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Jan 16, 2020

'Comedit carneis'; ac si hic cibus videtur illi secundùm naturam; quamobrem ipso non vtitur, vt à natura praeparatur? sed primùm nempe carneis crudas dentibus suis carpere, commanderéque exhorrescit; vnde & illas apparat igni, vt cruditatem exuant. (...) Quid clariùs, quàm non esse igitur ad vernandum; ac longè minùs ad vescendum carnibus instructum? Vno verbo, preclarè videmur à Cicerone admoneri, hominem esse ad alia, quàm ad ca pessendas, iugulandásque belluas destinatum. Si pergas 'illam quoque industriam naturalem dici posse, qua talia organa parantur'; ecce eadem prorsùs industriâ homines arma factitant, quibus sese mutuò conficiant. An id natura instigante faciunt? Vsúsne adeò noxius dici potest naturalis? Facultas à natura est: at ex vitro nostro est, quòd illa peruersè vtamur.

'Man eats meat' you say. But if this food seems so natural to him, why does he not consume it as it is, as prepared by nature? But instead he is horrified of seizing raw, living flesh with his own teeth and chewing it; so he cooks it with fire to change its natural condition (...) What is more clear than the fact that man is not equipped to hunt, much less to eat meat? In a word, Cicero admonishes us that human-beings were destined for other things than cutting the throats of animals. If you were to reply, 'that can also be considered a natural capability of mankind by which such tools were prepared'; look, then, it is by that same capacity that people devise weapons which they use to kill each other. Do they make these at nature's urging too? Can such a harmful use be called natural? Faculty may come from nature: but it is our own fault and vice that we use it so perversely.

Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), a man ahead of his time—and our own