Peter Singer's Rethinking Life and Death

628 Words3 Pages
Pages 163 to 183 of Peter Singer’s “Rethinking Life & Death” focuses on the author’s views as it relates to our origins on an equal level with that of the animal world. Western tradition maintains its primary function as the preservation of every human life, but ironically, of only human life. The Hebrew vantage point only reaffirms this notion, placing far greater importance on human life, as they believe that humans were created in the image of God. Christianity takes it even one step further, believing that humans, unlike any other living things, shall survive death due to their immortal souls. As one of the most acclaimed philosophers in history, Aristotle felt as though everything exists for a reason, with a hierarchy of existence, as the less rational should serve the more rational. Immanuel Kant added on to Aristotle’s philosophy, by insisting that animals are incapable of rationale, and so they may be viewed as purely means to an end, with man representative of that end. The western tradition and system of beliefs was rocked at its foundations however, by various modern discoveries. Darwin began the questioning of the hierarchy of life, when he concluded that human beings were animals as well, possessing a natural origin, similar to that of the animal world. Darwin believed that differences between humans and animals were not that of kind, but of degree. Darwin’s theories disproved western beliefs and the Hebrew myth of creation, undermining the ideology that humans had been granted ruling over other living things. Western beliefs were further shaken with the animal rights movement of the 1970’s, which sought for an end to speciesism. The increasing human knowledge of nonhuman animals has been an additional factor in the depleted belief in the western tradition, as people such as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey have encouraged humans to believe that
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