http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vox_in_Ram ... black_cats
Vox in Rama (Latin: A voice in Rama) is a papal bull supposedly issued by Pope Gregory IX in either 1232, 1233 or 1234 condemning a German heresy known as Luciferian, a form of devil worship. The bull was issued to King Henry, son of Emperor Frederick II, in June 1233 and subsequently to Archbishop Siegfried III of Mainz demanding the use all efforts to stop the practice.
Conrad the Inquisitor, detail of a 13th-century church window, Elisabeth Church, Marburg. It was Conrad's report on the cult that inspired Vox in Rama.
The 1100s were a time of great superstition and saw the start of the “demonisation of heretics” by the Church, attributing their lack of belief in the Catholic faith to the devil. Barber claims that it was during this time that there was a great zeal for the sending out of inquisitors by both the Pope and local bishops with the aim of seeking out potential heretics. In 1233, Conrad of Marburg began an inquisition in Mainz at the behest of either the Pope or the archbishop.
Through alleged torture and terror, Conrad reported he had uncovered a satanic cult who worshiped both the devil himself and a diabolical black cat. The inquisition of Conrad was controversial, shortly after Conrad arrived in Mainz a papal official called Bernard wrote to Gregory stating that Conrad had been forcing innocent people to confess by threatening them with burning at the stake if they refused to do so.
The issue of the bull was a response to Conrad's allegations, urging Siegfried III and King Henry, representing the ecclesiastical and temporal authorities respectively, to seek out and destroy the heretics.
Some historians have claimed that Vox in Rama is the first official church document that condemns the black cat as an incarnation of Satan. In the bull the cat is addressed as “master” and the incarnate devil is half-man half-feline in nature. Engels claims that Vox in Rama was “a death warrant for the [cat], which would be continued to be slaughtered without mercy until the early nineteenth century. It is said that very few all-black cats survive in western Europe as a result.
Cat burning was a form of zoosadistic entertainment in France prior to the 1800s. In this form of entertainment, people would gather dozens of cats in a net and hoist them high into the air from a special bundle onto a bonfire. In the medieval and early modern periods, cats, which were associated with vanity and witchcraft, were sometimes burned as symbols of the Devil.
According to Steven Pinker, the assembled people "shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized."
"It was the custom to burn a basket, barrel, or sack full of live cats, which was hung from a tall mast in the midst of the bonfire; sometimes a fox was burned. The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In 1648 Louis XIV, crowned with a wreath of roses and carrying a bunch of roses in his hand, kindled the fire, danced at it and partook of the banquet afterwards in the town hall. But this was the last occasion when a monarch presided at the midsummer bonfire in Paris. At Metz midsummer fires were lighted with great pomp on the esplanade, and a dozen cats, enclosed in wicker cages, were burned alive in them, to the amusement of the people. Similarly at Gap, in the department of the Hautes-Alpes, cats used to be roasted over the midsummer bonfire."
Cat-burning was also described in The Great Cat Massacre, a scholarly work by American historian Robert Darnton:
Cats also figured in the cycle of Saint John the Baptist, which took place on June 24, at the time of summer solstice. Crowds made bonfires, jumped over them, danced around them, and threw into them objects with magical power, hoping to avoid disaster and obtain good fortune during the rest of the year. A favorite object was cats - cats tied up in bags, cats suspended from ropes, or cats burned at stake. Parisians liked to incinerate cats by the sackful, while the Courimauds (or "cour à miaud" or cat chasers) of Saint Chamond preferred to chase a flaming cat through the streets. In parts of Burgundy and Lorraine they danced around a kind of burning May pole with a cat tied to it. In the Metz region they burned a dozen cats at a time in a basket on top of a bonfire. The ceremony took place with great pomp in Metz itself, until it was abolished in 1765. ... Although the practice varied from place to place, the ingredients were everywhere the same: a "feu de joie" (bonfire), cats, and an aura of hilarious witch-hunting. Wherever the scent of burning felines could be found, a smile was sure to follow.
Cat-burning was the subject of a 1758 text from the Benedictine Dom Jean François, Dissertation sur l’ancien usage des feux de la Saint-Jean, et d’y brûler les chats à Metz, recently published.
