UNITE SCIENCE WITH “OTHER WAYS OF KNOWING”
I am still pondering this how I “see” horses… and how I teach about that “seeing”, how I facilitate courses inviting to different ways of “seeing”.
Have you seen the Netflix film “My Octopus Teacher”? It is a story of a man who for one year dives down to meet the same octopus every day – and what he learns from observing her, interacting with her, being in her environment – and so on. I think it is a remarkable film. It got critiqued, from a researcher for not being more “scientific”, for mixing human emotions and growth with more pure “behavioral studies”. Still, he consulted with 3 octopus scientists while doing the film. The science is there, but the way he presents it makes it more accessible to people. And it brings about questions as animal welfare, animal capabilities when it comes to emotions, playfulness, bonding etc. See it if you have no done so.
As I find my own ways of doing things, that includes the whole of me and all that I know, in all the ways I know them – I find myself wanting to pursue putting together more of a whole plate. I don’t want to keep to “just science”, neither do I want to not include it… I think by marrying a lot of different perspectives and ways of seeing, we deepen and broaden pictures.
I also took a training in indigenous research methodologies 2 years ago. The way we “know” things in the west, is not universal (which I also learned on my journeys to Mongolia to study their wild and domestic horses there).
People tend to get upset with me for “straying”. Well – having been a person living in “intersections” for my whole life – I am grateful for what that has taught me. To have an open and broad mind – to not discard, or discourage any way of doing things.
I know I am not easy to put in a box – and since I don’t like being in boxes anyhow - I will not adapt anymore to staying in them. It is not really a “going against” anyone, any institution, any thought paradigm – it is instead going with myself.
Yesterday I read part of Lori Gruen’s and Alice Crary’s latest book “Animal Crisis” – and I found this passage that I felt really fits well into my own thinking.
"There are, however, philosophers who argue against this outlook, suggesting that the recognition of the psychologically meaningful behavior of others, and emotionally responding to such recognition, is internal to our cognitive faculties. They invite us to see our relationship to the minds of human and animal others not as a merely intellectual or scientific one, but as one with an ineliminable moral dimension (Cavell 1976; 1979: Parts II and IV; Gaita 2002). The idea is that getting human and animal others clearly in view requires a willingness to step back from attitudes that shape our perception. While these attitudes may be distorting, we need to remain open to ways in which they can also help us see more clearly." (from "Animal Crisis: A New Critical Theory" by Alice Crary, Lori Gruen)
I think it is possible to find other perspectives – where we can merge different ways of knowing. Many horse people know things about horses they cannot put words to. Science can contribute with their kind of knowledge – and I think we can find ways to bridge these different kinds of knowing – without discarding anything – and that they can enrich each other – and us – and the ones we are looking at/are studying.
Merging, bridging, allowing for many truths and many perspectives – to me – that is enriching.
Picture: In Mongolia 2015. Spending the days tracking the different groups of Przewalski horses, doing my little novel object test study, interviewing horse nomads and Mongolian horse researchers. So happy I went (all paid out of my own pocket...) - the stuff I learned here - is contributing quite a lot to my, often differing perspectives on horses, horse cultures (horses' own cultures), horse people cultures and different ways of seeing and knowing, it will take me a while longer to put all this + everything I have learned from going to other places, seeing horses, meeting horse people - into some kind of accessible output. But. There will be a book, or two, eventually, on the topic.
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