quotations about animals

Since the dawn of Western civilization, anthropocentrism -- the notion that the world and its inhabitants exist exclusively for human beings -- has infiltrated nearly every corner of the globe. The conceptual separation of humans from "nature" is at the core of this belief system, as is the notion that other-than-human animals are unthinking, unfeeling automatons. The colonial legacies that imposed these beliefs upon the world's many cultures continue to cause great suffering for humans and other-than-human animals alike and give rise to things like factory farms, cruel experiments, and entertainment facilities like SeaWorld.

LAURA BRIDGEMAN, "Dolphins Are Persons Too, Why it's Time We Recognize Legal Rights of Animals", One Green Planet, February 17, 2016


Now by these ... means one can also know the difference between men and beasts. For it is rather remarkable that there are no men so dull and so stupid (excluding not even the insane), that they are incapable of arranging various words together and of composing from them a discourse by means of which they might make their thoughts understood, and that, on the other hand, there is no other animal at all, however perfect and pedigreed it may be, that does the like. This does not happen because they lack the organs, for one sees that magpies and parrots can utter words just as we can, and yet they cannot speak as we do, that is to say, by testifying to the fact that they are thinking about what they are saying; on the other hand, men born deaf and dumb, who are deprived of the organs that aid others in speaking just as much as, or more than the beasts are wont to invent for themselves various signs by means of which they make themselves understood to those who, being with them on a regular basis, have the time to learn their language. And this attests not merely to the fact that beasts have less reason than men but that they have none at all.

RENE DESCARTES, Discourse on the Method for Conducting One's Reason


Tags: Rene Descartes

It is in hunting that the special relationship with animals is clearest. In Siberian belief, animals are thought to give themselves of their own free will to a hunter who respects them. Animals are equal in status to their hunters, and in myths often change into humans or marry them. The brown bear, considered to be Lord of the Forest, has a soul-force of immense power which can be dangerous, but can also be used for healing. Even today, injuries are healed by stroking the affected part with a bear's paw or rubbing it with bear's fat. A bear hunt is surrounded by taboos, and in many areas the soul of a killed bear must be appeased by an elaborate rite. For example, the eyes are sewn up to prevent the bear from pursuing the hunter.

ROY G. WILLIS, World Mythology


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Animals are, like all living things, self-building, self-maintaining, and self-protecting embodiments of their genetic designs, and they are therefore in human eyes objects of their own operations.

A. VAN GINKEL, General Principles of Human Power


I told the good Father that if he and I were going in the future to some wonderful Elysian Field and the animals were not going to go anywhere, that was all the more reason to give them a little better shake in the one life they did have.

CLEVELAND AMORY, obituary, The New York Times, Oct. 16, 1998


Rumors and reports of man's relation with animals are the world's oldest news stories, headlined in the stars of the zodiac, posted on the walls of prehistoric caves, inscribed in the languages of Egyptian myth, Greek philosophy, Hindu religion, Christian art, our own DNA. Belonging within the circle of mankind's intimate acquaintance ... constant albeit speechless companions, they supplied energies fit to be harnessed or roasted.

LEWIS H. LAPHAM, "Man and Beast", Lapham's Quarterly: Animals


Tags: Lewis H. Lapham

Ugly animals have it rough. We're more likely to eat them or let them go extinct, and less likely to adopt them from animal shelters.

JOSHUA A. KRISCH, "These Animals Are So Ugly That Scientists Don't Care About Them", Vocativ, March 9, 2016


My animals are a pain in my backside, but the joy and unconditional love they give me far exceeds any chore that I, as a responsible pet owner, can ever do for them, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

JODY FULLER, "My animals are a pain in my backside", The LaFayette Sun, February 27, 2016


We kill millions of animals a day for food. If they have the right to bodily liberty, it's basically a holocaust.

APATHYNIHILISM, user comment, "Are Animals 'Things'?", Harvard Magazine, March/April 2016


Early in the 20th century zoos were having trouble keeping animals alive. We didn't understand how to look after them properly, we didn't know what they ate and we didn't know how to keep them. These days the animals are living so long that we are seeing problems with bones and joints, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer. The question now is how much veterinary intervention is appropriate in zoos?

MARK STIDWORTHY, "Zoos filling up with geriatric animals as medical advances extend life expectancy", The Independent, March 11, 2016


It wasn't that long ago that children, wives, blacks ... were all considered property. But as societies began to comprehend these groups had feelings (can't say they just began to comprehend they were human as many viewed blacks not as "men" but as animals), they began to understand that they had rights; rights white men had had all along. Now we're in the 21st Century and we are seeing progress on how animals should be viewed and treated. They are not property, they are not things. They feel every emotion that humans feel -- with the exception of hate, greed, lust and idolatry. Somehow those special emotions only developed within the "superior" species.

JBDEAN, user comment, "Are Animals 'Things'?", Harvard Magazine, March/April 2016