that which evolutionary epistemology excludes

Etches of Ink and Light

Why is it that biology books do not devote chapters to the knowledge about animals circus trainers gather and produce? I raise this in lieu of Diana Cooper’s book Night after Night, where she describes how trainers develop deep and intricate intimate relations with something that is wholly other, nonhuman. She depicts trainers as “deep in their work, focused on animals and their human partners and what they are all creating together.” The trainer, through knowing an animal, teaches the animal what the animal needs to know. This form of knowledge is not the generalizable knowledge that the field of biology develops about specific species. Rather, this is a very particular form of knowledge that sees each animal for itself. The trainer learns through orienting her body, inserting her body among the orientations of other non-human bodies how all such bodies will engage in synchronicity without diminishing their particularities. The trainer’s…

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