Student or Learner
1. What does this mean? Who flatters who? And what kind of conceit it it?
2. Does this "reckon" refer to "think about" or "calculate"?
(1)The notion that only in modern times have people grown uneasy about killing animals is a flattering conceit.(2)Taking a life is momentous, and people have been working to justify the slaughter of animals for thousands of years.(3)Religion, especially ritual, has played a crucial part in helping us reckon the moral costs.(4)Native Americans and other hunter-gatherers would give thanks to their prey for giving up its life so the eater might live.(5)Many cultures have offered sacrificial animals to the gods, perhaps as a way to convince themselves that it was the godsí desires that demanded the slaughter, not their own.(6)In ancient Greece, the priests responsible for the slaughter would sprinkle holy water on the sacrificial animalís brow.(7)The beast would promptly shake its head, and this was taken as a sign of assent.(8)Slaughter doesnít necessarily preclude respect.(9)For all these people, it was the ceremony that allowed them to look, then to eat.
A flattering conceit is a lofty or very favorable opinion. In this case, people who are uneasy about killing animals (for food or other reasons) are flattering themselves by thinking that this is a very modern, civilized frame of mind. That those who think that way are somehow more intelligent or humane than people of previous generations.The notion that only in modern times have people grown uneasy about killing animals is a flattering conceit.
helping us reckon the moral costs
Yes, "reckon" means to consider, figure out, or calculate. Please note that "reckon" is used in formal conversation chiefly in BrE. In AmE, it is more of a slang term commonly used in the American South in casual conversation. (That is, it would be normal to hear a person in Alabama ask a mechanic "When do you reckon my car will be fixed?", but you probably wouldn't hear a business executive in New York ask during a board meeting: "Do you reckon our sales will increase during the fourth quarter?"