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|H. P. Blavatsky HAVE ANIMALS SOULS ? |
Continually soaked with blood, the whole earth is but an immense
altar upon which all that lives has to be immolated--endlessly,
incessantly. . . .
--COMTE JOSEPH DE MAISTRE (Soirees I. ii, 35)
MANY are the "antiquated religious superstitions" of the East which Western nations often and unwisely
deride: but none is so laughed at and practically set at defiance as the great respect of Oriental people
for animal life. Flesh-eaters cannot sympathize with total abstainers from meat. We Europeans are
nations of civilized barbarians with but a few millenniums between ourselves and our cave-dwelling
forefathers who sucked the blood and marrow from uncooked bones. Thus, it is only natural that those
who hold human life so cheaply in their frequent and often iniquitous wars, should entirely disregard the
death-agonies of the brute creation, and daily sacrifice millions of innocent, harmless lives; for we are
too epicurean to devour tiger steaks or crocodile cutlets, but must have tender lambs and golden
feathered pheasants. All this is only as it should be in our era of Krupp cannons and scientific
vivisectors. Nor is it a matter of great wonder that the hardy European should laugh at the mild Hindu,
who shudders at the bare thought of killing a cow, or that he should refuse to sympathize with the
Buddhist and Jain, in their respect for the life of every sentient creature--from the elephant to the gnat.
But, if meat-eating has indeed become a vital necessity--"the tyrant`s plea!"--among Western nations; if
hosts of victims in every city, borough and village of the civilized world must needs be daily slaughtered
in temples dedicated to the deity, denounced by St. Paul and worshipped by men "whose God is their
belly":--if all this and much more cannot be avoided in our "age of Iron," who can urge the same excuse
for sport? Fishing, shooting, and hunting, the most fascinating of all the "amusements" of civilized life--
are certainly the most objectionable from the standpoint of occult philosophy, the most sinful in the eyes
of the followers of these religious systems which are the direct outcome of the Esoteric Doctrine--
Hinduism and Buddhism. Is it altogether without any good reason that the adherents of these two
religions, now the oldest in the world, regard the animal world--from the huge quadruped down to the
infinitesimally small insect--as their "younger brothers," however ludicrous the idea to a European? This
question shall receive due consideration further on.
Nevertheless, exaggerated as the notion may seem, it is certain that few of us are able to picture to
ourselves without shuddering the scenes which take place early every morning in the innumerable
shambles of the so-called civilized world, or even those daily enacted during the "shooting season." The
first sun-beam has not yet awakened slumbering nature, when from all points of the compass myriads of
hecatombs are being prepared--to salute the rising luminary. Never was heathen Moloch gladdened by
such a cry of agony from his victims as the pitiful wail that in all Christian countries rings like a long hymn
of suffering throughout nature, all day and every day from morning until evening. In ancient Sparta--than
whose stern citizens none were ever less sensitive to the delicate feelings of the human heart--a boy,
when convicted of torturing an animal for amusement, was put to death as one whose nature was so
thoroughly villainous that he could not be permitted to live. But in civilized Europe rapidly progressing in
all things save Christian virtues--might remains unto this day the synonym of right. The entirely useless,
cruel practice of shooting for mere sport countless hosts of birds and animals is nowhere carried on with
more fervour than in Protestant England, where the merciful teachings of Christ have hardly made human
hearts softer than they were in the days of Nimrod, "the mighty hunter before the Lord." Christian ethics
are as conveniently turned into paradoxical syllogisms as those of the "heathen." The writer was told one
day by a sportsman that since "not a sparrow falls on the ground without the will of the Father," he who
kills for sport--say, one hundred sparrows does thereby one hundred times over--his Father`s will!
A wretched lot is that of poor brute creatures, hardened as it is into implacable fatality by the hand of
man. The rational soul of the human being seems born to become the murderer of the irrational soul
of the animal--in the full sense of the word, since the Christian doctrine teaches that the soul of the
animal dies with its body. Might not the legend of Cain and Abel have had a dual signification? Look
at that other disgrace of our cultured age--the scientific slaughter-houses called "vivisection rooms."
