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Ishmael by Quinn

Updated on April 29, 2015

Man was made for the world

Ishmael Final Project


In Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, the general theme is with regards to the destruction of the world/planet by mankind, who feels that the world was made for him. However, the author stresses that man, like all the other animals and plants was made for the world. With this line of reasoning, no one would do anything that would end up hurting others.

Utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue ethics

According to classical utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart right or wrong can be measured by the greatest happiness of the greatest number (Jeremy, 2001). By man believing that the world was made for him, he has taken it upon himself to destroy everything good, which has negatively not only his fellow man, but also animals and animals as well as other resources that naturally exist in the world. Using classical utilitarianism to measure right and wrong, man has done more wrong as the taker, and has caused more problems in the world through the belief that the world was made for him.

According to Kant, and his Kantian ethics, man is inherently valuable due to his rationality. Although his ethics (Kant) are mainly based on the idea of doing good for its own sake, and thus rejecting self- interest, categorical imperative, derived from these ethics would not allow man to cause damage to the environment. This is because of the fact that it would require that every single individual to consider this as morally right, and thus act in the same way (Allen, 1999). Kantianism is therefore in favor of conservation as well as preservation. This can therefore be stretched to observing and respecting animal rights. In extension also, this would also mean a responsible use of the environment as a means to an end.

On the other hand, virtue ethics emphasize on moral character as well as virtues. Being person rather than action based virtue ethics focus on developing good character traits such as generosity. Eventually, such traits allow the individuals to make the right decisions in the course of their lives. According to virtue theorists, people need to break bad habits and thus bring positive changes to their lives. With regards to Ishmael, this may mean that man has to realize the damage he has impacted on the environment and the world in general, and thus change behaviors that result in such damages in order to conserve and care for the world in general. This can be extended to mean respecting and valuing each other as human beings, and learning how our actions affect others. For instance,

Within homes, domestic violence has been shown to be on the increase. By changing this habit, and learning how to talk and solve problems, such abuses as sexual abuse or perceiving others (on the basis of gender) would be done away with.

According to Daniel Quinn in Ishmael, man should learn that he was made for the world. By adopting this principle, various aspects of life would be looked at different. With regards to sexual ethics, men would have to respect women, and treat them as equals to themselves. Moreover, the perception of women as inferior to men would have to be done away with as well as violence towards them. On the other hand, this approach would also mean more care and conservation of the environment for the benefit of animal and the environment. A majority of human activities have resulted in significant negative impacts on animal. Through a change of behaviors that contribute to such actions, animals would continue living peacefully in their habitats. Lastly, using this approach would mean respecting human rights for all without discrimination. In this case, man would have to live in harmony with others regardless of their gender, race, religion or age.

Through he idea that the world was made for man, man has gone on to cause a lot of damage to the world. Compared to other animals, man, who considers himself civilized has done extensive damage, which threatens not only the lives of animals and substantial damage to the environment, but also to himself. For this reason, the principle that man was made for the world would be the best one to follow. Through this principle, man would learn to do what is right not only for himself, but also for others, the environment and the world in general. This would mean that man and the "rational being", would have to be considerate of others and all that surrounds him, and thus learn to take care of the world, or at least improve on his errors. This would result in more harmony, observation of human rights, upholding animal rights and a world where everyone feels safe with each other.


In conclusion, it is the idea that the world was made for man that has contributed to the thought that man is a god in the world. As a result, man has chosen to live like there is no tomorrow by carelessly exploiting the environment and even fellow human beings. This has negatively impacted the society as a whole. However, by realizing that he, like mountains, rivers, animals and plants were made for the world, man would humble himself, and allow nature to take its course. This does not mean that man has to suffer. Rather, it means that he has to re-consider the actions that have contributed to more damage and harm to the world in general. Through this realization, he can retrace his steps, and contribute to a better world for everyone.


Wood, Allen (1999). Kant's Ethical Thought. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521648363.

Bentham, Jeremy (2001). The Works of Jeremy Bentham: Published under the Superintendence of His Executor, John Bowring. Volume 1. Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 978-1402163937


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