Leviathans Reading Leviticus?

January 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Philip Hoare has an obsession with whales.  Thankfully he’s a writer, which means he has a depository for all the information he’s accumulated over years of research and hundreds of whale watches.  He was interviewed recently in The Globe Ideas about his new book, “The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea”.  A glance at the stack of yet-to-read dog & cat-related books & magazines by the couch tells me I won’t get to Hoare’s book, but maybe you might.  Or maybe you’d just like to check out the interview.  What stuck with me was this comment by Hoare in the Globe interview (‘Whitehead’ is Dr. Hal Whitehead of Nova Scotia, whale scholar):

“The sperm whale’s brain has a very highly developed neocortex, which indicates its capability for abstract thought, for communication, and perhaps, Whitehead posits, a sense of self-awareness. He says that these animals might have developed a sense of morality, partly because the sound system they use to echolocate is so powerful they can possibly injure and kill each other. They know they have the ability to damage each other; living in a highly complex social structure, they must have developed a moral code about this. Then Whitehead goes even further – a sperm whale might also then question its place in the world to the extent that Whitehead believes it’s possible they might have evolved their own religion.”

Interesting, no?


Entry filed under: animal & human relationships, animal art & literature. Tags: , , , .

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