Lecture 1

Jan 29

A Pre-Agricultural Outlook

Read James Suzman, " Sympathy for a Desert Dog " on the NYTimes website. (Or download as .pdf, you have trouble getting access). Suzman's essay turns on what to make of the terrible suffering inflicted on a dog by village children.

Write and submit via the comments a one-¶ response to one of the following prompts:

  1. Sum up the logic of Suzman's essay for an unfamiliar reader. What lesson does he draw from the story of this dog?
  2. Give a hostile critique of Suzman's conclusions, written for someone who's just finished reading Suzman's article. Since you only have 1 ¶, try to focus attention on what you see as the critical flaw in his argument.
  3. Writing for someone familiar with both authors, set Suzman's thinking in proper relation to Harari's idea that we organize our experience in relation to an "Imagined Order." If Suzman and Harari are in agreement, write a ¶ summing up their thinking, noting differences of approach or terminology, but emphasizing their shared vision. If they are in disagreement, write a ¶ noting similarities in their thinking or terminology but emphasizing the core difference.

Post your response below under the appropriate heading.

MLA Source Citation

In 2016 the Modern Language Association revised their widely used style guide for source citation. You probably learned MLA citation in high school, but you may have learned the old method—or you may be using EasyBib without really understanding what you're doing. Blindly following a machine's prompts is likely to get you into trouble. As computer tech people say about the danger of relying on algorithms without understanding them, "Garbage in, garbage out."

For a refresher, you can consult this video tutorial on MLA citation: link. For future reference, the Purdue University writing lab has an excellent online resource for source citation. Go check it out now, and if you like what you see, make a bookmark so you can come back later.

Practice Quiz: I've designed a quiz so you can test your mastery of MLA style, available on Blackboard here. After completing the quiz, be sure to click the link to see how you did, and where you went wrong. This quiz counts for completion only, but the quiz next Friday will be scored for mastery.

51 responses to “Lecture 1

    • Editted Version:
      Suzman first uses his story with Dog to point out that the Ju/’hoansi don’t seem to have sympathy towards animals, which makes him angry. Then he explains the possible reason behind it: His affection is from the neolithic revolution which tends to treat dogs as part of a family. However, the Ju/’hoansi are hunter-gatherers which doesn’t emphasize sympathy on non-human animals. It’s because the Ju/’hoansi are hunter-gatherers. The only thing they need to do is to find ways to predict and hunt their preys better. Consequently, they don’t have the obligation and the responsibility to take care of the dogs which doesn’t give them any advantage. They don’t need the help of dogs. However, unlike hunter-gatherers, people under the great impact of neolithic revolution do need the help of dogs, and dogs are thus exploited for their human-like traits. Gradually dogs are adopted by people and are treated as one part of the family. Sympathy for dogs starts from that. The difference of attitude towards animals is because the different environment of ancestors, and this difference gets inherited.

    • Suzman uses Dog’s story to depict the Ju/’hoansi people’s hostile and impassive relationship with animals. Dog’s story illustrates the affection-craving dogs of the Skooheid village who are unloved and quake in fear of the Ju/’hoansi as they are left to fend for themselves. The Ju/’hoansi, the direct descendants of the hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari, are still indeed hunter-gathers explaining their lack of interest and sympathy towards the dogs and animals. To hunter-gatherers, animals were unworthy of giving empathy to; they were merely their food source and means of survival. In fact, it was not until the Neolithic Revolution where the domestication of the wolf occurred; the dog insinuated itself into the daily lives of humans forming this still presently strong mutualistic symbiotic relationship as exhibited by Suzman and Dog. So, empathy for animals is attributed to the evolution of humans from hunting and gathering to settlement and agriculture.

    • James Suzman shares juxtaposes western ideology with that of the Ju/’hoansi by examining how this culture treats animals many societies value as companions. Suzman befriends a dog, feeding him and giving him attention secretly, since the Ju/’hoansi find this behavior bizarre. Dogs in the village belong to individuals, but they do not feed them or care for them like Suzman thinks is customary and just. After village children harm Dog with industrial acid, leading to his death, Kaice (Suzman’s friend) explains to him how the Ju/’hoansi view the relationship between human and animal. He asserts that to be able to hunt animals and succeed in survival, you need to understand the animal and become one with it. To be able to understand the animal well enough to track and kill it, you need empathy. This does not mean that they feel empathy towards animals in the sense of an obligation to protect and feed them. To the Ju/’hoansi, empathy is a tool in understanding how animals differ from humans as a survival mechanism, whereas in other cultures the idea of empathy revolves around the concepts of unity and connection. The differentiation between these two definitions brings to mind Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. One cannot concern itself with the well being of others before his/her own wellbeing is not a guarantee. So Suzman, representing in this sense the culture he comes from, does not need to worry about hunting animals and surviving through a tough season, so he has the time and emotional availability to worry about Dog’s well being, though he has no biological duty to care for him.

    • In James Suzman’s article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” Suzman describes the relationship he developed with Dog, an Africanis dog that he met when he was working with the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. Dog was killed by village children and in his anger about Dog’s death, Suzman discovered that the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen view the lives of animals very differently than we do. Most people view themselves in relation to other people, we view ourselves as different from people who live in other countries, and on almost a higher level than animals. The Ju/’honasi Bushman viewed themselves in relation to the animals that surrounded them, so they didn’t feel the need to care for the animals around them. They didn’t feel the responsibility as humans to take care of animals, because they viewed themselves as being on the same level as animals. So when Dog died, Suzman felt like it was his responsibility to bury him, as the person that Dog was closest to. The Bushmen didn’t feel the same way, because they didn’t see Dog as their responsibility, to them he was just another village dog. It wasn’t a dog’s responsibility to bury a Bushman, as it wasn’t a Bushman’s responsibility to bury a dog. Suzman uses the story of Dog to show that even though many modern humans view animals as less than them, as their responsibilities, some groups of people don’t think the same way.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” by James Suzman, the writer describes his close relationship with a dog while working with the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. As Suzman and Dog develop a bond, he begins to question why he seems to be the only person caring for the animals around him. Eventually, village children kill Dog, and Suzman demands they be punished but is met with confusion. Why do all “white ranchers” treat animals so peculiarly? Suzman came to understand that Neolithic culture has raised us to look at animals as companions, while Paleolithic culture believes they can do everything on their own. They do not need compassion, and that is not cruel, it is a fact of life. It is important to understand cultural differences in order to realize why people unlike us do what they do.

