Author: K. Brandon Barker
Publisher: Indiana University Press
The Aesop's Fable Paradigm is a collection of essays that explore the cutting-edge intersection of Folklore and Science. From moralizing fables to fantastic folktales, humans have been telling stories about animals--animals who can talk, feel, think, and make moral judgments just as we do--for a very long time. In contrast, scientific studies of the mental lives of animals have professed to be investigating the nature of animal minds slowly, cautiously, objectively, with no room for fanciful tales, fables, or myths. But recently, these folkloric and scientific traditions have merged in an unexpected and shocking way: scientists have attempted to prove that at least some animal fables are actually true. These interdisciplinary chapters examine how science has targeted the well-known Aesop's fable "The Crow and the Pitcher" as their starting point. They explore the ever-growing set of experimental studies which purport to prove that crows possess an understanding of higher-order concepts like weight, mass, and even Archimedes' insight about the physics of water displacement. The Aesop's Fable Paradigm explores how these scientific studies are doomed to accomplish little more than to mirror anthropomorphic representations of animals in human folklore and reveal that the problem of folkloric projection extends far beyond the "Aesop's Fable Paradigm" into every nook and cranny of research on animal cognition.