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Since "dumb omnivore arguments" seems to be a popular topic around here, I thought I'd post a section from Leon Kass's book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=veggieboards.com-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FHungry-Soul-Eating-Perfecting-Nature%2Fdp%2F0226425681%2Fref%3Dpd_bbs_sr_1%2F103-2538064-8843018%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1176351476%26sr%3D8-1" target="_blank"><i>The Hungry Soul</i></a>. It's pretty amusing. (Leon Kass is a neoconservative bioethicist at University of Chicago, and former head of President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2005 (still a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, but not longer head). One amusing thing is that Kass equates veg*nism with cannibalism -- that's an argument that you don't see a lot. I'm not sure if this rather extensive quotation violates "fair use" principles or not, but I hope not:<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><br><i>Vitalism: Hospitality Parodied</i><br><br><br><br>
Cannibalism is one antithesis of hospitality that denies the worth of the human form by treating men as food, and that denies the importance of nature by exaggerating the importance of one's own. But there are seemingly opposite customs that, in an apparent excess of hospitality, equally undermine human dignity by indiscriminately feeding all men without question and by utterly denying the importance of one's own. Such men, too, did Odysseus meet, in the adventure just before that of the Cyclops:<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">But on the tenth day we landed in the country of the Lotus-Eaters, who live on a flowering food, and there we set foot on the mainland, and fetched water, and my companions soon took their supper there by the fast ships. But after we had tasted of food and drink, then I sent some of my companions ahead, telling them to find out what men, eaters of bread, might live here in this country.... My men went on and presently met the Lotus-Eaters, nor did these Lotus-Eaters have any thoughts of destroying our companions, but only gave them lotus to taste of. But any of them who ate the honey-sweet fruit of lotus was unwilling to take any message back, or to go away, but they wanted to stay there with the lotus-eating people, feeding on the lotus, and forget the way home.</div>
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Unlike the Cyclops, the Lotus-Eaters are gentle, peaceful, and hospitable. They gather the flowering food--which they apparently do not plant--and offer it to whoever comes along, without any conversation before or after. They speak not a word, and neither do Odysseus's men, once they have eaten the lotus. One use of the mouth drives out the other. Odysseus's men are unwilling to give messages and Odysseus must forcibly drag them away weeping because they would "forget the way home." The Lotus-Eaters have no civilization or identifiable place; they have their flowers and honey-sweet food, and from this they take their identity and their names. <i>These</i> people, it seems, indeed become or are what they eat.<br><br><br><br>
These gentle folk, these flower children and hippies of old, live in a timeless and purposeless hedonic present, free from all troubles and harshness, and blow their minds for pleasure. They take no trouble, face no trouble, and give no trouble. Thy see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Yet they <i>are</i> an evil, and if unopposed would sweetly disseminate the evils that come from mistaking the pleasant for the good. Their excessive and indiscriminate generosity, in connection with the pleasures of mere life, destroys the conditions for a <i>good</i> life and corrupts those who accept their dangerous gift of food. In forgetting about home, Odysseus's men--like their rootless hosts--lose all ties to the past and future. They lack all remembrance of mortality and necessity, and therewith lose also the dignity and nobility of living freely and self-consciously <i>against</i> them. Their moral defect is matched by an intellectual defect: The distinction between home and not-home, between kin (or friend) and stranger, between man and animal, between oneself and one's food are all obliterated or undermined. The Lotus-Eaters are tyrants inside-out; they use their freedom and will to annihilate freedom and will--their own and everyone else's. Their excess of apparent humaneness results in dehumanization. Freely giving lotus is a <i>parody</i> of human hospitality, for it allows people anonymously and silently to become identified merely with their food--eaters of honey-sweet fruits of lotus.<br><br><br><br><i>Subhuman Eating: The Worst and the Lowest</i><br><br><br><br>
In the case of the Cyclopes and the Lotus-Eaters, we see how two opposite errors regarding the fitting custom of hospitality simltaneously degrade host and guest, in the one case in violence, in the other in mindlessness. Noticing a common outcome from the opposed beginnings, we wonder what cannibals and flower children have in common. Is the suggested similarity just an accident, at best a figment of Homers poetic imagination, at worst only of my own? I doubt it. Consider briefly another pair of (East Indian) tribes, described by Herodotus, apparently to make a similar point:<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Eastward of these Indians are another tribe, called the Padaeans, who are wanderers, and live on raw flesh. This tribe is said to have the following customs: If one of their numbers be ill, man or woman, they take the sick person, and if he be a man, the men of his acquaintence proceed to put him to death, because, they say, his flesh would be spoilt for them if he pined and wasted away with sickness. The man protests that he is not ill in the least; but his friends will not accept his denialin spite of all he can say, they kill him, and feast themselves on his body. So also if a woman be sick, the women, who are her friends, take her and do with her exactly the same as the men. If one of them reaches old age, about which there is seldom any question as commonly before that time they have had some disease or other, and so have been put to deathbut if a man, notwithstanding, comes to be old, then they offer him in sacrifice to their gods, and afterwards eat his flesh.<br><br><br><br>
There is another set of Indians whose customs are very different. They kill nothing alive, sow no seed, have no dwelling houses, and eat grass. There is a plant which grows in their country, bearing seed about the size of millet-seed in a calyx: their wont is to gather this seed and having boiled it, calyx and all, to use it for food. If one of them is attacked with sickness, he goes forth in the wilderness, and lies down to die; no one has the least concern either for the sick or the dead.<br><br><br><br>
All the tribes I have mentioned copulate openly like the brute beasts.</div>
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The first tribe are nomads; the second have no houses. The former eat raw flesh and kill their own to eat them (the killing is in the service of the eating, to prevent disease from spoiling the meat); the latter eat boiled wild seed and grass and kill nothing ensouled. The first kill the sick early, eat the dead, and sacrifice the old to their gods, afterwards eating their flesh; the second neglect the sick and dead and give no burial. Both these extreme carnivores and these extreme herbivores copulate shamelessly in public like the beasts, suggestingdespite their polar differences regarding killinga common lack of shame, and thus of humanity.<br><br><br><br>
How are these vegetarians like these cannibals? The crucial point is this: Both deny the difference between man and animal, and therewith the importance of form. The Padaeans, pure carnivores, treat even their best friends as good meat: They homogenize men and animals, in mind and deed, on the principle that flesh is flesh no matter what the form. The nameless vegetarians, at first glance preferable because less brutal, turn out to be homogenizers: Vitality is vitality, no matter what the form. They also assimilate man to the animals: Both are seen as equally inedible because both are equally ensouled. Their implicit insistenc on the supremacy of life, health, and sentience denies not only their humanity and dignity of speech and consciousness, They also fly from necessity and also mortality , as manifest in their indifference to burial. They close their eyes to the bittersweet truth about life itselfthat to be life, life must live with and against necessity. They wish instead for a different world, absolutely free of necessity and harshnessa world of ease, pleasure, and comfortin which the lion will lie down with the lamb and all will eat seeds, delicately boiled in their shells, and graze away indefinitely. These men lack even the dignity and nobility of the ild animals; at least in this respect they, too might be said to number if not among the worst then at least among the lowest of the animalsnameless, godless, spiritless, and living the life fit for cattle.<br></div>
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Kass, Leon R.. <i>The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of OUr Nature</i>. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999. Page 114-117<br><br><br><br>
I hope you found this amusing.<br><br><br><br>
So there you have it. Vegetarianism is bad because it treats humans and animals similarly, just like cannibalism, and undermines human dignity. Therefore, omnivorism is morally superior because it treats humans and animals differently, thus upholding human dignity.<br><br><br><br>
Ths book isn't mainly an anti-veg*n screed, but does pretty much entirely consist of arguments using logic of approximately the quality demonstrated here. (The book is also rather famous for having a passage which rather hysterically <a href="http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/000019.html" target="_blank">condemns the public consumption of ice cream</a>.)
 

