Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights

Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights  by Daniel A. Dombrowski

Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights

Daniel A. Dombrowski

“Man may or may not do his best. So man is the grandest and the sorriest animal there is.”

This book was a rich read for many reasons. Among them was the discovery of Charles Hartshorne, an American philosopher who was wholly unknown to us before reading Dombrowski. Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000), who completed his Harvard B.A., M.A, and Ph.D. all within four years, who taught and lectured until the age of 98, contributed immensely to the philosophy of religion, to our conceptions of God, and to a clear-eyed view of our relationship with nature.

This book, Dombrowski tells us, is “primarily about the relationship between Hartshorne’s theory of God and his thoughts on animals.” Thoughts about God and about man’s relationship with the other life on our planet – these are enormous subjects whatever the company. Enter Charles Hartshorne and Daniel Dombrowski and we have a book that reaches far beyond its stated purpose.

In Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights we learn about the history of our relationship with animals, about the role the major religions have played in influencing our attitudes and behaviors toward animals. We are reminded about the many commonalities between ourselves and our fellow creatures, including the many feelings we share. We examine not only Hartshorne’s ideas about God and about animals but also those of Hartshorne’s teachers, from Plato and the Ancient Greeks to Emerson, Wordsworth, and Alfred North Whitehead.

Dombrowski with the assistance of Hartshorne makes a compelling case for a complete overhaul of thousands of years of an accepted view of animals. He explores the foundations of a truly ethical relationship with our animal brethren, one based in a genuine recognition of the rights of all of God’s creatures – the same rights we would not be denied ourselves.

This is a powerful book that we highly recommend. We do however believe it should come with a warning. It should be consumed only by those who are either vegetarian or prepared to give vegetarianism serious consideration. The heightened sensitivity that comes from it is that inescapable.

The Gleam of Light Team

Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights
Daniel A. Dombrowski
1988, State University of New York Press

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