The Situation

Amongst the issues that were able to get the attention of millions of people from different walks of life is the fight for the rights of animals. Indeed it has grown from local conservative issues to global campaigns to stop the onslaught on one of the worlds finite resource. This essay will take off from the last word of the last sentence- resource. As Khan (2002) puts it, the global crisis regarding the rights of animals can be rooted from the problem of equating animals as a resource (18). This trend puts the place of animals from the ranks of living things to the new classification defined by the global trade and the pressuring economies- resources. As the Dalai Lama (2002) stresses, animals of all species are being threatened not just because of the expansionist stance by the global economy but more so because of the existence of human actions that are not in line with the needed commitment in the values which should be inherent to an individual- humanitarian values (20). The choice of refusing to believe that animals may have the ability to intellectually process the horrors of their deaths in slaughterhouses, laboratories and even recreational game hunting expeditions justifies all of their deaths. In short, they are being hunted, butchered and even stuffed because of their ignorance. As Kahn (2002) clearly puts this issue into play, humans have been able to justify the deaths and maltreatments they have caused on animals through the loop holes of the term wise use (17). This continually happens as if history and time cannot account for the continuously increasing populations of priced animal resources such as tusker elephants and whales. The too economic perspective used by humans can even make the existence of other species irrelevant and invalid in achieving the goals set upon by those who are involved in this trade (Kahn 2002, 18). This essay will use these contexts pointed out clearly to explain the relevance of animal rights and feelings even in this highly scientific world.    

For the sake of organization, this essay will exhaustively use this stand point on the context set out by Coetzees The Lives of Animals. The text provided by Coetzee through his book will be compared with one of the leading texts that aim to establish the foundations of consciousness on animals. Nagels What is it like to be a bat will be used to validate or contradict the points laid down by Coetzee in his book. The conclusion of this essay will use both of these texts to drive out an intelligible generalization on the pressing issues of animal rights. The similarities found in their texts will be used to emphasize the value of animals apart from the fact that they are vital in the world economies. On the other hand, their contradictions will be used to explain the possible loop holes in the generalizations made by these men to assume their present day stances regarding the rights of animals. Ultimately, at the end of this essay an answer to the question Should rationality be the only basis for the recognition of animal rights is deemed to be arrived at backed up with proofs and evidences from these two major authors and other leading writers of this topic.

Coetzees Lives of Animals Attitude and Assumptions
For this essay, chapter three of Coetzees Lives of Animals will be used to argue for the issues pushed forth by Coetzee regarding the issue of animal rights. Most conservationists opted to press and lobby their advocacies through legal battles strongly played on scientific battlefields. Surprisingly, Coetzee attempt to pursue the same goal of asserting the rights of animals, but only through a different manner- critical discourse. This critical discourse pushed forward by Coetzee in the chapters three and four of his book uses the context set upon by many philosophers regarding the relationship of rationality to the assertion of animal rights (Lodge 2003, np). In this chapter Coetzee used different situations to situate its readers to the context of his writing. Coetzee used the conditions of those who are in the concentration camps during the Reichs rule to magnify the effects of over rationalizing the value of life and even more the dangers of equating it as an answer to many rational reasons, economics being one (Lodge 2003, np). Coetzee through the personification of Elizabeth Contello pushed forth the issue that rationality cannot always account for everything that exists (Lodge 2003, np). The logic is simple more particularly for the work of Nagel (1974) which implies that rationality is the subjective part of experience because it is too abstract to understand. As Nagel (1974) put it at its best, perception is not objective in any ways there are different ways of perceiving a single event. Individuals such as human beings have their own rights as a human being and as a member of the dominant species (np). Following this line of thinking, it becomes too immature to assume the direct correlative assumptions regarding rationality and the existence of animal rights. Humans for the longest time recorded forced themselves to become the masters of the world. Luckily, Coetzee (2003) was able to discuss the possible harms of such thinking by citing the harms done by the Jewish persecution during the reign of the Reich (np). This comparison was used to show that removing the human and utilitarian factor between rights and rationality can result to the same horrors. As Lodge (2003) comparatively analyzed the Jewish persecution and animal rights, they have the same moving factor- exploitation (np). They are both fueled by exploitation instead of use and a growing assault on the personal subjectivity of experience and rationality. The Nazi regime assumed that Jews cannot possibly bring anything good to this world that is why there is a necessity to exterminate them, in the same way that butchers kills millions of animals for the sake of economically valuing the lives of similarly alive animals. Both of these populations have shared the same fate of being alienated from their rational selves. However, according to Lodge (2003) there is a vital difference, the Jewish persecution has already ended but the butchering shows no sign of stopping (np).

