November 30, 2011
MAN'S ENORMOUS CONCEIT REGARDING ANIMALS, PLANTS AND MINERALS
John Muir, Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Selected Essays, edited by William Cronon (New York: Library of America, 1997) (From "Wild Wool": "No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relation which culture sustains to wildness, as that which declares that the world was made especially for the uses of men. Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms. Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged." "I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself. . . ." Id. at 598, 602-603. From The Story of My Boyhood and Youth: "The muskrat is one of the most notable and widely distributed of American animals, and millions of the gentle, industrious, beaver-like creatures are shot and trapped and speared every season for their skins, worth a dime of so,--like shooting boys and girls for their garments." Id. at 1, 88.).