    • James Suzman draws upon a few key topics in his article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, most notably empathy or the lack thereof from members of the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. Suzman’s essay immediately highlights the coldhearted nature of hunter-gatherer societies and how the Neolithic revolution has shaped the thinking of modern day humans and growing empathy for other ‘animals’. The contrast between Suzman and the members of the Ju/’hoansi is most evident when Suzman is told, “they are not humans. They are dogs. Their ways are different”. This comes after Suzman finds Dog to be in ill-condition after children were merely “demonstrating curiosity” for “experimenting with the corrosive powers” of industrial acid. Suzman emphasises how humans have developed over time to develop emotional relationships with all types of animals, rather than feeding off of a superiority complex of being a sapien rather than a dog. The Neolithic revolution, which resulted in human behaviour transitioning from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society, is what Suzman draws upon to be thankful for and is “glad to be a child of the Neolithic”.

    • Suzman uses his experience with a stray dog in another country to show the vast differences between cultures. Although we, “we” being Americans or people living in first world countries, find it “normal” and “humane” to accept dogs as another member of our family, this is not a view accepted internationally. This is shown through Suzman’s natural reaction to feed and care for a stray while the local villagers mutilate the stray without second thought. All people have some sort of empathetic relationship with different species of animals; however, the way they display this empathy is different. Suzman does not state how one view is better than the other, he is merely bringing to our attention how these differences in morals and cultural beliefs influence people’s way of thinking and association.

    • While living in the Kalahari Desert among the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen, James Suzman observes the number of dogs roaming the village and criticizes the locals’ treatment toward these animals. As people in the west view dogs as companions, friends, family, and establish emotional connections with them, the Ju/’hoansi have the opposite view on dogs. They don’t live with dogs, dog live among them, “Each dog loosely belonged to someone in the village, but they were not considered objects of affection or “part of the family.”” To these people, dogs are similar to pests. Over years of evolution and breeding, dogs have learned to be comfortable around humans. Although being abused, they stick around instinctually. This becomes apparent when Suzman returns from a trip to discover that his dog, Dog, had been abused by the villagers. Children had been playing with some industrial acid and tested it on Dog, who was lying exposed with his flesh burned and exposed. Suzman begins to question why these people are so harsh to loving animals like dogs, while indirectly questioning if there necessarily is a right way of treating them? Society would likely deem that dogs are valued and should be respected, but who’s to say that is correct? After all, they are animals for which many are abused in the pursuit of science. Suzman judges the people of the village without taking into consideration the difference in society and questioning if there is a reason to their attitude towards dogs.

    • James Suzman writes a short article, “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” to illustrate the societal differences between the Neolithic and Paleolithic civilizations. The sympathetic narrator, who is surrounded by Ju/’hoansi Bushmen who do not treat dogs in the same gentle manner that he does, is taken aback when he learns that inconveniencing oneself to care for animals is eccentric. As a result, the tender narrator forms a secret connection with Dog by feeding him, scratching his ears and chest, and providing a copious amount of affection. In return, Dog provides the narrator with the companionship that he lacked in the new and unfamiliar territory, the Kalahari Desert. The narrator intentionally tries to keep his and Dog’s companionship a secret because the Ju/’hoansi would contrastingly only study the behaviors of animals in hopes of hunting them. This malevolent motive that the Bushmen possess confuses the narrator at first, but he eventually comes to understand that his strong regard for Dog portrays the differences between the Neolithic and Paleolithic ways of life. He ultimately understands that the Ju/’hoansi were brought up in a different environment than he, a child of the Neolithic, was, which is the main focus of Suzman’s article.

    • In James Suzman’s “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, Suzman recounts the story of when he formed a relationship with Dog whilst living amongst the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. While living there, Suzman created a relationship with Dog by sharing food with him and in return, Dog gave him companionship in a place where it felt “alien and unsettling”. However, one day, while Suzman was out, a couple of the Ju/’hoansi children found Suzman’s bottle of industrial acid and, out of curiosity, decided to test it on certain objects and then eventually on Dog. From this, Dog suffered injuries that he would eventually succumb to and thus, out of anger, Suzman demanded that the children be punished. However, what Suzman failed to realize was that his, and many Westerners, perspective on how people should treat domesticated animals, such as dogs, were vastly different from how the Ju/’hoansi people viewed the relationship between man and dog. To the Ju/’hoansi, in order to survive and hunt down animals for food, they needed to “be the animal”. The Ju/’hoansi viewed this type of bond between man and animal to be empathetic, while Suzman viewed a companionship-like relationship with domesticated animals to be empathetic.

    • In “Sympathy for the Desert Dog”, by James Suzman, his short-lived encounter with Dog during his time with the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen shows indifference and usually less than optimal treatment towards animals due to the type of lives they lead. The Ju/’hoansai were direct descendants of hunter-gatherer groups that lived in the surrounding area. Similar to before the Neolithic Revolution, animals were not domesticated until after the said revolution. Because hunter/gather societies predated the Agricultural Revolution, the Ju/’hoansai also did not domesticate the surrounding dogs. Susman was later told by Kaice, his friend, this fact that they built no empathetic relation with animals like dogs. They believed dogs were more like animal neighbors, which have their own “customs, habits”, and own way to interact/experience the world. He learned that his relationship with domesticated animals like dogs, like most all humans in the modern age, and the connotation that dogs are “mans best friend”, were a result of the Neolithic Revolution.

