"A guide for the Perplexed" Discussion Thread

This starts the second round of book discussions related to religious topics. We are discussing A Guide for the Perplexed, by E. F. Schumacher. As before, the rules are (1) no insults and (2) you must read the book to participate.

In the discussion of The God Delusion I talked about my own upbringing and several posters wanted to pursue that topics further. Schumacher begins his book by talking about his upbringing. His experience is similar to mine, so I hope it will help explain my points more clearly.

As he says, every child receives “philosophical maps” that explain how important various topics are, and where those topics stand in relation to each other. The child doesn’t get the complete map at one time; rather, it is built up slowly from parents, teachers, and other adults, and from books and textbooks and many other sources. So given a particular philosophical belief, a person often can’t pinpoint exactly where it came from even though there’s no doubt it was foisted on him or her strongly during childhood.

What Schumacher and myself noted most about the philosophical maps we got was not what they contained, but what they left out. They left out what most human thinkers have pursued most vigorously for most of history. They leave out religion, most obviously, but also much of history, literature, art, and phenomena that are deemed “paranormal”. Our education did not explain why we wouldn’t study these things; rather, it simply mentioned them as little possible.

One obvious consequence of this is that we learned to give great respect to certain people and things, particularly scientific institutions. (There’s no doubt that Schumacher writes this book mainly with the claims of scientific materialism and determinism in mind.) His goal is to offer a map that includes everything, including what other maps leave out.

I’ve only just finished chapter 5, but already I have a number of very significant issues with the book, so I hope you don’t mind if jump in right now. I’ve made some notes directly after I read each chapter, which I think I may post directly and see what responses that I get.

First off (and this will reappear in my notes) would you mind my asking what your education was in? I see in your profile that you are a math and science teacher, so I guess you got your degrees in one of those? If so, what did you expect? It seems unreasonable to choose to study science, say physics, and then complain that the education you received was composed mostly of physics.

On preview, I looked again and Schumacher makes the problem out to be primarily one with the school system, while yours seems to be a broader view, so perhaps the above question isn’t entirely useful.

As for myself, I am currently a grad student in applied math. My B.S. was essentially operations research/systems engineering. All students were required to take some general education courses when I was an undergrad, and I took most of mine in philosophy. It was never my experience that any course tried to tried to hide relevant traditional views from the students.

Chapter 1: On Philosophical Maps

My first reaction: I think that I am not perplexed. Except perhaps about what Schumacher wants.

Schumacher starts talking about his education, and the “philosophical maps” that he was given. The book was published before my time, so it’s possible that education has changed quite substantially, but his experience was definitely not mine.

Schumacher acknowledges some difficulty in what exactly “proved” means, but if we take a restrictive view, this sentence would describe only the mathematics courses that I’ve taken. If we admit a more liberal definition, it we can add the sciences and engineering (and perhaps some things like architecture that I don’t take), but that’s it. In my experience, the education that seeks to answer Schumacher’s questions do not lay any claim to absolute truth. I took a few philosophy courses (and other general education type classes), and they all included a variety of viewpoints on the questions they sought to answer, both modern and historic. They showed the areas of contention and gave samples of the major ideas.

In my experience, Schumacher’s idea that education shows only the dead churches is simply false.

Well, yeah. I don’t see how you can get around this without being a young earth creationist. Modern humans are around 200,000 years old, and there have been about 100 billion of us. As I understand the history, monotheism itself is no younger than civilization, so around 10,000 years. Before that, all of our ancestors were wrong, whether you are a Christian or an atheist. Furthermore, I don’t see Christians assigning any more truth value to the various other creation stories than atheists do to a literal reading of Genesis.

I don’t know what to think when he mentions paranormal phenomena.

I’m curious about the following statement

I don’t know how that is symbolized by the cross. It seems to me about as two-dimensional as you’re likely to get in our three dimensional world. It looks like the axes of a Cartesian plane to me. Perhaps you could clarify this for me.

I just want to say that it is incredibly slow and difficult reading something you profoundly disagree with so my hat goes off to all the theists who read The God Delusion. That couldn’t have been an easy read. My copy of Perplexed has margins full of notes and I have a lot of questions, but I’ll start out with only a few.

