Perhaps best, before addressing some of the most prominent quotes that have been uttered in the history of animal thinking, is to reflect for a moment on how modern man conceives these beings.
In this sense, it should be started by saying that Biology considers that animals are those living beings, characterized by their great capacity for movement, their possibility of reproducing by embryonic gestation and not being so prone to metamorphosis, and which constitute a biological realm to which man belongs.
However, during the History of Thought, the Human has always sought to differentiate himself from animals, a word that refers precisely to the fact of being who has soul, that is, of being animated. Reflecting this attempt at distinction is the creationist theory on which Christian religions are based, which assume that God created animals and man to dominate over them.
Philosophy also sees between animals and humans, the abyss of thought, while other disciplines such as Linguistics believe that the primary difference between each other is the capacity of Language.
Consequently, this differentiation has not only built the identity of the human as a species, but in the long run has developed that animals be seen as distinct beings, which must be taken care of, or on the contrary that can have some benefit, since man will not only be considered distinct from them, but as the highest point of evolution, as well as the ultimate end of the food chain.
Phrases about animals
In this way, the supremacy of man has led to truly cruel excesses against animals, who day by day see in the development of the industrialized world an attack on their habitat and the individuals who make up their species. However, far from pointing out whether these beings should be used for work or food, perhaps the emphasis should be much more on the way in which these animals are harnessed for these benefits, that is, if it is done consciously, rationally, balancedly and pious, or if on the contrary it is based on an industrialization of exploitation and slaughter without any feeling of kindness.
However, this debate not only passes through an ethical nuance about the proper way in which man should behave with beings more helpless than him, but also considers the almic essence of the animal, as well as the real position of man in the world , as much as what certain behaviors say about him. Here are some phrases that reflect this long discussion about how animals are or should be conceived by man:
Emmmanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)
If man should not drown his feelings, then he will have to practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes coercive in his dealings with men. You can judge a man’s heart by his treatment of animals.
One example of how the most celebrated philosophers have spoken of the importance of being equal with regard to treatment of animals is this phrase by the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant, for whom in the way a man has to relate to animals he finds himself the seed of his conduction with his fellows.
Consequently, in the light the thought of Kant, who treats animals badly, will not be able to treat men well, for this is a reflection of the nature of his heart.
Sigrid Undset (1882 – 1949)
Some love flowers and animals because they are incapable of understanding each other.
However, not all thinkers have seen in the good treatment of humans towards animals symptoms only of a good heart. In this sense, it is advisable to bring to chapter for example the phrase of the Norwegian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature, Sigris Undset, for whom the love that an individual towards animals can also mean the choice to love these beings, before their inability to establish genuine and strong ties with their fellows. That is, loving animals – and also plants – can be the escape valve to loneliness and the human inability to feel part of this great herd.
Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)
Animals are gods. Bestiality is human.
In another order of ideas, also stand out those thinkers who have placed the emphasis on the characteristics that humans usually attribute to animals, in order to raise questions about whether these are only reflections of their own characteristics, or whether they are actually they can regard as traits of these beings.
An example of this is this phrase of the French writer and politician, Victor Hugo, who focuses his attention on the supposed “bestiality” that governs animals, telling in a stark way that animals are actually beings created by God, and that they respond to natural and balanced principles, while the only one capable of exercising bestiality, by being inherent in it, is the Human.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)
Man has made Earth a hell for animals.
Also, there are those thinkers who have sought to draw attention to the ruthless way in which humanity has behaved towards animals, beings who are sometimes cosified and treated as if they were devoid of feelings or pain capacity.
Among some of the phrases that can be used as an example is this simple and concrete sentence of the Prussian philosopher and writer Arthur Schopenhauer, who undoubtedly claims that the human being has become a judge and executioner for animals, turning the land where they should live free and their own nature, into a real hell, a horrible place where, speculating on this philosopher’s phrase, they are hunted, tortured, exploited, mistreated, abandoned and killed there is the slightest drop of mercy.
Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965)
We must fight the unconscious spirit of cruelty with which we treat animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such suffering on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize him. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living beings, humanity will not find peace.
Finally, there are those who have also seen in the cruel treatment that most of society gives to animals, not only a symptom of the state of the human soul but its own condemnation of its destiny. In this order of ideas, this phrase can be quoted from the 19th-century German physician and philosopher, Albert Schweitzer, for whom Peace isn`t only a state that is attained to the extent that man seals a covenant of tolerance and agreement with his fellowhuman, but is part of the positive consequences that man will have when he understands that his compassion must also encompass animals. Therefore, there will be no peace for Humanity, until it is not really at peace with all living beings on the planet.
October 24, 2019