George Nicholson’s on the Primeval Diet of Man (1801) - Vegetarianism and Human Conduct Toward Animals
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This book is a seminal contribution to the development of Enlightenment values concerning our responsibilities toward nature and toward other species. Rod Preece’s introduction provides an analysis of the historical context of Nicholson’s thought, its relationship to previous and contemporary literature, and its influence. Preece’s notes offer a detailed elucidation of Nicholson’s references, quotations and commentary. This examination of Nicholson’s work, in conjunction with Preece’s introduction and notes, allows the modern reader an unparalleled insight into the ideas that occasioned the early 19th century animal welfare legislation that promoted and protected the interests of non-human species.
“In combination, the introduction and notes are a model of scholarship and erudition, which enhance the book and its relevance to the contemporary reader. They amply compensate for the book’s occasional, and unavoidable, lapses. In fact, once these are recognized, explained and contextualized, through the editor's careful scholarship, the book's faults become, in a way, also its virtues. Nicholson’s factual errors, exaggerations and distortions reveal just how his age differs from ours; they afford the reader a glimpse into the collective 18th-century mind, both on the issues of vegetarianism and animal rights, and the wider intellectual, moral and political society and culture in which they were embedded.” – Mathias Guenther
“. . . a wonderful contribution. The Nicholson text itself is a fascinating view of both the ethical debate and empirical beliefs about animals at that time. . . The introduction and notes also leaven the material, and put the ideas into a very valuable context.” – David Fraser
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