Narrowing the gulf between humans and animals
If You Tame Me
Understanding Our Connection with Animals
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Leslie Irvine, foreword by Marc Bekoff
Nearly everyone who cares about them believes that dogs and cats have a sense of self that renders them unique. Traditional science and philosophy declare such notions about our pets to be irrational and anthropomorphic. Animals, they say, have only the crudest form of thought and no sense of self at all. Leslie Irvine's If You Tame Me challenges these entrenched views by demonstrating that our experience of animals and their behavior tells a different story.
Dogs and cats have been significant elements in human history and valued members of our households for centuries. Why do we regard these companions as having distinct personalities and as being irreplaceable? Leslie Irvine looks closely at how people form "connections" with dogs and cats available in adoption shelters and reflects on her own relationships with animals. If You Tame Me makes a persuasive case for the existence of a sense of self in companion animals and calls upon us to reconsider our rights and obligations regarding the non-human creatures in our lives.
"This book is a major effort in developing a conceptual and theoretical framework for looking at issues of animal selves and human-animal intersubjectivity. It is an important work that extends existing sociological research in both social psychology and animal behavior. Rich with ideas and insights, If You Tame Me is must reading for anyone wrestling with the question of how we can know the animal other."
"Anyone who has experienced connection with an animal will appreciate Leslie Irvine's systematic establishment of the notion of animal selves."
"I love Leslie's book. It is accessible and at the same time well researched and scholarly, filled with 'hard science' and anecdotes."
"[The book] makes a persuasive case for the existence of a sense of self in companion animals and calls upon us to reconsider our rights and obligations regarding the non-human creatures in our lives."
"This volume is an important contribution to the recent explosion of sociological analyses of the roles of animals in human life."
"With much pleasure and interest I read Irvine's book about dogs, cats, and their 'guardians' (the word Irvine uses for people owning companion animals). Marc Bekoff's foreword is very friendly and a good appetizer: it prepares you and makes you curious about the chapters to come.... This sympathetic book is rich in ideas and will generate discussion! This is exactly what it needs to do. It is a first step toward an empirically grounded theory about animal selfhood, and hopefully inspire fellow researchers to develop it further. The book will also most certainly inspire animal lovers, who will gain more understanding about cats and dogs."
"Refreshingly, Irvine takes the thorny issue of anthropomorphism more seriously than some of her peers and situates our current cultural understandings of animals in their historical context. In a brief but illuminating historical account, Irvine traces the changing social construction of animals in the realms of philosophy, science, politics, and law and shows how shifting meanings affect the treatment and status of animals."
Foreword: To Know Them Is to Be Them Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff is Professor of Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder; his most recent books are: Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart and (co-authored with Jane Goodall) The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love.
In the series
Animals, Culture, and Society, edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders.
Animals, Culture, and Society, edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders, is concerned with probing the complex and contradictory human-animal relationship through the publication of accessible books that consider the place of animals in our culture, our literature, our society, and our homes.