Do Animals Have More Soul Than We Do?

Not only do animals live, they have lives—with “undiluted purity and clarity…”

illustration of animals dancing under disco ball

Disco by Lindsay Stripling

In common parlance, the word soul pops up everywhere. We may speak of a vast, soulless corporation or describe an athlete as the “heart and soul” of his or her team. Soul music gets us swaying. We want our lover, body and soul. In each case, soul connotes deep feeling and core values. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote 20 years ago in his groundbreaking book Descartes’ Error, “Feelings form the basis for what humans have described for millennia as the soul or spirit.” Today, studies increasingly show that many nonhuman beings feel. Elephants appear to feel grief, while dolphins and whales express joy, or something much like it. Parrots can become cranky, pigs and cows terrified, chickens saddened, monkeys seemingly embarrassed. Experiments have shown that rats become agitated when seeing surgery performed on other rats and that, when presented with a trapped labmate and a piece of chocolate, they will free their trapped brother before eating. There’s even evidence that rats take pleasure in being tickled. None of this will come as a surprise to pet owners or anyone who has observed virtually any …

This entry is tagged with:
Animal WelfareSoulCompassion