A sticking point for me is his Levels of Being and what they point too for the author

“It is possible to imagine a perfect being who is always and invariably exercising It’s power of self-awareness, which is the power of freedom, to the fullest degree, unmoved by any necessity. This would be a Diving Being, an almighty and sovereign power, a perfect Unity.” (30)

It seems strange to me to distinguish the Four Levels of Being with advances incomprehensible to the lower levels (a plant doesn’t know what it takes to be an animal, an animal has no idea what it takes to being a human) and then to describe the level above humans in human terms. A perfect plant doesn’t then become an animal.
"As the Scholastics used to say:…- which means that to be properly human, you must go beyond the merely human. "(38)

“A human being can indeed strain and stretch toward the higher and induce a process of growth through adoration, awe, wonder, admiration, and imitation, and by attaining a higher level expand its understanding.” (21)

Forget for a moment if it’s even possible, but will a plants life be more rewarding if it imitates an animal? Will an animal be able to transcend it’s level by imitating and adoring humans?

Sitnam, I think that Schumacher did address those exact questions. Read again the last paragraph from chapter 3.

So to answer your last question, humans strive to be the best possible humans. Plants do not strive to be the best possible plants, and animals do not strive to be the best possible animals. They try for food, sex, shelter, and suchlike, but by definition of what they are, they don’t seek to imitate higher levels of the chain. Chesterton put it this way:

Now your second question is why does Schumacher agree with the Scholastics that humans must seek to rise beyond the merely human. His argument could be summarized like this. I am human as defined by the power of self-awareness. This includes the ability to evaluate myself and determine what in me is good and what is a bad. To be truly human I must do this evaluation. (Refusal to do so would mean slipping closer to the animal level.) And if I do the evaluation, then I must use the results to fight my bad aspects and increase my good aspects, otherwise the evaluation would be a waste. Hence, to be properly human I must move towards higher levels.

(Admittedly this doesn’t yet prove that such would constitute moving towards something existing on the chain higher than human, but that quote at the end of ch. 3 is basically a teaser for the rest of the book.)

I’m glad, at least, that we’re in agreement about how modern philosophy looks at our ancestors. I was afraid someone might argue that Schumacher’s summary was a gross exaggeration, in which case I’d point out that Dawkins used the exact same words in many cases. With that out of the way, I’ll tackle the meat of the argument.

You say you don’t see Christians assigning any “truth value” to other creation stories. I do. More generally, members of all religions can respectfully disagree across all religions. All religion involves pursuit of higher levels of being. Once that’s understood, one sees why disagreement would be expected and often even viewed as encouraging. If it were the case that the Jews were the only group with a religion and that the other 10,000-odd human tribes had been militant atheists from the beginning, there’d be a good case that the Jews were merely deluded. As is, that argument carries less water.

By contrast, the atheist approach that an overwhelming majority of human beings have believed in imaginary beings, pursued impossible goals, and made decisions on utterly illogical reasoning does not allow such respectful disagreement. By nature, it belittles and disdains almost everybody.

Now the issue of prehistoric humans is tough to deal with since we have no knowledge of their beliefs, only guesswork. But even there, the modern approach is to paint “the caveman” as the popular image of ugly, slow, and dumb, or perhaps blindly obedient to certain evolutionary trends. By contrast, Chesterton begins his book The Everlasting Man with a defense of the caveman, as a prelude to defending everyone who came later. In regards to later meetings of religion, Christian missionarries have approached meetings with tribal religious systems as opportunities for teaching. This contrasts with, for instance, Dawkins’ explanation that a certain primitive tribe was merely “dumb”.

You may want to ask exactly what I accept from various other religious traditions. I can’t answer because I haven’t studied most of the others in depth. I hope to at some future point. But many great writers and thinkers have, and there are countless books on the topic, so there’s no basis for saying that members of each religion disdain all the others.

You’re going to have to explain how you interpret “truth value.” It seems like this would be an easy way to defeat a common atheist argument. Generally an atheist asks whether someone believes in Zeus, Thor of Vishnu. Just as easily, an atheist could ask whether a Christian believes that Mbombo “felt a terrible pain in his stomach, and vomited the sun, the moon, and the stars.” If they do believe it, it seems simple enough to say so.

I think this will come up later in the books, so I might wait until then to respond.

