Doug Bruns

The eagle and the hawk.

In Curiosity, Nature, Philosophy, The Examined Life, The infinity of ideas, Thinkers on July 2, 2012 at 6:00 am

A battle worthy of the Red Baron.

I observed a battle overhead yesterday. It was worthy of the Red Baron. A red-tail hawk was attempting to shoo a bald eagle from a patch of sky it deemed proprietary. The eagle wasn’t terribly phased, even as it was being attacked by the largest of the hawks.

From above the hawk watched the eagle. The eagle watched the ground. This would go on a minute or two, then the hawk would draw its wings slightly and drop on the eagle, who, waiting until the last moment, would flip sideways and defend itself with its talons. I watched through my field glasses for five minutes or more. Finally, the two drifted over the tree horizon, still tangling. I can only assume they continued the aerial ballet beyond my view. Who was established as top of the food chain for that specific parcel of blue sky is unknown–but I would put my money on the eagle.

The battle was entertaining and interesting and underscored something I have been thinking about recently. Specifically, I’ve been considering how a thinking person views the world. In my absurdly reductionist scheme of things, one looks at the world predominately in one of four ways:

  • As an artist, who interprets
  • As a journalist, who explains
  • As a scientist, who understands
  • As a philosopher, who questions

I am assuming one is a thinking person. There are throngs who never give consideration to this stuff, who simply exist. (I envy those lucky simple souls.) Too, I recognize the overlapping nature inherent in this scheme. The universe drops us a gift when it delivers a genius lifting heavy weight in multiple categories. (DaVinci comes to mind.)

Of the eagle and the hawk? How did this link come to be? I have lived in the world of interpretation (the artist), and participated as one of those wishing to explain (the journalist), and I have questioned (the philosopher)–but I have understood very little. Above me, on the wing, simple biology played out, but I understood very little of it.

A like-minded friend recently began reading E.O. Wilson‘s new book, The Social Conquest of Earth. He sent me this quote:

“Moreover, we look in vain to philosophy for the answer to the great riddle. Despite its noble purpose and history, pure philosophy long ago abandoned the foundational questions about human existence. The question itself is a reputation killer. It has become a Gorgon for philosophers, upon whose visage even the best thinkers fear to gaze. They have good reason for their aversion. Most of the history of philosophy consists of failed models of the mind.”
My needs grow simpler as I grow older. I require less interpretation, less explanation, tolerate fewer questions. Understanding is what I seek.
Thanks for reading.
  1. I like animals as philosophical metaphors … hence we cannot forget the “Hedgehog and the Fox” !

  2. How a thinking person views the world? Without examining what qualifies one as a “thinking person,” I analyzed your four categories to determine where I fit. I would like to think I was DaVinci-esque, but had to acknowledge my default view always goes to an evolutionary perspective. Of the four categories, that probably fits best under the category of science, though I do not think of myself as a scientific thinker. When I clicked on the link to Wilson’s book, I was intrigued to see it had an evolutionary slant. Thanks for the good recommendation.

    And, philosophy may have abandoned the foundational question of human existence, but in yesterday’s “Sunday Review” of the NYT Jim Holt had a wonderful discussion of the literary contributions of philosophical writing. I loved his quote from John Milton:

    How charming is divine philosophy,
    Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
    But musical as in Apollo’s lute,
    And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets.

    Enjoy the feast!

  3. I enjoyed this though provoking read very much. Thank you. Psst… I do believe that is a Harris Hawk, rather than a Red Tailed. But that’s a very mute point, the battle is still worth pondering over, and must have been awesome to see. Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks for the note–and the head’s up on the hawk. The shot on the post is not mine, just a stock image I used to illustrate the post. (I try to use my own photography when I can…but I’m not a nature photographer.) I’m not familiar with the Harris hawk, not, I think, a north American bird.

      All that aside, thanks for reading and the note. I’m glad you liked it.
      Regards, D

      • Yeah, I think South America, and I thought maybe it wasn’t your photo, but if it was I was JEALOUS. 🙂 Still a great read though.

  4. bookmarked!!, Ӏ like yoսr wweb site!

  5. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this blog.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times
    it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance.
    I must say you’ve done a excellent job with this. In addition,
    the blog loads super fast for me on Chrome. Outstanding Blog!

  6. Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re utilizing?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker
    then most. Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a fair price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: