Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do you recognize this fellow?

Dr. Helmut Kaplan
He is an Austrian psychologist who is a major advocate for all animals. He has written a number of books using the German language and some of his writing has been translated into Japanese and French but...so far as I can tell...none have been translated into English. I hope this is rectified at some point because his works would be a valuable resource for readers of English.

For instance, on his website he writes about the The Theory of Everything in Ethics. One quote: "If all people adopted this rule, 99 per cent of all problems that can be solved through moral actions would be done away with in an instant!"

That's pretty ambitious...and the rule he references is, ta dah: The Golden Rule or as it is sometimes known...The Ethic of Reciprocity (sorry, the christians didn't originate this notion it has been around a lot longer than monotheism). Dr. Kaplan elaborates in his essay about the rule and I hope you will read it for yourself. One quote from his writing that I liked:
"The real problem in applying the Golden Rule to animals, or to be more precise, in putting ourselves in the place of the animals, is that it is so EASY – and that the result is so terrible in many cases: Anyone who is informed, even superficially, about what happens on animal transports, in factory farms, in abattoirs etc., and then imagines his dog or cat in such a situation (as a sort of bridge to putting himself in the place of other animals), is in danger of going mad with empathy and horror."
The real problem in applying the rule is that it is so easy...? I'm uncertain as to what he means here...unless it is that (as he writes) we often avoid using this rule because it is so compelling and would cause much change in our behavior...at least I think that is what he is saying.
"It is precisely this illustration of what the Golden Rule implies, factually and emotionally, this intensification of moral situations that cuts right to the heart of moral value and moral responsibility, that reveals what is probably the most common reason for the Rule’s rejection: All of us who accept the Golden Rule, this Theory of Everything in Ethics, are—in a moral sense—putting ourselves on the spot." 
I'm presuming "putting ourselves on the spot" means being compelled to behave in accordance with the rule?

I just wanted to introduce Dr. Kaplan and his work to those that are unfamiliar with him. I'm always gratified to find folks that are in the psychology field that are ethical vegans and Dr. Kaplan has been on the good path for some time and is a tireless and terrific advocate for all beings.

He seems to be not very well known to 'english-only' folks and that needs to be remedied.

I fully agree with his realization that most moral problems would disappear if some putting ourselves into the place of others would occur and then acting on what we thereby realize. It really isn't complicated or difficult.

One other quote:
"Our grandchildren will ask us one day, 'Where were you during the holocaust of the animals? What did you do against these horrific crimes?' This time around we won't be able to say, 'We didn't know it was going on.' "
Innocence or genuine ignorance among human animals is, for now anyway, sparse indeed.

4 comments:

D.E.M. said...

A global movement! Don't know this thinker, but will look into his work.

veganelder said...

Yes, worldwide is what we need. Patty Mark of Australia is someone I have a lot of admiration for...you can learn about her work at Animal Liberation Victoria (http://www.alv.org.au/). Let me know what you think of Dr. Kaplan.

Bea Elliott said...

My mind's a bit fuzzy these days so I can't remember exactly where I recently saw the word "reciprocity" as the most important word in the world... Guess this is great motivation for discovering why this is so.

I see the logic here about the Golden Rule... Not treating others as we would like to be treated but as *they* would. That makes so much more sense! Sort of like extending rights to *any* and *all* who would benefit from them is also the proper way. Yes?

I'm bookmarking Helmut Kaplan and would love to have access to his writings (in English). I like this: "Why would anyone be a vegetarian? Wrong question. Here's a much better question: Why are you NOT a vegetarian? Why are you still eating meat? That is the mystery, the unexplained phenomenon."

And this... As I tried desperately to verbalize a month ago: "What we invented in horror movies or psychological thrillers to send pleasant shivers down our spine, is what animals are subjected to in reality: everywhere, continuously, in our midst, at this very moment - right now."

VE - I'm so happy you shared your knowledge about this very insightful man! Some days good news (and hope) does come along... For me - today - This is it! ;)

CQ said...

I'm glad you are writing about Dr. Kaplan, veganelder. I didn't realize his writings hadn't been translated into English.

Here are a few other quotes, including the "grandchildren" one you mention in your blog:

"The absurd contention that concentration camps never actually existed was, as everybody knows,
described as the 'Auschwitz lie.'
The assertion that concentration camps were closed down after the Second World War is the 'second Auschwitz lie.' What many people don't know, or don't want to know,
is that there are still concentration camps today: animal concentration camps. If you don't believe [that the second Auschwitz lie] exists, then you should read reports of the experiments that Nazis carried out in their research labs on Jews, and then read reports on the experiments
done today with animals."

"Everything the Nazis did to Jews
we are today practicing on animals.
Our grandchildren will ask us one day: Where were you during the Holocaust of the animals? What did you do against these horrifying crimes? We won't be able to offer the same excuse for the second time, that we didn't know." ~ Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, edited by Charles Patterson, © 2002

"Animal experiments are wrong,
irrespective of whether they are medically beneficial. The real or supposed benefit of animal experiments is not an ethical argument at all, because there are many things that could be beneficial but which are, however, immoral or forbidden, such as experiments on humans."

"We do not need any new morals for animals. We must merely stop arbitrarily excluding animals from our present morals."

~ Helmut Friedrich Kaplan, Ph.D. (1952- ) Austrian professor, philosopher, author

I'm not sure where all the original quotes are from, but they can be found in www.CreatureQuotes.com, Chapter 18, pp 41-42.