5.0 out of 5 stars Review of When Elephants Weep
This is a marvellous book. It demonstrates the high level of thought and emotions that elephants have. The idea of people shooting elephants for "sport" is actually a criminal action. Laws should be passed to prosecute killers of elephants, with severe penalties. It is a wonderful book . . . very touching and informative.
Published 28 days ago by Dr. John Ryan
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-scientific nonsense
A great disappointment! The author proposes to prove that animals have a rich emotional range that humans can understand and interact with, but offers no rigorous evidence whatever! His argument is to repeat again and again assertions along the lines of "People who work with animals a LOT will certainly tell you that animals really do experience emotions"...
Published on Jan. 10 2003 by firstname.lastname@example.org
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-scientific nonsense,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)A great disappointment! The author proposes to prove that animals have a rich emotional range that humans can understand and interact with, but offers no rigorous evidence whatever! His argument is to repeat again and again assertions along the lines of "People who work with animals a LOT will certainly tell you that animals really do experience emotions". Well, there it is: the whole book in a nutshell. Anyone hoping for revealing research and authoritative insights will be left wanting. What drivel! Save your money and watch some pop-expose on E! instead -- it'll be more engaging and far more scientific.
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of When Elephants Weep,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)This is a marvellous book. It demonstrates the high level of thought and emotions that elephants have. The idea of people shooting elephants for "sport" is actually a criminal action. Laws should be passed to prosecute killers of elephants, with severe penalties. It is a wonderful book . . . very touching and informative.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Fine Gift,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)I gave "When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals" to my friend for Christmas. He was so very happy to receive this gift. It is such a very fine account of the sensitive, emotional lives that animals have. It makes one so very much more perceptive to animals. It is an excellent companion volume to "The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild" by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence. I recommend Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy's book highly.
2.0 out of 5 stars More on other animals and the author than elephants,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)I really can't judge this book fully because I'm still reading it. But so far is not what I expected. I was looking more for a book about elephants and them habit. So far it isn't what I was looking for.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Documentation of Animal Feelings,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)This book presents the argument that other animals are sentient, and that in a moral society we wrong them when we fail to take their suffering into account in the way we treat them. Illustrated by anecdotes showing the emotional reactions and feelings of animals of many species and in many situations, the authors successfully make the case that they must experience emotions and declare that it must be acknowledged. Elephants provide an excellent example since they are highly intelligent, and as emotionally bound to their family members as humans are.
I found the book a fascinating and revealing read, and for people who love their pets and wonder whether other species could be emotionally responsive to humans and have feelings, this book is a good one. While arguments are also presented, criticizing the way mainstream society considers animals and in failing to take their suffering into account, it is a wonderful read for anyone interested in animal subjective states, if only for the surprising anecdotes that are given.
And considering the reality of the way animals are being treated today, for big business in so many forms, from agribusiness to elephant torture training in circuses, these are arguments that need to be stated. For a comprehensive view of this more social side of the question, this book tells it like it is!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Animals have emotions and souls, but this book was terrible!,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)I love animals. Anyone who has ever lived with a dog, cat, horse, or any other species know animals have emotions. Some humans just don't have the time or the heart to recognize them and respond to them. This book deserved to be so much better than it actually was. Great idea executed poorly. "When Elephants Weep" ended up being too much of an intellectual discussion about what is wrong with the human race and is written from a sophomoric slant enough to bore all but the most devout pop psychology buff to complete and utter insanity. In the first two chapters, authors Susan McCarthy and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson just rail on unfeeling humans (there is actually a chapter entitled "Unfeeling Brutes") and all we get for over 40 pages is a diatribe against the scientific community. The author even goes so far to discuss the deficiencies in Freudian psychology in the area of human child sexual abuse, but never fully explains why this is relevant to the topic of the book.
Opinions, opinions, and more opinions. I kept waiting for even moderately detailed, heartwarming accounts of animal emotions and all I got were short burst of dry, clinical accounts of various animals followed by paragraphs and paragraphs of human psychology. The main author Masson has a PhD in Sanskrit. Maybe he should stick to something he knows about, because he doesn't demonstrate that he knows anything about emotion in this book - animal or otherwise. This book is overwrought, poorly written, not well thought out, disorganized, doesn't make a good argument for animal emotions (which deserves one), and doesn't do anything to seriously convince the scientific community why they should study this subject more closely. Books like this actually hurt the cause more than they promote it. I just can't believe he got this published. I don't care what the critics say, or the fact that this was a New York Times best seller. Don't waste your money on this book. The authors come off like raving lunatics, making a respectable topic for research and further study look like it belongs on the magazine rack with the tabloids.
I have learned more about being human from my dog than I have ever learned from another human being. Animals have emotions - and I believe they have souls. Most humans know that by instinct and we'll have to rely on instinct until better written books and thorough research on this subject are published.
4.0 out of 5 stars When Elephants Weep, We All Should...,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)This is a very interesting book both as a lay person and a vegan/animal rights supporter. There were a couple of points in it that I thought were ridiculous (I can't give any specific example off the top of my head), and some of it read too much like a psychological text book instead of being directed at lay people which was a bit distracting. Overall, I highly recommend this book as more people need to realize that animals are indeed feeling creatures with emotions in their own rights and not cold, unfeeling "things" to be used and abused by us.
