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Mark Rowlands

The philosopher and the wolf

In the early 1990's Mark Rowlands bought a wolf cub and called him Brenin. In The philosopher and the wolf: lessons from the wild on love, death and happiness Rowlands tells the story of their lives and of what he, as a philosopher, learned from Brenin.

You might think of wolves as dangerous creatures, and Brenin was prone to destroy Rowlands' property if left alone, but was fine dealing with people. The solution - don't leave Brenin alone. Hence if you went to one of Rowlands' lectures, you'd have seen a wolf, usually asleep, in the corner. (Later, Rowlands bought other wolf-dog hybrids which kept Brenin company at home). There's a lot more to the book, though, looking at the notional contract that Rowlands had with Brenin, and how guilty Rowlands felt when he broke it and put Brenin into quarantine. This leads on to a look at the deception which humans and other apes practice, and so on to the nature of evil. There's a look at the nature of death and the feelings Rowlands had in Brenin's last weeks.

Unfortunately, sometimes the arguments didn't seem to make much sense, for instance saying how wolves live for the moment, but elsewhere saying how upset one of the animals became when the daily routine didn't go as normal. It soon became clear that most of the discussions had to lead to the same conclusion, which was essentially 'four legs good, two legs bad'. I think the book is still worth reading, as it looks at some deep questions in an accessible way, I'd just advise against buying too easily into any of the answers which are given.