The Bible

Human-Animal: Hierarchies of Beings in Aristotle and Ecclesiastes College

Animal rights have recently become a topic of interest in contemporary society, primarily due to the endangerment of many species, and the use of animals for types of lab testing. Human understanding of animals in the western world is shaped by the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s ideas of the human-animal relationship – present in his work Nicomachean Ethics. Other definitions of the human-animal relationship contrast with Aristotle’s, such as Qoheleth’s in Ecclesiastes, a book included in the bible. Aristotle determines that animals are subservient to humans due to their inability to reason, whereas Qoheleth suggests a form of equality between humans and animals due to their shared fate. By contrasting these philosophical texts, I argue that Aristotle’s faulty logic of human superiority creates a problematic mindset that can lead to human exploitation of their relationship with animals. However, Qoheleth’s interpretation places humans in an inferior context, promoting a sense of equality that allows for a respectful relationship between humans and animals.

Aristotle distinguishes humans as superior due to their ability to reason and attain happiness, aspects he sees absent in animals. To define the work of humans, Aristotle...

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