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Vioral research but as her examples show is astonishingly effective Hearne’s theories will make every trainer animal psychologist and animal lover stop think and uesti. I despised the writing in this book I was tempted to stop many times when the inane incomprehensible philosophical babbling got too much but then there would be an actual animal training story that would catch my interest and I would labor on Hearne had some interesting things to say but would always write it in the most academic and confusing way possible She also constantly throws in random literary references in a way that made me feel like she was showing off rather than actually trying to make her message clearer or compelling I wanted to show an example of what I mean so I flipped the book open to a random page and found a sample paragraph In the case of dictatorships Auden might want to remind us that there is also this consideration Of a community it may be said that its love is or less good Perfect love doesn t exist perhaps our sense of uneasiness in the presence of what we call fanaticism may be expressed not only as Wallace Stevens had it by talking about the logical lunatic the lunatic of one idea In a world of ideas but also by saying that fanatics don t seem to have noticed that the world really is fallen and that acknowledgment of this is as essential to our lives as that acknowledgment of human separation is to the prevention of tragedies in human love Political tragedy perhaps comes about through failing to acknowledge imperfections in our apprehension of the sacred what Cavell calls the separation from God pg 66 Hearne s philosophy of training is somewhat controversial but it s hard to argue with the results she describes She believes in respect rather than kindness and has a revulsion for owners who say things like what a good doggy She talks a lot about corrections which sound harsh to me such as pinching a dogs ears or pushing its head into a hole filled with water However she does clearly love working with animals and she wants them to reach their potential It made me think about whether the same logic applies to people It all left me kind of confused and vaguely uncomfortableOverall it s a good thing I got this for free or I would want my money back

Summary Adam's Task Calling Animals by Name

Adam's Task Calling Animals by Name

? a moral code that influences their motives and actions Hearne’s thorough studies led her to adopt a new system of animal training that contradicts modern animal beha. This is an excellent book It is about loving animals but NOT in a cute widdle wooda wooda way More in the sense of recognizing them as living beings File under animal and human cognition psychology and philosophy and maaaaybe animal training after that but while it gives some excellent advice this is in no way a how to manualIn fact the only reason I didn t give this book 5 stars is that I have absolutely zero grounding in philosophy and some of the academic discussion Stanley Cavell doesn t ring a bell was really heavy going and I skimmed than processed the ideas But that s my failure as a reader not Hearne s failure she s writing heavy stuff and expects the reader to keep upRead if you love well thinking And own or might ever own a doggie or a kitty