Nagel and the Bats Mind
One of the leading scholars that paid mind to the philosophical aspect of asserting animal rights is Thomas Nagel. He used consciousness to answer the possibilities that rationality and assertion of rights belong to the same group of mental faculties. Everything that an individual or a species know would rely on a great collection of consciousness. As Nagel (1974) would define it, consciousness is the time where the physical and mental experiences jive in such a way that it creates a new knowledge for the holder of such consciousness (np). Obviously, human relations can be proved to exist through the consciousness of many different and similar men. This is assumable because the assumer is a human being. Nagel in his essay situates the assumer apart from the assumed by trying to find a way to know what is inside the mind of a bat. Nagel (1974) encounters a problem in his assumptions through the pressures of finding a way to see whether is it really true that human beings are the only mammalian species knowledgeable enough to have their very own consciousness (np). On the other hand, Nagel is also troubled by proving that it is not only human beings who have developed to have the same mental faculty. This difference can be attributed to the lack of experiences which can be experienced by human beings such as Nagel to assess whether other species have their own consciousness. If there is only one good thing in Nagels essay it is that he was able to establish that human beings cannot really tell or assume that animals cannot feel or mentally process what is happening to them. Instead, Nagel (1974) assumes that unless human beings can establish the fact that animals are incapable of rationality, humans should always reflect on the possibility that there is something to be and feel like a certain animal, as for Nagels essay the bat (np).

According to Nagel (1974) Humans in return have limited spectrum of imagined and actual experiences because they only have a singular perspective of living (np). As for the case of the bat, the perspective of the bat can only be seen through human eyes if the humans would situate themselves to the same experiences possibly present in the bats consciousness. Nagel (1974) confirms that indeed human beings have the scientific capability to magnify the actual and physical attributes of bats to gain a sense of knowledge regarding the species (np). But still, to know what the bat sees and feels through his actual and physical attributes can never be achieved because it is exclusive for the bat alone.

Nagel and Coetzee in a Spoonful          
Nagel and Coetzee focused their discussions in troublesome establishment of what is believed to be and to be like for for both human beings and animals. Coetzee (2002) established through Elizabeth Contello that it is more probable that human beings are continuously failing to take into account that other living beings such as animals are capable of feeling and rationalizing. Nagel (1974) puts that humans cannot assume such thing because their consciousness are limited to the experiences which can be gained by a human being (np). Their failure to situate themselves in the perspective similar to that of animals make them prejudicial to the call that maybe animals need rights and protection in the same way that human beings need the same mechanisms.

Nagel (1974) continually reiterates along his essay that perceptions are not objective because they belong to the subjective part of consciousness (np). Coetzee (2003) assumes the same thing by implying that animals and humans are two set of species that have differentiated means of gaining experience. Even if they differ in the manner that their experiences show up in their perception of the world, rationalization of experiences is still present to both species (np). The problem arrived at through the complexities of the consciousness, experience and perspective is well displayed by Elizabeth Contello through her hysteria regarding her vegetarianism, she sees for sale meat as evidences of a brutal murder which is excused from the laws that usually govern murder cases. If Nagel is to explain that situation, he would simply say that such situation is a result of the discrepancy of the discerned experience of Elizabeth Contello that molded her consciousness which latter results to such perspective in the form of her hysteria. In a way Coetzee simplifies the analysis presented by Nagel, from a bat which cannot be understood Coetzee transformed the bat to Elizabeth. She is just like the bat which can never be understood by others. As for Elizabeth those that criticize her ways (vegetarianism being one) can never understand her stand on animal rights because they have different perspective on the subject at hand. Coetzee morphed the point of Nagel to a more human form to make more people see the relation of the points that they are trying to make- no one can be the judge of others rationality. As for this essay, humans cannot judge the rationality of their own kind (Elizabeth and her critics) what more when it comes to animals.

Human beings can no longer use the justification through ignorance when they opt to butcher animals, simply because they cannot really tell if the animal is ignorant at all or incapable of rationalizing. As illustrated by Coetzee (2002) and Nagel (1974), no one can really judge whether species (human and animals) have their own mental faculties needed for rationalization simply because their experience and point of view cannot be shared by others. Following the discussions earlier it can be concluded that rationality is irrelevant for conserving the lives of animals, because it is impossible to assess. Instead, lives of animals should be assessed according to a moral code of actions as said by Gandhi (2002) these actions will not subject any species (human and animal alike) to any form of process which may deny them of their right to be recognized in terms of existence and the rights that come along with it.  


Post a Comment