On Life and Love

Pain, or suffering?

I can’t comment directly on Krustukles’s recent entry, so I’ll do so here. She writes of ethical thoughts regarding vegetarianism vs. omnivorism, listing some interesting thoughts in an attempt “to develop an informed position on the subject”.

What struck my particular interest was the point:

Regardless of whether animals have a consciousness which to us is not apparent, it is easily demonstrable that most things more complicated than fungi have some kind of nervous system, if only rudimentary. Even if a cow isn’t contemplating Proust, it does feel pain.

This is always a stopping point in my discussions with WO on animal killing. He argues that, yes, cows may feel pain, but do they suffer as a result of that pain? Do they have enough higher brain functions to care?

Given some research I’ve found on permanent shrinkage of the amygdala as a result of trauma (and I’ll note that my “knowledge” is such that I can only recite a definition of what the amygdala is by rote), I’m inclined to say that there is suffering. He, of course, argues back with, “But is their quality of life worsened by shrunken brain parts?”

I don’t know, and I don’t know if it matters, but the distinction between pain and suffering is something to toss out.