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In it Vicki Hearne asserts that animals that interact with humans are intelligent than we assume In fact they are capable of developing an understanding of “the good?. I believe that the disciplines of animal training come to us in the form they do because deep in human beings is the impulse to perform Adam s task to name animals and people as well and to name them in such a way that the grammar is flexible enough to do two things One is to make names that give the soul room for expansion My talk of the change from utterances such as Belle Sit to Belle Go find is an example of names projecting the creature named into glorious contextsBut I think our impulse is also conservative an impulse to return to Adam s divine condition I can t imagine how we would do that or what it would be like but linguistic anthropology has found out some things about illiterate peoples that suggest at least names that really call language that is genuinely invocative and uncontaminated by writing and thus by the concept of names as labels rather than genuine invocations According to her Wikipedia page Vicki Hearne was an American author philosopher poet animal trainer and scholar of literary criticism and linguistics and I note all of that to stress that I acknowledge that Hearne also a Yale professor of Creative Writing was a noted expert on many topics arcane to me and that any divide of comprehension between what she wrote and what I understood can surely be attributed to my own failings I found several philosophical passages to be completely unintelligible to me but as the majority of Adam s Task concerns Hearne s own philosophy of animal training controversial in her day but you couldn t argue with her results and as most of the book is a collection of anecdotes about animal training and the human domesticated animal bond I was interested in and followed along with the majority of what she wrote Even so as this was originally released in 1986 some parts feel grossly outdated I ve noted strange bits about both pit bulls and autism below and that makes this hard to rate my inner needle is wavering between two and four stars and refuses to settle so I ll take the coward s way out and award three which reflects neither my admiration for Hearne s scholarship or my ueasiness about the parts that don t seem to have aged well If one goes about all day expounding the principles of animal training one gets no training done Besides there aren t any principles of animal training only some aphorisms dog stories and what not just as there don t seem to be if one looks closely any principles of philosophy just some insightful epigrams and philosopher stories In part Hearne seems to have written this book in reaction to the animal rights activists what she calls humaniacs and the Behavioral Psychiatrists who in the 80s had decided that nonhuman animals have no intelligence or emotions as we would define them to say so is rank anthropomorphism and to the extent that one can train a dog or horse the Behaviorists would call only positive reinforcement techniues effective and appropriate with the humaniacs believing that all animals should be left in their natural states companion dogs might be bribed and charmed to behave somewhat civilly but left to run off leashes never commanded and never put to work Opposed to this point of view as a miracle working dog and horse trainer Hearne grew to believe that as the modern members of these two species were specifically bred and developed to work in concert with humans it is a kindness to work them hard to inspire dogs and horses to achieve the difficult tasks of scent tracking or show jumping if it be in their abilities in order to remind them of their intelligence heroism morality and worth To Hearne it insults a dog s intelligence to coo and pet at it when a sharp tug up on a collar and leash which is to be fair what Cesar Millan does on his shows or the twisting of a puppy s ear which is to be fair how a puppy s mother teaches her litter can speak to a dog in a language it understands and thus begin a conversation between species Some dogs make continuous declarations of love or seem to and this can enable some people to survive psychic wildernesses of one sort and another but it is only training work that creates a shared grammar of objects of contemplation outside of the dog and the master and there s where the best conversations start and with them the bonds of that deeper love that consists in thinkingIn her stories Hearne was able to rehabilitate bad dogs and crazy horses and she achieved it by creating a shared language that allowed her to join the animal in the places that were sacred to them to have a conversation between souls I found it fascinating that Hearne dismisses the language of chimps who use sign language because invariably these hand raised chimps became dangerous at sexual maturity Hearne didn t believe you had ever had a true conversation with a sane being if it can become murderous as you talk together Of course chimpanzee babies might be tamed but the species is not domesticated In training horses to jump fences Hearne was accused of pushing animals beyond their physical limits or natural instincts but always Hearne believed that she was simply helping the horses to express their innermost selves Horses do have some sensitivity to the knowledge of death and it makes them nervous just as it makes us nervous That knowledge is what they are relieved of just as their riders are in the tremendous concentration of horsemanship at the highest levelsNothing short of the tremendous artistic task of training them in such a fashion as they can be released from time could ever justify our interfering with their greater serenity our imposing our stories and our deathly arithmetics on their coherent landscapes What they mean by their artistry then is just this which one could call the release from time but which could also be understood as what happens when a horse becomes time s lover or time s partner moving with time instead of as time s slave I did enjoy the parts on dogs and horses chimps and cats the last of which can t be trained but which live out their stories as human companions to the heights of noble catness but then Hearne included a chapter on pit bulls which were just beginning to develop a bad reputation at the time because she had raised a pit bull of her own Hearne explained persuasively the traits of the breed that make them wonderful companions and working dogs but she also lamented the fact that the bad press seemed to be attracting the wrong kind of owner for the dog stressing that without proper and intensive training pit bulls are too much dog for most people This all made sense to me even if I couldn t get behind her idea that as a trainer she ought to be allowed to have her pit bull at Yale with her which she insisted upon despite the fear and criticism of others but then she started writing about dog fights and how fighting just might be the way to allow some dogs to express what is sacred within them It is possible for me to contemplate the possibility that allowing the right Pit Bulls in the hands of the right people to fight can be called kind because it answers to some energy essential to the creature and I think of energy when I think of certain horses as the need for heroism She even contemplated allowing her own dog Belle to be rolled for fighting despite writing The fights are unless one dog uits fights to the death and seemed to only decide against it because she was considering breeding Belle and once they have fought pit bulls become interested in fighting than mating with another dog even if both are muzzled I don t think you need to be a humaniac to decry dogfighting this extreme view of meeting the sacred in an animal by matching their work to their abilities seems to undermine the whole argument for me Hearne also writes about children with autism in a couple of places she knew people doing work with autistic or troubled children and often offered to work a dog or horse with them to good result and in the last chapter she tells a story about an acuaintance Ivar Lovaas who using a wholly behaviorist vocabulary taught a pair of autistic twin boys to open their arms to one another and say Give me a hug In the film Hearne watched of this the gesture and words seemed totally mechanical and devoid of real meaning but apparently one day one of the boys opened his arms and said Give me a hug to his brother and when the second brother ignored him the first burst into tears the first real emotional display of his life Hearne compares this moment to Caliban in The Tempest cursing Miranda for giving him language and Hearne marks this moment in the boy s life as when he first knew beauty and its obverse grief Why she wonders would we put autistic children through this when autistic children themselves are apparently uite happy The alternative to the kind of training Lovaas does is a life in a hospital continuously drugged and restrained a life that does not seem to make autistic people unhappy They are uite content Why interfere with their contentment Wittgenstein who once said We like the world because we do might here say we do this because we do it Interfere we must Ending on this note made me again reappraise everything Hearne had written In response to animal rights activists Hearne insists on using her training methods to establish a language with dogs and horses in order to help these animals to express themselves to the fullest But no efforts should be made to establish a language with children on the spectrum in order to help them to express themselves I don t know if it s the passage of time that makes this entire chapter distasteful to me or if I would have agreed with her point back in the 80s But I don t think I would haveHearne uotes freely from philosophical thought English literature and conversations with her fellow trainers Alongside this high material she can sneak in some snarky attacks as when writing about the kind of psychologists who think they can learn about animal behaviour in the lab I was stupidly supposing the point of these efforts was to understand animals and it wasn t at all The point was simply to Do Science Or back to the pit bulls Debates about dog fighting take place over the lusty pastime of consuming the flesh of animals who have suffered a great deal than any fighting dog ever does Adam s Task was full of highlights and lowlights for me but ultimately I was very interested in Hearne s methods for developing a nonverbal language and conversations with dogs and horses so I m happy to have read it Ultimately I d be interested in a modern work along the same line I am ending my book by appealing to the sense I have developed as a result of reading and thinking like a dog and horse trainer for several decades now that animals matter to us and that the way they matter to us is probably all we can know of how and why we matter


