Sepulveda Vs. Bartolome De Las Casas

1278 words - 6 pages

The argument of Juan Gines de Sepulveda is that of negative feedback to what was experienced in the first encounter of the Spaniards and American Indians in the Sixteenth Century. Also, Sepulveda demonstrates through his opinion that war against the Indians is a rightful act due to the fact that the Indians are seen as lower beings. The proof that Sepulveda uses to support his position is the glimpse the Spaniards noted in the short time they observed the Indians. Sepulveda thought that the Indians were uneducated individuals that were uncivilized in the way they conducted their lives. This can be seen in that Sepulveda comments on how Indians are not educated because they seem not to have an alphabet, any knowledge of the sciences, or any means of preserving their history as the Spaniards do. Due to the reason of not understanding the ways of the Indians Spaniards such as Sepulveda came to conclusions that were unjust to the Indians. The Conquistadors believed that the "little men" they encountered were inhumane in that for purposes of sacrifice the Indians killed their own people by taking out their hearts and placing them on alters. Sepulveda sees this as disgusting and unimaginable for a human being. In order to support his views Sepulveda turns to Aristotle's doctrine of natural slavery and agrees that those more powerful are made to be masters to rule over the weak. Another point that is being discussed by Sepulveda is that of the Indians not being in charge of their own destiny, that they leave their lives to be ruled by their gods. This goes against all of the Conquistador's beliefs in Christianity and the faith they contain in God. Sepulveda looks upon the Indian's way of life, such as them not having their own land but sharing it with one another, as a ridiculous notion. He does not comprehend how the Indians can be slaves to their King and still have to pay taxes when Spaniards have rule over their own lands. In all, Juan Gines de Sepulveda's argument supports the idea that some human beings were created by God to be slaves and concludes that the New World natives were in this category. Don Fray Bartolome de Las Casas disagreed with Juan Gines de Sepulveda's argument in many ways. Las Casas refutes this argument by saying that a proper goal for the Spaniards was to convert the Natives by peaceful means and to make them Spanish subjects. He saw that the Spaniards were in the wrong to want war against the Indians just because they were not as educated and civilized as the Conquistadors. Casas supports his argument and beliefs with the Christian faith and the beliefs of the church. Bartolome declares that God did not command war against idolators, he clarifies his position by saying that if the Spaniard can punish the Indians for their religion then any other religious group can punish the Spaniard for being non-believers. Las Casas does not support the idea that Indians are not civilized and uneducated for he states that ...

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