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Mar 20, 2008
This week's theme
Words from guest wordsmith Matt Ball, founder of Vegan Outreach

This week's words
factory farming

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Cartesian (kar-TEE-zhuhn) adjective

adjective: Of or relating to Descartes, his theories, methods, or philosophy, especially its emphasis on mechanistic interpretation.

[From Cartesius, Latin form of Descartes, after philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650).]

"To visit a modern CAFO (Confined/Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is to enter a world that, for all its technological sophistication, is still designed according to Cartesian principles: animals are machines incapable of feeling pain. Since no thinking person can possibly believe this any more, industrial animal agriculture depends on a suspension of belief on the part of the people who operate it and a willingness to avert your eyes on the part of everyone else."
Michael Pollan; An Animal's Place; The New York Times; Nov 10, 2002.

See more usage examples of cartesian in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. -Thomas Carlyle, historian and essayist (1795-1881)

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