    • In the essay “Sympathy for a Desert Dog,” Suzman recounts an experience he had with a village dog in the Kalahari Desert, a region of Africa home to the Ju/’hoansi people (who are mainly hunters and gatherers). After the dog is injured by the village children and subsequently dies, the villagers question Suzman’s care for the dog, both during its life and after it had died. Suzman eventually comes to realize that based on the customs and worldview of the Ju/’hoansi people, dogs are essentially regarded as a separate society; as his friend Kaice puts it, “their ways are different.” He identifies this as a result of the Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ways of the Ju/’hoansi, passed down over generations and embedded into their culture. Suzman’s own empathy for the dog comes from his Neolithic attitude. He was more inclined to seek “mastery” over the dog, to build a bond with it as one would another human being. The Ju/’hoansi saw a separation of their society from the dog’s; Suzman wanted to integrate it into his own.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, James Suzman explains the differences in ways of life throughout humanity that the Neolithic Revolution caused. As he speaks about the dog that he befriended, he discusses how he feels sympathy for the starving animal and cares for it like one would a human. However, the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen, a group of hunter-gatherers, empathize with dogs in a different way. They don’t focus on their human characteristics or treat them as pets; instead, they see them as hunters would, wild animals. So, Suzman realizes that his relationship with Dog is merely a result of the Neolithic Revolution, but he is happy to have it, compared to the different type of empathy and relationships that the Ju/’hoansi carry with animals.

    • In James Suzman’s article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” Suzman shares his past experience with Dog a village dog he met when he was doing ethnographic fieldwork among the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in Namibia’s. An overarching lesson Suzman learned from this experience is that empathy can be shown in a multitude of ways and his experience with Dog was different from that of the Ju/’hoansi’s, the descendants of people that hunted and gathered, due to cultural differences. Suzman first began his story by explaining the misanthropic behavior he observed from the Ju/’hoansi’s toward the village dogs. He could not comprehend this behavior because he was raised in the Neolithic Revolution where dogs were deemed to be part of the family. However, for the Ju/’hoansi’s empathy was not shown in the same fashion. Throughout Suzman’s story, he explains how he felt a responsibility to take care of Dog. Consequently, when Dog died he felt a responsibility to bury him. On the other hand, the Ju/’hoansi’s felt no responsibility towards the village dogs. This was not because they were vile human beings with no heart but rather due to their belief system. They believed that dogs were people and were just like any other species. Dogs were a constant fascination for them however, they did not think they owed them anything as they were equals.

    • James Suzman used the story of a dog he befriended to show the difference between the Ju/’hoansi culture and his own. He also wanted to teach readers that animals deserve to be treated with respect. As direct descendants of hunter-gatherers, the Ju/’hoansi people had an unempathetic relationship with non-human animals. Domesticated animals, such as dogs, were left to fend for themselves. Suzman however, believed that they should be treated with compassion. During his time in the Kalahari Desert, Suzman befriended Dog. He made sure Dog was well fed and he followed Suzman everywhere he went. The lesson the author was trying to teach is that all animals should be treated with kindness and empathy.

    • Suzman’s objective in writing this piece was to emphasize the basic differences in the way that Westerners and the Ju/’hoansi interacted with animals, and to thereby extrapolate the basic differences in the way members of the two societies experience the universe. He does this first by exploring differences in the ways we interact with domestic animals, in particular a dog that he had aptly named Dog. When schoolchildren squirted industrial acid on Dog, condemning him to a slow, torturous death, Suzman wanted the children to be punished. The villagers’ confusion at his desire to punish the children for causing undue harm to the dog is the first break in understanding between Western values and the Ju/’hoansi society. Suzman then goes on to synthesize a total difference in worldview from this pressure point, a Paleolithic vs. Neolithic split, a split between desk jobs and cushy lives and pets contrasted against a life of hardship, short on food, long hunts to survive, and no capacity to support more than absolutely necessary. Simply by examining the way schoolchildren treated a stray animal, Suzman has (rather effectively) established a clear dichotomy between two entirely different societies which came about under entirely different environments.

    • In James Suzman’s article Sympathy for a Desert Dog he recounts the eye opening experience he had regarding the death of his dog companion in a Ju/’hoansi Bushmen village. Suzman tells the story of the friendship he developed with a stray dog he deemed “Dog” in a Ju/’hoansi village. The Ju/’hoansi did not comprehend Suzman’s relationship with his dog and thought it to be abnormal. Some time passes, and Dog is killed by some Ju/’hoansi children who poured industrial grade acid on him out of “curiosity”. Suzman demonstrates his anger at the children for killing his pet by demanding they be punished accordingly, but his pleas only confuse the adults of the village. The adults of the village say there is nothing wrong with the children’s curiosity and that the dog is simply just a dog and nothing more. Suzman attributes this different kind of empathy where one puts themselves in the place of the animal rather than giving sympathy from the standpoint of a human to the Ju/’hoansi’s hunter-gatherer society. Suzan deduces that the Ju/’hoansi are simply still of the Paleolithic era where humans and animals view each other as equals while he and Dog were products of the Neolithic era where humans assumed the mantle of caretaker for all animals deemed lesser than them.

    • In James Suzman’s article, “Sympathy for a Desert Dog,” Suzman submerges himself in the lifestyle of a different culture to his own and emerges with a broader perspective of civilization. Suzman has the opportunity to perform fieldwork among the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. During his time there, Suzman befriends Dog, one of the many stray dogs roaming around the desert. When Dog is brutally tortured by some of the Ju/’hoansi children, Suzman is rather shockingly introduced to the concept of Imagined Order. He learns that the Ju/’hoansi view dogs as just another species that have to fend for themselves, therefore they have no real emotional tie to them. The Imagined Order describes how societies are filled with common myths, such as money, laws, companies, or in this case, domesticated animals. The more modernized a society is, the more progressed these common myths become. As the Ju/’hoansi are still living in a Paleolithic society, their specific people have yet to domesticate dogs, whereas Suzman coming from a modern Western society feels an engrained connection and need to take care of dogs as pets are a common myth in his community. Suzman walks away from his fieldwork with this realization of the Imagined Order and appears to be thankful for his expanded worldview. Nevertheless, he is grateful for the existence of common myths and modernization, as he is conditioned to feel a connection to dogs.

