marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

metaphysics of werewolves

Was some more thinking about creatures and their effects on metaphysics of world-building -- that is, how much metaphysics you have to slither in for certain creatures. I have observed before (like, here) that werewolves raise fewer questions than vampires, who raise fewer than angels or demons. . . .

But then. . . Hollywood werewolves, transmitting it with a bite, do. And the classic albeit heavily literary European werewolf who's under a curse does. But the classic European werewolf that made a deal with a devil brings in the entire angel or demon thing and so raises as many questions as that -- or almost as many, since you can shift the summoning off stage.

And if you do some mash-up cosmology, and put in some kitsune out of folklore, that really brings up metaphysical issues. Which means, actually that Hollywood and cursed werewolves bring up the same issues, though not so pointedly.

Because, of course, kitsune are actually and in reality foxes. A fox that lives long enough can turn into a human being. In fact, a lot of animals can turn into humans in Far East lore. This may be used to discredit them -- there are Chinese tales that debunk that foreign faith, Buddhism, by revealing a Buddhist monk is an animal such as a camel -- but it's not something you see in European tales, where a being that can turn into a human being started out a human being. (All right, there's a fable in which a cat becomes a woman, but point of it is that she has to be turned back because she's still really a cat at heart.)

An actual animal that can turn into a human and pass as a human raises a lot of implications about metaphysical foundations of animality and humanity. Werewolves are less pointed because the absence of the kitsune kind is, while evidence of absence, not proof of it.

Though, of course, one can finesse the whole matter by making kitsune not foxes but a shapeshifting species that just happens to look like foxes when young.

And what critter shall I use to discuss those with fewer metaphysical implications? Not dragons, of course. You need to choose your kind, and that has implications.

Gryphons, maybe. You can have gryphons without worrying so much about metaphysics as with vampires.
Tags: world-building: creatures, world-building: metaphysics

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