Animal ethics and clear consciences

“In Praise of Self-Deprecation” – Wislawa Szymborska

The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.

The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.

The killer whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.

There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.


Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012) Poland
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996

Quoted from p. 125 of Osborn, Ronald E., 2014, Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering, IVP Academic