Attempting to Understand Animals and Their Emotions

Whether some animals experience emotions to a lesser or to a greater extent in intensity compared to humans could depend upon the type of emotion involved. Animals without doubt feel pity towards one another, sometimes even crossing beyond the species barrier, but it seems unlikely, although not impossible, that they feel emotions as complex or as intensely as human beings do. For example, it is questionable that the dolphins care about humans slaughtering one another as several humans care about the killing of dolphins by some humans. But this may only be owed to the fact they don't have similar access to information that mankind do. Perhaps they are aware and have principles of noninterference in human affairs. Perhaps they rightfully are neutral, or take a more farsighted view.

There are several emotions, on that humans may feel less intensely than several animals. Many people experienced the feeling, in some cases, that several animals appear to show happiness. One of the reasons for the popularity of observing birds is the pleasure of listening to birdsongs, which appear as joyful. As Julian Huxley, describing the courting ritual of herons twining their graceful necks together, wrote: "Of this I can only say that it seemed to bring such a pitch of emotion that I could have wished to be a heron that I might experience it."

The intensity of emotions in some animals is one recurring source of human envy. Emotional support animals are even valued in the medical and domestic environments. Joseph Wood Krutch states: "It is difficult to see how one can deny that the dog, apparently beside himself at the prospect of a walk with his master, is feeling a joy the intensity of which it is beyond our power to think much less to share. In the same manner his dejection can at least seem to be no less bottomless. Maybe the kind of thought of which we're capable dims both at the same time that it causes us less victims of either. Was any man, one wonders, ever as dejected as a lost dog? Probably certain of the animals can be both more elated and more utterly desolate than any man ever was."

© 2012 Athena Goodlight

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