Let’s even take this out of the religious sphere: Believed in imaginary beings? Sure. Here’s a survey where 58% British teens believed that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. Virtually all children here in America believe in Santa Claus at some point. Pursued impossible goals? How many people have wanted to become “the greatest” at something: football quarterback, rocket scientist, rock star? Made decisions on utterly illogical reasoning? You’ve never made a decision only to later think, “wow, that was stupid”?

People are fallible, and this is the case regardless of how hard we try or how much we care about the outcome.

I interpreted “truth value” as wisdom. That is to say, followers of one religion are generally willing to search for wisdom in other traditions. Certainly Christian education has always included the old Pagan mythologies, and encouraged students to seek wisdom in them.

The Creation story in Genesis teaches us an important lesson, specifically that all things in the universe were created with a purpose in mind. As for Mbombo, his story may have a purpose as well. I haven’t studied it.

In response to your last point, I’ll only say that telling people they’re conducting their lives based on imaginary things is a different level from that sort of thing. The teens are wrong about Sherlock Holmes precisely because they pay so little attention to him. But followers of any religion pursue that religion deeply. Saying that it’s all imaginary can’t mean anything other than calling them “pathetic illusionists”.

On education, I imagine that what Schumacher would prefer is classical education. Now classical education was almost the exclusive kind of education in western society, and its core principle was teaching human beings how to be human beings. To that end, it focuses in the early years on teaching grammar (distinguishing factual vs. non-factual), in the middle years on logic (distinguishing sound reasoning from unsound), and in the later years on rhetoric (distinguishing good rhetoric from bad). The guiding principle is that the student learns to apply all learning to himself or herself, and use it to guide his or her life. And the way to do this is to study the past achievements of the human race.

Now when I went through high school the requirements included four years of English, one year of American history, and two years of foreign language. Other social sciences were all electives, as were art, music, and drama. There were no classes in philosophy or religion. So in short, it offered students almost no chance to learn most of the history of the human race, how human thinking developed through history, or what worldviews existed in the past and present. (That comes just from reflecting on what courses were offered. Much more could be said about the content of the courses.)

But the real deficiency on the philosophical maps that Schumacher and I are unhappy with is that they don’t show personal issues. They put big emphasis on topics that don’t impact our lives, and little or none on topics that might help young people lead better, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Traditionally, educators approached those topics through philosophy, theology, art, literature, and poetry, which is why those subjects were the main subjects in education until recently. Schumacher will discuss what he considers important in his four fields of knowledge. He doesn’t have space in this book to offer a complete theory of what education should be.

That ancient texts and stories can tell us quite a lot about the people who told them (and us as well, since we are not fundamentally different) seems incredibly obvious to me. But so do extensions of this principle (made possible and rigorous only through our materialistic scientism) that Schumacher vehemently rejects in the next chapter. Parables and facts, however, have entirely different purposes. Outspoken atheists are interested in knowing whether there is in fact a god, and not whether “god” is one interpretation of phenomena spanning cultures and generations. This knowledge is important, it seems to me, even in practical life, for example, deciding whether we ought to “amend the Constitution so it’s in God standards”.

I’ll take the point for now, though I’m sure it will come up again. I will add that it seems that Schumacher thinks much worse of me than being a pathetic illusionist.

My high school education sounds quite similar to yours. The nature of education has changed quite a bit over the years, but so has the nature of the educated. We’ve got it into our minds that everyone ought to be educated. Classical education focused mostly on the upper classes, not the least because the lower class members might starve if they took the time to get educated. The brute facts of life weigh heavily on us to this day, and so people believe (reasonably I think) that that education has failed if it cannot help us to get at least to the level of sustenance. We cannot have a happy life if we have no life at all.

I’m working on finishing up my notes on chapter 2, and you can probably guess where my objections lay. Hopefully I can post them tomorrow.

This is a bit of a later posting than I had intended, but by my clock it is technically still the day after my last post :).

Schumacher manages to squeeze quite a few things to disagree with in a scant 11 pages, including some things that seem to me mutually-contradictory. I’ve selected a couple passages to respond to, which I think may be the most important.