    • Suzman’s core lesson within his article, “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” focuses on how conflicting cultures lead to contrasting perspectives. James Suzman is an anthropologist who spent a portion of his life working with the Kalahari people of Africa. During his time, Suzman befriends a dog and cares for it, however, much to his dismay, the dog is abused by the village children and is killed. The dog’s death leaves Suzman in indignation and demands that the children be punished for their actions. But to his surprise, the villagers were stoic and confused by Suzman’s outburst. To the villagers, the dog was nothing but another species that simply existed within their world. They were not a companion and they were not treated like human beings because they are not simply put human beings. The Ju/’hoansi are descendants of the ancient foragers and hunter-gatherers that roamed the Kalahari, and from their ancestors, they learned to view animals differently. To them, animals were just animals and didn’t associate any human characteristics with them. Death and pain are all apart of life and it’s just something that animals feel. That’s why the villagers lacked sympathy and compassion for the dog. On the other hand, this greatly contrasts with the belief of those in the Western hemisphere. People in Western society often ingrain human characteristics within dogs and think of them as loyal or amicable creatures, and by doing so we are treating them like another human being in a way. However, this type of thinking is a product of the Neolithic Revolution when wolfs were domesticated by humans as partners. And this is why the Ju/’hoansi couldn’t feel the same because their ancestors and culture stems from the Paleolithic era, a time of foragers. But the main focus that Suzman wants to point out is that neither side is wrong. It’s just simply a differing perspective that stems from our ancestors and culture.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog,” Suzman gives an anecdote about his fieldwork in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. He meets Dog, the bravest out of all the other dogs in the village of Skoonheid, and befriends him through time and affection. Suzman’s relationship with the dog was cut short once children from the village found curiosity in testing out the industrial acid. Dog unfortunately became one of the victims of their curiosity, and later died from severe injuries. This incident can be a prime example of the “Imagined Order” which came to be with the Neolithic Revolution. Suzman, a Neolithic, is introduced to the very different cultures of the Bushmen who are Paleolithic. His attachment to Dog is essentially a myth; it’s a social order imagined from a community who believe a pet is necessary for our lives. This belief doesn’t come into questioning until his encounter with the hunter-gatherers who insist that to empathize with an animal, “you have to ‘be’ the animal.” This insight into his neighbors’ way of life leaves him saying he is “glad to be a child of the Neolithic,” and perhaps not realizing how myths like this are the ones that shape our modernizing society.

    • Assuming one day you get home, and you find out that your beloved pet dog has been poisoned and killed by someone else, you would lament it greatly and be furious with whoever committed such atrocity. However, if a primitive human hunter from the Stone Age were to use poison arrows to hunt down a wild dog, the killing would more than likely not be considered as inhumane or infuriating as my aforementioned example, even though the same kind of suffering was afflicted to that dog. It is apparent how humans’ views on animals and the environment has shifted considerably from the Paleolithic era to the Neolithic era, and this anecdote of James Suzman perfectly accentuates this change. The story essentially reflects a clash between the two ideologies, where Suzman views dogs as supportive and intimate companions to humanity, yet the Ju/’hoansi views dogs as no more than preys and part of the environment. Consequently, when the dog that Suzman showed affections to was brutally killed by the children of Ju/’hoansi, he viewed it as a savage and punishable act. However, as Suzman learned how Ju/’hoansi’s empathy for animals is drastically different from today’s pet owners’ in that they put their mindsets into the animals in order to learn and hunt them, so that Ju/’hoansi could survive with ample food source. Their version of empathy originates from their respect and coexistence with the mother nature and their compassion does not extend to other species. As human civilization progresses beyond the Neolithic era, we began to subjugate nature, categorize animals, and even grow close relationships with some species so they can work around human needs. We, as a species, has come to the top of the world and even created our own morals and this passage serves as a crystal-clear testament to that.

    • Susan begins his article by highlighting the Ju/’hoansi people’s way of treating dogs. They are very reckless and have no sympathy towards dogs. He states that the kids would experiment with bottles of industrial acid on dogs, causing the dogs to die. Ju/’hoansi people had no compassionate relationship with dogs whatsoever. Susan later on describes the relationship between humans and dogs during the agricultural revolution, which is completely different to the way Ju/’hoansi people treated the dogs. Farmers treated dogs like humans or even better. Dogs were given meat and taken care of with love, and the farmers would even allow dogs to sleep on their bed as well. Why do Ju/’hoansi people and the farmers treat dogs so differently? It is because Ju/’hoansi people believe that dogs should act like animals. In other words, they want dogs to help them like humans do. They want dogs to go out and help them when they are hunting, fishing,..etc. On the other hand, farmers viewed dogs as their friend and family like how we do in our society. This brings up an interesting question for the farmers. Why do they only treat dogs so compassionately, when they are making cows and other animals work.

    • In the article “Sympathy for a Dear Dog”, the author James Suzman writes about his story with Dog that takes place in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert, where local people Ju/’hoansi shares a different idea towards the definition of “empathy”. In Suzman’ story telling, he pets the Dog when he first visits the village of Skoonheid, where people own their dogs but don’t really care about them. However, Suzman acts differently. He not only feeds Dog with food, but also gives him affection. In return, Dog offers him companionship in an alien environment. A crash on idea happens when Suzman wants to give Dog a human burial, which Ju/’hoansi consider to be really absurd. In their school of thought, they believe people should only show empathy toward animals when there exists a hunt and hunted relation.Yet, Suzman believes that “in the case of dogs their sociability, their loyalty, their gratitude”, people should show empathy since animals like dogs urging for human’s affection during their evolution throughout the history.

    • After losing his newfound companion, Suzman was introduced to a new perspective that expanded his views on how humans interact with other types of animals. Suzman begins his writing by talking about his companionship with the desert dog, Dog, he found in the Ju/’hoansi village. When Suzman comes back to the village one day, he is heartbroken to find that some of the kids from the village had poured acid on Dog, causing Dog to experience a long and painful death. Many of the villagers were confused by Suzman’s reaction to Dog’s death and the human-like burial he hosted for him. Suzman has normalized the mentality that pets are somewhat equal to humans, so when he hears the reactions of the people from the Ju/’hoansi village, he is taken back by the lack of sympathy they have for Dog’s death. Kaice, a friend of Suzman from the village, explains to Suzan that within the village, the people view animals as separate species that have their own way of life in a shared world. When the people of the Ju/’hoansi village consider animals, they think of the non-human aspects they carry. With that being said, they don’t necessarily sympathize with other animals because they feel little connection to them. The people of the Ju/’hoansi village all share a common mindset that they value humans, but all animals are just seen as non-humans to them and not much more. Although this was at first shocking for Suzman, he took time to understand the cultural difference that was bestowed upon him. While dogs and other animals may seem extremely important to Suzman, his feelings towards animals are due to a shared agreement among the people he grew up with. Unlike in the Ju/’hoansi village where they share an agreement that dogs and other animals are not considered equal to them. Suzman may not entirely agree with the people from the Ju/’hoansi village, but Dog’s death allowed him to consider this contradicting mindset from the Ju/’hoansi village.

    • While watching the life of a dog and its relationship with villagers in Skoonheid, James Suzman finds evidence of human evolution. Particularly, Suzman sees the differences in empathy for animals between a Neolithic person, himself, and the Paleolithic people of the village. Dog, the dog’s name, lives among the people and has to hunt and forage for food like them. The dogs were meant to take care of themselves. So when Dog is injured and killed by the village kids and Suzman is hurt by this, no one else in the village is phased. The people believe it is odd when Suzman gives Dog a human burial, too. They say, “Dog is a dog”. Suzman soon realizes major differences in the empathy he feels for the dog, coming from a Neolithic background where he doesn’t have to hunt and forage, versus the village people. The village people do not relate to the dog’s human qualities of loyalty and gratitude but instead, they connect with the dog’s need to survive like them. They see the dog as a dog and do not try to relate the dog to them as humans. It is a kind of empathy that Neolithic people have evolved away from, Suzman finds that the extension of human characteristics to other species can only occur in the Neolitilic lifestyle where people do not have to hunt similarly to the animals.

    • James Suzman’s relationship with Dog and his Ju/’hoan neighbors provided him with a new meaning of empathy towards animals; he learned that emphasizing with an animal did not mean inserting his own human narrative into its perspective but rather appreciating the differences between an animal and humans, claiming one “had to ‘be’ the animal”. This differs from the preconceived notion that to have an empathetic relationship with any animal, specifically a dog, was to recognize the commonalities a human shared with it, Suzman uses “their sociability, their loyalty, their gratitude” as examples. The Ju/’hoansi live in equality with the animals around them as they see themselves as “just one of many different kinds of animal-people in a wild environment”. The Neolithic point of view puts humans at the top of this pyramid that the Paleolithic Ju/’hoansi see as a flat level, selecting which animals were to be treated with sympathy and bred for the most desirable traits as a companion. Ultimately, Suzman realizes this way of truly empathizing with animals would provide humans with a much more holistic approach to the world around them, but is thankful for the pets back home “that have evolved to crave our affection”.

    • Suzman in his article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” recounts his trip to the village of Skoonhied. Specially, the day he met a mistreated village dog; he believes this encounter reinforces this idea of human evolvement. He briefly compares his view of the dogs place to theirs; where he and the society in which he comes from view dogs as “part of the family” the Bushman did not. Suzman writes that the Bushman “empathized with the animals with whom they shared their world” where as he and most pet owners sympathize. Suzman believes this experience confirms that as society evolves so does the way that people think. Suzman sees the dog and acknowledges not only the human emotions a dog feels but also his own position over the animal. According to Suzman the Bushmen can’t think like this because they are equal with the dog and animals themselves. Their society has not evolved into a place where they can look at themselves as above an animal so they treat the animals as though it was their neighbor. In hard times you may feel bad for a suffering neighbor but when the whole town this struggling it can be easy for people to develop an almost inhumane like indifference toward the problems of others. Suzman however has “evolved” so he is appalled by the dogs treatment. Suzman realizes that the people in the village would never understand his views just as he will never understand theirs. He just is grateful that he doesn’t have live as they do.

    • Suzman introduces Dog’s story to show the aggressiveness/negligence the people of Ju/’hoansi had towards animals. Suzman described the interactions the tribe had for dogs came from “in the form of kicks or flying stones”. Based on different occurrences the Ju/’hoansi had with dogs, where they would only use dogs for foraging. and would let them fend for themselves depicts that they had no empathy for them. This tribe were hunters and gatherers, animals were just food to them. When Suzman’s dog dies from acid being thrown at it by children, he feels that it is his job to bury Dog because of the emotional/loving relationship they had. The bushmen people believed that this was not necessary as it was not a responsibility for them. Suzman uses his dog story to convey the different beliefs the Neolithic had compared to the Paleolithic.

    • Author, James Suzman, is faced with a juxtaposition that pushes him to think more deeply about his unique relationship to his animal friend, “Dog” in his article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog.” While amongst the Ju/’hoansi people, Suzman is hurt to see the way his dog, and general dogs, are treated in the community. It is when the people confront Suzman’s love and adoration for this animal that he realizes the ground they come from. The Ju/’hoansi people have spent years being put second to animals they consider equal “persons” to them. When they were starved, their oppressors fed the dog, when they were pushed to the back, the dog sat in the front, and when they were not even welcomed into homes, the dog slept alongside these Bushmen workers. The Bushmen workers, or “whites” would treat dogs as if they were humans when in reality, they are, too, just another animal. The Ju/’hoansi people believed that, just like during the days of hunting and gathering, each creature was for themselves: survival with respect to a food chain and an animal kingdom.

