Compassion For Animals Is Intimately Connected With Goodness Of Character

photo © Aliaksei Lasevich | Fotolia

“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) was an atheist German philosopher known for his pessimistic view on human existence. His philosophies were in line with Buddhist teachings about human passion, motivation, and will. His writings later influenced some of the great minds of psychology and philosophy. He was considered as one of the greatest philosopher in the 19th century but his works gained wider recognition only after his death. His belief on the irrational tendencies of man and the non-existence of God was considered controversial and nonsensical in the time of German Romanticism.

Schopenhauer had witnessed suffering early on his life. Despite being raised in a wealthy family, he was cognizant of the sufferings of poor people he had seen in his trips abroad. He was said to be the first philosopher who bravely tackled the origins of human sufferings. This was attributed to his exposure to Eastern philosophy, which at that time was virtually unheard of in the West. While other scholars were busy discussing about academic philosophy, he was devotedly interested in the existential aspects of humanity.

Despite his pessimism, he was a strong advocator of universal compassion which extends to animals. In his book “The Basis of Morality”, he argued that an action has a moral value only if has no ulterior egotistic motive such as earning a reward in the afterlife. Morality then is not the obedience of law but the recognition of life, both in humans and animals.

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way their animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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