Schumacher begins by stating that there are four great levels of being: mineral, plant, animal and man, and that each of these levels is identified with a combination of “powers”, m (matter), x (life), y (consciousness) and z (self-awareness). He goes on to say that each of these elements is irreducible and fundamentally mysterious, without, as far as I can tell, much argument or so much as a good reason for believing this. Needless to say, I disagree, and think he gets it precisely backwards in his discussion, but that is probably for another time. He also uses the word “discontinuous” quite a few times, though I don’t see anything that implies an actual discontinuity. More on this later. After telling us that x, y and z are inherently mysterious and could never be understood, he writes:

Now, this seems to be a contradiction. Either our capacities for “purposeful learning, investigating, exploring, and of formulating and accumulating knowledge” truly are limitless, in which case we could potentially explain x, y and z; or we are fundamentally unable to explain x, y and z, so our capacities are limited. Perhaps someone can clear this up.

Aside from the seeming unfairness of this statement, Schumacher berating scientists for not studying something that he claims cannot be studied scientifically, I don’t know what Schumacher means by “life as such.” I have a pretty clear idea of what I would mean by “life as such” had I uttered this statement; but that cannot be what Schumacher means, because for me, studying “life as such” would certainly require “devot[ing] infinite attention to the study and analysis of the physicochemical body that is life’s carrier.” So, my question/challenge to the theists: define “life as such,” and suggest a plan or method for its scientific study.

Since I’m sure this will be coming up later

[li]The analogy can be fixed quite quickly by keeping it consistent: saying that Hamlet is a property of certain peculiar combinations of letters. Under Schumacher’s definition, Hamlet could not survive a single typographical error intact. In the sphere of life even individual organisms change their atoms at a fairly quick pace, so we must admit a certain fuzziness to the boundary of what defines an individual, so the change in the analogy is perfectly consistent with what materialistic scientismists want. It also defeats the argument about translations.[/li][li]I’m perfectly happy that the letters of the alphabet are not the appropriate way to discretize Hamlet for this context. If thought is discretizable (and I would be quite surprised if it turns out not to be) then we have another basis for making the analogy quite apart from the letters used in the play.[/li][/ol]

I also have a problem with phrases like “nothing but” and “explain away.” In this book (as in Lewis before), the phrases are always used to indicate that the value of those things being explained. This is not how any of the materialists I’ve ever spoken to think of explanation in that way.

Finally, I’ve selected a couple paragraphs from the end of the chapter about the “discontinuities” that he seems to insist on. I will preface this just a bit. There seem to be two issues here: (1) that there exist things in reality that can be reasonably classified as plants, animals or humans, and (2) that there exist “discontinuities” between these classifications. While these points are similar, they are not the same, and Schumacher seems to argue for (1) but concludes (2).

Wrong. He is of course correct that difficulties in classification around the fringes are not evidence for the non-existence of the classes. But difficulties in classification positively argue against the existence of discontinuities between the classes. And it’s not just “difficulties of classification” that we see in the natural world: wherever we put the demarcation line between two kingdoms, we can always find things on either side that are arbitrarily similar—and that’s as good a definition of continuity as you’re going to get*,**. Schumacher can claim that the “powers” that members of the lower kingdom posses are simply not true Scotsmen, but unless he or someone else can provide a compelling reason to draw the line on some specific place I see no reason to take the supposed “discontinuities,” nor attempts to explain away (and yes, I mean “explain away”) difficulties with hand-waiving and appeals to " mimicry or counterfeit" seriously.

  • After I wrote this, I thought I should comment on a couple of difficulties dealing with continuity. The first issue is that we’re dealing with a system that is fundamentally discrete, whether we measure evolution in terms of time (with discrete generations) or in terms of “design” (presumably in terms of discrete genes), and so the entire notion of continuity or discontinuity becomes murky. Secondly, the definition of continuity that I proposed will still allow, mathematically, for single point discontinuities (i.e., say f(x) = x, except at x = 2, and f(2) = 4). However, this does not bother me in this context, because a line defining two kingdoms should not intersect anything, so we need not worry about a discontinuity that consists of a single point.

** I should also add that Schumacher could be right about some of the discontinuities, but for the wrong reasons. It could be that consciousness really is either there or not, i.e., even the simplest even the simplest brain-like organs exhibit all of the basic behaviors of more complex brains. But we can only say this if we can demonstrate it, and if we can do that, we may well have a good idea about why it happens (through models of neural activity, for example). Furthermore, this would make the interpretation of unguided evolution even more probable and more convincing, since the amount of work required by evolution has just decreased.

I hate to barge in, but:

. . . is only true if one views the following of images and story as pathetic. One can, for example, think it’s all imaginary and yet value the role that mankind’s belief in the imaginary plays in our development of self.

