J. Howard Moore
J. Howard Moore
John Howard Moore
December 4, 1862
Linden, Atchison County, Missouri, United States
|Died||June 17, 1916 (aged 53)|
|Cause of death||Suicide by gunshot|
|Known for||Animal rights advocacy|
|The Universal Kinship|
Louise Jessie (Jennie) Darrow Moore
|Relatives||Clarence Darrow (brother-in-law)|
John Howard Moore (December 4, 1862 – June 17, 1916) was an American zoologist, philosopher, educator and socialist. He advocated for the ethical consideration and treatment of animals and authored several articles, books, essays and pamphlets on ethics, vegetarianism, humanitarianism and education. He is best known for his work The Universal Kinship (1906), which advocated for a secular sentiocentric philosophy he called the doctrine of "Universal Kinship", based on the shared evolutionary kinship between all sentient beings.
Early life and education
Moore was born on a farm in Missouri in 1862, the son of William A. Moore, a farmer; he had two brothers and two sisters. During the first 30 years of his life, he and his family moved between Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.
Moore studied at Oskaloosa College (now defunct), in Iowa, during the 1880s,:52 but did not graduate.:117 In 1884, he became an examiner for the Board of Teachers for Mitchell County, Kansas. Moore was struck by lightning in 1885, receiving burns to his arm and chest and temporarily losing his sight and capacity for speech; he made a full recovery after six days of bed rest. In 1886, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Around this time, he became a vegetarian for ethical reasons.
In 1889, he was employed by the National Lecture Bureau, delivering lectures in a manner which led to him being described as "the matchless silver tongue of Kansas". From 1890 to 1893, he continued to work as a lecturer. In 1894, he started at the University of Chicago with advanced academic standing. He soon helped form and became president of the vegetarian eating club at the university. He was also a member of the university's prohibition club, taking part in several local and statewide oratorical contests on prohibition. In 1895, he won first honors at the national contest in Cleveland, for his oration "The Scourge of the Republic". At this time, he was known to be a supporter of women's suffrage.
Moore was an influential member of the Chicago Vegetarian Society (formed around 1890) and the Humanitarian League, an English radical advocacy group; under his direction, he modelled the society as an American version of the League. In 1895, the society published Why I Am a Vegetarian, based on a speech Moore made, in which he laid out the reasons for his vegetarianism. In the summer of 1896, he accepted the chair of sociology at Wisconsin State University and lectured on the topic of social progress.
In 1898, Moore was given a full-page column in the Chicago Vegetarian, the Chicago Vegetarian Society's journal, which started in 1896; this increased his influence on the society and its overall message.:119 Moore graduated in the same year, earning an A.B. degree in zoology. After graduation, he taught ethics in Calumet High School and briefly in Wisconsin.
In 1899, he married Louise Jessie (Jennie) Darrow (1866–1955) in Racine, Wisconsin; they had met in Chicago. She was an elementary school teacher and a fellow advocate for animal rights and vegetarianism, and the sister of renowned lawyer Clarence Darrow. The couple soon returned to Chicago and Moore joined Crane Technical High School as an instructor in biology and ethics; he taught at the school for the last 20 years of his life.
Later life and career
Moore published Better World Philosophy in 1899, in which he laid out what he considered fundamental problems with the world, stemming from an evolved preponderance towards egoism in humans and other sentient beings, which led them to exploit their fellows, treating them as a means to an end to satisfy their desires. In response, he argued for a "Confederation of the Consciousnesses", as an ideal arrangement of the living universe, where sentient individuals of all species bring together their talents and collaborate for the benefit of all. The book was endorsed by Lester F. Ward and David S. Jordan.
Moore expanded on these ideas in The Universal Kinship (1906) and The New Ethics (1907), arguing for the inevitability of socialism, as the path of least resistance to "a civilisation based on the shining and imperishable foundations of Brotherhood and Mutual Love", and against the claimed divinity and exceptionalism of humankind, stating that "[m]an is not a fallen god, but a promoted reptile".:107 He asserted that the ethical implications of the shared evolutionary kinship of sentient beings—combined with the Golden Rule—should form the basis for a secular philosophy which he termed "Universal Kinship". He argued that the doctrine was not new and was almost as old as philosophy itself, citing the Buddha, Pythagoras, Plutarch, Shelley and Tolstoy as adherents.:322–323 Following this doctrine, he asserted—in a utilitarian fashion—that humans must work together to reduce the suffering and increase the happiness of their fellow humans and other sentient kin:
Yes, do as you would be done by—and not to the dark man and the white woman alone, but to the sorrel horse and the gray squirrel as well; not to creatures of your own anatomy only, but to all creatures. You cannot go high enough nor low enough nor far enough to find those whose bowed and broken beings will not rise up at the coming of the kindly heart, or whose souls will not shrink and darken at the touch of inhumanity. Live and let live. Do more. Live and help live. Do to beings below you as you would be done by beings above you. Pity the tortoise, the katydid, the wild-bird, and the ox. Poor, undeveloped, untaught creatures! Into their dim and lowly lives strays of sunshine little enough, though the fell hand of man be never against them. They are our fellow-mortals. They came out of the same mysterious womb of the past, are passing through the same dream, and are destined to the same melancholy end, as we ourselves. Let us be kind and merciful to them.:327–328
Moore was a close correspondent and friend of fellow Humanitarian League member Henry S. Salt, who later described The Universal Kinship as "the best ever written in the humanitarian cause" and they worked together to popularize Moore's doctrine within the humane movement; this was largely unsuccessful.