Enter one of those halls in Paris, and behold Paul Bert, or some other of these men--so justly called "the
learned butchers of the Institute"--at his ghastly work. I have but to translate the forcible description of
an eye-witness, one who has thoroughly studied the modus operandi of those "executioners," a well
known French author:
"Vivisection"--he says--"is a specialty in which torture, scientifically economised by our butcher-
academicians, is applied during whole days, weeks, and even months to the fibres and muscles of one
and the same victim. It (torture) makes use of every and any kind of weapon, performs its analysis
before a pitiless audience, divides the task every morning between ten apprentices at once, of whom
one works on the eye, another one on the leg, the third on the brain, a fourth on the marrow; and whose
inexperienced hands succeed, nevertheless, towards night after a hard day`s work, in laying bare the
whole of the living carcass they had been ordered to chisel out, and that in the evening, is carefully
stored away in the cellar, in order that early next morning it may be worked upon again if only there is a
breath of life and sensibility left in the victim! We know that the trustees of the Grammont law (loi) have
tried to rebel against this abomination; but Pans showed herself more inexorable than London and
And yet these gentlemen boast of the grand object pursued, and of the grand secrets discovered by
them. "Horror and lies!"--exclaims the same author. "In the matter of secrets--a few localizations of
faculties and cerebral motions excepted--we know but of one secret that belongs to them by rights: it is
the secret of torture eternalized, beside which the terrible natural law of autophagy (mutual
manducation), the horrors of war, the merry massacres of sport, and the sufferings of the animal under
the butcher`s knife--are as nothing! Glory to our men of science! They have surpassed every former
kind of torture, and remain now and for ever, without any possible contestation, the kings of artificial
anguish and despair!"2
The usual plea for butchering, killing, and even for legally torturing animals--as in vivisection--is a verse
or two in the Bible, and its ill-digested meaning, disfigured by the so-called scholasticism represented by
Thomas Aquinas. Even De Mirville, that ardent defender of the rights of the church, calls such texts--
"Biblical tolerances, forced from God after the deluge, as so many others, and based upon the
decadence of our strength." However this may be, such texts are amply contradicted by others in the
same Bible. The meat-eater, the sportsman and even the vivisector--if there are among the last named
those who believe in special creation and the Bible--generally quote for their justification that verse in
Genesis, in which God gives dual Adam--"dominion over the fish, fowl, cattle, and over every living
thing that moveth upon the earth"--(Ch. I., v. 28); hence--as the Christian understands it--power of life
and death over every animal on the globe. To this the far more philosophical Brahman and Buddhist
might answer; "Not so. Evolution starts to mould future humanities within the lowest scales of being.
Therefore, by killing an animal, or even an insect, we arrest the progress of an entity towards its final
goal in nature--MAN"; and to this the student of occult philosophy may say "Amen," and add that it not
only retards the evolution of that entity, but arrests that of the next succeeding human and more perfect
race to come.
Which of the opponents is right, which of them the more logical? The answer depends mainly, of course,
on the personal belief of the intermediary chosen to decide the questions. If he believes in special
creation--so-called--then in answer to the plain question--"Why should homicide be viewed as a most
ghastly sin against God and nature, and the murder of millions of living creatures be regarded as mere
sport?"--he will reply:--"Because man is created in God`s own image and looks upward to his Creator
and to his birth-place--heaven (os homini sublime dedit); and that the gaze of the animal is fixed
downward on its birth-place--the earth; for God said--`Let the earth bring forth the living creature after
his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind`." (Genesis I, 24.) Again,
"because man is endowed with an immortal soul, and the dumb brute has no immortality, not even a
short survival after death."
Now to this an unsophisticated reasoner might reply that if the Bible is to be our authority upon this
delicate question, there is not the slightest proof in it that man`s birth-place is in heaven anymore than
that of the last of creeping things--quite the contrary; for we find in Genesis that if God created "man"
and blessed "them," (Ch. I, v. 27-28) so he created "great whales" and "blessed them" (2I, 22).
