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Consideration of the Idea of Reverence for the Lives of Animals in the Philosophical Discourse in the Pre-modern Age 1. On the Ideas of Descartes and Others

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The idea of reverence for the lives of animals is essential when considering animal ethics, animal rights, and animal welfare. A central issue in these topics is the necessity of sacrificing animals’ lives for industry and consumption. The sacrifice is made as a result of the utilization of animal resources in three main ways: the use of livestock animals for food, the use of animals as subjects for experiments and the use of wild animals for food and other purposes.In Western philosophy, the existence of an animal’s soul has been frequently debated. However, although animals have been associated with traditional rituals, sacred symbols of myths or religion, and the objects of worship for faith, it is not possible to clearly prove the existence of an animals’ emotions and soul. In Greek philosophy and the philosophical discourse of Europe in the pre-modern age, animals were regarded as lower living creatures owing to their lack of an ability to reason. Humans, on the other hand, were considered to exist at a higher level due to their rationality and possession of mind with morality.René Descartes’s idea on animals is a remarkably representative theory of “animals as machines,” and his contemporaries, Pascal and Spinoza, also regarded animals as lower beasts. Although the values and views on animals expressed by Descartes’ are widely considered to be inappropriate in the 21st century, as the concept of animal right has taken hold, it is important to re-consider these philosophers’ ideas about animals when considering another concept, animal ethics. Leibnitz provided a different outlook, recognizing the abilities of animals and considering the existence of their souls, paves thereby paving the way for animal ethics.



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