Critique Speciesism in Theravada Buddhist Philosophy

Phraadirek Adiccapalo


This article consists of critiques towards concept of speciesism in Theravada Buddhism. From “Buddhism and Speciesism: on the Misapplication of Western Concepts to Buddhist Beliefs” by Colette Sciberras, it was found that Western “Animalist” philosophers had presented concepts of Buddhism in negative ways. For example, Buddhism was presented with its treatment of animals negatively similar to property as some specific qualifications would determine value of a human life. Moreover, in “The Specter of Speciesism; Buddhist and Christian View of Animals” written by Paul Waldau, he mentioned that Buddhism has no teaching involved with self-worth concept of beings and races. Waldau stated that Buddhism contain moral and philosophical teachings only for human being and neglected other animals’ lives which was not right in his point of view.

          The author did not agree with the idea that Buddhism contain concept of speciesism. Actually, Buddhism does not focus on the outside of the appearance of any beings. Rather, Buddhism contain teachings that encourage treatment of all beings with living-kindness. Also, “value of a being” is determined by good actions which are coherent with moral teachings and, thus, importance in terms of morality are not determined by outer appearance. Therefore, those accusations raised from the Western “Animalist” philosophers were incorrect as Buddhist teachings are different from the cycle of ethical concepts in the Western world. Buddhism does not contain its judgment of importance in terms of morality by the outer appearance. Buddhism, in its first age, contain teachings in love, loving-kindness, compassion, giving importance of all beings or animals equally and acceptance that all beings are in the same cycle of morality as they all have the same goal; the Nirvana.


Speciesism; Theravada Buddhist Philosophy

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