Moreover, "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (II, v. 7): and "dust" is surely earth
pulverized? Solomon, the king and preacher, is most decidedly an authority and admitted on all hands to
have been the wisest of the Biblical sages; and he gives utterances to a series of truths in Ecclesiastes
(Ch. III) which ought to have settled by this time every dispute upon the subject. "The sons of men . . .
might see that they themselves are beasts" (v. 18) . . . "that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth the
beasts . . . a man has no pre-eminence above a beast,"--(v. 19) "all go into one place; all are of the dust
and turn to dust again, (v. 20) . . . "who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upwards, and the spirit of
the beast, that goeth downward to the earth? (v. 21.) Indeed, "who knoweth!" At any rate it is neither
science nor "school divine."
Were the object of these lines to preach vegetarianism on the authority of Bible or Veda, it would be a
very easy task to do so. For, if it is quite true that God gave dual Adam--the "male and female" of
Chapter I of Genesis--who has little to do with our henpecked ancestor of Chapter II--"dominion over
every living thing," yet we nowhere find that the "Lord God" commanded that Adam or the other to
devour animal creation or destroy it for sport. Quite the reverse. For pointing to the vegetable kingdom
and the "fruit of a tree yielding seed"--God says very plainly: "to you (men) it shall be for meat." (I, 29.)
So keen was the perception of this truth among the early Christians that during the first centuries they
never touched meat. In Octavio Tertullian writes to Minutius Felix: "we are not permitted either to
witness, or even hear narrated (novere) a homicide, we Christians, who refuse to taste dishes in
which animal blood may have been mixed."
But the writer does not preach vegetarianism, simply defending "animal rights" and attempting to show
the fallacy of disregarding such rights on Biblical authority. Moreover, to argue with those who would
reason upon the lines of erroneous interpretations would be quite useless. One who rejects the doctrine
of evolution will ever find his way paved with difficulties; hence, he will never admit that it is far more
consistent with fact and logic to regard physical man merely as the recognized paragon of animals, and
the spiritual Ego that informs him as a principle midway between the soul of the animal and the deity. It
would be vain to tell him that unless he accepts not only the verses quoted for his justification but the
whole Bible in the light of esoteric philosophy, which reconciles the whole mass of contradictions and
seeming absurdities in it--he will never obtain the key to the truth;--for he will not believe it. Yet the
whole Bible teems with charity to men and with mercy and love to animals. The original Hebrew text of
Chapter XXIV of Leviticus is full of it. Instead of the verses 17 and 18 as translated in the Bible: "And
he that killeth a beast shall make it good, beast for beast" in the original it stands:--"life for life," or rather
"soul for soul," nephesh tachat nephesh.3 And if the rigour of the law did not go to the extent of killing,
as in Sparta, a man`s "soul" for a beast`s "soul"--still, even though he replaced the slaughtered soul by a
living one, a heavy additional punishment was inflicted on the culprit.
But this was not all. In Exodus (Ch. XX. 10, and Ch. XXIII. 2 et seq.) rest on the Sabbath day
extended to cattle and every other animal. "The seventh day is the sabbath . . . thou shalt not do any
work, thou nor thy . . . cattle"; and the Sabbath year . . . "the seventh year thou shalt let it (the land) rest
and lie still . . . that thine ox and thine ass may rest"--which commandment, if it means anything, shows
that even the brute creation was not excluded by the ancient Hebrews from a participation in the
worship of their deity, and that it was placed upon many occasions on a par with man himself. The
whole question rests upon the misconception that "soul," nephesh, is entirely distinct from "spirit"--
ruach. And yet it is clearly stated that "God breathed into the nostrils (of man) the breath of life and
man became a living soul," nephesh, neither more or less than an animal, for the soul of an animal is also
called nephesh. It is by development that the soul becomes spirit, both being the lower and the higher
rungs of one and the same ladder whose basis is the UNIVERSAL SOUL or spirit.
