Images of Animals

Anthropomorphism and Animal Mind

Eileen Crist
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-788-9
Publication: Apr 00

HC: $91.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-656-1
Publication: Jan 99

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0472-5

256 pages
6 x 9

A fascinating exploration of the language we use for animal behavior

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


Seeing a cat rubbing against a person, Charles Darwin described her as "in an affectionate frame of mind"; for Samuel Barnett, a behavioralist, the mental realm is beyond the grasp of scientists and behavior must be described technically, as a physical action only. What difference does this difference make? In Eileen Crist's analysis of the language used to portray animal behavior, the difference "is that in the reader's mind the very image of the cat's 'body' is transfigured…from an experiencing subject…into a vacant object."

Images of Animals examines the literature of behavioral science, revealing how works with the common aim of documenting animal lives, habits, and instincts describe "realities that are world's apart." Whether the writer affirms the Cartesian verdict of an unbridgeable chasm between animals and humans or the Darwinian panorama of evolutionary continuity, the question of animal mind is ever present and problematic in behavioral thought. Comparing the naturalist writings of Charles Darwin, Jean Henri Fabre, and George and Elizabeth Peckham to works of classical ethology by Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen and of contemporary sociobiology, Crist demonstrates how words matter. She does not attempt to defend any of these constructions as a faithful representation of animal existence, but to show how each internally coherent view molds the reader's understanding of animals. Rejecting the notion that "a neutral instrument in the depiction of animals and, in particular, it is never impartial with respect to the question of animal mind."

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Significance of Language in Portraying Animals
1. Darwin's Anthropomorphism
2. Lifeworld and Subjectivity: Naturalists' Portraits of Animals
3. The Ethological Constitution of Animals as Natural Objects
4. Genes and Their Animals: The Language of Sociobiology
5. Words as Icons: Comparative Images of Courtship
6. Unraveling the Distinction Between Action and Behavior

About the Author(s)

Eileen Crist is Assistant Professor at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.


In the Series

  • Animals, Culture, and Society edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders

    Animals, Culture, and Society, edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton R. Sanders, is concerned with probing the complex and contradictory human-animal relationship through the publication of accessible books that consider the place of animals in our culture, our literature, our society, and our homes.