Written By: Ann Cottrell Free Reviewed Edition: The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, The Albert Schweitzer Center, The Animal Welfare Institute, and The Humane Society of the United States, 1982 Paperback, 81 Pages No ISBN Shown Quotes Table of Contents
This short book is devoted to Dr. Schweitzer's ethics as it pertains to the treatment of animals. Part biography and part quotation collection, it convincingly demonstrates that concern for animals was a key part of Schweitzers ethics and life. As a doctor in equatorial Africa, he had direct experience with nature, and knew its cruelty as well as its beauty. In some cases, the taking of an animal life is unavoidable. But the key thing is never to do so thoughtlessly, without considering the alternatives and, in the end, making a conscious decision based on your best knowledge and feelings.
Considering its publishers, this book contains a minimum of political bias. Nevertheless, it represents a challenge to the thinking of most Americans, and therefore is not a comfortable read. But it is a most rewarding read.
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "Out of such heart-breaking experiences that often shamed me there slowly arose in me the unshakeable conviction that we had the right to bring pain and death to another being only in case of inescapable necessity, and that all of us must feel the horror that lies in thoughtless torturing and killing. This conviction has become increasingly dominant within me. I have become more and more certain that at the bottom of our hearts we all think so, and simply do not dare to admit it and practice it, because we are afraid that others will laugh at us for being sentimental, and because we have allowed our better feelings to be blunted. But I vowed that I would never let my feelings get blunted, and I would never again fear the reproach of sentimentalism."
[Quote from a letter by Schweitzer to Christine Stevens, giving the Animal Welfare Institute permission to award a medal in his name for outstanding service to animals] I am profoundly moved that you would like to give my name to the medal you have created. I give you this right with all my heart. I would never have believed that my philosophy, which incorporates in our ethics a compassionate attitude toward all creatures, would be noticed and recognized in my lifetime. I knew this truth would impose itself one day on human thought, but it is the great and moving surprise of my life that I should still be able to witness this progress of ethics."
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "It hurts me to think that we never acknowledge the absolutely mysterious character of Nature, but always speak so confidently of explaining her, whereas all that we have really done is to go into full and more complicated descriptions which only make the mysterious more mysterious than ever."
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "I must interpret the life around me as I interpret the life that is my own. My life is full of meaning to me. The life around me must be full of significance to itself. If I am to expect others to respect my life, then I must respect the other life I see, however strange it may be to mine."
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "Whenever I injure any kind of life I must be quite certain that it is necessary. I must never go beyond the unavoidable, not even in apparently insignificant things. The farmer who has mowed down a thousand flowers in his meadow in order to feed his cows must be careful on him way home not to strike the head off a single flower by the side of the road in idle amusement, for he thereby infringes the law of life without being under the pressure of necessity."
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "We must never become callous. When we experience the conflicts ever more deeply we are living in truth. The quiet conscience is an invention of the devil."
[Quoting Schweitzer from On the Edge of the Primeval Forest & More From the Primeval Forest] "To think out in every implication the ethic of love for all creation -- this is the difficult task which confronts our age."
[Quoting Schweitzer from The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer, Edited by Charles Joy] "It seems almost something abnormal that over a portion of the earth's surface nature should be nothing and man everything."
[Quoting Schweitzer from Albert Schweitzer - An Anthology, Edited by Charles Joy] "By respect for life we become religious in a way that is elementary, profound and alive."
Chronology Sources for Selections Bibliography Acknowledgements Sponsoring Publishers
Click here to return to the Albert Schweitzer Page.