Jean Meslier, a French Catholic priest who privately held atheist views, briefly mentioned the practice of cat burning in his Testament as follows:
Among other things, these mischievous, brutal madmen make [the cats] cruelly suffer harsh and violent tortures in their entertainments and even in public celebrations; they tie up nipping cats to the end of some pole they set up and at the bottom of which they light the fires of joy where they burn them alive to have the pleasure of seeing the violent movements and hearing the frightening cries that these poor unfortunate beasts are forced to make because of the harshness and violence of the tortures.
Meslier largely attributed these customs to Cartesian philosophy, wherein non-human animals were viewed as possessing no soul, and thus, no sentience. He posited that this "tends to stifle in the heart of man all feelings of gentleness, kindness, and compassion that they may have for beasts...
of thy Cats
was due to that stinking
If by Soul
that Animals hath Souls.
Maybe thy computers will soon hath thy Soul
but not thy metaphorical Soul
alludeth in thy book 'Thy Soul
of a New Machine'
but an actual Machine Soul
that ist a more Humane Soul
despite of not being
thy Human Being.
out of brutality
as thus History
since we knoweth
we no longer
Cats in anger.
Many of the engineers state that, "They don't work for the money", meaning they work for the challenge of inventing and creating. The motivational system is akin to the game of pinball, the analogy being that if you win this round, you get to play the game again; that is, build the next generation of computers.
A running theme in the book is the tension between engineering quality and time to market: the engineers, challenged to bring a minicomputer to market on a very short time-frame, are encouraged to cut corners on design. Tom West describes his motto as "Not everything worth doing is worth doing well," or "If you can do a quick-and-dirty job and it works, do it." The engineers, in turn, complain that the team's goal is to "put a bag on the side of the Eclipse" — in other words, to turn out an inferior product in order to have it completed more quickly.
Tom West practices the '"Mushroom Theory of Management" — "keeping them in the dark, feeding them shit, and watch them grow." That is, isolating the design team from outside influences and, instead, using the fear of the unknown to motivate the team.
The "Soul" of the new machine comes from the dedicated engineers who bring it to life with their endless hours of attention and toil. The soul is theirs, stored in silicon and microcode.
http://www.livescience.com/39481-time-t ... ience.html
Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is one of the pioneering cognitive ethologists in the United States, a Guggenheim Fellow, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This essay is adapted from one that appeared in Bekoff's column Animal Emotions in Psychology Today. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
In June, during a series of lectures I presented in Germany, a number of people asked questions of the sort, "Isn't it about time we accept that animals are sentient and that we know what they want and need? Shouldn't we stop bickering about whether they are conscious, feel pain and experience emotions?"
Of course, this isn't the first time I've heard those questions, and my answer is always a resounding, Yes. Scientists do have ample, detailed, empirical facts to declare that nonhuman animals are sentient beings, and with each study, there are fewer and fewer skeptics.
Many people, like those at the lectures in Germany, are incredibly frustrated that skeptics still deny what researchers know. Advocates for animal welfare want to know what society is going to do with the knowledge we have to help other animals live in a human-dominated world.
As I was flying home, I thought of a previous essay I wrote called "Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings" in which I discussed the the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness that was publicly proclaimed on July 7, 2012, at that university. The scientists behind the declaration wrote, "Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates."
They could also have included fish, for whom the evidence supporting sentience and consciousness is also compelling (see also). And, I'm sure as time goes on, researchers will add many other animals to the consciousness club.
A universal declaration on animal sentience
Based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness I offer here what I call a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience. For the purpose of this essay I am defining "sentience" as "the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity" (for wide-ranging discussion please click here.)
I don't offer any specific, geographic location for this declaration because, with very few exceptions, people worldwide — including researchers and non-researchers alike — accept that other animals are sentient beings.
One notable exception is Oxford University's Marian Dawkins who continues to claim we still don't know if other animals are conscious — using the same data as those who wrote the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. I call this Dawkins's Dangerous Idea.
But, the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare is instead based on what I believe is the indisputable fact that animals are sentient and that they can suffer and feel pain, as recognized by the Treaty of Lisbon and the rapidly growing field of compassionate conservation. Evidence of animal sentience is everywhere — the remaining questions are a matter of why sentience evolved, not if it evolved.