4.0 out of 5 stars a thoughtful book on a difficult subject,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)In the scientific community, "anthropomorphism" (assigning human qualities to inanimate ojects or animals) is villified to an astonishing degree. Masson has bravely written a book which contains stories of animals interacting with members of their own species and also with humans, stories that definitely would indicate emotion to any sensible person. Unfortunately, emotion in animals cannot be proven, because they cannot talk (with the notable exception of Koko the signing gorilla and Alex the parrot). And because animals-as-objects are important to research and industry, this is a subject that no one wants to touch. Although at times the writing in the book is somewhat bland, I recommend it and am grateful to people like Masson, Jane Goodall, and Marc Bekoff who are not afraid to bring this issue to the forefront.
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotions for all,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)In this book, the authors Masson and McCarthy compile thoughtful and deeply educational stories that demonstrate the presence of emotions in non-human animals. Throughout the book these two authors draw from numerous stories and experiences that range from love to jealousy, to hate and compassion to convey to the reader the capacity of animals to experience emotions and feelings. One would expect such a book that is predominantly based on secondary information to be less informative and lack the knowledge to deliver a quality piece of writing. However Masson and McCarthy are able to communicate the controversial subject of the emotional lives of species other than are own, in a crystal clear manner.
The book delivers intelligent arguments that force the reader to pry deeper into the idea that animals do in fact have emotions. If emotions such as joy, grief, fear, and hope are able to cross cultural boundaries, why shouldn't it be plausible for these very same emotions to cross an interspecies boundary as well? By viewing animals as simple species that are incapable to feel and understand their emotions; we are robbing them of their capacity to be equal with the human race. The book continues to deliver the idea of a "double standard" that humans have developed when it comes to ethical treatment; and finds the route of this problem to be deeply imbedded in the minds of our civilization. Descartes has referred to animals as senseless machines, incapable of emotions and feelings, but is countered by Masson and McCarthy.
"To describe the lives of animals without including their emotions may be just inaccurate, just as superficial and distorted and may strip them of their wholeness just as profoundly. To understand animals, it is essential to understand what they feel." (Masson 23)
By delivering a variety of stories about different animals ranging from butterfly fish to elephants, When Elephants Weep is able to show the large spectrum of feelings that animals have been known to experience in their own existence. It does however bring to light one of the most worrisome and critical aspects of animal emotions: the idea of anthropomorphism. "Science considers anthropomorphism toward animals a grave mistake, even a sin," (Masson 32) states Masson. Reflecting human emotions on to individual animals changes the way in which mankind views other species, and in essence takes away their individuality as separate beings. We may think that a dog is happy, yet we have no capacity to feel the feelings and emotions that a dog has ever experienced. "Anthropocentrism treats animals as inferior forms of people and denies what they really are." (Masson 42) Being the controversial subject that it is, anthropomorphism has its pros and cons, and is constantly the focus when it comes to behavioral analysis in animals.
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Worthwhile Exploration of an Important Subject,
This review is from: When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (Paperback)In "When Elephants Weep", author Jeffrey Moussaief Masson attempts to demonstrate that humans are far from being the only animals to lead complex emotional lives. If someone wanted to make a case for animal rights, it would probably have a greater chance of success if it were based on animal intelligence, as that is much easier to prove and quantify than emotions. But there is already a body of literature on animal intelligence, and many researchers continue to pursue an understanding in that area. This is why Jeffrey Masson has written a book on animal emotions. It is a topic that is very much underrepresented in literature, probably because the idea of animal emotions is much vilified in the scientific community. The content of "When Elephants Weep" comprises, almost entirely, evidence of the existence of emotions -some primitive, some complex- in animals other than humans. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, although there are some examples of controlled studies as well. Most of the emotions that are discussed fit into these broad categories: fear, hope, love, sadness, grief, rage, compassion, shame, aesthetic appreciation, and a sense of justice. Apart from the evidence presented, the text contains a lot of criticism of the scientific community's staunch reluctance to acknowledge the existence of emotions in animals on the basis that any such idea would be anthropomorphic. But the fact is that the scientific community can no more prove the existence of emotions in humans than it can in animals. And it will not be able to do so until it possesses the technology to identify and detect the neuropathways responsible for emotions. Until then, we accept that humans have emotions based on their behavior and our own experience. The author believes it perfectly reasonable to acknowledge the emotional lives of animals for the same reasons. The quality of the writing itself in "When Elephants Weep" is not especially good, but I do recognize that it is very difficult to produce a pleasant and engaging writing style when one is simply cataloging a lot of data. And the author occasionally does seem to be imagining emotions where they could not possibly exist. But I give this book 4 stars and recommend it because it tackles an important subject that we read about all too little. And, despite its faults, readers will come away from this book having learned a lot about the lives of animals. If you need more encouragement, Dr. Jane Goodall has given the book high praise.
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When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Paperback - May 2 1996)
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