Vegetarian Dogs and Neurology

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: February 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.

Dick P. Writes:

"Why does Dr. Lane start and end his article (puportedly on neuroscience)
with a discussion of animal rights? Why does he administer a vegetarian
diet to his canine companion? What does he do to keep his dog from a
running a squirrel down for an afternoon snack?"


Kent is right, this is actually pretty funny. There's only one
glitch in the system, though, Dick. I don't own a dog. I haven't
had a dog since I was eleven or twelve (her name was Kubla).

Your "author" profiles may be helpful at times, but occasionally you
may get your signals crossed. Why? Because my best friend, Aaron
Talsky, happens to share my computer account with me. If you look
closely at my author profile (which apparently you have through
dejanews), you may also notice postings on hockey and satellite

Aaron likes hockey on T.V.; I wouldn't know a "Canuck" from a

You see, Aaron posted a few items on hockey and "vegetarian" dog
food and satellite T.V.'s or something to that effect.

I will confess to being the guy who named Aaron's dog. It was
between Nietzsche (his choice) and Basho (my choice). Basho is
the name of Aaron's dog. 

Sorry to say, he has never lived with me.

I do love the dog very much, however.

As for what to feed him, I have never fed the dog except once and
it formed the basis of an interesting argument.

I was on the beach one day with Aaron and I had some donuts.

Basho, that most brilliant of labs, looked hungry.

I threw him one of my donuts. He ate it whole and seemed to relish

Aaron got pissed. "How can you serve my dog junk food?"

I would have also offered Basho something to drink, but I only had
a Pepsi on hand. And, you know Dick, there are limits to what I will
feed a dog..... Coke, yes; Pepsi?--I probably would have gotten
arrested for animal endangerment.

Well, to this day (Basho is about 5 years old, if I am not
mistaken), Aaron and I still argue about the rightness of donuts for

Sidebar: It was a vegetarian donut, by the way.

When I was getting my Ph.D. at UCSD and teaching in the Warren
Writing Program I shared an office with Don Matson. He had this most
amazing cat (appropriately named "Warren"). This cat would drag in
all sorts of creatures, particularly birds. He would either eat them
or play with them (when they were half alive).

I tried to tell him about "ahimsa" but he kept showing me his

I even gave the cat my article on WHY I DON'T EAT FACES but I don't
think he could read very well.


As to your other question about why I brought up
rights at the beginning and end of my book review of THE ASTONISHING
HYPOTHESIS, it is again fairly simple:

I really liked Crick's book (indeed I used it in my Introduction to
Philosophy classes for a couple of years; I have recently used Paul
Churchland's latest tome), but I disagreed with his section on
animal experimentation, especially his analogy with gorillas getting
a college degree.

You see, Crick's argument is a materialist one: we are nothing more
than a sophisticated neural net. Our "I" arises and falls with the
cerebral symphony. No neural activity, no "I" awareness."

It is the very complexity of the neural net that has led to our
self-awareness, according to Crick.

Now if we accept this, then the question naturally arises about what
distinguishes human beings from other species.

Crick's answer is again pretty clear: not much.

Well, if that is the case, then I think we should be much more
attentive to the complex brain activity of other primates. Indeed,
this is as we speak a pioneering field with startling results.

Now let me make something very clear: I do not think that human
beings are vegetarian by nature. As I have argued before, we are
more less omnivores (certainly there are some things we cannot eat,
but geez we are really good at adapting--from shrimp to cows to
grass to paste to (oh the horror) lady lee cola.

I see vegetarianism as a moral choice--individualistic and
If you want my views on "Karma" theory, please read the last section
of THE ENCHANTED LAND. I personally think the concept is like cotton
candy: very sweet at the first bite but eventually comprised of lots
of air.


Dick Asks:

"How about it, Dr. Lane? Why are you so reticent to discuss your own
transrational experiences?"


Well, let's put it another way. Let's say you didn't ask me about
mystical excursions, but asked me about my "best" sexual

Would I give you an answer then, especially with something so
grounded or embedded (intentional word play?) or empirical?


Why? Because there are some things in life--rightly or wrongly--that
are best kept close to one's heart, a hidden treasure perhaps.

Now following this analogy (sexual experiences and mystical
experiences), I know that there are certain things that I like to
keep personal.

This does not mean, of course, that such experiences (sexual or
mystical) are trans-neurological, but only that they are both of an
intimate nature and some experiences are just too intimate (even if
purely brain induced) to broadcast.

Naturally, I am not amiss to talking about generalistic features as

That would be fun and I don't mind putting myself in the guinea
pig's role.

