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OFFICIAL POLL: June & July 2009 Non-Fiction 
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Mary,

Wow, that was a fantastic explanation for why you're voting the way you're voting. Thank you so much for taking the time to illuminate the common theme all three choices seem to share. Selecting our official book selections would be so much easier if everyone put as much effort and thought into presenting the rationale for their choices as you just have.

I couldn't agree with you more in that Temple Grandin's book isn't necessarily addressing the core problem, and de Waal’s book Good Natured might be. But I still think Temple Grandin's book could potentially do the planet more good, in the short term, than de Waal's more in depth and analytical approach.

Temple Grandin is biting off a big bite, but it is one I think we can chew. De Waal might be correct in his assessment, but he might be biting off far more than we could possibly chew. How much of a change can we expect this one book to make? That sounds horrible I suppose. We're supposed to read for educational purposes around here, but when I learned about Grandin and her struggles to clean up the animal killing facilities I couldn't help but to breathe a big sigh of relief and say, "Well, it's about damn time someone cared."

Animals are suffering horribly today. I'm not very confident that humanity is going to read de Waal's book and suddenly see the light and change it's brutish ways. Grandin provides real tangible methods for immediately mitigating the pain and suffering and torment of millions of animals. Grandin consults with slaughterhouses and animal processing facilities and teaches them ways to treat the animals more humanely. (Thanks for that recorded interview, Saffron)

I guess what I'm saying is that I agree that there are underlying and core issues that have to be addressed if we're ever going to become a more humane species, but in my opinion we need to quickly put a stop to the horrific conditions in slaughterhouses, puppy mills, chicken farms, etc. before we try to tackle the epic task of making humans more loving, kind and compassionate and less selfish, uncaring and anthropocentric.

But all three books have their lessons. I'm just an animal lover and feel strongly about that particular cause.



Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:53 pm
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Grim,

We have de Waal's book in the poll because this is the book that was suggested originally. The suggestion thread was open from February 20th through April 18th. This is 2 months of me asking people to provide feedback on all of the suggestions. Nobody said anything negative about de Waal's book. In fact several people commented that it looked like a good choice. So it's on the poll because that's how our system works.

I suggest in future book suggestion threads you help me encourage people to look at all of the suggestions made by members and provide some feedback. Feedback is the most important element of our book selection process. :smile:



Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:08 pm
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Grim wrote:
Question: why are we voting on Good Natured when the author has written a much newer and "expanded" version about the same topic????

http://www.amazon.com/Primates-Philosop ... n_edpp_url



Because no one suggested it! I think that is why Chris pleads with us to make comments during the suggestion period.



Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:49 pm
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Post Animal lover
Hello Chris:

I am impressed with your love of strays, and it is refreshing to hear that you act upon this love, with the leashes, and cat food. Not many stray cats, or dogs in my neighborhood, but, we have had many ducks and turtles, a few box, and even a snapper, find their way into my back yard. I think animals may have an instinct, maybe they know whose backyard is safe. My son and I have learned much on how to properly place the turtles back into their natural habitat, we call them "pondies". My favs are the bats and the snakes. The most responsibe thing a parent can say is, "no we can not keep it as a pet". I know I am not able to vote but I do appreciate the priviledge of reading the nominees (I thought I would need at least 2,500 posts, Whew!). I am going to check out book 2, I think my children would benifit from it. Oh, if you see a box turtle crossing the road, safely see it to the other side, it knows where it's going. I'm looking forward to reading which ever one is picked, and I have to say how relieved I am that "Marley and Me" was not included.

Suzanne



Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:41 am
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Chris OConnor wrote:
I'm not very confident that humanity is going to read de Waal's book and suddenly see the light and change it's brutish ways. Grandin provides real tangible methods...in my opinion we need to quickly put a stop to the horrific conditions...before we try to tackle the epic task of making humans more loving, kind and compassionate and less selfish, uncaring and anthropocentric...


I think you are right that reading any one book is not going to do anything to change the basic nature of human beings. We aren't really built to learn that way. Our learning comes best through intense emotional experience. So for example, visiting an abattoir as a teen and watching Soylent Green probably had much more effect on my current vegetarianism than reading Diet for a Small Planet or any other book. Emotions are deeply embedded in all our "rational" decisions.

