Animals And Man Essay

1726 words - 7 pages

G.W. Leibniz asserts that humans are superior to all other creatures. Admittedly, Leibniz’s ideas on this matter are somewhat ambiguous, making it difficult to ascertain his exact position. In some instances within the Discourse on Metaphysics, he appears to hold that animals do not have souls. On other occasions, however, he seems to express beliefs to the contrary. For example, Leibniz first expresses doubt about souls of animals when he questions “if they [animals] have any [souls]” (Leibniz, 11). In another example, on the contrary, he hints that “the souls … of other bodies are entirely different from intelligent souls” (12). This gives the impression that both other bodies and humans (“intelligent souls”) have souls albeit different to some degree. Later, however, Leibniz definitively remarks “that animals have souls” (37). In The Monadology, any remaining uncertainty vanishes. Here, he first mentions that “nature has given heightened perceptions to animals, from the care she has taken to furnish them organs …” (71). Then, a few words later Leibniz vows to explain “how what occurs in the soul represents what occurs in the organs” (71). What he implies with this passage is that animals, just like humans, have souls which are influenced and impacted by sensory perceptions. Then, in XXVI of The Monadology, he explains that “[m]emory provides a kind of sequence in souls, which imitates reason, but which must be distinguished from it” (71). Leibniz continues, providing an example of a dog remembering abuse with a stick to suggest that animals have some form of memory or perception. As a result of the memories of abuse and a recollection of the pain, the dog flees when presented with a stick. In arguing as much, Leibniz implies that since animals have memory, they also have souls. Although Leibniz believes that animals have souls, he, nonetheless, contends, in the Discourse on Metaphysics, that “all other creatures must serve” man (12). He also claims, in addition, that “all wise persons value a man infinitely more than any other thing” and assumes God is of the same opinion (39).
I do not believe that other creatures are to serve man, nor can I agree that man has more value than other beings. Leibniz’s claim neglects the inherent worth of all creatures and unjustifiably exalts mankind over other beings. Both animal and man have souls. To then suggest that God prefers the souls of man over the souls of other beings is highly uncharacteristic of a God who “acts in the most perfect manner, not only metaphysically, but also morally speaking” (1). I will argue in the subsequent essay that humans and animals are equal; God, acting in a morally perfect manner, loves all creatures equally.
Leibniz develops his aforementioned beliefs (that man is superior to and has dominion over all other creatures) on the foundation that our “minds are made in” the image of God (40). Given that our minds are like that of God, Leibniz suggests...

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