Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers: Humanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature

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Overview

Animal rights do not feature explicitly in ancient thought. Indeed the notion of natural rights in general is not obviously present in the classical world. Plato and Aristotle are typically read as racist and elitist thinkers who barely recognize the humanity of their fellow humans. Surely they would be the last to show up as models of the humane view of other kinds?

In this unusual philosophy book, Catherine Osborne asks the reader to think again. She shows that Plato's views on reincarnation and Aristotle's views on the souls of plants and animals reveal a continuous thread of life in which humans are not morally superior to beasts; Greek tragedy turns up thoughts that mirror the claims of rights activists when they speak for the voiceless; the Desert Fathers teach us to admire the natural perceptiveness of animals rather than the corrupt ways of urban man; the long tradition of arguments for vegetarianism in antiquity highlights how mankind's abuse of other animals is the more offensive the more it is for indulgent ends.

What, then, is the humane attitude, and why is it better? How does the humane differ from the sentimental? Is there a truth about how we should treat animals? By reflecting on the work of the ancient poets and philosophers, Osborne argues, we can see when and how we lost touch with the natural intelligence of dumb animals.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stimulating and informative."—Bryn Mawr Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199568277
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/3/2009
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Osborne is Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia.

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Table of Contents

Part One: Constructing Divisions
Chapter 1 Introduction: on William Blake, nature and mortality
Chapter 2 On nature and providence: readings in Herodotus, Protagoras and Democritus

Part Two: Perceiving Continuities
Chapter 3 On the transmigration of souls: reincarnation into animal bodies in Pythagoras, Empedocles and Plato
Chapter 4 On language, concepts and automata: rational and irrational animals in Aristotle and Descartes
Chapter 5 On the disadvantages of being a complex organism: Aristotle and the scala naturae

Part Three: Being Realistic
Chapter 6 On the vice of sentimentality: Androcles and the Lion and some extraordinary adventures in the Desert Fathers
Chapter 7 On the notion of natural rights: defending the voiceless and oppressed in the Tragedies of Sophocles
Chapter 8 On self-defence and utilitarian calculations: Democritus of Abdera and Hermarchus of Mytilene
Chapter 9 On eating animals: Porphyry's dietary rules for philosophers

Conclusion
Part One: Constructing Divisions
1. Introduction: on William Blake, nature and mortality
2. On nature and providence: readings in Herodotus, Protagoras and Democritus
Part Two: Perceiving Continuities
3. On the transmigration of souls: reincarnation into animal bodies in Pythagoras, Empedocles and Plato
4. On language, concepts and automata: rational and irrational animals in Aristotle and Descartes
5. On the disadvantages of being a complex organism: Aristotle and the scala naturae
Part Three: Being Realistic
6. On the vice of sentimentality: Androcles and the Lion and some extraordinary adventures in the Desert Fathers
7. On the notion of natural rights: defending the voiceless and oppressed in the Tragedies of Sophocles
8. On self-defence and utilitarian calculations: Democritus of Abdera and Hermarchus of Mytilene
9. On eating animals: Porphyry's dietary rules for philosophers
Conclusion

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  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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