Jim Mason: Plenty to think about
Other-than-human animals are an overwhelming presence in our collective and individual lives and, at the same time, are taken for granted by human animals. Sociologists have neglected the study of human-animal interaction and the role of animals in society. This is true despite the fact that animals are an integral part of our lives: in our language, food, families, economy, education, science, and recreation.
In more than thirty essays, Social Creatures
examines the role of animals in human society. Including work by Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Carol J. Adams, Josephine Donovan, Barbara Noske, Arnold Arluke, Ken Shapiro, and many leading scholars, anthropologists, and psychologists, the book also comes with an extensive bibliography of hundreds of articles and books.
In order to know how we can best address cruelty to animals, we need to know why
we are cruel to animals. This essential, yet perhaps elusive, question is the centerpiece to Lantern's publishing program.
Jim Mason's visionary An Unnatural Order
is perhaps the most ambitious book to do this, finding the dislocation in the human-animal relationship in the domestication of animals and the dis-enchanting of the natural world thousands of years ago and cataloguing its manifestations in misothery (or "hatred of animals") today.
Mason comments that environmentalism is clear as to the Nature Question: that we need to have a reverence for the natural world that compels us to save it. But, he says, "after having laid down such strong rhetoric, however, the movers and shakers of conservation and environmentalism, with rare exceptions, stop dead in their tracks when they approach the Animal Question—the whole sticky mess of human views toward, relations with, and uses of animals." He continues:
This part of the Nature Question is oddly off limits. Should a great thinker step on it accidentally, he or she usually jumps back to safety in the remoteness of discussions about trees or the abstractions of biodiversity and species.
The Animal Question is regarded as illegitimate, silly, peripheral. Those who address it are regarded as emotional, sentimental, neurotic, misguided, and missing the bigger picture of human relations with the living world. One's importance as a thinker on the Nature Question is measured, in part, by how widely one steers away from the Animal Question.
Why do we avoid the Animal Question so insistently? One of the answers surely is that our thinking is so embedded with the language of animal exploitation. Joan Dunayer's Animal Equality
both show the illogicality, cruelty, and injustice of speciesism (prejudice against nonhuman animals) and how deeply engrained is our belief in our inherent right to say or do whatever we like to and about animals. She calls for a radical change in our perspective and consciousness and provides guidelines for nonspeciesist language, philosophy, law, and advocacy.
From the first hominids who hunted woolly mammoths to today's factory farms and bio-engineering labs, The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA
tells the story of animal exploitation and the battle for animal justice. After describing the roots of animal rights in the ancient world, author Norm Phelps follows the development of animal protection through the Enlightenment, the anti-vivisection battles of the Victorian Era, and the birth of the modern animal rights movement. At once an accessible history of animal protection thought and a revealing narrative of campaigns for animal rights,.