This book is a study of attitudes toward animals in early modern Western culture. Emphasizing the influence of anthropocentrism on attitudes toward animals, historian Nathaniel Wolloch traces the various ways in which animals were viewed, from predominantly anti-animal thinking to increasingly pro-animal sentiments and viewpoints. Wolloch devotes a chapter each to six major themes: early modern philosophical perspectives on animals till the end of the seventeenth century, pro-animal opinions in the eighteenth century, the connection between attitudes toward animals and the early modern debate about the existence of extraterrestrial life, scientific modes of discussing animals, the role of animals in early modern anthropomorphic literature, and depictions of animals in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting. He concludes his broad, interdisciplinary study by linking these historical trends to the modern discussion of animal rights and ecological issues.
Nathaniel Wolloch is a Fellow at the Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University, and the author of History and Nature in the Enlightenment: Praise of the Mastery of Nature in Eighteenth-Century Historical Literature (2011) and Nature in the History of Economic Thought: How Natural Resources Became an Economic Concept (2017)