As well as his work as a high school teacher and author, Moore gave frequent lectures on vegetarianism, the humane treatment of animals, anti-vivisectionism, evolution and ethics. He also authored articles and pamphlets for humane organizations and journals, including "the Humanitarian League, the Millennium Guild, the Massachusetts SPCA, the American-Anti-Vivisection Society, the American Humane Association, and the Chicago Vegetarian Society". Additionally, Moore wrote in support of the temperance movement and humane education—educational reform in favor of the teaching of ethics and humaneness.
Moore was a fierce critic of American imperialism and America's actions in the Philippine–American War, publishing an article entitled "America's Apostasy", in 1899.:321 He also denounced Theodore Roosevelt and his hunting expedition to Africa, describing Roosevelt as having "done more in the last six months to dehumanise mankind than all the humane societies can do to counteract it in years". In an article titled "The Source of Religion", he criticised religion, describing it as "an anachronism today, with our science and understanding".
Following the passing of a law in Illinois prescribing that teaching of morals in public schools, in 1912, Moore published three books on ethics to be used as educational material: High-School Ethics, Ethics and Education:251 and The Ethics of School Life—based on a lesson that Moore gave to high-school students. High-School Ethics was intended to form the first part of a four-year course, including topics such as evolution, the ethics of school life and business, the ethical treatment of animals, social justice, eugenics, women's rights and utilitarianism.
Moore delivered a speech entitled "Discovering Darwin", at the International Anti-vivisection and Animal protection Congress, held in Washington D.C, in 1913. The speech claimed that vivisection and the consumption of meat are a product of anthropocentrism and that Darwin's On the Origin of Species, had made any notion of human superiority or uniqueness untenable and ethically indefensible.
In 1914, Moore gave a speech in Chicago, at Hull House, in favor of sex education and published The Law of Biogenesis. In the first part of the book, he described how the physical laws which govern the way an embryo grows into an animal before and after birth, and how this can be traced back to the species' evolutionary history. In the second part, he argued that the same laws apply to the developing minds of children, which "passes through stages of savagery and barbarism like those experienced by the human race in past ages". His last work, Savage Survivals was published in 1916, in which he traced the ethical and cultural evolution of humans and other animals, from the past to the present day.
On June 17, 1916, at the age of 53, Moore died by a self-inflicted gun wound on Wooded Island in Jackson Park, Chicago. He had visited the island regularly to observe and study birds. Moore had struggled for many years with an unspecified illness and chronic pain from an abdominal operation for gallstones, in 1911. He had also expressed continuing despondency at human indifference towards the suffering of their fellow animals. In a suicide note found on his body by a police officer, he had written:
The long struggle is ended. I must pass away. Good-by. Oh, men are so cold and hard and half conscious toward their suffering fellows. Nobody understands. O my mother, and O my little girl! What will become of you? And the poor four-footed! May the long years be merciful! Take me to my river. There, where the wild birds sing and the waters go on and on, alone in my groves, forever.[note 1] O, Tess,[note 2] forgive me. O, forgive me, please!
His brother-in-law, Clarence Darrow, delivered a eulogy at Moore's funeral, describing him as having died while "suffering under a temporary fit of sanity" and as having been a "dead dreamer"; the eulogy was later published. Moore was buried in Excelsior Cemetery, Mitchell County, Kansas.
An obituary published soon after Moore's death, in the Chicago Tribune, labelled Moore as a misanthrope. An obituary published by the Humanitarian League's journal The Humanitarian, described him, in much more positive terms, as "one of the most devoted and distinguished humanitarians with whom the League has had the honor of being connected".
Henry S. Salt dedicated his 1923 book The Story of My Cousins to Moore and in his 1930 autobiography Company I Have Kept, he reflected on the strength of their friendship, even though the two never met in person. A selection of Moore's letters to Salt was included in the appendix of the 1992 edition of The Universal Kinship (edited by Charles R. Magel).
Moore has been recognized as an early, but neglected, advocate for ethical vegetarianism; Rod Preece in Sins of the Flesh: A History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought, asserts that Moore's ethical vegetarian advocacy was "ahead of his time", as it appears to not have had "any direct influence on the American intelligentsia." Moore's ethical approach has been compared to Albert Schweitzer and Peter Singer, with Moore's views identified as anticipating Singer's analysis of speciesism. The environmental historian Roderick Nash argues that both Moore and Edward Payson Evans, "deserve more recognition than they have received as the first professional philosophers in the United States to look beyond anthropocentrism.":122 Animal rights activist Henry Spira cited Moore as an example of a leftist who wasn't uncomfortable about advocating for animal rights.
Animal rights author Jon Hochschartner describes Moore's The Universal Kinship as an animal liberationist text, but criticizes his endorsements of social Darwinism and scientific racism, while acknowledging that such views were likely common at the time Moore was writing, drawing attention to the fact that the book was endorsed by several notable progressives. Moore's last work Savage Survivals, has similarly been criticized as an example of scientific racism by the prehistoric archaeologist Robin Dennell. Mark Pittenger argues that Moore's racism was influenced by Herbert Spencer's The Principles of Sociology and that similar views were held by contemporary American socialists.
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