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Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2018
20 Pages, Grade: 1,5
The importance of animals in human lives differs greatly from one person to another, especially from one culture to the other. Animals of all kinds have always been omnipresent for mankind – for the purposes of domestication, as workers, as companions, as tools or as resources in the form of food for consuming. They appear in ancient cave paintings, and nowadays on commercial farms. As long as humanity existed, animals have always played an important role and society could not have advanced to the point it has today.
Nevertheless, there are different perceptions of animals and how they are treated. A popular instance is the case of dogs. In some cultures, like the United States or the United Kingdom, they are loved and considered a great pet to have with the family and at home. In other cultures, such as those where Islam is the majority religion, dogs may be perceived as dirty or dangerous. In China, milk-fed puppies are considered a delicacy.
So why do human beings assign different levels of importance to animals? In Hinduism, every single living being possesses a soul, from the animals down to the insects and tiny organisms. In their belief system, like human beings, animals are also beings and subject to the cycle of birth and death and the laws of nature. Hinduism is a compassionate religion and treats all living beings with great respect. This could be one explanation why animals occupy an important place in Hinduism.
According to that, Hindus have special feelings about animals and treat them in another way then people of other religions and cultures do. A widespread view of Jains, Buddhists and Hindus is that animals should not be used by humans as food or for other purposes. Differing attitudes and beliefs regarding the relationship of humankind to other creatures lies in the inner motivation of how to see and treat them and is expressed in forms of emotions and feelings towards the animals. Therefore, the human-animal-relationship, in a Hinduist way of life, depends on their belief system and hence emotions and feelings are coherent with that. Accordingly, faith determines how these people, who belong to the oldest religion in the world, feel about animals.
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