Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Ethics of Diet

Howard Williams - The Ethics of Diet: A Catena of Authorities Deprecatory of the Practice of Flesh-Eating (1883)

Open Library direct link
Open Library main page

Check the subtitle for the book's real purpose - centuries of people arguing for vegetarianism or at least close enough to be enlisted to that cause.  Starts with Hesiod and runs to Schopenhauer and includes names you wouldn't have expected such as Ovid, Mandeville, Pope, Voltaire.  This scholarship is what's most interesting, for me anyway.  The entry on Seneca, for instance, begins with a discussion of his health and character, lists his works, offers a brief appraisal, and includes lots of quotes from both Seneca and other sources.  The book is certainly not a tossed-together hash of ill understood sources.  Tolstoy had it translated into Russian and contributed an introduction.

While researching I discovered this had been reprinted by the University of Illinois Press in 2003.  Its introduction by Carol J. Adams covers the background far more thoroughly than anything I'd ever do and can be read in its entirety on Google Books.