European Understanding of the Animal Kingdom Early modern man’s understanding of the natural world was characterized by the assumption that God put all other life on earth for the use of mankind. is doctrine of the uniqueness of humans derived from the ideas of Aristotle and the medieval Church. Not only did man have a soul, but also reason and speech.2 Some intellectuals, known as antithereophiles, denied that animals had any degree of feeling at all, whereas thereophiles, while they emphasized man’s dominion over animals, believed that animals were sensitive and that man had a duty to care for them. ese two schools of thought were typified by two great
in Utopia that hunting animals was ‘the vilest department of butchery’, but the inhabitants created by Bacon in New Atlantis ate a lot of meat and used vivisection to further man’s scientific knowledge. Even more radical than omas More was Giordano Bruno, who believed that all animals were part of the ‘world soul’ and as such should be treated as equal to humans. Indeed by the seventeenth century the first origins of an animal welfare movement were emerging as people condemned the use of animals in sport and hunting.3 Vegetarianism was practised among a few civil war radicals such as Roger Crab who claimed that ‘Eating of Flesh is an Absolute Enemy to pure Nature’, but such views, while reflecting the diversity of understanding of humanist theorists, did not represent those of the majority of English men of this period.4 Most people adopted a moderate view that animals were at the disposal of man for his own use, be it sport, food or furthering knowledge, but that man also had a duty to care for his animals.