Why do we love cats? Compared to dogs who live to serve us, cats are strange animals that have found a place in our homes. Cats are contradictory creatures: seemingly independent yet needy, quick to temper yet affectionate, inexpressive yet adorable. It is not coincidence that many of us who live with cats are uncertain as to who is the master and who is the pet. The complex relationship between human beings and cats poses a number of ethical questions that ask us to reconsider who is it that we are that we might love a creature of another species like a cat, what love means in this relationship, what our responsibilities are to the cat and the world in which the cat lives, and why we privilege certain animals (like cats) above others, creating bonds of kinship that we might not extend to fellow human beings. This course will take up ethical topics relating to personhood, the human/animal relationship, posthuman morality, ecological and environmental concerns, and above all, the concepts of love, care, and friendship. While the focus of the class is on what might be considered philosophical issues of ethics and morality, we will approach these issues through a variety of media and forms, from philosophical essays to cat videos, from works of fiction to works of zooanthropology, from films that feature cats to comic books. Much of our work will begin with the question of how to think about the cat and what we owe to the cat (and to ourselves), and we will use these various media representations as springboards for our discussion.
EGMT 1540 Cats: Why We Love Them