Decartes is Dead

i February 11, 2008

Today is the 358th anniversary of Rene Descartes death. He was the renowned Christian scientist-philosopher-mathematician who held that animals were automatons — literally. Decartes asserted that lacking a Christian “soul,” animals possessed no consciousness. Lacking a consciousness, he concluded, they experienced neither pleasure nor pain. His conclusion was a convenient one; it allowed him to rationalize this dissection of unanesthetized living creatures. Although Descartes’ hideous experiments purportedly were done to advance the knowledge of anatomy, they properly earn him a place in history as the Seventeenth Century soul mate of Mengele, the Nazi concentration camp doctor who experimented on human beings.

The world is well rid of both of them.