Seeing the Animal Whole

Craig Holdrege


Every animal on earth has its own unique character — the slow sloth, the burrowing mole, the towering giraffe, the huge but flexible elephant. In vivid portrayals of nine different animals, Craig Holdrege shows how all of an animal’s features are interconnected and a revelation of the animal as a whole. At the same time, every animal intersects with and influences in dynamic ways the larger environment.

Seeing the Animal Whole — And Why It Matters provides a nuanced sense for what it means to be a living being. With the open-ended question “Who are you?” and the will to let the animals themselves be his guide, Holdrege avoids the pitfalls of mechanistic and anthropomorphic perspectives that not only skew our conception of animals, but can also lead to their mistreatment.

This book presents an integrative view of animals and nature that you won’t find elsewhere. It is about a different way of seeing and relating to nature. It leads to a ground-breaking understanding of animal development and evolution as creative processes in which the animals are active participants. Since the further evolution of life on earth depends largely on human activity, this book shows a way to learn from nature’s living qualities so we may further, rather than disrupt, the health of the planet. And that matters.

The Nature Institute
348 pages