    • The lesson that Suzman takes from the dog story is that different people may have different customs which would cause them to act differently toward certain places, people, animals, or things. Like in the story he notes that the other tribe has a more religious and spiritual connection to the animals. In which they believe that after they kill the animals, they are giving the animal what some might call a warriors death and honoring the animal’s sacrifice and battle. Then they bond with the animal by eating it. Meanwhile, he has a different relationship in which is more affectionate. The two have a mutual bond in which the dog give companionship and sometimes protection in return for food. While Suzman gains companionship as well and potentially a hunting buddy in return for caring for the dog and giving it food and shelter.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, the writer James Suzman depicts his short encounter with Dog and illustrates opposite attitudes he and the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen hold towards dogs, which further shows the cultural differences between the two civilizations. Specifically, when Suzman first met the Dog, he shared food and showed affection to the Dog. The Dog also gave feedback to him by keeping him companion during his journey. However, he then found out that Dog was poisoned by children from Kalahari Desert in Namibia and the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen showed “indifference” towards the death of the Dog. He discovered that although dogs belong to someone, they were not taken as “a part of the family” by the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen as Suzman described in the article since Ju/’hoansi Bushmen don’t think they are obligated to take care of dogs like how Suzman believes. They are inherited from hunter-gatherers and they are still foragers who put themselves on the same level with other animals and take hunting as their only responsibility, which made them show little empathy towards dogs. So, Suzman realized the cultural difference between Neolithic and Paleolithic civilizations.

    • James Suzman’s essay: Sympathy for a Desert Dog tells the story of his experience with a stray dog by which he believes adopted him in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. Suzman uses his story to demonstrate how the two different cultures have starkly opposing ideas of empathy towards dogs. The Ju/’hoansi people’s attitude towards dogs was demonstrated best when Suzman describes the actions of the village children had inflicted on Dog. While Suzman was gone some of the children had poured acid on Dog. After Suzman had insisted that the children should face consequences for their actions, the Ju/’hoansi people shut down his request, claiming that “ the children should not be punished for demonstrating curiosity.” (Suzman) The issue here lies in that the author and the villagers struggle to see eye to eye on the basis of empathy for an animal. What the author failed to realize in the moment was that The Ju/’hoansi people do not consider dogs to be worthy of affection, remarking that dogs are not humans and therefore should not be treated as such. This ideology causes people of the Ju/’hoansi to feel very apathetic towards dogs and causes them to feel no obligation to care for them. While the Ju’/hoansi perspective towards that of wild animals may seem barbaric and inhumane in nature, the author must empathize with them first before casting judgement. Most of the Ju’/hoansi people do not have the resources available to them that the authors society does, to support their own community combined with those of the village dogs. This is why empathy not just for animals but also for those with different belief systems is crucial in order to gain an understanding for their actions.

    • In James Suzman’s Sympathy for a Desert Dog, Suzman employs an emotional appeal when describing his relationship with Dog to highlight the effects of different revolutions and its impact on their interaction with animals. During Suzman’s time with Dog, he slipped him “leftovers”, and got him his “own”bowl.” To western citizens, this is how most dogs are treated and how westerners treat their dogs is a direct result of the Neolithic Revolution. During the Neolithic Revolution, animals such as wolves became domesticated in an human attempt to showcase their dominance. However, the domestication of dogs didn’t happen in the Paleolithic Revolution. When treating Dog how a western would treat a dog, Suzman was criticized by the Ju/’hoansi. To the Ju/’hoansi a dog is a dog and does not deserve to be treated as a human, and Dog’s passing reinforced their belief that animals are less than humans. When some kids experimented on Dog with industrial acid, leading to his untimely death, Suzman demanded that the children be punished. However the Ju/’hoansi didn’t believe that the children should get punished for their curiosity. What Suzman considered the Ju/’hoansi’s indifference to Dog’s suffering, the Ju/’hoansi viewed as the nature of Dog. The Ju/’hoansi have adapted an every man for himself attitude whilst westerners cared for and domesticated other animals. This every man for himself attitude stemmed from food insecurity because the Ju/’hoansi don’t have the privilege of taking care of something that is not one of their own.

    • James Suzman illustrates his understanding of the differences in the development of empathetic domestication of animals, specifically dogs, in a paleolithic world. Suzman, while living in the Kalahari Desert with the Ju/’hoansi, had befriended a dog, and many of the Ju/’hoansi had found strange the way the two interacted. Suzman suggests his empathetic relationship with the dog is based on “traits our species and their species have in common— in the case of dogs their sociability, loyalty, and gratitude.” This completely differed from how the Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherer groups viewed the dogs. They believed you couldn’t develop empathy by connecting with the animal from a human perspective, but to “be” the animal,” you had to become one with it, to understand its customs on a transcendental level. With this empathy, they will not feel a close personal connection to animals, more or less treating them as part of the world around them.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, James Suzman recounts his special experience with a dog he connected with while in a remote African village. Upon the death of Dog due to (his perceived) cruelty of some of the village children, Suzman receives a first-hand reality check on behalf of some of his companions– the children would not be punished because they didn’t do anything wrong. Dog was not a member of their society, but of a species with which humans coexist on an equal plane. Why should the children not exercise their curiosity when possible? With this, Suzman’s experience overlaps with Harai’s analysis of “imagined realities”. His sympathy towards Dog is the product of an imagined truth, extending back thousands of years to the Agricultural Revolution; just one example of the many imagined truths, that Harari argues, holds modern society together. Suzman’s way of expressing this realization is much more personal than Harari’s: it includes emotional conflict and a firsthand account of a culture that harbors many hunter-gatherer ideals. Harari, on the other hand, takes a far more zoomed-out, academic approach. Nonetheless, both are committed to shattering (or, at the very least, exposing for consideration,) the illusion of the “imagined reality”.

    • James Suzman falsely concludes in his article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” that the Ju/’hansai feel empathy for animals, such as Dog, in a unique way due to their complex understanding of animal behavior. The Ju/’hansai are indeed very knowledgeable when it comes to tracking animals and predicting their movements. However, Suzman is wrong to agree that they share these creatures’ feelings, which is a crucial part of empathy. In his own example, Suzman describes how village children had poured a fatal amount of acid on Dog, only for the Ju’/hansai to write the behavior off as “demonstrating curiosity indifferently.” If they could have genuinely related to Dog’s suffering, the Ju’/hansai would have taught the children that they were wrong to cause another creature harm, as they would not want to be hurt similarly. What their actual reaction to this behavior demonstrates is apathy. The Ju’/hansai are indifferent to Dog’s pain and the pain of animals in general, as this is an ordinary, often necessary occurrence. This mindset is critical to being a successful hunter but detrimental to being an empathetic human.