This statement will startle those good men and women who, however much they may love their cats and
dogs, are yet too much devoted to the teachings of their respective churches ever to admit such a
heresy. "The irrational soul of a dog or a frog divine and immortal as our own souls are?"--they are
sure to exclaim but so they are. It is not the humble writer of the present article who says so, but no less
an authority for every good Christian than that king of the preachers--St. Paul. Our opponents who so
indignantly refuse to listen to the arguments of either modern or esoteric science may perhaps lend a
more willing ear to what their own saint and apostle has to say on the matter; the true interpretation of
whose words, moreover, shall be given neither by a theosophist nor an opponent, but by one who was
as good and pious a Christian as any, namely, another saint--John Chrysostom--he who explained and
commented upon the Pauline Epistles, and who is held in the highest reverence by the divines of both the
Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches. Christians have already found that experimental science is
not on their side; they may be still more disagreeably surprised upon finding that no Hindu could plead
more earnestly for animal life than did St. Paul in writing to the Romans. Hindus indeed claim mercy to
the dumb brute only on account of the doctrine of transmigration and hence of the sameness of the
principle or element that animates both man and brute. St. Paul goes further: he shows the animal
hoping for, and living in the expectation of the same "deliverance from the bonds of corruption"
as any good Christian. The precise expressions of that great apostle and philosopher will be quoted later
on in the present Essay and their true meaning shown.
The fact that so many interpreters--Fathers of the Church and scholastics,--tried to evade the real
meaning of St. Paul is no proof against its inner sense, but rather against the fairness of the theologians
whose inconsistency will be shown in this particular. But some people will support their propositions,
however erroneous, to the last. Others, recognizing their earlier mistake, will, like Cornelius a Lapide,
offer the poor animal amende honorable. Speculating upon the part assigned by nature to the brute
creation in the great drama of life, he says: "The aim of all creatures is the service of man. Hence,
together with him (their master) they are waiting for their renovation"--cum homine renovationem
suam expectant.4 "Serving" man, surely cannot mean being tortured, killed, uselessly shot and
otherwise misused; while it is almost needless to explain the word "renovation." Christians understand by
it the renovation of bodies after the second coming of Christ; and limit it to man, to the exclusion of
animals. The students of the Secret Doctrine explain it by the successive renovation and perfection of
forms on the scale of objective and subjective being, and in a long series of evolutionary transformations
from animal to man, and upward. . . .
This will, of course, be again rejected by Christians with indignation. We shall be told that it is not thus
that the Bible was explained to them, nor can it ever mean that. It is useless to insist upon it. Many and
sad in their results were the erroneous interpretations of that which people are pleased to call the "Word
of God." The sentence "cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren" (Gen. IX,
25),--generated centuries of misery and undeserved woe for the wretched slaves--the negroes. It is the
clergy of the United States who were their bitterest enemies in the anti-slavery question, which question
they opposed Bible in hand. Yet slavery is proved to have been the cause of the natural decay of every
country; and even proud Rome fell because "the majority in the ancient world were slaves," as Geyer
justly remarks. But so terribly imbued at all times were the best, the most intellectual Christians with
those many erroneous interpretations of the Bible, that even one of their grandest poets, while defending
the right of man to freedom, allots no such portion to the poor animal.
God gave us
only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over man
He made not lord; such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free
But, like murder, error "will out," and incongruity must unavoidably occur whenever erroneous
conclusions are supported either against or in favour of a prejudged question. The opponents of Eastern
philozoism thus offer their critics a formidable weapon to upset their ablest arguments by such
incongruity between premises and conclusions, facts postulated and deductions made.
It is the purpose of the present Essay to throw a ray of light upon this most serious and interesting
subject. Roman Catholic writers in order to support the genuineness of the many miraculous
resurrections of animals produced by their saints, have made them the subject of endless debates. The
"soul in animals" is, in the opinion of Bossuet, "the most difficult as the most important of all philosophical
Confronted with the doctrine of the Church that animals, though not soulless, have no permanent or
immortal soul in them, and that the principle which animates them dies with the body, it becomes
interesting to learn how the school-men and the Church divines reconcile this statement with that other
claim that animals may be and have been frequently and miraculously resurrected
Though but a feeble attempt--one more elaborate would require volumes--the present Essay, by
showing the inconsistency of the scholastic and theological interpretations of the Bible, aims at
convincing people of the great criminality of taking--especially in sport and vivisection--animal life. Its
object, at any rate, is to show that however absurd the notion that either man or brute can be resurrected after the life-principle has fled from the body forever, such resurrections--if they were true-- would not be more impossible in the case of a dumb brute than in that of a man; for either both are endowed by nature with what is so loosely called by us "soul," or neither the one nor the other is so endowed.
What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos, what a subject of contradiction! a
professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depository
and guardian of truth, and yet ad mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and the scandal
of the universe!
WE shall now proceed to see what are the views of the Christian Church as to the nature of the soul in
the brute, to examine how she reconciles the discrepancy between the resurrection of a dead animal and
the assumption that its soul dies with it, and to notice some miracles in connection with animals. Before
the final and decisive blow is dealt to that selfish doctrine, which has become so pregnant with cruel and
merciless practices toward the poor animal world, the reader must be made acquainted with the early
hesitations of the Fathers of the Patristic age themselves, as to the right interpretation of the words
spoken with reference to that question by St. Paul.
It is amusing to note how the Karma of two of the most indefatigable defenders of the Latin Church--
Messrs. Des. Mousseaux and De Mirville, in whose works the record of the few miracles here noted
are found--led both of them to furnish the weapons now used against their own sincere but very
The great battle of the Future having to be fought out between the "Creationists" or the Christians, as all the believers in a special creation and a personal
god, and the Evolutionists or the Hindus, Buddhists, all the Free-thinkers and last, though not least, most of the men of science, a recapitulation of their
respective positions is advisable.
1. The Christian world postulates its right over animal life: (a) on the afore-quoted Biblical texts and the later scholastic interpretations; (b) on the
assumed absence of anything like divine or human soul in animals. Man survives death, the brute does not.
2. The Eastern Evolutionists, basing their deductions upon their great philosophical systems, maintain it is a sin against nature`s work and progress to kill
any living being--for reasons given in the preceding pages.
3. The Western Evolutionists, armed with the latest discoveries of science, heed neither Christians nor Heathens. Some scientific men believe in
Evolution, others do not. They agree, nevertheless, upon one point: namely, that physical, exact research offers no grounds for the presumption that man is
endowed with an immortal, divine soul, any more than his dog.
Thus, while the Asiatic Evolutionists behave toward animals consistently with their scientific and religious views, neither the church nor the materialistic
school of science is logical in the practical applications of their respective theories. The former, teaching that every living thing is created singly and
specially by God, as any human babe may be, and that it finds itself from birth to death under the watchful care of a wise and kind Providence, allows the
inferior creation at the same time only a temporary soul. The latter, regarding both man and animal as the soulless production of some hitherto
undiscovered forces in nature, yet practically creates an abyss between the two. A man of science, the most determined materialist, one who proceeds to
vivisect a living animal with the utmost coolness, would yet shudder at the thought of laming--not to speak of torturing to death--his fellow man. Nor does
one find among those great materialists who were religiously inclined men any who have shown themselves consistent and logical in defining the true
moral status of the animal on this earth and the rights of man over it.
Some instances must now be brought to prove the charges stated. Appealing to serious and cultured minds it must be postulated that the views of the
various authorities here cited are not unfamiliar to the reader. It will suffice therefore simply to give short epitomes of some of the conclusions they have
arrived at--beginning with the Churchmen.
As already stated, the Church exacts belief in the miracles performed by her great Saints. Among the various prodigies accomplished we shall choose for
the present only those that bear directly upon our subject--namely, the miraculous resurrections of dead animals. Now one who credits man with an
immortal soul independent of the body it animates can easily believe that by some divine miracle the soul can be recalled and forced back into the
tabernacle it deserts apparently for ever. But how can one accept the same possibility in the case of an animal, since his faith teaches him that the animal
has no independent soul, since it is annihilated with the body? For over two hundred years, ever since Thomas of Aquinas, the Church has authoritatively
taught that the soul of the brute dies with its organism. What then is recalled back into the clay to reanimate it? It is at this juncture that scholasticism
steps in, and--taking the difficulty in hand--reconciles the irreconcilable.