But that's the point. Human's are so accustomed to thinking of ourselves as a rational species and accustomed to thinking of emotions and reason as separate functions, but they aren't. Nothing is going to change the fact that humans cover emotionally-based decisions with a thin veneer of reasonable explanation. All we can really do is become as aware as we can of the real reason we behave as we do and then try to act based on how that makes us feel about what we do - what we eat. So, using myself as an example, grilling steak still smells really good to me but if I imagine trying to actually put a piece in my mouth - yuch - I get this really nasty emotional feed back. What's true is that the yuch factor probably has much more to do with my "decision" not to eat that piece of meat at that moment than the education I get when I read books about the environmental effect of the livestock industry.

So I don't think humans will quickly put a stop to what you rightfully call the horrific conditions animals suffer - especially ones that are food to us. I mean we won't even put a stop to the really horrible conditions many of our children suffer and we have far more emotional attachment to other humans than we do (typically) to even the closest of our animal compatriots. I mean we are wired to respond to human faces in a way that makes us feel an echo of what they feel. That's why slavers need the rationalizations.

And I doubt most people in the world will ever read de Waal, Grandin or Damasio for that matter. :laugh:

Most people are quite sure their emotional response to things as they are ("vegetarians are trying to undermine the American way" is something I've heard more than once) is sensible - rational. It would never occur to them to question the links between how they feel, how they reason and how they act in the world. So, no, things aren't going to change any time soon. I mean look at how long it took the US to get it that dark skin doesn't make someone lesser.

Anyway, that's why I read...to question what I think, what I feel and how I act. I can't be anything other than human, but I can at least become aware of the limits of that state.


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Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:02 am
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Grim wrote:
Question: why are we voting on Good Natured when the author has written a much newer and "expanded" version about the same topic????

http://www.amazon.com/Primates-Philosop ... n_edpp_url


I have no problem with "upgrading." This newer book is a bit more academic in its presentation and I do appreciate the inclusion of some of the theoretical conflict that followed the release of Good Natured. I love releases that give you a peek at academic yelling matches - ooops sorry, I should have said "deeply considered argumentation".


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Grim wrote:
Mary "Descartes’ Error is a more strictly philosophical argument."

Well it's really more of a neurological answer to a philosophical mistake that is already pretty much recognized as such.


I do think Descartes dualism is considered by most philosophers as untenable. That, however, doesn't stop us from living as if it were true. Much of humanity's "common sense" explanation of the experience of being human (religiosity, spiritual explanations, notions that surround moral activity) still relies heavily on the idea that there is something immaterial guiding our hand, that thoughts are free-floating immaterial things, somehow independent of our bodies. I mean this stuff is coded into our language. The idea that we have a mind and a brain, for example.

Damasio's book is a neurological answer to that, yes. Another way to try and undermine the still pretty solid common-sense understanding and foster change.


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Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:36 am
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MaryLupin wrote:
Grim wrote:
Mary "Descartes’ Error is a more strictly philosophical argument."

Well it's really more of a neurological answer to a philosophical mistake that is already pretty much recognized as such.


I do think Descartes dualism is considered by most philosophers as untenable. That, however, doesn't stop us from living as if it were true.


Truly. Of course I was referring rather strictly to the Philosophy of Mind view of the matter which I believe the book attempts to address. Dualism is evident in a number of self-contradicting perspectives as you suggest.

:book:



Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:41 pm
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If I had know that morality was going to be our topic I would have suggested: Moral Machines by Wendall Wallach and Colin Allen. These people are trying to teach computers to act morally...fascinating.

http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Machines-Te ... 0195374045

:book:



Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:32 pm
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Grim wrote:
If I had know that morality was going to be our topic...


I don't think we actually picked a topic so much as the books in which people showed most interest happened all to have a moral theme. The idea of teaching machines morality is really cool. Thanks for posting the link.


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We have some great books on the poll so no matter what we're bound to have an interesting discussion period. I'm looking forward to it.



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Post Got here without my grocery lists
Three votes for "Good Natured". I like a big bite.

Suzanne



Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:18 am
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Post Re: Got here without my grocery lists
Suz wrote:
Three votes for "Good Natured". I like a big bite.


:snicker:


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Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:07 pm
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Only 3 people other than myself have voted so far in this poll. :oops:



Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:48 am
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Three votes for Good Natured. I really enjoyed reading De Waal's Our Inner Ape, and find his genetic approach to ethics very illuminating. If this book wins the poll I would also be happy to consider switching to his more recent Primates and Philosophers. His Tanner lecture on the theme of these books is at http://www.tannerlectures.utah.edu/lect ... l_2005.pdf



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