Thus, in order to carry out "God’s" orders, humans are instructed to level the woods, till the soil, drive off the predators, kill the "vermin," plough up the bracken and drain the fens. Humans must institute a process of "ordering" and "taming" of plants, animals and natural forces. A transformation ranging from pre-modern game-keeping to modern weed-killing gardening practices which found its most destructive manifestation in recent European history in the devastating contrast between the deliberately constructed notions of ‘pleasant harmony’ as opposed to "revolting cacophony."
Jim Mason notes the significance of the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve, the Fall, the Flood and the "gift" of dominionism; that Genesis tells the creation story - "the fundamental myth of Western civilisation" - from which human beings "learn our first and most basic understandings about who we are and how we came to be in the world."
However, Mason claims it is an error to locate Genesis as the source of dominionist views which situate humans way above and beyond lowly and savage nature and her animals. These views of human superiority are a product of what Mason calls "agri-culture’" which, as a concept of domination, seems to bear a resemblance to how early members of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research conceptualised, at least in part, the notion of instrumental rationality. Hebrew Scribes - those who physically wrote the Genesis account - were recounting already existing tales and myths that had been orally transmitted from generation to generation before the advent of writing. Consequently:
- Sumeria, Persia, Egypt, and the other great, early cultures were not the starting points of Western civilisation; they were, rather, culminations of millennia of human economic, social, cultural, and ideological growth that occurred around the eastern and of the Mediterranean Sea. Scholars call this region the Near East; laypersons call it the Middle East. It is here, from a great, rich stew of agri-cultural peoples and cultures, that the idea of dominionism emerges... Here, by the time writing had begun, a very old, sedentary agrarian society had already fashioned most of the myths that celebrated humanity’s ascent to mastery over nature. Dominionism was alive and well...long before it was codified by the scribes of Genesis.
Mason also emphasises secular influences on the construction of attitudes about humans and other animals. He notes that poets and philosophers from Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, and other "settled, wealthy, agricultural civilisations," generally adopted a world view which regarded nature and all of the living world as existing exclusively for humans, who should rule and control the natural world. Mason claims that, just like Biblical tales, classical writings hold "great authority in Western culture and they are still seen as sources of, and bases for, the rules governing how people should live." He therefore argues that, like Genesis, classical writers authored and authorised already existing, firmly established, agri-cultural views.
Of course, there have been dissenting voices raised against dominant paradigms in all ages, but Mason maintains that dominionist agri-culturalist thought has become the established human mind-set, at least in the nations of the Western world. The agri-cultural mind-set - based on controlling, ordering and managing the natural world – is now "second nature" to human beings.
The Role of Philosophy.
Classical Greek thought was never utterly monolithic and can be divided into rival schools such as those based on Platonic and Pythagorean teachings. However, Platonic thought, especially as expressed by Aristotle, became favoured in the West, providing ‘fuel’ for Christian and Renaissance views that persisted in seeing "Man" at the top of a "natural hierarchy" within a moral theory called perfectionism. This hierarchy is conveniently ordered by "God" in Christian thought but, for Aristotle, it was simply a product of the laws of nature. A similar division of thought emerged in Rome, according to Mason, with largely the same outcome.
Thus, as much as some animal advocates make a habit of recounting the views of Ovid, Seneca, Porphyry, and Plutarch, it was agrarian Roman culture which "took human dominionism over nature for granted" with notions that humans were "absolute masters" of the earth, meaning that its products could be seen as "ours."
The notion that humankind controlled the natural world is found in Cicero’s comment that, "We sow the seeds and plant the trees. We fertilise the earth. We stop, direct, and turn the rivers." Moving towards what he labels "modern Western dominionism," Mason argues that the same "humans-on-top" messages are found in the works of Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes. Mason claims that Aquinas "welded" sacred and secular ideas together to produce a "hard" version of dominionism expressed in Catholicism ever since.
Dominionism translated into modern or "Enlightenment" thought as science was characterised as a useful tool of human "freedom," not so much to gain simply an understanding of the world, but to gain a firm control of it. Mason says that the so-called "fathers of modern science," Bacon and Descartes, whose lives overlapped around 1600, effectively provided an updated version of dominionism for the modern industrial age. Citing William Leiss’ 1972 book, The Domination of Nature, Mason asserts that Bacon linked the dominionism that was thousands of years old with the modern promise of increased human health - and wealth - through scientific developments.
In "passionate pleas" to use knowledge for the betterment of "man’s earthly estate," Bacon suggested that producing "new inventions" and "human riches" was the main role for science. Bacon declared that "Man" was "at the centre of the world" and argued that, if it were not for human control of the natural world, all would go "astray."
There would be no "purpose." No "aim." Bacon spoke of the natural world as "her" and thought "she" could be made a "slave" (Bacon’s Novum Organum) as some Marxians would later view nature as some sort of "servant" of human interests. Religious views allow humans to dominate nature, whereas Bacon made the whole idea seem desirable in a modern formula that involved subduing nature "by submission."
