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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.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 256 pages  
ISBN: 1605981338
Salesrank: 709849
Weight:0.99 lbs
Published: 2010 Pegasus Books
Amazon price $16.93
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 1847080596
Salesrank: 404189
Weight:0.88 lbs
Published: 2008 Granta Books
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 1847080596
Salesrank: 709500
Weight:0.88 lbs
Published: 2009 Granta
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 37.95:Used from CDN$ 2.51
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Product Description

The charming and poignant story of the relationship between a philosophy professor and his pet wolf.

Mark Rowlands was a young philosophy professor, rootless and searching for life’s greater meaning. Shortly after arriving at the University of Alabama, he noticed a classified ad in the local paper advertising wolf cubs for sale, and decided he had to investigate, if only out of curiosity. It was love at first sight, and the bond that grew between philosopher and wolf reaffirms for us the incredible relationships that exist between man and animal.

When Mark welcomed his new companion, Brenin, into his home, but more than just an exotic pet, Brenin exerted an immense influence on Rowlands both as a person, and, strangely enough, as a philosopher, leading him to reevaluate his attitude toward love, happiness, nature, death, and the true meaning of companionship.