The Philosopher and the Wolf

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the “two wolves” which exist inside each person, from an old Cherokee tale.  One wolf was your traditional wolfish wolf, full of violence and venom.  The other was a nice wolf, which seemed a bit of a stretch at the time, but the story was a good one.  But as it turns out, wolves are nothing like as wolvish as we humans like to think.

“The idea that when humans are at their worst when they behave like wolves has been around a long time. Hobbes used the Latin tag homo homini lupus – man is a wolf to man – to illustrate his belief that unless they are restrained by government, people prey upon one another ruthlessly, while descriptions of rapacious or amoral behaviour as wolfish can be found throughout literature.”

Read more here, where you will find a review of what looks like an excellent book, The Philosopher and the Wolf, by Mark Rowlands. Best part:

“‘The wolf is art of the highest form and you cannot be in its presence without this lifting your spirits.’ Beyond its beauty, though, the wolf taught the philosopher something about the meaning of happiness. Humans tend to think of their lives as progressing towards some kind of eventual fulfilment; when this is not forthcoming they seek satisfaction or distraction in anything that is new or different. This human search for happiness is ‘regressive and futile’, for each valuable moment slips away in the pursuit of others and they are all swallowed up by death. In contrast, living without the sense of time as a line pointing to an end-point, wolves find happiness in the repetition of fulfilling moments, each complete and self-contained. As a result, as Rowlands shows in a moving account of his last year with Brenin, they can flourish in the face of painful illness and encroaching death.”


6 thoughts on “The Philosopher and the Wolf

  1. Hi

    I am about halfway through reading “The Philosopher and The Wolf” and it is proving interesting.
    If you are after merely a story about a man and a wolf, then this is not for you. There is a fair amount of philosophising – and not the type that puts us humans in a very good light.


  2. Hi downstreamer,

    I’m from Belgium and there we had, a long long time ago, a painter who still now is known all over the world: Pieter Brugel de elder. To me he has already illustrated the perspective of the Philosopher and his dog in his painting “the misanthrope”. You’ll find a illustration at :
    It’s a bit dark but if you change the brightness of the picture you can see that the small simian-like figure in a glass sphere, wich represented the vanity of the world, steels the purse of the monk. The writing on the painting says: ‘because the world is perfidious, I am going into mourning’. But it’s not a coincidence that the purse of the black figure is red and heartshaped. Bruegel holds up a mirror as if to say that by repudiating the world he has lost his love and humanity. ‘He’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder’

    best regards,

  3. Im surprised no one has brought this up before but the wolf that Mark wrote about is in fact an alaskan malamute dog. While we don’t know for if it had any wolf in it, I was told by an expert that it looks like a pure dog and after reading his experience with this animal, it is the malamute personality that he bonded with, not a wolf. I spent many years with wolves, and you can tell the difference. Im sorry but he should have researched wolves before claiming he lived with one for 11 years.

  4. i must say that the wolf in question is definatly not a wolf, its a malamute, it may have a small to med amount of wolf in it but i doubt it,, i have worked with wolves and still do, i also used to have a malamute. wolf pups are brown all over when there born, and in his book it states it had a cram belly, this only ocurs in crosses or pur dogs, def not wolves…. the prob with this book now is that people will think u can look after pure wolves in your home and take the to university, sorrry, thatll never happen. the only thing this will lead to is some one gettin hurt. dont get me wrong i love wolf dogs, i have 2 of them, but clamin it was a pure wolf is ither irisponcible or he just hasnt dun any reserch on the animal he brought and has been riped of, if thats the case i feel sorry for him….

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