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Thanks, that was a very interesting read. It is "interesting" because this bloke got to head such an important committee, and because his writing, while imaginative, is possibly derogatory and several of his claims w.r.t. vegetarians do not have any basis in reality.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">These men lack even the dignity and nobility of the ild animals; at least in this respect they, too might be said to number if not among the worst then at least among the lowest of the animalsnameless, godless, spiritless, and living the life fit for cattle.</div>
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Now, try and imagine if "these men" referred to blacks, jews, muslims, hindus or some other ethnic or religious group.
 

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That's ridiculous!!! I don't expect lions and lambs to live hand in hand in harmony, grazing on the land!!!<br><br><br><br>
The sad truth is he must believe that cannibalism and vegetarianism is the same in principal... I know that some people think veg*ns can be a social menace (PETA and other such animal rights campaigners don't get good press!) but besides all that we're harmless... men who eat their friends couldn't be further from that.<br><br><br><br>
This book has me stunned!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Both these extreme carnivores and these extreme herbivores copulate shamelessly in public like the beasts, suggestingdespite their polar differences regarding killinga common lack of shame, and thus of humanity.</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/shocked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":eek:"> This guy is allowed to publish books and head committees?<br><br><br><br>
And Herodotus? HERODOTUS? Sure, he wrote a decent account of the Persian wars, but the guy hardly took the time to check his sources on stuff he didn't have immediate access to. Most of those stories of his are fiction, since Herodotus would write anything he was told, regardless of its truth content. And Homer? How does an epic narrative pertain to to an actual argument on vegetarianism or other cultural dietary norms?<br><br><br><br>
People buy his books?????
 

