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The Souls of Animals

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In this celebrated book author Gary Kowalski offers vignettes from the lives of creatures that illustrate the qualities he considers spiritual: playfulness; capacity for love; altruism; and awareness of death. By "de-sacrilizing" animals, we make ourselves less human. Kowalski reminds us, "if we are to keep our family homestead -- Earth -- safe for coming generations, we m ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 18th 2006 by New World Library (first published 1991)
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Nov 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Anyone who has ever had a pet they truly loved and considered their best friend will enjoy the examples given in this book which show how intelligent and creative our animal friends are. This book about animal spirituality was short but had a very important message. It is up to us as humans to learn to respect and appreciate the other animals on this earth. Some species of animals are near extinction and without them our world will be a lonelier planet. The writing in this book is as beautiful a ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author disputes the Western viewpoint that man is superior to the animals and reigns over them. He presents his thesis: the possiblity for other animals to be spiritual - using stories and actual events from the experiences of biologists, ornithologists, and anthropologists, and quotes and ideas from Native Americans like Black Elk and Chief Seattle, philosophers such as Martin Buber, Immanual Kant, and Ernest Becker, scientists like Darwin and Rachel Carson, poets such as Walt Whitman and ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book for many reasons. This author's awareness and sensitivity brings us into the reality of other sentient beings largely ignored and mistreated within our modern world. Scientific evidence is showing us, over and over, how animals, alongside humans, share emotions, loving bonds, hopes and desires just as we do. To think otherwise is nothing short of ignorance or hubris. The more I learn of animals the more I see commonalities which inspires respect, awe, and love. ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Overall, this book is a sometimes touching look at why the author believes animals have souls. I already believed animals have souls, so I did not need any convincing, however. But this book would be good for anyone who wants to think about this question with some examples to get your thoughts moving.

One thing I disliked about this book: The author seems to assume that in order to respect and love our fellow souled beings, we should not be killing them and using them for food, etc. He used a qu
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love the way Kowalski weaves his spiritual experiences as a preacher into the text, connecting human needs and behaviors with those of animals. However, I found the piece to be lacking in depth and almost cliche. One point I enjoyed though was the idea that anthropomorphizing is not applying human characteristics to animals, but rather, identifying human characteristics in animals that we share.
Angie Curtis
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love animals this is a book for you. It will make you cry but it will touch your humanity in a way you never thought possible. This is a book about animal spirituality and it remind you how special animals truly are. They speak to us all the time but many don't listen. If you take the time to listen to the animals you will learn more than you could ever imagine. ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I remember feeling crushed as a kid when an adult told me that animals don't go to heaven because they don't have souls. Having been in the presence of many animals who were more compassionate than some of the people I knew, I didn't listen. I would have really loved to have read this book when I was a kid. ...more
May 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Absolutely fantastic book--so moving--did not change my perspective as I already think animals are FAAARRR better than people anyway but was just beautifully written and had some amazing anecdotes. A real treasure.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well researched & written with deep compassion for animals. Some philosophies explored. other information I had no idea about. I would recommend this read, particularly to those who work with animals & for those who have become disconnected by the natural world.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Animals are not inanimate objects without feeling and intellect but thinking, sentient individuals that deserve our respect.
Deb Weina
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy and fast read for a quiet afternoon. I don't disagree with what he shares since I already believe it by lived experience. ...more
Mar 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We always should keep in mind:

"We don't have a soul. We ARE a soul. We have a body." -Author Unknown (although often attributed to C. S. Lewis)

"I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within." -Rumi

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

And we also should keep in mind... and in our hearts:

They are not feline beings (or canine beings, or equine beings, etc.) having spiritu
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and thought the point of view interesting. The author is clearly a very thoughtful man who has studied and analyzed animal behavior - particularly where it intersects with human activity. The only thing that really frustrated me about the book is that the author would relate anecdotes - often about odd or sad animal behavior but he never lets the reader know how things worked out. There were any number of incidents where a brief explanation of any sort of resolution would hav ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-collection
I found this book very insightful and very in tune to my beliefs about animals. There was a lot of thought put into it by the author supported by real situations of animal behavior. It was really sweet and touching at times, overall a great read for me.
Diana López
Jul 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro sencillo que deja bastante que desear si se quiere un análisis complejo de los animales no humanos. Aún así, deja buenas reflexiones sobre el respeto a todos los seres sintientes.
Susan K.
Sep 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting to contemplate the possibilities.
Fernanda Castro
No era lo que yo esperaba.
May 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
What I might say about The Souls of Animals must be tempered by two things. One, I come to this book already believing fully that if there is a such a thing as a "soul" and it is something that we humans have then there is no shadow of a doubt that many/most/all of our fellow animals have souls as well. Two, I've read kind of a lot of books on animals, at least by most people's standards. I say those two things first because they explain much in why I did not think a lot of this book. I didn't f ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book so quickly, I began on saturday naight and finish on Sunday morning. So I can say it's a good book. But, on the other hand, I think we can't confussed things. So, I'm against inhuman treatment to animals, I like it, I Know they have feelings, but we don't compare them with human. The book have some reference of important people of various fields of knowledge, that author use to convince of his idea.I know some as Turing or Morris. But he doesn't Know Ortega's sentence "animals d ...more
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
A quick read that I hope will inspire those who read it to reconsider the current lack of value society places on animals as individuals with their own needs and lives beyond being commodities. It isn't likely to hold much new information for seasoned AR advocates, but it wouldn't hurt to read it anyway--you might find it worth recommending to someone who isn't on the same page, so to speak. The author is a Reverend, which sets it slightly apart from the usual AR-related writing while remaining ...more
Dave Courtney
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
It has some nice stories, and I am sure more than a few of us will find the stories touching. And maybe that's how this needs to be approached rather than as an academic read, in fairness. It doesn't really investigate the issues that it very briefly touches on, and doesn't really offer anything significantly new to the discussion that many will already be aware of (that animals are emotional beings for example). It probably wouldn't suffice to convince those unaware or uninterested in the issue ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I think this book is a very interesting book. For me personally, I do not question that animals have souls. I know that animals have souls, feelings, perceptions, and the desire to communicate and connect just like any human. This book seeks to prove that animals do indeed have souls. I did enjoy reading this book and hearing another persons' experiences with animals. The book is information, interesting, loving, and protective of animals. It was a nice book to read that was for the most part sw ...more
Leanne Ellis
Two and a half stars. I really enjoyed the vignettes illustrating animals displaying emotions, self-awareness, altruism, etc. But he spent a lot of time "proving" points that I already know to be true: that we should treat animals with respect and dignity, that we share many traits with animals and can learn from them. I suppose some people might need to have this proven to them, but I found myself skimming the persuasive writing parts of the book. ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some good examples, but largely conjecture. This book is a comforting and awakening thesis, but it's hard to accept all of Kowalski's claims, well-intentioned as they are. ...more
Jul 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
A sweet read. Nothing really memorable.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-group
This is an interesting perspective on the capacity of animals to feel sad, mourn, play, love, and have souls, in general to share much with humans.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: animal lovers, anthropologists, thinkers
Recommended to Shelley by: myself
i would have liked it to go a bit deeper but it was a very interesting and thought provoking read.
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Feb 01, 2020
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Oct 28, 2008
Judy Epstein
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18 likes · 4 comments
“Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.” 77 likes
“We are mortals all, human and nonhuman, bound in one fellowship of love and travail. No one escapes the fate of death. But we can, with caring, make our good-byes less tormented. If we broaden the circle of our compassion, life can be less cruel.” 11 likes
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