n Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Of wise ants (Prov 6:6-8; 30:24-25) and repulsive dogs (Prov 26:11) - animal and human kinship according to proverbial wisdom and natural science : research article

Volume 95, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1018-9556



Proverbs often comes across as androcentric in its effort to promote wisdom as the art of mastering life. There are, however, some bio-centric glimpses where animals become teaching models to acquire wisdom, where they are called "wise" (e.g. the ant in Prov. 6:6-8 and 30:24-25). It seems as if the ancient sages intuitively sensed a mental bond between animals and humans. A subtext of animal and human kinship lingers between the lines of the mentioned texts, of both humans and animals being capable of intelligent behaviour, of "knowing" and "thinking". This is confirmed by modern cognitive ethology and psychology, and even applies to so-called "lower" animals like ants (insects). Animals therefore cannot only be regarded as "behaviourists" (conditioned automatons), they can be regarded as "mentalists" (mind-full) also, even be it elementary. The agreement between the two discourses of ancient wisdom and modern natural science of the interconnected web of life, surfacing inter alia in the sharing of mental capacities between animals and humans, implies an ethic of care for Earth and all earthlings.

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