Why Do We Love Some Animals But Eat Others?

Alva Noë at NPR:

9780226144061_custom-a8e7eef87e8ea6bbd32413b914b7670f67f7f32a-s400-c85And there's the question of what types of animals you can love. You're allowed to love a dog or a cat. But can you, should you, is it appropriate, to love other kinds of animals? My brother had a hermit crab when he was a boy. I don't know how he felt about it — but can a healthy, well-rounded person love a hermit crab?

I'm not passing judgment. It strikes me that the shifting, unstable, historical, emotional, playful and earnest feelings we Americans have about animals has a lot to do with other kinds of value, meaning and quality in our lives.

And, so, it is with a real sense of curiosity that I wonder about our varying relationships with animals. Why, for example, it is that we do not even notice road kill, for the most part — let alone stop to mourn it? And what can be said about the fact that the sale of bull semen is a big part of the cattle industry — and the methods used to create supply?

You can get the salacious details in Jane C. Desmond's fascinating new book Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life. This is a scholarly work devoted to looking at the variety and tensions surrounding human-animal relations in, as the subtitle puts it, art, science and everyday life. Her focus, in this gripping book, is ourcontemporary American society (to the extent that there is any such a unified thing).

More here.