Ancient assumptions of contemporary considerations of nature, life and non-human living beings

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Advocates of the questioning of the dominant anthropocentric perspective of the world have been increasingly strongly presenting (bio)ethical demands for a new solution of the relationship between humans and other beings, saying that adherence to the Western philosophical and theological traditions has caused the current environmental, and not just environmental, crisis. The attempts are being made to establish a new relationship by relativizing the differences between man and the non-human living beings, often by attributing specifically human traits and categories, such as dignity, moral status and rights to non-human living beings. The author explores antecedents of the standpoints that deviate from the mainstream Western philosophy, in terms of non-anthropocentric extension of ethics, and finds them in the fragments of first physicists, which emphasize kinship of all varieties of life. Pythagoras, Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus, in this context, considered certain animals and plants as sacred, i.e. they believed that they are, in a sense, responsible for what they do and that they apart from being able to be driven by a natural desire, being able to breathe, feel, be sad and happy, also have a soul, power of discernment, awareness, the ability to think, understanding and mind. Finally, the author believes that solutions or mitigation of the mentioned crisis are not in the simple Aesopeian levelling of animals and plants "upwards", but in an adequate paideutic approach which in humans will develop an inherent (bio)ethical model of accepting non-human living beings as creatures who deserve moral and decent treatment and respect.

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Zeljko Kaluderovic

University of Novi Sad


Dr. of philosophy, Full professor, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy


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