Berger Transmigration quote

“Just because of this distinctness, however, an animal’s life, never to be confused with a man’s, can be seen to run parallel to his. Only in death do the two parallel lines converge and after death, perhaps, cross over to become parallel again: hence the widespread belief in the transmigration of souls.” I find this quote interesting and somewhat confusing. Berger talks several times about the parallels between man and animals and actually how their lives run parallel to each other. What I find particularly interesting and problematic is when Berger talks about the “widespread belief in the transmigration of souls.” Transmigration can mean literally migrating or when a soul passes to another body, it seems obvious here that Berger means the moving of souls, but where I find the problem is when he says widespread belief. I don’t know if there is a widespread belief of human and animal souls passing from one another. I suppose this reading could be too literal and its makes more sense for this to be a poetic way of relating the connection man can have with animals. This is what he means by “parallel” that human and animal souls can be linked and are similar. In the text following this quote Berger talks about the companionship animals offer and he says this is because of their parallel lives. What still troubles me is he never really clears up what exactly he means by parallel. He offers many examples of the relationship between animals and man due to the parallels, but still never distinctly clears up what parallels are. From personal experience with my pets and other animals, and from inferences from the rest of Berger’s text, Berger does not buy the idea of animals as machines or animals not having emotions, souls and feelings.

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