arjand wrote: ↑December 15th, 2020, 10:12 am
baker wrote: ↑December 15th, 2020, 9:56 am
It could be due to his rationalism, regardless of his religious affiliation.
Could a religion or rationalistic conviction explain an urge to torture animals? Would a philosopher need an act of violence or the infliction of pain to achieve understanding about the world and in specific consciousness and (animal) mind?
The reason you don't understand is because you are not paying attention to what is being stated. Descartes would say he was not torturing animals. He did not believe he was causing any pain in anything at all. He believed that non-human animals did not have consciousness and did not experience pain. That they are machines, just like that car engine that Steve3007 tinkered with in this post:
The sputtering of the car's engine did not make Steve3007 believe that he was causing any pain at all.
To go back to Descartes. He believed, due to believing in Christianity, that humans were created differently than other animals. The Bible is the source of that idea. And because humans are made in the image of God, and not animals, humans have souls and animals do not. He believed that souls were immaterial things that are attached to some bodies (humans). Consciousness, he believed, was due to having a soul. So, non-human animals, according to this theory, experience no pain at all and are just machines.
It might be easier for you to think about it this way. Imagine that someone makes a computer, that is not conscious, and sticks it in a robot of a dog. Imagine that the program and robot is designed to simulate a dog, so if you kick the robot, it yelps like a real dog. You might kick it without any concern, because you believe it is not conscious and it does not experience pain. That is what Descartes believed he was doing.
Additionally, Descartes was not an empiricist. He was a rationalist. This means that he believed that one can learn truths about the world just by thinking about the world, without bothering with experience. So that is how he approached the question of whether animals feel pain.
If he had been an empiricist, trying to discover what has a soul by consulting experience, he may well have noticed, as David Hume did, that non-human animals react very much like humans, and so the reasonable thing to suppose is that they, too, are conscious and experience pain and etc. Here you can read a sample of what Hume had to say about animals reasoning:
So, because Descartes was a "good Catholic", he believed the religious twaddle that that superstition promotes. And because he was a rationalist, he did not let actual experience alter his opinion on this, believing that just thinking about things (like his silly religious beliefs) would get him the truth about the world. So the dog acting like it is suffering meant nothing to him.
Here we see the true value of religion.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume