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How do animals think and feel? Is it mistaken to attribute to them the concepts of love, devotion, grief; even dignity? How can we understand our conception of such things, and what do our relations with animals say about our own humanity?
In this much-loved book, Raimond Gaita investigates such questions through stories of animals he has known and loved, and through the reflections of others. The Philospher’s Dog is moving, sometimes funny and always thought provoking.
‘In everything that Raimond Gaita writes we sense a generous heart at work, as well as a lucid intelligence. The Philosopher’s Dog is a book to give to the kind of person who asks what philosophy is for.’
‘A fine, intelligent investigation of our relationship to animals and nature in which the analysis of ideas is seamlessly integrated with the poignant evocation of personal experience. Gaita’s writing is deep without being difficult; sincere without being naïve—rare and valuable achievements for a philosopher.’
‘An original book by a profoundly original thinker.’
‘Patient and eminently sensible exploration of our relationship with animals.’
‘The Philosopher’s Dog, then, is a mongrel and, like most mongrels, is clever and energetic. Not straight philosophy, or straight forward storytelling (as Gaita did so well in his memoir Romulus, My Father), its an interesting amalgam.’
‘The Philosopher’s Dog (Text) is thoughtful, touching and utterly admirable.’
‘Gaita shares with Wittgenstein the urge to de-mystify false (and often harmful) mystifications. That he does so with such beauty and profundity should surprise no-one who read Romulus, My Father. Gaita is fascinated—in the deepest sense of the word—by what it means to be alive, and the reader is drawn in to this fascination…As a work of philosophy this is groundbreaking and profound, as a work of personal memoir it is moving and thought provoking.’
‘[An] enjoyable and rather beautiful book…The stories are often deeply touching, without being sentimental, and their atmospheres left me haunted for days afterwards…Gaita’s charming book remains genuinely illuminating.’
‘Despite the sensitivity of his narrative writing, when he’s describing the pain of a sick animal, or the devotion of a dog to a lonely child, Gaita is foremost an unapologetic thinker…I was surprised how much I took from this book, not just from the lyricism of the literary content…There’s a great deal in The Philosopher’s Dog that is provocative and liberating.’
‘Fascinating…A thoughtful meditation on the relationship between humans and animals that crosses the boundary between the philosophical and the personal and blends very well the anecdotal with the theoretical.’