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Through The Prism Of Human Perception: Spanish Intellectuals Write About Other Sentient Beings

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Chapter Summary

Though it was commonly accepted by early modern Spanish intellectuals that animals feel pleasure and pain - that they feel and respond to what they feel - a debate arose over whether animals possess some degree of agency or feelings similar to human love. Scholastics like Francisco de Vitoria and Francisco Suárez emphasized what they themselves saw as fundamental species-specific differences between humans and other animals. Given Scholasticism's influence in early modern Spain, and its reliance on arguments from authority, the extent to which Spanish intellectuals' actual interaction with animals informed their arguments is not clear, but attraction or aversion to other animals and behaviors deemed "animal" is. Despite their differences, intellectuals of the Spanish Empire did generally agree that humans and other animals share sentience. While Suárez's animals are fully sentient and beings full of feelings, predetermined in their responses and actions by God, and bereft of true agency and choice.

Keywords: animals; feelings; Francisco de Vitoria; Francisco Suárez; human love; interaction; Scholasticism; sentient beings; Spanish Intellectuals



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