The Silence of Animals: ‘barbarism is a disease of civilisation’

7 thoughts on “The Silence of Animals: ‘barbarism is a disease of civilisation’”

  1. Straw Dogs had quite a profound effect on me as it seemed to chime in with what I was beginning to feel about the human being. I suppose you’d only think it was depressing if you were a liberal humanist! But maybe it’s just ok to accept that we’re fatally flawed. And will we be the first species to witness our own extinction, as some greenies have proposed given what we’re doing to the planet? Looking forward to reading this one soon, thanks for the comprehensive review. The thing people struggle with is that if you’re basically pessimistic about human future can you be cheery and upbeat in day to day life – I’d say they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive ;)

  2. First of all Gerry thank you for your consistently stimulating and comprehensive posts which, in my view, surpass much that is available in the mainstream media.
    I can’t help thinking that John Gray, author of Straw Dogs, puts up a straw man argument in this book. He makes constant reference the religious nature of the Enlightenment and its notion of human perfectibility but I am not sure that this was ever claimed. Having set it up as a ‘religion’ he then knocks it down. He seems to be reacting to Steven Pinker, but perhaps Pinker reacted to Gray’s earlier tomes. I’d have thought most of us sat in the middle, not believing in either human perfectibility or total human degradation – just trying to find meaning and sustenance in our daily lives. The desire to ameliorate our conditions whilst knowing that our lives are finite is more important to most of us than a belief in the perfectibility of humankind.

  3. Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for that excellent review, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I read the Silence of Animals last month and it was truly superb.

    Just thought I’d let you know that you’re right about Pinker’s lastest book being the antithesis of Gray’s viewpoint – so much so that Gray gave it a proper trashing a couple of years ago when he reviewed it, well worth reading: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/john-gray-steven-pinker-violence-review/

    1. Thanks for your reply, James – and for the link to Gray’s review of Pinker in Prospect, which is thorough and typically thoughtful. Probably one of the crispest statements of Gray’s position, if not Pinker’s.

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