Rich: The elephantine magnitude of the elephant decline is particularly tragic when one begins to realize that this particular species of megafauna may not be quite so different from you and me. That is the thesis (though there is much, much more) of Caitrin Nicol’s stunning piece, “Do Elephants Have Souls?” in the current issue of The New Atlantis:
Given their mental and emotional chops and awareness of mortality especially, who is to say that they don’t have some sense of the metaphysical? The central facts and mysteries of their existence, about which they clearly have deep feelings, are the same as ours: death and love, life and new life, the chasm between the way things ought to be and how they really are. . . . An elephant may only have dim intimations of them, but after all, so do we.
And Caitrin makes a compelling case for elephants’ metaphysical acumen, exploring variously their astounding memory, their vibrant social life, even their funeral rites. It is a magnificent piece of work, powerful, philosophical (in the best sense of the word), and often beautiful — well befitting its magnificent subject.
Read the entire piece here.