Let me end with some excerpts from one of my favorite poems from Rumi which may softly
infer the heart of my spiritual practice:

I have seen no joy without you in both worlds.
I have see there wonders--nothing was like you.
Cupbearer, dearer than my eyes, I have not
seen one like you in Iran, Iraq!
Pour out such wine that I may leave myself

I have only seen fatigue in my existence.......


Dick P. Writes:

"I "challenge" Dave because I want to understand his various viewpoints.

>From  some 1994 correspondence:

"I just know that my mind/my writings are filled with different 
viewpoints, each reflecting but a part of my own very limited vision.
                     Keep writing ---- your criticisms are both
                                       annoying & fun ---

Now, how does a mystical agnostic materialist "know" that his mind and 
writings are filled with different viewpoints? Is it related to knowing
canine vegetarianism leads the canine to a human incarnation while averring 
agreement with a nobel laureate about the neurological basis of 
consciounsess. Is Dave hedging bets?

I don't know. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but somebody 
tell me the punch line, please!


Naturally, we can define our "knowing" in small and big ways (and
here is where your punch line will arise). In big ways (ontology,
absoluteness, ultimate matters, final truth), I find myself
NOT KNOWING (I just don't know). Now in small ways (hey, what's
MSAC's phone number? How long is that stick you are riding, Dave?
Hey I got to take a whizz), I am relatively much more confident.

So when I use the word "know" it oftentimes has to be put into
context. This is a particularly important point that sometimes gets
lost with my students when I lecture about Nicholas of Cusa or
Socrates or even Heisenberg. I point out about how limited our
"ultimate" knowledge really is. As Socrates once stated (or as
Plato so reports), "All I know is that I don't know."

Now some Dick in the audience during that time may have queried,
"Hey, So Crates, how do you "know" that you don't know. Isn't
that a contradiction, oh robed one?"

Well, if Socrates would have met Bertrand Russell (Bill and Teds
Excellent Adventure, Part Five?), he may have leaned on the
Russellian idea of categorical types and mentioned that he was using
the word "knowing" in two different fashions.

And even then, our "unknowingness" is so entrenched that we cannot
even make absolutely pronoucements about our ignorance. Oh, the
Wittgensteinian nature of our sea of language.

Is philosophy really just a bad Falafel?

The straight answer is quite simple, if profound:

I ultimately don't know much (there is your punch line, Dick),
but temporarily I have some confidence in some procedures.

Like accuracy of phone numbers (could change, though.... what do you
mean Samorez doesn't like getting those late nite phone calls from
Dick wanting to talk about marketing?--oh, just an area code change,
I see), surf reports (it was on at C street, Saturday), and

that eating a dog while it is alive "appears" to cause the animal
some pain.

It is not a question of hedging bets, but rather a question of not
knowing enough to even make bets and asking a deeper question:

What's wrong with being Con-fused?

Don't want to make ultimate religions out of nursey school thinking;
likewise, wouln't want to make ultimate religions out of 40 year
middle age thinking, either.

I feel the difference between me at 4 and 40 is simply this:

I am much more aware of how much more I don't know.

Mystical Agnostic Materialism is Confused.......

That's the point.

Imagine a cow that could cognate (this is a parable..... watch the
kids Nathan) or reason or speculate on its ultimate ontology thru
its limited purview......

Moo this, Moo that.......

But such Mooing at the Moon or the Sun or Billy Bob's stun gun
would be just that:

sophisticated mooing.....

Okay, so I know three languages (English--not well, just ask Kate;
Hindi, not even well, just ask Dr. Choudry at Landour; Surfonics,
too well, just ask my Ebonics teacher, Professor Green Room) and
some math and some other tidbits.

In terms of Infinity or Naked Singularity's or Dairy Queen's This
sucks ice cream, what in the fuck does that add up to?

Not much.

Precisely my point.

Sophisticated mooing, sophisticated English, sophisticated Hindi.

It's still a limited number, and a limited number in relation to
Infinity (thanks Nicholas) is still Infinitely beyond.......

But I do "KNOW" that Coke is
better than Pepsi!

Even an agnostic mystial materialist can see that......

The clarity comes with the burn.......

oh yea


I hope this doesn't help too much, since if it is that clear I
exemplified the weirdness of being a human alive in the midst of a
very strange place.......

As I guarantee my philosophy students on the very first day of

I know you will be more confused after taking my class than you 
before coming here.....

The scary thing is this:

I think that is positive.

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I want to go back to the home base now.