It premises by saying that the miracles of the Resurrection of animals are numberless and as well authenticated as "the resurrection of our Lord Jesus
Christ."6 The Bollandists give instances without number. As Father Burigny, a hagiographer of the 17th century, pleasantly remarks concerning the
bustards resuscitated by St. Remi--"I may be told, no doubt, that I am a goose myself to give credence to such `blue bird` tales. I shall answer the joker, in
such a case, by saying that, if he disputes this point, then must he also strike out from the life of St. Isidore of Spain the statement that he resuscitated from
death his master`s horse; from the biography of St. Nicolas of Tolentino--that he brought back to life a partridge, instead of eating it; from that of St.
Francis--that he recovered from the blazing coals of an oven, where it was baking, the body of a lamb, which he forthwith resurrected; and that he also made
boiled fishes, which he resuscitated, swim in their sauce; etc., etc. Above all he, the sceptic, will have to charge more than 100,000 eye-witnesses--among
whom at least a few ought to be allowed some common sense--with being either liars or dupes."
A far higher authority than Father Burigny, namely, Pope Benedict (Benoit) XIV, corroborates and affirms the above evidence. The names, moreover, as
eye-witnesses to the resurrections, of Saint Sylvestrus, Francois de Paule, Severin of Cracow and a host of others are all mentioned in the Bollandists.
"Only he adds"--says Cardinal de Ventura who quotes him--"that, as resurrection, however, to deserve the name requires the identical and numerical
reproduction of the form,7 as much as of the material of the dead creature; and as that form (or soul) of the brute is always annihilated with its body
according to St. Thomas` doctrine, God, in every such case finds himself obliged to create for the purpose of the miracle a new form for the resurrected
animal; from which it follows that the resurrected brute was not altogether identical with what it had been before its death (non idem omnino esse.)"
Now this looks terribly like one of the mayas of magic. However, although the difficulty is not absolutely explained, the following is made clear: the
principle, that animated the animal during its life,. and which is termed soul, being dead or dissipated after the death of the body, another soul--"a kind of
an informal soul"--as the Pope and the Cardinal tell us--is created for the purpose of miracle by God; a soul, moreover, which is distinct from that of man,
which is "an independent, ethereal and ever lasting entity."
Besides the natural objection to such a proceeding being called a "miracle" produced by the saint, for it is simply God behind his back who "creates" for
the purpose of his glorification an entirely new soul as well as a new body, the whole of the Thomasian doctrine is open to objection. For, as Descartes
very reasonably remarks: "if the soul of the animal is so distinct (in its immateriality) from its body, we believe it hardly possible to avoid recognizing it
as a spiritual principle, hence--an intelligent one."
The reader need hardly be reminded that Descartes held the living animal as being simply an automaton, a "well wound up clock-work," according to
Malebranche. One, therefore, who adopts the Cartesian theory about the animal would do as well to accept at once the views of the modern materialists.
For, since that automaton is capable of feelings, such as love, gratitude, etc., and is endowed as undeniably with memory, all such attributes must be as
materialism teaches us "properties of matter." But if the animal is an "automaton," why not Man? Exact science-- anatomy, physiology, etc.,--finds not the
smallest difference between the bodies of the two; and who knows justly enquires Solomon--whether the spirit of man "goeth upward" any more than that of
the beast? Thus we find metaphysical Descartes as inconsistent as any one.
