force with exactly the same force, and maintain contact, in order to control the opponent and redirect the force. Sounds logical, and is scientific. But it is hardly something a novice is able to perform. In such situations, a trainer may not bother to try to teach this part of the “syllabus” even if asked by the learner. It will be a sheer waste of time and energy, and likely do harm, by giving the learner a false sense of achievement when there is non. 

In the earlier mentioned story from the Chinese classics, the reason for a refusal to assist was due to the sought adviser wanting to make sure that his advice is going to be followed, and that there was a moral/ethical base to the person that he was going to help. Zhugeliang was/is considered one of the greatest strategists al all times.

Just for those who wish to delve into the story of Liu Bei and Zhugeliang, you can check out books or reference to “Romance of the Three Kingdoms “ one of the four evergreen classics in China.