Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hegel and the Dog

Hegel distinguishes humans from animals by pointing out that we eat, while animals feed (essen/fressen)* Faced with food, we humans may contemplate the prospect of eating, while an animal will just plunge in and gobble up his food*

Zip has clearly not read his Hegel* Last night at dusk I went to feed him in his usual dish at the front of the barn* His habit is to lurk nearby and then eat when I move away* But he was not there* I filled the bowl anyway, and then as I was leaving, I heard him barking from the back of the barn* It struck me there just might be something going on* Round the back, a goat had his horns stuck in the corner of the shed and was bleating like crazy* I released him, as Zip looked on* What was it - duty? a 'problem'? something out of the ordinary? distress in one of his charges (the goats)? Whatever it was it was more important than food, even for a hungry dog*

On a similar note: "Hegel once remarked jokingly that shredding learned books and mixing them with the food of your dog will not increase the intelligence of your dog even one iota"* But reflecting on when dogs sacrifice food for other values might increase ours!