    • Throughout James Suzman’s article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog,” Suzman mentions multiple times the idea that the Bushmen “feel empathy for the animals around them.” This is wholeheartedly false. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand the feelings of another (Oxford Dictionary). How can one fully understand how Dog felt while continuing to pour acid on his back? The answer is- they can’t. One could argue that the Bushmen were treated in the same way that they treat their dogs, stones thrown, cast out, forced to find their own food, but this only further reinforces my point. If the Bushmen have experienced the pain that they cause their dogs first hand, they should understand the feelings that the dogs feel when treated this way. Instead, the Bushmen cast their empathy aside and continue to treat and let the children treat their dogs in a simply inhumane way.

    • In “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, James Suzman talks about the realization that people living a different lifestyle, Paleolithic, differ in interspecies compassion. The people of the Skoonheid village have to hunt and forage for food just like the animals so unlike Suzman there is no empathy for the animals in the same position as them. The village people saw the animals as people. “Not humans but people”. It is not that the village people lack empathy for the dying animal but that they see the animal as a capable being. Suzman, however, comes from a society where he doesn’t have to go out and hunt for food. Thus, he would feel a strange responsibility for the hurting animals because his life is much easier. The Neolithic people grant these animals human qualities and empathize with them. The evolution of the human lifestyle has changed the way humans think of their surroundings. Therefore, I am not surprised that the village people do not have strong compassion for the dog because they do not have a sense of responsibility for the dog’s life when they have to live the same hard hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    • In my opinion, Suzman’s thinking is very similar to Harari’s definition of an “Imagined Order”. Harari, emphasized the idea, that social norms and standards of living are purely a shared imagination of people existing in the same community. In the same way, Suzman, as a Neolithic, focused on the ideal of social order, that his generation, experience, and culture granted him, when he was born. Finding himself in a paleolithic environment, the village of Skoonheid, he faced a very different set of integrated beliefs. Suzman viewed dogs as companions, because such a behavior was, in Harari’s words, inter-subjective in his society. When Kaice explained to Suzman the reasoning behind Ju’hoansi’s attitude, he recognized that. He writes about the gap that occurred in how people approach animals based on the Neolithic revolution. Ju’hoansi are modern hunter-gatherers, and have not learned to fit dogs into the human world. Lastly, at the end of his article, he regards himself lucky to be “a child of the Neolithic”. As Harari said: “you never admit your order is imagined”.

    • When regarding the key differences between the Paleolithic Era and Neolithic Revolution, as well as mankind’s relationship to the world and established societal norms, James Suzman and Yuval Noah Harari take differing positions. In Suzman’s New York Times article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, he describes a relationship formed with a dog in a hunter-gatherer community in Namibia’s Kalahari desert. The Ju/’hoansi village he inhabited regarded dogs with little sympathy (to which he first detested), as the main concern in their society was to understand the behavioral tendencies of the neighboring animal species so as to better hunt prey; this was essential to their survival. In the Neolithic Revolution, however, mankind began to domesticate animals like the wolf. These now domesticated dogs provided humans, who are social creatures by nature, comfort as well as often assisting in hunting practices. These interconnected relationships with other animals created symbiotic beneficial relationships; most notably, it placed humans as the superior species to their environment as they manipulated their surroundings to their existence. In opposition, the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer communities placed themselves as equals to their animal counterparts. Though Suzman recognizes the Ju/’hoansi’s differing treatment of dogs for their survival purposes, he reveres the Neolithic Revolution for the domestication of dogs based on personal bias. His biases are based on an imagined order that dogs are companions, as our society has long held interpersonal relationships with the beloved house pet. Harari addresses these imagined orders in our society much like Suzman. However, Harari criticizes the Agricultural/ Neolithic Revolution for its flaws. He supports the notion that previous hunter-gatherer practices from the Paleolithic Era better supported humans’ physical and societal wellbeing.

    • The idea that society is built around an “imagined order” is shared between the works of Harari and Suzman. In his essay, Suzman describes the negative outlook that the Ju/’hoansi had on the relationship between him and Dog. They could not accept the mutualism between a human and an animal. To them, it was as absurd as medieval noblemen believing in individualism. In the minds of the Ju/’hoansi, animals were people, not humans and there was a difference. In his book, Harari points out that someone growing up in medieval times would believe that their place in civilization was dictated by a social hierarchy. There would be no sense of self-identity and an individual’s existence would be conventional. Both of these shared beliefs originated from a myth that manifested into a reality and both Harari and Suzman reveal the difficulty of an individual trying to change it. When he wanted the children punished for their cruel acts, not only did he not get an apology, but the Ju/’hoansi neighbors justified the cruel acts as a demonstration of curiosity. In correspondence, Harari characterizes the “imagined order” as inter-subjective in which changing it cannot be accomplished by one person.

    • Although written differently, both Suzman and Harari share perspectives in the presence of an “Imagined Order”. While Suzman reveals a more personal anecdote about the “Imagined Order”, Harari uses more vocabulary to define and provide names for such ideas. In Suzman’s article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog”, the readers follow his journey to realize the presence of inter-subjective beliefs. Being a Neolithic, Suzman was able to develop an emotional connection with Dog. However, living within a Paleolithic environment (the village of Skoonheid), Suzman realizes how different Neolithic and Paleolithic people view animals. Whereas he, the Neolithic, viewed animals as a supportive companion, the Ju/’hoansi saw animals as a lesser being, something to be hunted and mistreated. Even if Suzman disagrees with some ideas, he recognizes the existence of society with different beliefs. Likewise, in Chapter six of Harari’s “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, Harari acknowledges the possibility of multiple civilizations existing due to shared myths or from something that encourages people to continue authentically believing in it. As Harari reveals evidence throughout history, specifically the Code of Hammurabi and the American Declaration of Independence, he finds that all the principles enforced have no objective validity. Suzman and Harari both agree on the existence of the “Imagined Order” and how it can affect everyone differently. With the same idea, the only difference between Suzman and Harari is the presentation of information. Suzman draws upon an emotional connection by providing his personal experience whereas Harari utilizes vocabulary and definitions to help the readers associate a name to a theme being illustrated.