10 thoughts on “Adam's Task Calling Animals by Name

  1. says:

    I believe that the disciplines of animal training come to us in the form they do because deep in human beings is the impulse to perfo

  2. says:

    The only writer on animals I know of who combines a decades of experience training horses and dogs with b a robust acuaintance with Wittgenstein And she can write too

  3. says:

    I really struggled with rating this book settling on a 25 rounded up because my reaction to this book vacillated so wildly The writing veers from beautifully evocative to philosophical rambling that borders on incoherence I can appreciate the linguistic nuance Hearne tries to pin down about animal comprehension and motivation but a lot of

  4. says:

    Hearne was a marvelous poet an amateur philosopher and on the evidence of this book a superb animal trainer It belongs on that short shelf of indispensable books about the nature of animals and the necessity for human straight talk and right thinking when working with them

  5. says:

    This is an excellent book It is about loving animals but NOT in a cute widdle wooda wooda way More in the sense of recogni

  6. says:

    Hearne intertwines her knowledge of horse and dog training with philosophical insights into the nature of our re

  7. says:

    This book well actually just the author was recommended to me about 10 years ago in grad school The topic was very vaguely related to my thesis but enough so for me to drop everything and read it on the spot so I saved it to read when I had the timeUnfortunately I found the author's ideas to be woefully out of date and old fashioned

  8. says:

    I despised the writing in this book I was tempted to stop many times when the inane incomprehensible philosophical babbling got too much but then there would be an actual animal training story that would catch my interest an

  9. says:

    This is one of my favorite books of all time Hearne's observations on the importance of coherence to the sanity of animals and humans rang immediately true to me as did the complexity of navigating between the academic intellectual world and the pragmatic world of those who work day to day with companion animals Some fe

  10. says:

    Difference without superiority is a difficult thing for many people to conceive of but that is how Hearne sees our relations with animals As a species we are alienated and animal training is a way to connect with other creatures and

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