Monday, August 2, 2010


There are many ways to describe how animals symbolize our society today. Zodiac signs, domesticated animals, symbolism, learning purposes (the zoo), transportation are just a few examples as to how we see animals. But why do we really look at animals in different ways? Are we fascinated by them, as they are by us?

John Berger explains, “What distinguished man from animals was the human capacity for symbolic thought, the capacity which was inseparable from the development of language in which words were not mere signals, but signifiers of something other than themselves. Yet, the first symbols were animals. What distinguished men from animals was born of their relationship with them” (Berger 9).

I will agree with Berger in this sense that animals can teach us many knew things. As the old cliché, “a dog is a man’s best friend”, suits well. We should look at animals and what they have done for us and in turn have domesticated them to help us as well. Berger also explains that animals lack human language, which in turn is ethnocentric. I could see where Berger would draw this conclusion in that animals can not physically speak to us; they use sound.

My question to Berger is how does communicating and understanding animals become second nature as if we treat them as our own? Does our communication help us as human communicate and understand them better?

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