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I have encountered the image of the fox in many tales and stories from childhood. In each of them, this animal symbolizes the embodiment of cunning and treachery. Even in terms of its behavioral characteristics and mode of existence, the fox represents and resembles a certain thief, able to drag away both the chicken and the goose from the farm. Thus, this similarity is very firmly entrenched in the crafty inhabitant of forests, the middle zone of my country. However, if you touch on the details, habitat, and other components of its existence, then you will have to turn to knowledge in the field of zoology and biology.
I always knew the fox is a wild forest animal, lives not only in my country but also in many other ones. It inhabits dense, mainly on slopes, with loose soil and without trees. There is relevant information regarding the fact that fox fur and skins are very much appreciated among manufacturers of fur coats and down jackets. As for the general appearance and size, the fox can be compared with a small dog, only yellow to orange in color and with a very fluffy and large tail. I saw a fox a couple of times – once, it happened when we were driving in a car and it crossed the road. Another time, when I was camping with my family, the fox crept up so close to the tent that my brother and I accidentally scared it away, and the fox ran down the garden and disappeared into the thicket.
However, the given animal came back again twenty minutes later, and it was not anxious because I was watching it from the narrow opening of my tent. Other people went to the opposite side of the camping site, whereas I was sitting and watching the animal. Initially, I saw the fox as a representation of all foxes, which means in a highly generalized view. Then I picked up a piece of a raw chicken wing and slowly started to show it through the opening in order to get its attention.
After around five seconds, the fox picked up the scent and started cautiously walking towards me. At that moment, my overall view of this particular fox drastically shifted from viewing it as an entire species to realizing that it is a singular and unique Other (Calarco 31). I started noticing specific details such as scars and asymmetrical coloration on its face, where its left ear had more orange fur than the black right one.
As the fox approached, I gradually showed my arm and my head in order not to startle the animal. It stopped for a second and then continued approaching me with even greater caution. I remained calm and still as the fox was coming closer to my tent. It was looking in my eyes, occasionally switching the focus to the meat. Finally, it sniffed the chicken wing and took it to eat, but I did not give it, because I knew it would run away with it.
Therefore, I was holding it tight, so I ate it while I was holding the food. Suddenly, I started to feel the fundamental emotions of the fox, such as fear, hunger, and distress. My main goal for that moment was to pet it with my free hand, and thus, I was slowly moving it towards its head.
However, I stopped trying to pet it and simply observed this animal. I was focused on understanding what it is like to be such a small being living in a highly dangerous environment. I began to comprehend that it was too experiencing common feelings of fear, hunger, thirst, relaxation, and joy. I fully and unknowingly understood that grouping all foxes are reductive, and that is why I viewed this animal on its own (Calarco 39).
Although we had commonalities in being mammals and sharing some basic feelings, we were completely different, starting from the size and finishing with lifestyle. However, I admired these differences because I could not describe the emotional mix of the given encounter, which cannot be compared to meetings with humans or other pets, such as dogs. The level of an enigma in the eyes of the fox was far greater than any other entity I have ever met.
I had no clue where it lives, what it regularly eats, and how happy or sad it was on a daily basis. I stopped anthropomorphizing the fox, but instead, I perceived it as simply a living creature. The images of the foxes from various cartoons and animations were proven to be highly inaccurate and demonstrate human-like versions of the animal. The major problem of the approach is that it does not allow viewers to truly appreciate the differences between humans and animals, but instead, these films project our human characteristics and flaws on the creature.
The primary ethical calls were based on the assumption of the fact that the fox, as a living and breathing being, has a right to exist. We as humans mostly focus on the anthropomorphic similarities between us and other species, because we observe them through our human lens. That is why we prioritize certain animals as being more important or cute than other ones, simply due to their higher anthropomorphic resemblance.
For example, we get distressed if one culture eats dogs, but we have no problem with cows being slaughtered every day by millions. I do not advocate for veganism and condone meat consumption, but we should acknowledge that cows are as conscious and real as our beloved pets. This is an excellent demonstration of the flaws of not applying the ethics of difference, which aims to see other non-human creatures, not through an anthropomorphic lens, but variations (Calarco 42). The non-humanistic approach in this regard is more just and based on equality than the humanistic approach. Therefore, I wish I realized the fact that difference philosophy is far fairer sooner.
In conclusion, the difference between humans and animals becomes very sharp. You can try to eliminate this paradox, taking into account the ways of satisfying the natural needs and self-preservation that are characteristic of animals and humans. However, when they see the continuity in the fact that the insufficiency of the hairline is compensated by clothing, and the weakness of claws and teeth by weapons, we can pay attention to the fact that human imperfection and methods of its compensation are determined from the point of view of the animal.
Therefore, comparing it with other hominids does not give an answer to the riddle of man. Another solution to the paradox is to assert that man is an animal and, at the same time, different from it. However, a human being faces another difficulty – the explanation of differences, which is achieved by assuming the specificity of the human body, and its dissimilarity to other creatures, which results in the ethics of differences.
Calarco, Matthew. Thinking Through Animals: Identity, Difference, Indistinction. Stanford Briefs, 2015.