Nature And Possession Of Thought And Reason Essay

1808 Words Dec 15th, 2015 8 Pages
Essay 3

Given what we know or can safely assume to be true of animal brains and behaviors, do animals actually exhibit thought and reason? The answer depends in large measure on one’s definition of thought and reason. Philosophers René Descartes and David Hume hold conflicting views about the nature and possession of thought and reason and, as a result, offer starkly different arguments for and against the existence of thought and reason in animals. While Descartes maintains in Part Five of Discourse on Method that only humans are capable of conscious thought, Hume asserts that human and animal behaviors are not so different in Section Nine of his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Descartes argues that although animals are living, organic creatures, they are essentially automata, like mechanical robots. On the other hand, Hume asserts that animals, just like humans, learn from experience and come to infer causal connections between events through experience, rather than through means of reason. While both Descartes and Hume hold juxtaposed positions on animal behavior, neither philosopher manages to offer a persuasive position on the issues he presents. Descartes represents a more traditional way of thinking about the relation between humans and animals based on a fundamental difference between humans and animals: humans have a mind. They think and reason; have hopes, desires, and feelings sense perceptions and feel pain. In contrast, non-human…

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