Morality Beyond Humanity : Schopenhauer, Grysanowski, and Schweitzer on Animal Ethics

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The study examines the character and development of the animal ethical ideas of three German thinkers: Arthur Schopenhauer, Ernst Grysanowski, and Albert Schweitzer. By situating them in their cultural and intellectual context, the study explores the differing meanings of their ethical views of animals and seeks to answer the question of how their ideas can be explained historically. It is argued that from the beginning of the 19th century through the 1880s, the animal ethical discourse received heightened attention, a development that was largely due to two parallel bodies of ideas, both emanating out of the Enlightenment project. The early 19th century showed an increasing scientific interest in basic existential matters, such as the physical body, intuition, and instincts. Simultaneously, a social movement arose, which stressed the importance of civilization, education, humane conduct, and social reforms. Towards the close of the century, these two movements merged, while their focus shifted to an interest in the economy and morality of Nature, which increasingly displaced the earlier ideal of civilized society and the overt focus on social reforms. The investigation suggests that these developments shows that the discourse of animal ethics followed a circular rather than linear pattern. The era started with the humanitarian ideals of the Enlightenment and ended in the early decades of the 20th century with the appropriation of social-Darwinist morality.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Ideas


  • Djurs etologi och psykologi, Animal ethology and psychology, Morallära, Moral science, Vetenskapshistoria, History of science, history of medicine, antivivisection, Schweitzer, Grysanowski, Schopenhauer, Germany, animal rights, animal ethics, animal welfare
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2002 Jan 19
  • History of Science and Ideas
Print ISBNs91-974153-3-2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2002-01-19 Time: 10:15 Place: Carolinasalen, Kungshuset External reviewer(s) Name: Birnbacher, Dieter Title: Prof. Affiliation: Philosophy, Düsseldorf University ---