Tag Archives: Cartesian Fallacies

Cartesian Madness & the Evil Demon

Dubbed the father of modern philosophy, René Descartes (1596–1650), like Aquinas, built a philosophy upon a foundation of superstitious imaginings from the Bronze Age. He arrived at conclusions that neatly gibed with Christian theology in a time when it would have been most unwise not to.

After the primary error of denying a God, he writes, there is nothing worse

that leads weak minds further from the straight path of virtue than that of imagining that the souls of the beasts are of the same nature as ours, and hence that after this present life we have nothing to fear or to hope for, any more than flies or ants.

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Dennett, a Fourth Horseman on a High Horse

Among a number of secularists that deny animal interests based on attributions of consciousness, there is history and science writer Stephen Budiansky, who insists that animals lack anything like human rationality and consciousness such that in their case “sentience is not sentience, and pain isn’t even pain”;[1]Quoted in Matthew Scully, Dominion: the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002), 6; also see Scully, “Pet Project,” First Things, February, 1999, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/12/005-pet-project-7. philosopher Peter Carruthers, who sees animals as having no moral standing because they are not rational agents, and therefore conferring protective rights upon them is the height of moral decadence;[2]Peter Carruthers, The Animals Issue: Moral Theory in Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), xi. • • •

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