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Re: theos-l digest: December 14, 1999

Dec 15, 1999 01:02 AM
by kymsmith

Grigor wrote:

>Did everyone think animals were machines before Descartes?
>No, some tribes do not distinguish between animals and people.

Yes, I know, but tribal knowledge is not used very often by scientists; and
more people know about Descartes than "some tribes" - which is my point.
Descartes was more influential in Western social and scientific thought -
which is where most animal vivisection is carried out.

>Aristotle did not regard an animal as machine.

No, but he considered them separate from humanity; moreover, he theorized
that women were only three-quarters in equality to a male.

>Neither did Hinduism
>Buddhism, or Taoism.

About the only Eastern religion that practices true equality with animals,
in my opinion, is Jainism - although I have a problem with their insistence
on not killing any animal, even if it is experiencing intolerable pain.

>And J Bentham thought animals had moral
>standing because the criteria was not the ability to morally reason
>about means, ends, and consequences, but the ability to feel pain.

I know, but even though people know that animals suffer pain, the excuse to
abuse animals is because they are "separate" from humans, meaning without
morals or an ability to reason.  People who experiment on animals, or
believe in it because it "helps humans," justify it by saying vivisectors
use pain-killers, so that makes it all right - but most of these same
people will scream and shout about doing the same experiment on a human.
So clearly, the ability to feel pain is not what many people use in their
judgement criteria.  The message of "no harm" has to use another avenue -
the new avenue, which seems to be working, albeit slowly, is the philosophy
of interconnection.

>Now main point: I think general statements of humans being better or worse

Well, then you may have just chucked the discipline of philosophy right out
the door.  Most of philosophy centers around this question.  Philosophy
constantly compares "good" and "bad," or "better" or "worse" in almost
every area.  Ethics, aesthetics, the nature of God, the nature of humanity,
the nature of nature, evil, metaphysics, epistemology, technology,
religion, etc., are all looked at from that perspective - and then
quantified in "general statements."  To speak and study only the
particulars of humans and existence would clog up the brain big time.

I cannot think of any philosopher who has not engaged in such comparisons.
In fact, I think it is humanly impossible.  Your own statement, Grigor,
uses the term "nonsense" - which is a designation of something "bad" or
"lesser."  And you meant it to be so, otherwise you would have no way of
making your point.  Even ambivalence requires some kind of knowledge about
what is supposed to be better or worse.

How did the Lakota Sioux recognize "evil" in the Aztecs' behavior and then
choose to "opt out" if comparisons of better or worse are nonsense?


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