In Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg.
Bestselling author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has delved deep into the unexplored territory of animal emotions, but in his new book he tackles the wildest creature of all – humans. Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil ($26.00) is an illuminating account of the relationship between humans, animals, and our perception of violence.
A given person might say they fear shark attacks more than his fellow man, but there is a glaring discrepancy with this prevalent misconception: sharks, orcas, big cats, and other fearsome predators are not nearly as aggressive as humans. We are the only species responsible for killing over 200 million of our own members in the last century alone.
Masson has taught us how to explore human emotions through animal behavior – the way dogs love, cats practice independence, and elephants grieve for their lost ones. In his new work, Masson examines the difference between the unchecked aggression and predatory behavior that separates humans from animals, and who the real beasts are.
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, an ex-psychoanalyst and former director of the Freud Archives, is the author of numerous bestselling books on animal emotions, including Dogs Never Lie About Love and When Elephants Weep. He lives in New Zealand.
Daniel Ellsberg worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, which later became known as the Pentagon Papers. He is the author of three books: Papers on the War, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, and Risk, Ambiguity and Decision. In December 2006 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden. Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, wrongful U.S. interventions, and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing. He is a Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
In his previous bestsellers, Masson has showed us that animals can teach us much about our own emotions--love (dogs), contentment (cats), and grief (elephants), among others. In "Beasts," he demonstrates that the violence we perceive in the "wild" is a matter of projection. Animals predators kill to survive, but animal aggression is not even remotely equivalent to the violence of mankind.