Babette Babich on R. S. Bakker

“Reading Bakker was the first and the only time I have cottoned to an Aristotelian telos since I learned as a young biology student that all, but all talk of thinking of purpose was out of place in a well-designed or even mediocre-minded lab experiment. I left the field owing to my sensitivity to the contradictions of studying beings by and through heartlessness and not the exclusion of purpose or end from the biological sciences.
What bothered me, then, sorry to reminisce but it matters to the point: was perfusion, using the animal’s own heart to pump out its blood, replacing its blood with colored plastics, the better to see anatomical details — the advances in science mean that now the same technique is used to render the mouse a translucent jelly of itself, to the same end using the same mindless cruelty. Or the moronicism of the questions in science (and there is a lot, just factually speaking, of moronicism in science, Nietzsche did not repeat Dummheit three times to express the point with respect to science for nothing): do animals kept on metal plates slowly heated to red hot show more of the kind of agitated “behavior” (no purposiveness) that could (note the modal optionality here) indicate what we might call “pain”? Or: do babies taken from their mothers and deprived of any contact with them (or just to heighten the stakes, any comfort at all) thrive just the same? And all these years later the scientists are still at the practice of this grinning sadism.”

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