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I'm truly frightened (but not particularly surprised) that this guy is a trusted advisor to the President of the United States. Surprisingly, I'm more concerned with and offended by his condemnation of the "dog-like" behavior of eating ice cream in public than I am with his Vegetarians = cannibals argument.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>froggythefrog</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
"C-. Good attempts but your conclusions do not follow." (Lots of red marks and questions on page.)</div>
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<br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/laugh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":lol:">
 

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I just read the ice cream bit. If he has an issue watching people eating ice cream, DON'T WATCH!!! Jeez...<br><br><br><br>
It's worrying he was one of the Bush administrations right hand men, though, as others have commented, I am not suprised either. I think this man has many, many issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Moar lulz:<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><br><i>The Human Food</i><br><br><br><br>
Not all vegetarians are guilty of the vitalistic failure to distinguish between man and the animals, on the grounds that life is life no matter what the form. In addition to these thoughtless pre- or subhuman forms of fruit picking and seed gathering, there are higher forms of vegetarianism, in which human beings, by acts of thoughtful generosity and self-restraint, curb their appetite for various kinds of meat they enjoy because they sense at least a partial kinship with at least some of the higher animals. To be sure, some of the current arguments for vegetarianism--and especially some arguments for animal <i>rights</i>--do in fact proceed by denying the difference of man and by foolishingly deriding as "speciesism" all human self-regard and -preference. Against all reason these arguments attack as illegitimate the preferential love of one's own kind and deny the special natural dignity of the human form, which, I claim, we human beings do not invent but merely discover, thanks to the specia powers of discovery on which our dignity partly rests. Indeed their argument for the moral equality of man and animals refutes itself: Only such a <i>uniquely</i> dignified being can appreciate the splendor of other species and can respond to their needs with moral self-restraint. The tapeworm and the spider, the swordfish and the shark, the frog and the crocodile, the gnatcatcher and the eagle, the hyena and the boar, even the intelligent dolphin and the chimpanzee--none of these knows anything about animal rights or curbs its appetite out of compassion or respect for fellow creatures.<br><br><br><br>
Nevertheless the practice of higher vegetarianism may be more defensible than some of the arguments made on its behalf, especially given our current, often unspeakably cruel, practices of raising and keeping animals for food. And, in any age, a philosophical, not to say superhuman, self-control and magnanimity might be part of a model of human (if not more-than-human) perfection*. The gods, after all, eat only ambrosia, an immortal (<i>a</i>, privative + <i>brotós</i>, mortal) elixir of life, which is, of course, without <i>brótos</i>, without running blood or gore. (There is, I am told, even some slight evidence to suggest that Socrates was a vegetarian.)<br><br><br><br>
*We shall explore the biblical treatment of this subject in the last chapter.</div>
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So... if you're a vegetarian because you don't want to hurt animals, that's a <i>bad</i> reason for being a vegetarian, but if you're a vegetarian to show off your dignified human capacity for self-restraint without any particular reasoning other than that self-restraint is good, that's a <i>good</i> reason for being a vegetarian!<br><br><br><br>
By the way, Kass really does spell brotós/brótos differently in the same paragraph, with the accent switched. I'm not sure which spelling is right -- any Greek scholars out there?
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/laugh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":lol:"> ... it's so funny when people try to be clever and get it wrong!
 

