I run freely through the park with Caspar, Lucifer with the nose cage, and Pedro with the floppy ears. We are wild and free, racing through grass, dashing through trees, attracting many other dogs as we pass. We are a tribe, a troup, a movement, spreading Philosophy to the Dog Masses, the Philosophy of Freedom and of Simple Joys, the combined principles of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill coming together in the Moral Dog who exercises Free Will and uses it with Philosophical Wisdom to maximise the Overall Joy of the Universe.
The Owner – and, indeed several other Owners – seem to enjoy themselves too. They run around far more of the park than they usually do, pursuing us in great excitement. Some of the Owners even need to ‘sit down and calm down’, which is one of the Owner’s favourite phrases to me so I am delighted to see them following their own advice. Mine is panting with excitement by the time she catches up with me.
Imagine, then, my shock when she applies the lead. All around me Others are being Similarly Restricted. Even Lucifer with the nose cage was being hauled away, snarling gently. We didn’t vote for this. Freedom has fallen to Martial Law. I indicate that I cannot imagine what kind of problem would justify the use of Emergency Powers.
The Owner loses no time in clarifying. As we walk home, me on a lead, she retaining biscuits about her person in a surprisingly ungenerous manner, she says that the Moral Dog should not prioritise Freedom over Duty to Return When Called.
Wounded, I suggest that John Stuart Mill would say exactly the opposite. Indeed, in ‘on Liberty’ he said that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. And, as Milton said in Paradise Lost, what is the point of Free Will at all if there is only one way of exercising it?
She says we have had this conversation before and only a cynic would quote John Stuart Mill to support leading Caspar into the compost heap like that. Fluff has its disadvantages, she says. That will take a lot of shampoo.
I remind her that this only goes to show that Humans have much to learn about Philosophy. I direct her to the example of Diogenes of Sinope, the famous Human Philosopher and the original cynic. He so valued Freedom and the Simple Life that he called himself a dog and did his best to live like one. Diogenes of Sinope would not have accepted Martial Law just because he had led the way into the compost heap.
She says Diogenes of Sinope lived in an empty wine jar not a compost heap, and if I want to go and live in an empty wine jar too I can help myself to Freedom. If, on the other hand, I expect a life that features cheese I should learn about Moral Compromise and Return When Called.
I reluctantly concede. Whist the Moral Dog must have some Principles and Diogenes is to be greatly admired for his stoicism and sacrifice, it would be difficult to function properly as Superdog if living in an empty wine jar.
Besides, it is entirely possible that he didn’t like cheese.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.