I think some confusion may arise from the terms used, especially since definitions have grown so sloppy in recent times. When Schumacher refers to the powers of life, consciousness, and self-awareness as “mysterious”, he’s not at all demanding that we abandon any study of it. Quite the opposite, in fact. A mystery was traditionally understood as something that demanded the most intense study, precisely because it resisted understanding through ordinary and everyday ways of dealing with the world.

Thus, saying that x, y, and z cannot be explained is not saying that they shouldn’t be investigated. What he’s saying is that they cannot be reduced to total simplicity by the series of geometric steps that Descartes wants. In other words, plants hold ‘something’ that minerals don’t hold. Likewise animals hold ‘something’ that plants don’t, and humans hold ‘something’ that animals don’t.

In discussing the role of science he does not “berate” science for failing to study x, y, and z. He says that science (as we understand the term today) is the study of the mineral level. He only disagrees when scientists claim to make objective statements about the higher levels, particularly self-awareness, which are not merited by their data.

So that leaves the question that you’re all itching to ask, what proof does he have for the ‘something’ that separates plants from mere minerals? He offers no scientific proof, because as he’s said, science deals only with minerals and it’s impossible to construct a strictly mineral proof that non-minerals exist. What he says is that in order to investigate the higher levels of being, we must use the higher levels within ourselves. (And much more comes in the following chapters.)

Well, I had hoped to engender a bit more discussion than that, but I suppose that I’ll have to take it.

It seems strange to place so much emphasis on Descarte’s ideas. Sure, his ideas were a turning point for modern thought, but it would be hard to overstate how much the tools of science have changed since his time. Aside from the obvious, space telescopes and particle accelerators, Descartes died nearly 40 years before Newton published his Principia. The advent of computers had a profound effect on the types of problems that could be studied, particularly problems that do not admit any analytic or closed form solutions. Descarte’s most well known philosophical endeavor, to place all knowledge upon a perfectly firm foundation isn’t really taken seriously anymore.

It’s not that I object to some scientific defeatism in Schumacher as you seem to interpret me as doing, but that he makes rather sweeping claims without “much argument or so much as a good reason for believing” them, as I said before. A couple more examples

This seems to be Schumacher claiming to make objective statements about the higher levels which are not merited by the data.

This time I’m not sure what you would consider to be “merited by the data”. Obviously Schumacher offers no data as we normally define it, i.e. numbers gathered in a lab. His argument for putting x, y, and z beyond the reach of science is based on the fact that the higher faculties of man won’t accept scientific definitions of them. He defends this by pointing out that one person’s existence without fellow humans would “experience a sense of enormous emptiness”, and it would only grow worse if animals and plants were eliminated.

Or we might approach the discontinuities on the chain from the other direction. Imagine that there was some intellect who knew everything there was to know about the laws of physics. Someone then informed this intellect that there were extremely intricate collections of minerals called “plants”, and described their chemical composition. Would the intellect get a proper understanding of plants from that definition? I’d say no. You can’t understand what a living thing is without experiencing it. A lush garden evokes a certain feeling (for lack of a better term) that you can’t get from any collection of minerals, even a very beautiful collection.

Likewise an intellect that knew everything about plants would get the wrong idea if it heard animals described as “highly evolved plants”. And one that knew all about animals would get the wrong idea if it heard humans described as “the most intelligent animal”.

I ain’t gonna read some fuckin’ book, you lousy…
…oops, sorry.

After rereading the book I see that much of it is quite abstract, perhaps because Schumacher wanted to keep it short. To help explain his argument about how one needs the higher levels of being in order to sense the higher levels of being, I’ll offer a concrete example. Let’s look at anger.

Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences, but people’s reactions are vastly different. We can rank responses from lowest to highest.

At level 1, the response is physical violence. The person punches whatever person or thing caused their anger.

At level 2, the response is shouting, insults, and uncontrolled display of anger, but no violence.

At level 3, the person has no physical response, but inwardly seethes.

At level 4, the person acknowledges that their anger is sinful and that they should work against it.

At level 5, the person completely controls himself or herself and eliminates the anger.

