Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Lives of Animals – Experiments with Animals

           Elizabeth Costello, during her lecture, brings up animal complexity and humans’ underestimation of animal intelligence.  I had never thought of it this way, and I think Coetzee, through the voice of the character Costello in his novel, brings up an important point regarding human-designed experiments for animals.
Costello explains that experimenter is always trying to get the chimp to think the, “less interesting thought”(29) during such experiments where food was taken away from the animal, as was Sultan’s case.  For example, the experimenter places bananas high up in Sultan’s cage so that the starved chimp is forced to think the simple thought, “How does one use the crates to reach the bananas?”(28) rather than a more complex thought such as “Why is he starving me?” or “Why does he not want these crates any more?”  The experimenter forces Sultan to think the “right” thoughts, the simple thoughts of how does one get the food?”
Though I think Costello makes a good point, I can’t help but wonder how Costello can be so sure of what she is saying.  How can she be so sure of what the animals are thinking?

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