Environmental Philosophy

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2008

Species of Thought

Glen Mazis
Pages 69-91

The World of Wolves
Lessons about the Sacredness of the Surround, Belonging, the Silent Dialogue of Interdependence and Death, and Speciocide

This essay details wolves sense of their surround in terms of how wolves perceptual acuities, motor abilities, daily habits, overriding concerns, network of intimate social bonds, and relationship to prey give them a unique sense of space, time, belonging with other wolves, memorial sense, imaginative capacities, dominant emotions (of affection, play, loyalty, hunger, etc.), communicative avenues, partnership with other creatures, and key role in ecological thriving. Wolves are seen to live within a vast sense of aroundness and closeness to aspects of their surround (compared to humans), a highly charged intimacy and cooperation with other wolves, and a caring and non-aggressive attitude that goes beyond the pack, despite their loyalty and defense of territory. The cultural myths and history that absurdly demonize the wolf are explored in their self-righteous attempts to exterminate wolves, which I call “speciocide” and probe for projections of human viciousness. The supposed rapaciousness of wolves is re-examined by expanding Barry Lopez’s sense of the silent dialogue of death with other creatures to be reconsidered as a kind of respect, assertion of vitality, recognition of mortality, and cooperation.