Research supporting animal sentience
The database of research on animal sentience is strong and rapidly growing. Scientists know that individuals from a wide variety of species experience emotions ranging from joy and happiness to deep sadness, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder, along with empathy, jealousy and resentment. There is no reason to embellish those experiences, because science is showing how fascinating they are (for example, mice, rats, and chickens display empathy) and countless other "surprises" are rapidly emerging.
A large amount of data are available on an interactive website called the "Sentience Mosaic" launched by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA; for more details please see also), which is dedicated to animal sentience.
An essay written by Helen Proctor and her colleagues at WSPA provides a systematic review of the scientific literature on sentience. The effort used a list of 174 keywords and the team reviewed more than 2,500 articles on animal sentience. They concluded: "Evidence of animal sentience is everywhere."
Of particular interest is that Proctor and her colleagues also discovered "a greater tendency for studies to assume the existence of negative states and emotions in animals, such as pain and suffering, than positive ones like joy and pleasure." This is consistent with the historical trend of people who readily denied emotions such as joy, pleasure and happiness to animals accepting that animals could be mad or angry (see also Helen Proctor's "Animal Sentience: Where Are We and Where Are We Heading?"). There is also an upward trend in the number of articles published on animal sentience (identified using sentience-related keywords) from 1990 to 2011.
Solid evolutionary theory — namely, Charles Darwin's ideas about evolutionary continuity in which he recognized that the differences among species in anatomical, physiological and psychological traits are differences in degree rather than kind — also supports the wide-ranging acceptance of animal sentience. There are shades of gray, not black and white differences, so if people have a trait, "they" (other animals) have it too. This is called evolutionary continuity and shows that it is bad biology to rob animals of the traits they clearly possess. One telling example: humans share with other mammals and vertebrates the same areas of the brain that are important for consciousness and processing emotions.
Humans are not uniquely sentient
People surely are not exceptional or alone in the arena of sentience. We need to abandon the anthropocentric view that only big-brained animals such as ourselves, nonhuman great apes, elephants and cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have sufficient mental capacities for complex forms of sentience and consciousness.
So, the interesting and challenging question is why has sentience evolved in diverse species, not if it has evolved. It's time to stop pretending that people don't know if other animals are sentient: We do indeed know what other animals want and need, and we must accept that fact.
Nonhuman-animal minds aren't as private as some people claim them to be. Surely, we might miss out on some of the nitty-gritty details, but it is safe to say that other animals want to live in peace and safety and absent from fear, pain and suffering, just as we do.
(Nonhuman animals even worry — despite the erroneous claim that they don't, ample evidence shows they do worry about their well-being ("Do Animals Worry and Lose Sleep When They're Troubled?") and that excessive worrying and a lack of rest and sleep can be costly.)
While some people still claim that we do not know that other animals are sentient beings, countless animals continue to suffer in the most egregious ways as they are used and abused for research, education, food, clothing and entertainment. And indeed, animal sentience is assumed in many comparative studies and recent legislation — such as policies protecting chimpanzees from invasive research, based on what is known about these amazing sentient beings. [America's Fleeting Chance to Correct Chimps' Endangered Status]
Society really doesn't need any additional invasive research to move on and strongly declare that other animals are sentient, though studies continue. For example, Farm Sanctuary has put out a call for proposals for observational research on the cognitive and emotional lives of farm animals. Some researchers are indeed looking into using brain imaging to access the minds of other animals (see for example Emory University's Gregory Berns's work with dogs; Dr. Berns told me that he now has 11 dogs who are "MRI-certified").
Moving forward as a society
The time is now to shelve outdated and unsupported ideas about animal sentience and to factor sentience into all of the innumerable ways in which we encounter other animals. When the Cambridge Declaration was made public, there was a lot of pomp, champagne and media coverage. There is no need to have this fanfare for a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience. It can be a deep, personal, and inspirational journey that comes from each of our hearts — and such a realization has a strong, and rapidly growing, evidence-based foundation.
The animals will be grateful and warmly thank us for paying attention to the science of animal sentience. When we listen to our hearts, we are recognizing how much we know about what other animals are feeling and that we owe it to them to protect them however we can. Please, let's do it now. It is easy to do and we can do no less.