AR Philosophy > Morality Index

An Unnatural Order: Discovering the Roots of our
 Domination of Nature and Each Other
 ~ Continued

By Jim Mason
After centuries of manipulative animal husbandry, however, men gained conscious control over animals and their life processes. In reducing them to physical submission, people reduced animals physically as well. Castrated, yoked, harnessed, hobbled, penned, and shackled, domestic animals were thoroughly subdued. They had none of that wild, mysterious power that their ancestors had when they were stalked by hunter-foragers. Domestic animals were disempowered - made docile - by confinement, selective breeding, and familiarity with humans. They gradually came to be seen more with contempt than awe.

In reducing domestic animals, farmers reduced animals in general, and with them the living world that animals had symbolized. Farming, in general, helped reduce the animal/natural powers because crop-conscious farmers saw more and more natural elements as threats. But it was animal husbandry in particular that nudged people from seeing animals as powers to seeing them as commodities and tools. It was husbandry that drastically upset the ancient human-animal relationship, changing it from partnership to master-and-slave, from being kin with animal-nature to being lord over animal-nature.

This reduction of animals - the soul and the essence of the living world to the primal mind - reduced all of nature, creating, in the agriculturalist's mind, a view of the world where people were over and distinctly apart from nature. Animal reduction was key to the radically different worldview that came with the transition from foraging to farming, for more than any other agricultural development, it broke up the old ideas of kinship and continuity with the living world. This, more than any other factor, accelerated and accentuated human alienation from nature. It originated in the East's first agricultural center, it founds its legs there, and then it spread to the other centers of civilization. Husbandry was, I think, the more influential side of farming that led, ultimately, to the agrarian worldview that we still hold today. As that worldview began to emerge thousands of years ago, wrote University of California historian Roderick Nash, "for the first time humans saw themselves as distinct from the rest of nature."