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What shocks me most is that this book was printed in 1999. With all the complaints about flower children and hedonistic lifestyles and public copulation (!) I imagined this book was a curious relic of the Vietnam era.<br><br><br><br>
It seems that this man has not walked into a public place since 1969. Hey guys, want to grab a veggieburger and afterwards engage in a little
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Idhan</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
By the way, Kass really does spell brotós/brótos differently in the same paragraph, with the accent switched. I'm not sure which spelling is right -- any Greek scholars out there?</div>
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Brotós, since you're interested.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>froggythefrog</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
"C-. Good attempts but your conclusions do not follow." (Lots of red marks and questions on page.)</div>
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Haha I think our author needs time-out. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/dunce.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":dunce:">
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Here's a little more. Unfortunately, these quotes aren't as amusing as the rest, at least to me.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">In a certain sense the dietary laws push the Children of Israel back in the direction of the "original" "vegetarianims" of the prestine and innocent Garden of Eden. Although not all flesh is forbidden, everything that is forbidden is flesh. Thus, any strict vegetarian, one could say, never violates the Jewish dietary laws. Yet though he does not violate them, he could not be said to follow them. For only unknowingly does he not violate them, and, more to the point, he refrains <i>indiscriminately</i>, that is, without regard to the distinctions among the kinds of living things that might and might not be edible. In this sense the strict vegetarian, though he rejects the Noachic permission to eat meat, shares exactly the indiscriminate Noachic grouping-together of all the animals and its concentration only on the blood, which is the life.<br><br><br><br>
But why, one might still ask, does not the Torah institute other dietary laws that push back all the way to vegetarianism, reversing altogether the Noachic permission to eat meat? Is not vegetarianism the biblical ideal, if the restricted meat diet of Leviticus is really nothing more than a compromise, a recognition that it is too much to expect these stiff-necked human beings to go back to nuts and berries? Perhaps we were wrong to see the Noachic dispensation as merely concessive, a yielding to Noah's (and mankind's) prideful bloody-mindedness. Perhaps, looked at again, we can see her also something elevating. Noah, the incipiently civilized man, having spent time in close quarters, with the animals, figured out as a result his human difference; he learned that he was more thna just king of the animals. He learned that he was the ambiguous-because-godlike animal, both capable of and in need of self-restraint through the rule of law, and also open to the intelligible order of the multiform world. The result is the new world order after the flood: To mark his self-conscious separation from the animals, man undertakes to eat them; to acknowledge his own godlikeness, man accepts the prohibition of homicide (Genesis 9:3-4, 9:6). Eating meat may indeed be part and parcel--albeit a worrisome one--of our humanization. The recognized humanization of the human animal, it seems, can only be achieved at some cost to the harmony of the whole. This price is noted with regret, but it also must be paid. And it may be worth paying in order to keep the human being ever-mindful of the forms and distinctions that are the foundation of the world. It may be superhuman, and (as some will argue) more godlike, but it may also be less than human--and it surely is paradoxical--for human beings to renounce on the basis ofreason their rational difference from the animals, (to renounce also their participation in the transcendent yearnings of Dionysus), and to affirm by an act of choice the pre-human, instinctive diet of fruits and seeds. The Levitical dietary laws fit the human animal in his distinctive uprightness: Celebrating the principle of rational separation, they celebrate not only man's share in rationality but also his openness to the mystery of intelligible yet embodied form.</div>
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Ibid page 221-222.<br><br><br><br>
I never knew you could try to form an entire ethical system based on self-absorbed navel-gazing about your dignity and uniqueness!
 

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For the love of everything that is holy in this mortal world, please someone teach him to write properly and not try to impress people with ridiculously pretentious false eloquence.<br><br><br><br>
As to his "arguments", there really aren't many of them and they naturally make no sense.
 

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I think that quite paradoxically and in its original form beyond the land of Kathmadar and advocated by the quite godly Sirens of old that this sounds like a superfluous waste of time to sit down on a quiet night while observing the Greek Gods following their paths to read.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>froggythefrog</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I think that quite paradoxically and in its original form beyond the land of Kathmadar and advocated by the quite godly Sirens of old that this sounds like a superfluous waste of time to sit down on a quiet night while observing the Greek Gods following their paths to read.</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/notworthy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":wayne:">
 

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What... the... f... okay, I think you get the point. I could spend hours pointing out logical flaws (and will later), but let me just open by saying that this is really poorly written. Seriously, there's a different between intellectual and just plain stuck-up. Not only is it so dry you can't read it without getting up to get a drink of water (and then sit down to discover you've lost your place), but it's written as if it's going to be made into an instant tome of unquestioned knowledge, a suburban bible if you will. But this isn't the worst attrocity. The worst attrocity is that it is completely full of crap.<br><br><br><br>
You really can't cite fiction as evidence of anything genuine. The entire lotus argument is like citing Alice in Wonderland for why not to play cards (Queen of Hearts). The closest you can come is Kurt Vonnegut (RIP) writing about Ice-Nine.<br><br><br><br>
He then goes on to use the whole "human dignity" argument, which is full of it because a) it means that, ideally, we should abuse animals as much as possible (to make it as clear as we can that we are BETTER THAN THEM! *cough*), but it also falls flat on its face when you realize that most vegetarians aren't requesting full rights for animals. No one, for example, is crusading for animal voting rights.<br><br><br><br>
C- is really far too generous. "Report to school councillor" may be better.
 

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He he he... you make a very good point.<br><br><br><br>
'You have clearly not adhered to the subject title given. See me.' (As we didn't have school councillors in England when I was in school!!!... has that changed?)
 
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