    • In both of their works, Suzman and Harari convey a very similar perspective in regard to moral relativism and the idea of an “Imagined Order”. While Suzman certainly relies more on pathos in his essay, especially compared to Harari’s factual and academic style, they both engage the reader in critical thinking about what, if anything, is objectively “right”. For Americans, Hammurabi’s Code seems archaic and deeply cruel, as we shudder at the inane evil of sentencing a child to die for their parent’s crime. For a modern person living in the West, the idea that animals do not need nor deserve compassion would be considered heinous and ghastly. However, Harari and Suzman both show in their works how these viewpoints are not tangible, directly observable, or provable. Instead, they posit the notion that a system of morality is simply a shared fiction meant to increase wellbeing or unite a kingdom. The Ju/’hoansi people have not gone extinct precisely because they do not extend love or mercy to fellow animals, but instead understand and relate to the creatures as a means to extend their own survival. Likewise, Harari describes how Hammurabi’s Code, while inordinately harsh through a contemporary lens, allowed millions of Babylonians to cooperate and live in safety and prosperity (if followed). Harari’s approach to this notion of an “Imagined Order” is evidence-based and shaped by historical context, while Suzman’s vision is shaped by his personal and emotional experience with differing moral codes across cultures. However, they both convey the theory that the Western world is governed by social constructs that are neither empirical nor objectively true, and that this should be the lens through which we view both historical and contemporary societies that differ from our own.

    • Suzman and Harari would happen to agree that the idea that Dog has certain rights is an inter-subjective idea. Harari states that inter-subjective ideas, or beliefs common to a number of individuals, are myths; things like our religious beliefs, money, or animal rights exists only so far as we believe they exist. Suzman arrives at this rude awakening once Kaice tells him that the notion of animals exhibiting human qualities is unique to Suzman’s Neolithic ancestors – humans don’t intrinsically think of dogs as family members or friends. Harari would be quite familiar with Kaice’s logic, having written in detail how myths, such as laws and morals, are used to unite large swaths of people. Harari would point out that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong about children spilling acid on an animal like what happened to Suzman’s dog; the children and Kaice’s system of morals, their myths, are just different. In Harari’s more analytical view, no myth is better, in contrast to Suzman’s final remarks of pride in his own myth.

    • Yuval Noah Harari and James Suzman have similar ideas about what makes humans able to group together from common beliefs and values. Both emphasized that what makes groups of humans able to work is the shared beliefs that they hold. Suzman emphasizes the importance about how the beliefs on animal relations makes him and this group naturally opposing, while the group itself runs well. Harari also emphasizes the importance of shared beliefs, such as in a specific political system, that would allow for larger groupings of people to run smoothly. Where these authors may not be completely together is in the fact that Suzman does prove his ability to live and socialize with a group of people who do not share the same beliefs, while Harari does emphasize how this structure would fall apart.

    • Both Suzman and Harari recognize this idea of intersubjectivity and how many of the norms in most modern day societies are purely imagined by humans. However, that shared acknowledgement in their claims are only the very surface of their arguments. When examining both author’s statements more in depth, their views disconnect rather greatly. Throughout Suzman’s analysis of the difference between the way Ju/’hoansi and other societies that claimed their influence from the Neolithic Revolution interact with animals, Suzman claims that from revolution, humans adopted the practice of actively seeking out “human traits” within animals, and that the sympathy we share with certain animals is dependent on how characteristically similar they are to us. However, a Hararian take of this analysis would not necessarily disagree with Suzman’s claim, but rather denote Suzman’s claim to a surface-level analysis of why certain Sapiens have such a strong attachment to animals and of the shared practice of domestication. Harari’s argument that human rights and equality all exist within the human imagination would extend equally to arguments made by animal rights activists, or more specifically pet owners. Therefore, Harari would question Suzman on what exactly classifies a dog, or any other domesticated animal, as human-like. If humans were to tame animals that shared human traits, chimpanzees or bonobos would be the most commonly owned house pet because of their genetic similarities, therefore denouncing Suzman’s claim that dogs share human traits. Harari would go on to argue that domesticated animals are not domesticated because of shared characteristics. Rather, the shared belief that these animals having human characteristics — formed based on how emotionally compatible, calmly tempered, and most importantly how useful they were to humans centuries ago — are, however, the true reason as to why to this day they are viewed as perfect house pets, and therefore are classed highly on the intersubjective hierarchy of what animals are deserving of human acceptance and affection.

    • Harari and Suzman share the idea of societies organizing in accordance with an “Imagined Order.” This imagined order, also known as a set of inter-subjective truths, (or also Émile Durkheim’s collective conscience,) is a collection of intangible beliefs shared by a community that binds them together. In Sapiens, Harari exemplifies this via the imagined order of companies. A company may not be a physical entity, but its existence is tied together by the shared beliefs in the laws that allow and shape its existence. Similarly, in “Sympathy for a Desert Dog,” Suzman states that the Ju/’hoansi are “defined” by “their differences from the lions, elephants, aardvarks, elands and many other desert creatures they lived among,” and their complete empathy for said animals. Suzman’s choice of the word “defined” here is of particular note, as it is indicative of his belief that these shared ideas are what bind the Ju/’hoansi into a community of people. It is therefore evident that both Harari and Suzman are in agreement with the notion of imagined order allowing for societal structures.

  1. In his article “Sympathy for a Desert Dog” James Suzman describes his experience in the Kalahari Desert and his relationship with dog, his pet. Suzman just like Harari argues to the Ju/´hoansi people were able to hold their society together and collaborate because they have the ability to share a collective memory and an imagined order which was established from the Paleolithic era. Despite this agreement they may disagree in that Harari argues that foragers have the ability to empathize with other species like dogs while Suzman explicitly shows the opposite.

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