At roughly the time of Bacon’s death, Descartes was credited with advancing a position that seems to completely separate humans from nature and all other animals. Descartes is said to have frequently articulated the ‘absolute gulf’ thesis which still resonates today in a more restricted sense, tempered, that is, by the principles of orthodox animal welfarism.
The French philosopher-priest-animal experimenter apparently "detached" humanity from all else and characterised humanity as the ultimate ruling class. In Descartes’ view, human beings could be "aloof" from nature. Nature amounted to "underlings" when compared to "Man." Humans are so superior that it is folly not to conceive of humanity far removed from the natural world.
Essentially, Descartes "cut humanity loose" from nature in an act of ideological reclassification. Thus, other living beings were simply to be seen as "insensible" and "soulless machines," similar to clocks or automated dolls and toys. Descartes came up with an apparently neat solution to explain his general position in the light of the vivisection he performed. Cutting nonhuman beings open and finding similar organs, bones, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels to those discovered in human bodies, he reasoned that a major, and important, difference between human beings and other animals must be the former’s ability to think. Given found physical similarities, animals-other-than-human were not, after all, to be regarded as absolutely soulless in Cartesian thought. Thus, Descartes seemingly began to argue that both humans and other animals had a "corporeal soul" which is purely mechanical and depends to some extent on "animal spirits" in the human or nonhuman body. However, he stated that thought resides in the "incorporeal mind," another – second - "soul," a "thinking substance," which apparently only human animals have.
Descartes also appears to have explained the fact that some animals can move faster than humans by saying that the "machine of the body" in nonhumans move "more violently" than the human body which is moved by "will." Since "Man" can create various forms of automata, he argued, it is only reasonable to suppose that nature would also produce its own automata. For Descartes, these "natural automata" are the nonhuman animals of the world.
Richard Ryder argues that Descartes was "desperate" to conceive of a huge difference between humans and the other animals, despite the contrary evidence produced by his own knife and scalpel. Perhaps such a search for separation is important in enabling animal experimenters to perform vivisection on nonhuman animals with a morally clear conscience? If this was the aim, it apparently worked, and scientific anti-vivisectionists and animal advocates recount in gruesome detail how Cartesian-inspired vivisectors would carry out the most violent experiments, often repeatedly on the same victim, and with no pain relief. Furthermore, highlighting the social importance of humour and joking relations, they would laugh at anyone who showed concern for experimental "models." Descartes is even reputed to have performed experiments on a dog owned by his wife, much to her disgust.
Whatever the purpose of Descartes’ search for difference, Mason states that he presented humankind with a renewed licence to kill along with a renewed licence to exploit nature and nonhuman animals more ruthlessly than ever. He successfully "de-coupled" and "desensitised" attitudes to nature exploitation and "blew away" any existing timidity that remained about "nature conquest." These Cartesian formulations are a great assistance to all animal users: for how could it be ethically wrong or immoral to kill animals if they were just unfeeling machines? Conceiving of the belief system Bauman names societal "gardening," experimenting nature controllers and nature conquerors were now able to also declare themselves "noble improvers" of humanity.
By advancing the disciplines of science and reason both Bacon and Descartes fuelled the expansionist aspirations of Europeans who ‘discovered’ North America, the Pacific and much of the rest of the globe from the sixteenth century onwards. William Leiss (cited by Mason) – as well as Thomas - explore strands of seventeenth and eighteenth century attitudes toward nature and animals and identify fairly widespread beliefs, such as the idea that nature possesses ‘secrets’ that need to be discovered; that "Man" "perfects" the work of creation; and that the natural world needs human "superintendence."
Without such human control, things will go wrong and will not "function" properly. The result of such attitudes is the development of a creed of "aggressive, probing, scientific dominionism" in which nature domination and species differentiation were fundamental intellectual bandwagons and dominant paradigms of the modern age.
By the nineteenth century, Saint-Simon optimistically declared an age in which humans need no longer exploit other humans: Humanity's activity would be confined to exploiting the natural world, or "external nature," as he described it.
Karl Marx famously foresaw a future world in which human beings would co-operatively control nature, "instead of allowing it to rule them;" while Friedrich Engels suggested that socialism would bring into being a situation where humans could become the "true masters" of nature.