But what does St. Thomas say to this? Allowing a soul (anima) to the brute, and declaring it immaterial, he refuses it at the same time the qualification
of spiritual. Because, he says: "it would in such case imply intelligence, a virtue and a special operation reserved only for the human soul." But as at the
fourth Council of Lateran it had been decided that "God had created two distinct substances, the corporeal (mundanam) and the spiritual (spiritualem), and
that something incorporeal must be of necessity spiritual St. Thomas had to resort to a kind of compromise, which can avoid being called a subterfuge
only when performed by a saint. He says: "This soul of the brute is neither spirit, nor body; it is of a middle nature."9 This is a very unfortunate
statement. For elsewhere, St. Thomas says that "all the souls--even those of plants--have the substantial form of their bodies," and if this is true of plants,
why not of animals? It is certainly neither "spirit" nor pure matter, but of that essence which St. Thomas calls "a middle nature." But why, once on the
right path, deny it survivance--let alone immortality? The contradiction is so flagrant that De Mirville in despair exclaims, "Here we are, in the presence of
three substances, instead of the two, as decreed by the Lateran Council!", and proceeds forthwith to contradict, as much as he dares, the "Angelic Doctor."
The great Bossuet in his Traite de la Connaissance de Dieu et de soi meme analyses and compares the system of Descartes with that of St. Thomas. No
one can find fault with him for giving the preference in the matter of logic to Descartes. He finds the Cartesian "invention"--that of the automaton,--as
"getting better out of the difficulty" than that of St. Thomas, accepted fully by the Catholic Church; for which Father Ventura feels indignant against
Bossuet for accepting "such a miserable and puerile error." And, though allowing the animals a soul with all its qualities of affection and sense, true to his
master St. Thomas, he too refuses them intelligence and reasoning powers. "Bossuet," he says, "is the more to be blamed, since he himself has said: `I
foresee that a great war is being prepared against the Church under the name of Cartesian philosophy`." He is right there, for out of the "sentient matter" of
the brain of the brute animal comes out quite naturally Locke`s thinking matter, and out of the latter all the materialistic schools of our century. But when
he fails, it is through supporting St. Thomas` doctrine, which is full of flaws and evident contradictions. For, if the soul of the animal is, as the Roman
Church teaches, an informal, immaterial principle, then it becomes evident that, being independent of physical organism, it cannot "die with the animal"
any more than in the case of man. If we admit that it subsists and survives, in what respect does it differ from the soul of man? And that it is eternal--once
we accept St. Thomas` authority on any subject--though he contradicts himself elsewhere. "The soul of man is immortal, and the soul of the animal
perishes," he says (Summa, Vol. V. p. 164),--this, after having queried in Vol. II of the same grand work (p. 256) "are there any beings that re-emerge into
nothingness?" and answered himself:--"No, for in the Ecclesiastes it is said: (iii. 14) Whatsoever GOD doeth, it shall be for ever. With God there is no
variableness (James I. 17)." "Therefore," goes on St. Thomas, "neither in the natural order of things, nor by means of miracles, is there any creature that re-
emerges into nothingness (is annihilated); there is naught in the creature that is annihilated, for that which shows with the greatest radiance divine
goodness is the perpetual conservation of the creatures."l0
This sentence is commented upon and confirmed in the annotation by the Abbe Drioux, his translator. "No," he remarks--"nothing is annihilated; it is a
principle that has become with modern science a kind of axiom."
And, if so, why should there be an exception made to this invariable rule in nature, recognized both by science and theology,--only in the case of the soul
of the animal? Even though it had no intelligence, an assumption from which every impartial thinker will ever and very strongly demur.
Let us see, however, turning from scholastic philosophy to natural sciences, what are the naturalist`s objections to the animal having an intelligent and
therefore an independent soul in him.
"Whatever that be, which thinks, which understands, which acts, it is something celestial and divine; and upon that account must necessarily be eternal,"
wrote Cicero, nearly two millenniums ago. We should understand well, Mr. Huxley contradicting the conclusion,--St. Thomas of Aquinas, the "king of
the metaphysicians," firmly believed in the miracles of resurrection performed by St. Patrick.l1
Really, when such tremendous claims as the said miracles are put forward and enforced by the Church upon the faithful, her theologians should take more
care that their highest authorities at least should not contradict themselves, thus showing ignorance upon questions raised nevertheless to a doctrine.
The animal, then, is debarred from progress and immortality, because he is an automaton. According to Descartes, he has no intelligence, agreeably to
medi?val scholasticism; nothing but instinct, the latter signifying involuntary impulses, as affirmed by the materialists and denied by the Church.
