chapter  5
36 Pages

Other ways of ‘being in the world’

Analytical categories and perceptual realities By now it should be apparent that our conceptual categories of humans and animals as binary oppositions were inappropriate to people of the Old Norse world. Although the scientifi c revolution has revealed only minor differences in the gene pools between Homo sapiens and all other living species, we still perceive animals as fundamentally different from the human race and therefore subordinated. Nature, and the animals within it, has become dependent on the human race for survival, exploitation, or protection, and we, the modern peoples of the Western world, are only dependent on animals for obvious practical reasons – or reasons of leisure (pets, etc.) (Ingold 1994, 2000; Franklin 1999), Although ethical questions regarding domestic animals and the protection of wildlife have come more into focus, the relevance of this bifurcated structure of living species for earlier periods is rarely questioned (Jennbert 2003, 2004; Hedeager 2003, 2004; Oma 2004, 2007; Mansrud 2004, 2006).