Knowledge and Ignorance: Essays on Lights and Shadows by Folke Dovring

By Folke Dovring

Dovring explores a few of the limits of technological know-how, the medical procedure, and our techniques to conceptualizing difficulties.

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The Lipizzaners are educated by pleasurable inducement. Recently we have seen many engaging scenes of people playing with dolphins, the huge water mammals evidently enjoying this activity. There was a powerful message in the recent film on Leni Riefenstahl: The aging actress, in scuba gear, was seen patting a sting ray on the back, with the huge and dangerous sea beast accepting this in a relaxed posture, evidently enjoying this contact with a living being from beyond the world of water. ANTHROPOCENTRISM Most of the literature about animals versus humans dwells on the traits that make humans in some sense superior to animals.

This is a vast area of subjective knowledge that in many ways eludes scientific treatment, for in the minds of most scientists, the epitome of science is measurement— quantification. The subjectivity of our emotions is such a stumbling block to scientific inquiry that some scientists—who should know better, really—even have taken it upon themselves to declare that animals do not have any emotions; they are mere mechanisms that we can handle any way we choose to, without being guilty of any act of cruelty.

All unexpected mental states are brought down to hidden memories (the ‘‘cryptomnesia’’ of Flournoy). Occam’s razor is used to argue that only the well-known can be true. Characteristic is Robert Baker’s approval of John Searle’s comparison of the brain with the digestive tract (Baker 1992, Ch. 1). Polemizing against recent findings of ‘‘life review’’ in near-death experiences (more below), Baker stresses the discovery of a brain center apparently responsible for such experiences—not noticing the contradiction with evolution biology.

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