It’s clear, I hope, that climbing this list corresponds to climbing upwards on the chain of being. A person at level 1 is doing exactly what an animal does. Hence on this issue he or she is no higher on the chain than an animal. Levels 2 and 3 are steps upward from animal, but not moving to being beyond human. We might expect to find people at that level believing that humans are the highest animals but nothing more. At level 4, a person is acknowledging the existence of a higher law than human law by acknowledging that a human emotion can be sinful. At level 5, a person is consciously going beyond human.

But the important point is that a person at each level can understand lower levels but will have little or no ability to understand the higher levels. A dumb thug who only wants to punch won’t have any understanding of why anyone would do anything else. A guy who insults understands why punching is wrong, but not why restraint is right. To a person who has physical control but no mental control, the possibility of mental control may seem ridiculous or even impossible. Only the person with total self-control can understand all the levels and the differences between them. The higher you climb, the more you can see.

That was only one example. We could analyze a similar hierarchy of behaviors in many other examples: jealousy, food, sex, ethics, art, music, etc… Considered as a whole, however, people with high-level reactions in one category tend to have high-level reactions in all categories, and those are the people who can see the entire world most clearly.

The data being the fossil record and evolution in general. We have not found stark lines of separation between species, or between genus, phyla or kingdoms if we go back far enough, and theory almost guarantees that there won’t be such a line.

I don’t recall Schumacher dealing with any scientific definitions other than “a property of certain peculiar combinations of atoms”. While I see this as basically true, it’s not terribly helpful since it doesn’t distinguish “life” from “solid” or “liquid.” A scientific definition may look something like this (from Wikipedia)

I’m generally skeptical of “imagine an intellect” arguments, but let’s try. I will assume, for simplicity’s sake, that our intellect understands other semi-nebulous concepts like states of matter and temperatures (otherwise, we will have to define concepts like “average” and “collection,” which won’t accomplish anything useful and will take up a lot of time). The central point is that you introduce plants by what they do, not what they are. The intuitive thing for me would be to first introduce the intellect to relatively simple things like autocatalytic reactions. You point out that under certain conditions these molicules can catalyze in a way that produces more of themselves. Hopefully our intellect will confirm this information for itself, and at least find the process somewhat curious. Then move onto prokaryotic cells. Observe that these things also reproduce themselves under the right circumstances, but some of them move about, or photosynthesize, all of these claims the intellect should check for itself. From here, you would probably discuss natural selection as a result of there being lots of these things without enough resources to sustain them all. And then go from there to eukaryotic cells, multicellular life, etc.

Would this intellect get a “proper understanding” of life from this? Would it feel the aesthetic pleasure that we get from a lush garden? I don’t know, and I doubt that the question can be answered in general.

You perhaps feel that I cheated by having the intellect “check for itself.” When we’re dealing with complex systems like cells physical analysis gets very difficult very quickly. Even with the three body problem, considering three mutually-interacting gravitational bodies, it becomes exceedingly difficult to obtain nice mathematical solutions, and so simulation quickly becomes the best way to approach the problem. A living system, having many more than three bodies, should be no different.

I’d also like to comment on what we mean when we say that life is “nothing but physics and chemistry,” since this seems about the right time to do so. Suppose that we describe a cell to this intellect, telling it all the features of it’s life (reproduction, photosynthesis, motion, etc.) and give it a precise description of the cell’s chemical makeup and whatever else the intellect needs. Suppose that the intellect goes off and does its calculations, and then comes back to us and says “By golly, you’re right! A cell can do all those things!” This is what we mean by saying that life is “nothing but physics and chemistry.” Presumably then, we would say that there is “something else” if the intellect came back to say “Bullshit! What you describe is physically impossible!”

To be fair, I’m sure any biologist would break into convulsions if he heard animals described as such. That definition for humans is overly short, but I don’t see why it is fundamentally different from describing a cheetah as “the fastest animal.”

Schumacher would probably agree that a complete description of the physics and chemistry of a cell (or a more complicated system) tells you all the scientific data you could want about that cell. What he says is that there are non-scientific aspects of the higher levels of being that would be left out. One clear example that he uses, which was also mentioned by Lewis in The Abolition of Man, was with animals. Once people have reduced animals to lower levels in their thinking, then a tragedy results, namely we completely abandon the notion that animals have rightful dignity. That’s because “rightful dignity” can only flow from the higher levels of being, namely consciousness in the case of animals.

And rightful dignity means what in the case of an organism that will on occassion chew on its own poo?