Kant_on_Animals

Kant_on_Animals - ELECTURES ON ETHICS BY IMMANUEL...

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Unformatted text preview: ELECTURES ON ETHICS BY IMMANUEL TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY LOUIS INFIELD, B.A., O.B.E. WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY J. MACMURRAY, M.A. GROTE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON u . . 4% 353 _ :3 $3 PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN THE CENTURY CO. NEW YORK LONDON ETHICS 239 SCOFFING The scoffer may be either scornful {méciisenfl or mocking (magnum). Scorn is malicious, mockery frivolous. The mocker seeks to make fun at the expense of other people‘s faults; the slanderer is full of malice. The latter is frequently a person lacking in conviviality who dwells upon and magnifies the defects of others so that 1115 own may appear small by comparison; his self-love prompts him to malice. But we fear calunmy less than we fear raillery. The slanderer works surreptitiously : he speaks behind our backs; he must choose his company and we cannot overhear him; but the mocker is no respecter of company or occasion. Raillery lowers our self-esteem more than malice, for it makes us a laughing- stock for others, strips us of our worth and holds us up to ridicule. We need not always grudge the mocker his pleasure, because often it means nothing either to us or to him and we lose nothing by it. But an habitualscoffer betrays his lack of respect for others and his inability to judge things at their true value. DUTIES TOWARDS ANIMALS AND SPIRITS Baumgarten speaks of duties towards beings which are beneath us and beings which are above us. But so far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals are not self-conscious and are there merely as a means to - an end. That end is man. We can ask, ‘ Why do animals exist ? ’ But to ask, ‘ Why does man exist P ’ is a meanmg— less question. Our duties towards animals are merely indirect duties tOWards humanity. Animal nature has analogies to human nature, and by doing our duties to animals in respect of manifestations which correspond to manifestations of human nature, we indirectly do our duty towards humanity. Thus, if a dog has served his master long and faithfully, his service, on the analogy of human 24o LECTURES ON ETHICS service, deserves reward, and when the dog has grown. too old to serve, his master ought to keep him until he dies. Such action helps to support us in our duties towards human beings, where they are bounden duties. If then any acts of animals are analogous to human acts and spring from the same principles, we have duties towards the animals because thus we cultivate the corresponding duties towards human beings. If a man shoots his dog because the animal is no longer capable of service, he does not fail in his duty to the dog, for the dog cannot judge, but his act is inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind. If he is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practise kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Hogarth 1 depicts this in his engravings. He shows how cruelty grows and develops. He shows the child’s cruelty to animals, pinching the tail of a dog or a cat ; he then depicts the gown man in his cart running over a child ; and lastly, . the culmination of cruelty in murder. He thus brings home to us in a terrible fashion the rewards of cruelty, and this should be an impressive lesson to children. The more we come in contact with animals and observe their behaviour, the more we love them, for we see how great is their care for their young. It is then difficult for us to be cruel in thought even to a wolf. Leibnitz used a tiny worm for purposes of observation, and then carefully replaced it with its leaf on the tree so that it should not come to harm through any act of his. He would have been sorry—a natural feeling for a humane man—"to destroy such a creature for no reason. Tender feelings towards dumb animals develop humane feelingstowards mankind. In England butchers and doctors do not sit on a jury because they are accustomed to the sight of death and hardened. Vivisectionists, who use living animals for their experiments, certainly act cruelly, although their aim is praiseworthy, and they can justify their cruelty, since animals must be regarded as man's instruments; but any such cruelty for sport cannot be 1 Hogarth's four engravings, ‘ The Stages of Cruelty‘, i751. ETHICS ‘ 24: justified. A master who turns out his ass or his dog because the animal can no longer earn its keep manifests a small mind. The Greeks’ ideas in this respect were high- minded, as can be seen from the table of the ass and the bell of ingratitude.1 Our duties towards animals, then, are indirect duties towards mankind. Our duties towards immaterial beings are purely nega- tive. Any course of conduct which involves dealings with spirits is wrong. Conduct of this kind makes men vision- aries and fanatics, renders them superstitious, and is not in keeping with the dignity of mankind; for human dignity cannot subsist without a healthy use of reason, which is impossible ior those who have commerce with spirits. Spirits may exist or they may not; all that is said of them may be true ; but we know them not and can . have no intercourse with them. This applies to good and _ to evil spirits alike. Our Ideas oi good and evil are co— ordinate, and as we refer all evil to hell so we refer all good to heaven. If we personity the perfection of evil, we have the Idea of the devil. If we believe that evil spirits can have an influence upon us, can appear and haunt us at night, we become a prey to phantoms and incapable of using our powers in a reasonable way. Our duties towards such beings must, therefore, be negative. DUTIES TOWARDS INANIMATE OBJECTS Baumgarten speaks of duties towards inanimate objects. These duties are also indirectly duties towards mankind. Destructiveness is immoral ; we ought not to destroy things which can still be put to some use. No man ought to mar the beauty of nature ; for what he has no use for may still be of use to some one else. He need, of course, pay no heed to the thing itself, but he ought to consider his neighbour. Thus We see that all duties towards animals, towards immaterial beings and towards inanimate objects are aimed indirectly at our duties towards man— kind. 1 Phipr Camerarius Operas harm-um subcist'vamm semiarid prime. 1644, cap. XXI. 16 ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2012 for the course PHIL 1000 taught by Professor Crystal during the Spring '07 term at LSU.

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Kant_on_Animals - ELECTURES ON ETHICS BY IMMANUEL...

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