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Animal Souls, Metempsychosis, and Theodicy in SeventeenthCentury English Thought PETER HARRISON 1. INTRODUCTION ONE or THE MOSTwide-ranging discussions in seventeenth-century England concerned the status of animal creation. In Tudor England it was generally accepted that animals had been placed in the world to be at the disposal of man. ~If there were those who doubted human sovereignty over the natural world, they needed only consult the classics, the Fathers, or scripture to have their doubts allayed. Genesis taught that man had been given dominion over nature, a principle reinforced by Aristotle's view that "nature has made all the animals for the sake of men.", For Aristotle, human superiority lay in the fact that while plants possessed a vegetative soul, and animals a sensitive soul, humans boasted a rational soul.s This view was endorsed by Augustine and Aquinas, both of whom suggested that we owe no direct duties to animals, on account of their inferior, irrational souls.4 Thus, Augustine declared that "when we say, Thou shalt not kill, we do not understand this of the plants, since they have no sensation, nor of the irrational animals that fly, swim, walk or creep, since they are dissociated from us by want of reason, and are therefore by the just appointment Of the Creator subjected to us to kill or keep alive 1See Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World (London: Penguin Books, 1983), ch. I. ' Aristotle, Politics, I.iii.7 (Loeb ed.). sAristotle, N.E.I.xiii; De gen. an. 736a-b; De anima 415a. 4See, e.g., Augustine, City of God, tr. Marcus Dodds (New York: Modern Library, a95o), XXlI.24 (p. 851); The Catholic and Ma~ichean Ways of Life, tr. D. A. Gallagher and I. J. Gallagher (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1966), ch. XVII (pp. 1o2, 1o5); Aquinas, Sancti Thomas Aquinatis in AristotelisLibrum de Anima Commentarium, ed. M. Pirotta (Turin, 1925), w167 255, 26o, 279; Summa theologiae, 1a.78, i. [519] 520 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 31:4 OCTOBER 1993 for our own uses."~ Considerations such as these formed the weighty intellectual pedigree of the early modern view of the human relationship to the animal world. To some extent, this common conception of the subservience of nature to human ends hardened into an even more rigid orthodoxy with the growth of natural science and the advent of the mechanical model of nature. 6 Francis Bacon's influential programme for the renovation of science, articulated in the early 16oos, was based on the assumption that nature only yields up her secrets "when by art and the hand of man she is forced out of her natural state, and squeezed and moulded."7 Animals came to play an important, if unfortunate, role in the burgeoning life sciences, now modified along the lines of the Baconian model. On vivisecting tables, in vacuum chambers, attached to numerous contraptions, they served as the hapless intermediaries between ruthlessly curious human interrogators and an apparently inert and uncooperative Nature. 8 Added impetus for this inquisitorial conception of science came from Descartes's bold new mechanistic vision of nature. Physical bodies, according to the Cartesian hypothesis, were merely machines no more sentient than the material elements which constituted them. Mechanism became the dominant mode of scientific explanation, and animals were considered by Cartesians to be bereft of reason and feeling, in short, to be without souls. From about the middle of the seventeenth century, this view was to exert considerable influence in England. Yet the seventeenth century also witnessed a countervailing tendency. The growing practice of pet-keeping wrought new relationships between people and animals.9 Certain animals were now cared for not because of any labor which they might perform, nor on account of their nutritional value, but primarily because they could provide companionship--a role hitherto performed only by other persons. These new relationships between humans and particular animals challenged the view that no duties were owed to animals, and gave rise to further questions about the nature of animals--questions which until this time had only been asked about human subjects: Were ani5Augustine , City of God, 1.2o(p. 26). 6See, e.g., Caroline Merchant...

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