Reading Notes, March 22nd: Anthropocentrism

The following reading is about a number of things:

1.) Understanding why Descartes, Kant, and Cohen Don't believe that we should care about animals.

2.) Differentiating between "strong" Anthropocentrism and "weak" Anthropocentrism.

3.) Understanding how humans find ways to justify their treatment of animals. (I.e. Killing for food, sport, clothing, etc.)

1.a.) Descartes:

-Descartes, in essence, tries to find what he believes to be the most simple explanation is for why his assumption that humans are of a higher importance than animals is a valid opinion. He assumes this because it is what seems to make most sense on a more instinctive level of thinking (It is instinctive for the superior organisms to hunt the weaker for better survival). Descartes points out two major things that lead him to his thesis and explanation as to why animals seem to have emotions close to that of the so called superior humans.

-His thesis statement is that animals can be viewed as nothing more than machines with complicated parts that create an illusion of importance and of high value. However, the only moral obligation humans have to animals, in his opinion, is to not harm them if their harm will lead to affect a human in a negative way.

-His first main supporting opinion is that humans are clearly separated from animals in two ways. Language and logical reasoning. He goes on to iterate that humans, unlike any other species known to man, have the ability to communicate with each other in flawless manners. Certainly, some animals may bark, scream, or howl at one another, but they are only attempting to communicate. It must also be noted that this communication is not at all accurate. The second way that separate us from animals, logical reasoning, is showed through how humans act. It is clear that animals, generally speaking, act in a way towards two things only: survival and reproduction. Humans however, have been shown to break this rule on many millions of numerous occasions. For instance, a brother laying down his life for his sister. A soldier jumping on a grenade in a small room to save the other soldiers. Humans giving charity to other humans. There are an endless number of ways humans break the laws that 99% of all organisms follow. However, when you turn to how animals act, seeing something like this (if you ever do) is only an occasion of coincidence. Animals act purely on their filthy instincts. Any emotions that they seem to portray are simply an illusion from the being that created them in order for us to remain humane towards them.

1.b.) Kant:

-Kant's reasoning for animals feelings not mattering is unique in that he does not discuss so much the objective reasoning or even the science behind why we should hardly care for animal's feelings but rather, the metaphysical reasons.

-Kant makes two incredible statements that are rather bold, and critical of not having backing behind them. And yet, they make sense to the average reasonable human.

-The first statement that Kant makes is one of a lasting impact. He states that animals are not even sentient. In other words, they are not even aware of existence nor are they even conscious of anything. Kant believes this because the only species he believes has proof of their existence and sentience is the human species. This is because he thinks about his existence so therefore at least he (a human) exists. Because he can find no proof of animals sentience, he finds no reason to believe they are.

-The second opinion that Kant brings up is that our duties towards animals are simply indirect duties towards for humanity. This is, in essence, hard to understand. What Kant is trying to say is that just because animals are not even conscious of anything, does not mean that you are sane if you like chopping off heads of dogs. It is still wrong to do so because it is viewed as indecent towards humanity.

1.c.) Cohen:

-Cohen, the more modern philosopher of the trio. Brings up some of the most, and most effective interesting points. He discusses the terminology that people like to so wrongly, in his opinion, associate with animals.

-Cohen's first point is that the term "rights" apply to only moral groups of life, and therefore, because animals are not apart of moral groups, they do not have, nor are they entitled to rights.

-Cohen is also big on the point that humans are of much higher value than animals. Because of this, it is only necessary to continue to use animals to pursue human interests. This is because if we do not use those that are of lower value for experimentation, then those of higher value will suffer because of it. In Cohen's opinion, it is simply one or the other. And why not choose the higher valued species?

2.a) Strong Anthropocentrism:

-Strong anthropocentrism is the view that there is much difference between humans and the rest of the material world.

-The main difference between weak and strong anthropocentrism is that strong emphasizes that humans are of two worlds that seem pretty instinctive: the mental and the physical. Much of the rest of the world is far more only functional in character; humans are the exception, then, because we consist of a mental substance that is in a way connected to the physical substance.

2.b) Weak Anthropocentrism:

-Weak Anthropocentrism revolves around the fact that there are only physical substances in this world, but humans are the best and most inventive/intelligent of the species, and therefore the most important.

-The view that there are only physical substances in the world. Under this view, humans are not an exception because they are creatures of two worlds while most species are limited to one, but because of other unique charactersitics of humanity. Humans are of course more intelligent and creative than other beings, this is evident by the existence of complicated human cultures and languages. Humans are the only beings we know about with unique culture and language in and of itself. It is this complexity, that set humans apart from other beings.

3.) There are several reasons behind why humans justify our inhumane treatment of animals. They are as follows:

-Humans are more intelligent than animals
-Humans are of greater value than animals
-Animals do not feel pain.
-Animals are not sentient beings.
-Humans need meat to better survive this planets challenges.
-Humans need animals to experiment for the greater good of the human species.
-God created animals for humans, therefore, it is our right to do as we please with animals, regardless of what they feel.
-Animals do not have real emotions.
-Animals are only as real as robots.
-Animals seemingly emotion like behavior is only an illusion created to provide a means for humans to act more civilized

*The list could go on and on, but only in a repetitive manner.*

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