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The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A., 1883

Other Propagators in Germany
(text from the 1st edition, 1883 )

[at the end of the item on Daumer] Of the rest of the little band of the propagators of the truer Philosophy in Germany no longer living - who resolutely bore aloft the standard of the Humanitarian Creed, at a time when it was yet more scouted and scorned by the infidels than even at the present day - deserving as they are of everlasting gratitude and remembrance at the hands of their more fortunate successors, the limits of this book compel us to be content with recording here the witness of one or two more only; while for acquaintance with the numerous able and eloquent expositions of their living representatives - of such earnest humanitarian and social reformers as Ed. Baltzer, Emil Weilshäuser, Theodor Hahn, Dr. Aderholdt, A. von Seefeld, R. Springer, and others - we must refer our readers, who wish to form an adequate idea of contemporary German anti-kreophgistic literature (as also in regard to the equally extensive contemporary English literature of the subject), to the original works themselves.

From Der Weg zum Paradise ("The Way to Paradise") the following extract sufficiently represents the inspiration of the writer, Dr. W. Zimmermann :-

"Men are almost entirely everything that they are by the force of custom; and this force, for the most part, resists every other power, and remains victorious over all. Reason itself, morality, and conscience are submissive to it. In the matter of Dietary Reform it displays itself as the enemy par excellence (die Hauptmacht). People will fall back upon alleged impossibilities, although it is a quetion only of will and resolution. They will reject many of the dietetic propositions hitherto advanced as dangerous 'abstractions,' although they are founded in history, reason, and human destiny ; although a brief enquiry ought to suffice to convince one of the first importance of the Reform. For although one must suppose that all would prefer a long, healthy, and happy existence to a feeble, painful life upon the old regimen, yet will the majority of human beings think it easier to attempt to assuage their torments and pains by uncertain, and, by no means, unhazardous medicine, rather than to remove them by obedience to Nature's laws. As it is with most of the highest truths, so is it especially with Dietary Reform. People will reject it as an abstraction, and pronounce it an impossibility In the future, however, by the greater number of the higher minds - for such a sacrifice of the lower and unnatural appetite we dare not expect from the ordinary run of men - will it be regarded in practice as a great blessing. For even now there are many exceptions in the social organism for whom Nature's laws are superior to unresoning impulse; for whom morality is superior to materialistic and mere sensual living; for whom duty is superior to superfluity. Besides we are advancing towards a humaner century; and, as the present is a humaner time than th century before, so later will there be a milder régime than now. Just as, in our days, exposure of children, combats of gladiators, torture of prisoners, and other atrocities are held to be scandalous and shameful, while in earlier times they were thought quite justifiable and right, so in the future will the murder of animals, to feed upon their corpses, be pronounced to be immoral and indefensible. Already (1846) are associations being formed for the protection of these beings; already now are there many who, like the nobler spirits of antiquity, apply to their diet the watchword of morality (das Losungswort der Moral) to do good and to abstain from wrong is always, and above everything, possible, and no longer give their sanction, by feeding on animals, tot he torture and killing f innocent sentient beings.

"According to the number of proselytes will the importance of the evidence be adjudged. When thousands, practising natural diet, are observed in the midst of diseased flesh-eaters to be in the enjoyment of a prolonged, happy, old age, without disease and the sifferings of a vicious method of life, then will the way be laid down for the many to abandon the living upon the corpses of other animals."

Of a like inspiration is the indignant protest of another of the apostles of Humanitarianism in Germany :-

"What humiliation, what disgrace for us all, that it should be necessary for one man to exhort other men not to be inhuman and irrational towards their fellow-creatures! Do they recognise, then, no mind, no soul in them - have they not feeling, pleasure in existence, dot hey not suffer pain? Do their voices of joy and sorrow indeed fail to speak to the human heart and conscience - so that they can murder the jubilant lark, in the firstjoy of his sring-time, who ought to warm their hearts with sympathy, from delight in bloodshed for their 'sport,' or with a horrible insensibility and recklessness only to practise their aim in shooting! Is there no soul manifest in the eyes of the living or dying animal - no expression of suffering in the eye of a deer or stag hunted to death - nothing which accuses them of murder before the avenging Etenal justice. . . . Are the souls of all other animals but man mortal, or are they essential in their organisation? Does the world-idea (Welt-Idee) pertain to them also - the soul of nature - a particle of the Divine Spirit? I know not; but I feel, and every reasonable man feels like me, it is in miserable, intolerable contradiction with our human nature, with our conscience, with our reason, with all our talk of humanity, destiny, nobility; it is in frightful (himmelschreinder) contradiction with our poetry and philosophy, with our nature and with our (pretended) love of nature, with our religion, with our teachings about benevolent design - that we bring into existence merely to kill, to maintain our own life by the destruction of other life. . . . It is a frightful wrong that other species are tortured, worried, flayed, and devoured by us, in spite of the fact that we are not obliged to this by necessity; while in sinning against the defenceless and helpless, just claimants as they are upon our reasonable conscience and upon our compassion, we succeed only in brutalising ourselves. This, besides, quite certain, that man has no real pity and compassion for his own species, so long as he is pitiless towards other races of beings. (1)



    1. Das Menschendasein in seinen Weltewigen Zügen und Zeichen. Von Bogumil Goltz. Frankfurt.


Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet - index