How do I know I am a Dog? I ask the Owner.
Goodness, says the Owner. You could ask me, and I can tell you that you are a Dog.
How do you know? I ask.
The tail is a clue, says the Owner, as is the Remarkable Appetite for Puppy Duck and Rice.
That means that I am a Dog on the Outside, I say. But how do you know I am a Dog on the Inside?
I take it on Trust, says the Owner, because you tell me you are a Dog. Although it must be said that you have a Certain Dogness about You. Other Dogs accept you as a Dog. I am not sure that Caspar would respond in quite the same way if you were a Wallaby. Or a Chicken.
Perhaps none of us are Dogs, I say. Perhaps Dog is a Construct placed upon us by People. Perhaps we are just Different People. Ones with Tails and a Better Appreciation of Puppy Duck and Rice.
I see, says the Owner. You are wondering what sort of things, metaphysically speaking, make you and I differ sufficiently from one another to call ourselves a Dog and a Person? What are our fundamental properties? What are we made of? Are we composed entirely of matter, are we partly immaterial? Are we substances—metaphysically independent beings—or is each of us a state or aspect or activity of something else?
Blimey, I say. I was only trying to make a case for a More Equal Say in Control of the Cheese.
Snowdon says we are all just Biological Organisms, says the Owner. Shoemaker says we are Differently Constituted as Person or Dog.
You mean the Tail, I say,
Exactly, she says, but there is also a view that we are part immaterial substances. Plato and Descartes conceived this as the soul. Whilst Russell and Wittgenstein suggested that we don’t really exist at all, I do not agree. I think that there is a certain Moral Dogness, and it is in the Tail and the Ears and the Heart. It cannot be Denied. And there is a certain Moral Person-ness which Responds to the Moral Dogness. And Moral Dogness and Moral Personness may in many ways not be so Very Different.
So why am I the Dog and you the Person? I ask.
I think that is because the Persons got First to the Cheese, says the Owner.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.