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Discusiones Filosóficas

Print version ISSN 0124-6127

Abstract

GONZALEZ-FERNANDEZ, RODRIGO ALFONSO. Is the ‘monstrous thesis’ truly cartesian?. discus.filos [online]. 2017, vol.18, n.30, pp.15-33. ISSN 0124-6127.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17151/difil.2017.18.30.2.

According to Kemp Smith, Descartes believed that animals lacked feelings and sensations. This belief is called ‘monstrous thesis’ which I explore here in the light of two Cartesian approaches to animals. In the fi rst place, I analyze their original treatment based on an early metaphysical approach of Descartes, for example, every natural phenomenon must be explained in terms of pure mental scrutiny. As pain would only exist in the understanding, and the animals lack understanding and souls, Descartes would have considered that they did not suffer. In the second place, I examine the Cartesian late naturalism, specifi cally in relation to how animals are considered as machines that could suffer. Lastly, I conclude that the ‘Monstrous Thesis’ is not truly Cartesian because animals are machines with feelings and sensations. However, Descartes’ indulgent attitude towards humans who kill and eat animals, supposes that empathy for beings who could suffer is not necessary. This gives raise to doubts about another ‘Monstrous Thesis’.

Keywords : Animals; machines; pain; the ‘Monstrous Thesis’.

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