For Marx and Engels there is no suggestion that animals other than human animals would benefit in their radical vision of a brand new abundant socialist world. No notion that nonhuman animals might be regarded as members of the exploited proletariat, despite the huge amount of forced labour they provide. Rather, Marx and Engels declared, "It will be possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind to, without ever becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic." Mason notes that more recent Marxian views, such as Maurice Cornforth’s [1950’s], "expressed a dominionist, human supremacist outlook at least as absolute as that of Genesis, Aquinas, Bacon and the rest." For example, Cornforth entitled a section of his work, "Man’s Mastery of Nature," asserting, "Increasing mastery of nature is, indeed, the essential content of material progress. In mastering natural forces men learn their laws of operation and so make use of those laws for human purposes." By "mastering" natural forces humans transform them from "enemies" to "servants." In the communist future, Cornforth said:
- People now go forward without hindrance to know and control the forces of nature, to use them as servants, to remake nature, co-operating with nature to make the world a human world since humanity is nature’s highest product.
Even those radicals who ‘would turn the world upside down’ never looked critically at the exploitation that exists in human-nonhuman relations. On the contrary, they would "keep humanity at the top," controlling nature "with an iron hand." Speciesist sentiments do not recognise political categories of left and right it seems. For example, 1960’s philosopher Eric Hoffer dreamed of the day when "technological man" could wipe out jungles, make arable land from deserts and swamps, make mountains productive with terracing, control the flow and direction of rivers, kill all "pests," and even control the weather in order that the entire globe could be made "useful" to humanity.
Meanwhile B.F. Skinner, in his 1962 book, Walden Two, explained his utopian vision in terms of the "triumph over nature," the "conquest of nature," and the "scientific conquest of the world." Such views are extremely dominionist and speciesist since they see nature as "just a pile of untapped resources." Similar views come from a small group of neo-Cartesians, such as Buckminster Fuller, who regard nature as "negligible," "obsolete;" a "messy," "disorderly," "unpredictable" thing - quite "female" - to be "avoided," "controlled," and "contained." Nature dominators often focus their exploitative attention on animals because they have been viewed as the most visible, alive and vital part of nature.
A contemporary professor of business law and ethics from a newspaper editorial who provides, Mason argues, "a ‘freeze-dried’ argument packaged long ago by Aristotle, Aquinas, and Descartes:"
- [P]eople are generally seen as made in the image of God... it is only people who occupy this exalted status. The things of the earth, including animals, are given by God for the benefit of people. So most religions describe a three-tiered hierarchy: God, people and everything else.
 Nancy K. Dess & Clinton D. Chapman, ‘“Humans and Animals?” On Saying What We Mean’, Psychological Science, Vol 9(2) (1998): 156-7.
 Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800. (London: Allen Lane, 1983).
 Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust. (Oxford: Polity, 1989).
 Jim Mason, An Unnatural Order: The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature. (New York: Lantern, 2005): 25.
 See Ian Craib, Modern Social Theory: From Parsons to Habermas. (Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1984), 186-190. Various members of the Frankfurt School, such as Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, became engaged in speculation about the earliest origins - and the ‘flowering’ - of instrumental reason in the way that Mason and others have thought about the origins of the instrumental use, ‘management’ and categorisation of other animals.
 Mason, Unnatural, 32-33.
 See also Tom Regan, Defending Animal Rights. (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001): 5-6.
 See Jon Wynne-Tyson, ed., The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought. (Fontwell, Sussex: Centaur Press, 1985); The Extended Circle: An Anthology of Humane Thought. (London: Cardinal, 1990); Andrea G. Wieber & David O. Wieber, eds., Souls Like Ourselves: Inspired Thoughts for Personal and Planetary Advancement. (Rochester, MN: Sojourne Press, 2000).
 Mason, Unnatural, 34.
 See Stephen R.L. Clark, The Moral Status of Animals. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984) for a critique of Thomist views.
 Mason, Unnatural, 35.
 R. S. Peters, ‘Francis Bacon (1561-1626)’, in J.O. Urmson & J. Rëe, eds., The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy and Philosophers. (London: Routledge, 1991).
 Mason, Unnatural, 37, emphasis in original.
 Zygmunt Bauman & Tim May, Thinking Sociologically, 2nd edition, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001): 174.
 See Mason, Unnatural, 37-38. Tom Regan & Peter Singer, eds., Animal Rights and Human Obligation. (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1976), features selections from Descartes’ Discourse on Method, and a reproduction of two letters written by Descartes discussing main points from his ‘animals are machines’ thesis; and a reply by Voltaire.
 See Descartes in Regan & Singer, Animal Rights and Human Obligations, 65-66.
 Richard D. Ryder, Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism. (Oxford: Berg, 2000): 221.
 Hans Ruesch, Slaughter of the Innocent. (London: Futura, 1979); Naked Empress. (London: CIVITAS, 1982); Richard D. Ryder, Victims of Science. (London: National Anti-Vivisection Society, 1983).
 Ryder, Animal Revolution, 53.
 Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993).
 Thomas, Man and the Natural World.
 Mason, Unnatural, 39.
 Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, Collected Works. 10 Vols. (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1976): 5, 47.
 Mason, Unnatural, 40.
 Ibid.: 40-41.
 Ibid.: 41.
 Quoted in ibid.: 42.