Thursday, January 29, 2015

Personhood: Going to the Dogs?

Cathleen Kaveny

In a blog post on "The Status of Animals" (Commonweal, January 27, 2015), the Catholic scholar Cathleen Kaveny, a Boston College professor who studies the interconnections of of law, religion, and morality, wrote the following about her dog Molly:
Over the past several months, I have been increasingly convinced that Molly is a person - a non-human person, but a person nonetheless. She has emotions. She has moods. She has reason, and will. She has goals - and she pursues them with astonishing success.
Is she building a legal case for the personhood of dogs? Hmmm . . .

Anyway, in a comment to Kaveny's remarks, Joseph A. Komonchak, a professor emeritus of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and an expert on Vatican II, wrote the following about a dog with whom he used to play frisbee:
We once had a brown Labrador Retriever who would fetch for hours. One day I threw a frisbee and she raced after it. It happened to land, upside-down, near a tennis ball that had occupied her at another time. She looked from ball to disk, from disk to ball, and then picked up the ball, placed it in the disk, picked up the disk, and trotted back to me with both treasures. Surely a sign of some intelligence.
Significantly so, I'd say. Dogs are truly special. For more on dog intelligence, see Wikipedia - and be amazed.

Labels: ,


At 2:25 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Father Komonchak was one of my professors at Catholic U. I ended up with an "A" in his fascinating and provocative course on ecclesiology. Humorous, terse, unconventional, and utterly unafraid of controversy, Komonchak was heavily involved in the goings-on of Vatican II, alongside his buddy David Tracy, author of Plurality and Ambiguity . Father could sight-read a Latin text, instantly translating it out loud into English as his eyes passed over the ancient language. And I'll never forget one thing he said, even if I'm not quoting him exactly: "I don't get all these people who say 'Let's agree to disagree,' and then end the discussion. I'm a New Yorker: disagreement is the beginning of the discussion, not the end!"

He once offended some of the more theologically conservative students in our class by stating flatly, "No people, no Church." As you might imagine, this flew in the face of those with invisible-church sensibilities.

Quite a character. I'm glad to see your quote of him.

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

He sounds mighty interesting, Kevin. Thanks for posting a comment.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home