Unit 1 Assignment 2: Luna Jerjees-Diderot’s Natural Law

“I see first of all one thing that seems to me to be acknowledged both by good and evil persons: that we must reason in everything because man is not simply an animal but an animal who reasons. There are consequently in the question at hand means for discovering the truth. Whoever refuses to look for the truth renounced human status and must be treated by the rest of his species like a ferocious beast; once the truth is discovered, whoever refuses to conform to it is either mad or bad in a moral sense… “

I chose this passage of Diderot’s “Natural Law” because it poses strong assertions on reason and the complexity of man. I found this reading conflicting because Diderot quotes that there are means for discovering the truth and that those who do not search for it renounce their status as humans. However, this passage greatly undermines the differences in cultures and understanding of reason. Diderot’s definition of reason and understanding may differ greatly from those of different beliefs and identities. This notion of reason Diderot discusses may only apply to western ideologies and ignores the varied understanding of the eastern regions. Nevertheless, his acknowledgement of the fact that in order to discover the truth, one must reason resonates for many people. Diderot’s claim that one who does not seek the truth is no different than an animal highlights his principles and belief that we must reason in order to understand. We are given the ability to think, rationalize, and understand, and ignoring these abilities lessens our position as human. To seek truth is to seek humanity. What sets us apart from the animal species if not our higher brain function.

In our discussion, we spoke about how reason differentiates us from animals and lets us distinguish truth from falsehood. In that sense, Diderot corroborates this statement and explains why it is that we often find ourselves seeking things beyond our common existence. Just like animals, we could run through the natural cycle of life, from birth to death, yet we choose to see the grander picture.

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