Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He lived 1788 – 1860. The full quote from the title to this post is:
Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to living creatures cannot be a good man
Schopenhauer also stated:
The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.
He believed in the philosophy of monism. This is a definition:
[it postulates] a unity of origin of all things; all existing things go back to a source which is distinct from them.
What monism seems to be saying is that we all have the same roots and are therefore equal under our God.
He agreed with Indian philosophy and “maintained that the ‘truth was recognized by the sages of India'”1.
What I like is that this philosopher thinks like all PoCers and all people who care for cats and therefore all animals. Schopenhauer seems to have been ahead of his time. Even today at least hundreds of millions of people on the planet don’t get what he stated and treat animals in a poor way – let’s say “differently” to people.
It has never occurred to me that people are any better or more important than animals. I have always believed that we are from the same source/root and doing the same thing: surviving. We survive in different ways but we are doing the same thing.
This is not philosophy or clever thinking. It is common sense. It is science and for me it is obvious.
So, why are good people compassionate towards animals. It must be because they innately feel for animals. These people have an empathy for animals and without thinking about it or giving it a philosophical name, they understand that animals are their equal and deserve equal rights. They are good because they have the wisdom to understand this. Really, it is about education and being able to think for oneself.
Without knowing it people who are compassionate towards animals believe in monism. It is a philosophy that still runs against the grain in society, as far as I am concerned.
I believe this is partly because of religion, which is a creation of humankind. Religion has been a solace and a poison for humanity. It was created by people for people. It is a human concept, a reflection on human thought (arrogance) and animals hardly figure in the narrative. If animals had featured in the Bible in a compassionate way, there would have been far less suffering for animals over the centuries.
Do you believe that compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character? If so, please tell us why.
Note: philosophy is a human concept and I wonder whether it has any value at all. It seems to me to be very artificial. That said, Schopenhauer‘s thoughts are very much inline with those of use who care for cats and all animals.