Both Frederic and George Cuvier have discussed amply, however, on the intelligence and the instinct in animals.l2 Their ideas upon the subject have been
collected and edited by Flourens, the learned Secretary of the Academy of Sciences. This is what Frederic Cuvier, for thirty years the Director of the
Zoological Department and the Museum of Natural History at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, wrote upon the subject. "Descartes` mistake, or rather the
general mistake, lies in that no sufficient distinction was ever made between intelligence and instinct. Buffon himself had fallen into such an omission, and
owing to it every thing in his Zoological philosophy was contradictory. Recognizing in the animal a feeling superior to our own, as well as the
consciousness of its actual existence, he denied it at the same time thought, reflection, and memory, consequently every possibility of having thoughts."
(Buffon, Discourse on the Nature of Animals, VII, p. 57.) But, as he could hardly stop there, he admitted that the brute had a kind of memory, active,
extensive and more faithful than our (human) memory (Id. Ibid., p. 77). Then, after having refused it any intelligence, he nevertheless admitted that the
animal "consulted its master, interrogated him, and understood perfectly every sign of his will." (Id. Ibid., Vol. X, History of the Dog, p. 2.)
A more magnificent series of contradictory statements could hardly have been expected from a great man of science.
The illustrious Cuvier is right therefore in remarking in his turn, that "this new mechanism of Buffon is still less intelligible than Descartes` automaton."l3
As remarked by the critic, a line of demarcation ought to be traced between instinct and intelligence. The construction of beehives by the bees, the raising
of dams by the beaver in the middle of the naturalist`s dry floor as much as in the river, are all the deeds and effects of instinct forever unmodifiable and
changeless, whereas the acts of intelligence are to be found in actions evidently thought out by the animal, where not instinct but reason comes into play,
such as its education and training calls forth and renders susceptible of perfection and development. Man is endowed with reason, the infant with instinct;
and the young animal shows more of both than the child.
Indeed, every one of the disputants knows as well as we do that it is so. If any materialist avoid confessing it, it is through pride. Refusing a soul to both
man and beast, he is unwilling to admit that the latter is endowed with intelligence as well as himself, even though in an infinitely lesser degree. In their
turn the churchman, the religiously inclined naturalist, the modern metaphysician, shrink from avowing that man and animal are both endowed with soul
and faculties, if not equal in development and perfection, at least the same in name and essence. Each of them knows, or ought to know that instinct and
intelligence are two faculties completely opposed in their nature, two enemies confronting each other in constant conflict; and that, if they will not admit of
two souls or principles, they have to recognize, at any rate, the presence of two potencies in the soul, each having a different seat in the brain, the
localization of each of which is well known to them, since they can isolate and temporarily destroy them in turn--according to the organ or part of the
organs they happen to be torturing during their terrible vivisections. What is it but human pride that prompted Pope to say:
Ask for whose
end the heavenly bodies shine;
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, `Tis for mine.
For me kind nature wakes her genial power,
Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower.
For me the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies!
And it is the same unconscious pride that made Buffon utter his paradoxical remarks with reference to the difference between man and animal. That
difference consisted in the "absence of reflection, for the animal," he says, "does not feel that he feels." How does Buffon know? "It does not think that it
thinks," he adds, after having told the audience that the animal remembered, often deliberated, compared and chose!l4 Who ever pretended that a cow or a
dog could be an idealogist? But the animal may think and know it thinks, the more keenly that it cannot speak, and express its thoughts. How can Buffon
or any one else know? One thing is shown however by the exact observations of naturalists and that is, that the animal is endowed with intelligence; and
once this is settled, we have but to repeat Thomas Aquinas` definition of intelligence--the prerogative of man`s immortal soul--to see that the same is due to
But in justice to real Christian philosophy, we are able to show that primitive Christianity has never preached such atrocious doctrines--the true cause of
the falling off of so many of the best men as of the highest intellects from the teachings of Christ and his disciples.
III O Philosophy, thou guide of life, and discoverer of virtue!
Philosophy is a modest profession, it is all reality and plain dealing; I hate solemnity and pretence, with nothing but pride at the
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