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The Deepest SenseA Cultural History of Touch$
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Constance Classen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252034930

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252034930.001.0001

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Animal Skins

Animal Skins

(p.93) Chapter Five Animal Skins
The Deepest Sense

Constance Classen

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses how humans dealt with animals through the sense of touch. After all, intimate contact with animals was part of daily life in the premodern world. They were everywhere; and although zoological symbolism associated the sense of touch with the tortoise and the spider, all animals had a general association with touch. This was due to touch being considered the primary sense of the body and animals being considered virtually all body. Furthermore, many familiar animals were eminently touchable (furry, sleek and warm)—and their speechlessness made touch an essential medium for human–animal interaction. Thus, the chapter looks at the ways in which humans interacted with and perceived animals—through companionship, through distinctions between the human and the bestial, through the capacity for reason, and through suffering.

Keywords:   animals, animal companions, human–animal interaction, animal souls, primary sense, animal cruelty

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