Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Animal Industry

Pretty clearly Professor Harari is offended by some of the consequences of capitalism and humanism. One focus is the mechanization of peoples and animals. Capitalism created the Atlantic slave trade, for example. Slavery was not created by malice, but by desire for profit, and subordinating human consideration to profit.

Modern factory farming is the principal target of the second lecture on the industrial revolution. It is ironic that just as evolutionary psychology was revealing that animals have emotions, mental lives, and social needs, mechanization of agriculture destroyed what remanents of natural and social lives domestic animals had. On the other hand, it has produced an enormous increase in agricultural productivity.

What the evolutionary psychology studies of animals did do was to have some beneficial results for people, though. Above all, such studies drastically changed the prevailing theories of child rearing. In the forties and fifties, the popular theories gave almost no consideration to the psychological and social needs of children and infants. The vast post WWII orphanages, for example, tended to isolate infants and children from contact with adults and each other, mainly in the name of preventing the spread of disease, but the results were very high death rates and badly damaged survivors. How ironic that studies of monkeys' need to cuddle caused psychologists to wake up to the fact that human children did too.