The Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer
"The idea of Reverence for
Life is the basic principle of goodness."
"The fundamental fact of human awareness is this: I am life that wants to live in the midst of other life that wants to live. A thinking person feels compelled to approach all life with the same reverence one has for one's own. Thus all life becomes part of one's own experience. . . . In essence then, a person can be considered ethical only if life as such is sacred to him/her -- both in people and in all creatures that inhabit the earth."
Ethics consist in my experiencing the compulsion to show to all will-to-live the same reverence as I do my own. A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.
That everyone shall exert himself in that state of life in which he is placed, to practice true humanity towards his fellow men, on that depends the future of mankind... I am convinced that there is far more in [men and women] of idealist will power than ever comes to the surface of the world. Just as the water of the streams we see is small in amount, compared to that which flows underground, so the idealisms which becomes visible is small in amount, compared with what men and women bear locked in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. (Out of My Life and Thought)
Anyone can rescue his human life, in spite of his professional life, who seizes every opportunity of being a man by means of personal action, however unpretending, for the good of fellow men who need the help of a fellow man...If so much of such service remains unrealized, it is because the opportunities are missed. (Out of My Life and Thought)
Those who have learned by experience what physical pain and bodily anguish mean, belong together all the world over; they are united by a secret bond. One and all they know the horrors of suffering to which man can be exposed, and one and all they know the longing to be free from pain. He who has been delivered from pain must not think he is now free again, and at liberty to take life up just as it was before, entirely forgetful of the past. He is now a "man whose eyes are open" with regard to pain and anguish, and he must help to overcome those two enemies and to bring to others the deliverance which he has himself enjoyed. Such is the Fellowship of those who bear the Mark of Pain. (On the Edge of the Primeval Forest)
REVERENCE FOR ALL LIFE
Whenever I injure life of any sort, I must be quite clear whether it is necessary. Beyond the unavoidable, I must never go, not even with what seems insignificant. The farmer, who has mown down a thousand flowers in his meadow as fodder for his cows, must be careful on his way home not to strike off in wanton pastime the head of a single flower by the roadside, for he thereby commits a wrong against life without being under the pressure of necessity. (Out of My Life and Thought)
Those who test operations or drugs on animals, or who inoculate them with diseases so that they may be able to help human beings by means of the results thus obtained, ought never to rest satisfied with the general idea that their dreadful doings are performed in pursuit of a worthy aim. It is their duty to ponder in every separate case whether it is really and truly necessary thus to sacrifice an animal for humanity. They ought to be filled with anxious care to alleviate as much as possible the pain which they cause. (Civilization and Ethics)
The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics. We have reached the point of regarding each other only as members of a people wither allied with us or against us and our approach: prejudice, sympathy or antipathy, are all conditioned by that. Now we must rediscover the fact that we – all together – are human beings, and that we must strive to conceded to each other what moral capacity we have. Only in this way can we begin to believe that in other peoples as well as in ourselves there will arise the need for a new spirit, which can be the beginning of a feeling of mutual trustworthiness towards each other. (Peace or Atomic War?)