Are You An Anthropocentrist?

 

animal intelligence, anthropocentrism,

Paradise, by Gillis d’Hondecoeter circa 1575

When I was growing up we were taught humans were at the top of every chart, far superior to all other living beings. Our textbooks, illustrated with stereotypical images of “cave men,” proved the assertion with a long list of what our species could do that others could not. The list was so smug that I was a bit embarrassed on behalf of my fellow homo sapiens. A skeptic even then, I thought the list was somewhat prejudicial. Worse, it didn’t acknowledge what feels obvious to young children, that we are all things and all things are us.

I don’t for a moment dismiss our many human accomplishments—among them language, science, the arts, and shared rules meant to advance mutual compassion. I simply mean to point out that we’re not better, we’re different.

Besides, what I was taught as a kid doesn’t really hold up. Here are some reasons why.

Tool use was a biggie on that list. It’s true, animals haven’t developed the smart phone (thus are spared walking into traffic while texting) but they naturally incorporate tool use when it makes sense for them.

  1. Crows make tools like hooks and rakes out of twigs, leaves, even their own feathers to obtain items just out of reach and can use three tools in sequence.  They also will drop pebbles into a container in order to raise the level of water, understanding cause and effect as well as a seven to 10-year-old child. Other examples of tool use by crows? They’re known to drop nuts on a roadway so cars will crack the shells, then wait for a break in traffic to retrieve the nutmeat. Interestingly, they’re more proficient when they grow up watching adult crows fashion tools. (Crows might wonder why we segregate human kids away from the interesting work-a-day world of adults.)
  2. Naked mole rats dig with their teeth, but to keep from inhaling dust and dirt they’re known to position wood shavings in their mouths as rudimentary face masks.
  3. The octopus is more closely related to clams than to people, yet these invertebrates plan ahead, tool-wise. For example they’ve been seen carrying coconut shell halves they can hide under later in order to grab unsuspecting prey as it passes.
  4. Orangutans fold leaves into a usable “musical instrument” that modifies their calls, making them sound lower and therefore more threatening to large predators.

Math was another obvious difference. We were taught that numerical sense is evidence of higher order thinking. Yet the animal kingdom uses math when necessary.

  1. Bears can count. Although they don’t benefit from the intelligence-boosting effect of living in social groups, research shows bears can estimate quantities just as well as primates. One particular study taught bears to discriminate between dots on a touchscreen computer, a situation about as far removed from relevant bear smarts as possible. Their abilities in natural habitat are likely to be far more impressive.
  2. Elephants have substantial numerical skills, outperforming primates and even human children when tested for their ability to find the difference between two quantities. A study found elephants can discriminate between one and two as well as between larger numbers.
  3. Baby chicks can not only count, they can even can add up numbers based on groups of objects they can’t see at the moment.  And that’s when they’re a few days old!  By two weeks of age, chickens can take into account the sun’s height and position to navigate. Plus they’re able to draw inferences and plan ahead, for example choosing to delay gratification in order to reap a greater reward. And who’d have guessed, but chickens prefer to count from left to right.
  4. Pigeons are able to learn abstract rules about numbers and order pairs. Aside from humans, only rhesus monkeys have been able to perform at this level.
  5. Insects also use math. Honeybees can distinguish between and remember quantities up to four. They can also match patterns. Ants operate with a collective form of intelligence, able to use complex problem-solving strategies to optimize time and energy spent feeding the colony.

People, we were told, communicate in complex ways while animals are, well, just animals. Again, not true.

  1. Elephants communicate sophisticated ideas in a variety of ways including low-frequency sounds from 1 and 20 Hz that can travel over miles. So far, researchers have identified nearly 200 expressions and gestures, along with nearly 100 vocalizations. Elephants can recognize at least 100 other unseen elephants by voice alone.  Their remarkable ability to understand communication isn’t limited to their own species. African elephants can differentiate between languages, gender, and age of human speakers.
  2. Dolphins remember one another, without contact, for at least 20 years. In fact, researchers have found that dolphins call each other by name (in this case, distinctive signature whistles).
  3. Koko, a western lowland gorilla, has been taught American Sign Language and, according to her trainer, understands about 1,000 signs along with nearly 2,000 words of spoken English. Sometimes, when there’s not a relevant sign, Koko invents her own signs. For example, she “compounded the sign for scratch with the sign for comb to mean, “brush” (scratch-comb).”
  4. Alex, an African gray parrot, learned well over 100 words that he used appropriately in unique contexts, demonstrating the intelligence of a five year old human child. He died suddenly in 2007. The last thing he said to his trainer upon going to his cage for the night was, “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

Which brings us to emotion and personality. Yup, non-human types are brimming with it.

  1. Chimps not only create social traditions, they’re interested in what’s trendy. Researchers are just now catching on (academic types are not known for fashion forwardness) to the latest thing, chimps wearing grass in their ears.
  2. Stressed-out honeybees show an increased expectation of bad outcomes. In other words, they become pessimists. The bees also showed altered levels of neurochemicals associated with depression. Other invertebrates, such as crayfish, can exhibit anxiety and respond well to medications that relieve anxiety in humans.
  3. Dogs traumatized by military service or abuse exhibit signs of canine Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
  4. Rats feel regret after making poor choices.
  5. Crows will eat nearly anything, but prefer French fries from a McDonalds bag to the same fries in a plain brown sack. They not only hold grudges against specific humans who have done them wrong, but will teach other crows to react badly upon seeing them as well.
  6. And play? There’s plenty of it. Crows like to ski down icy rooftops and snow-covered slopes holding sticks or boards in their talons. River otters, elephants, and whales are known for playful behavior.

 

Let me push it one step farther, to compassion and even spirituality. We’ve been told that only humans have evolved beyond survival-based selfishness to establish ethics and morality. We’ve been taught we’re the only species to perform rituals as we mourn the passing of our departed, the only ones to meditate in silence, the only ones to experience a sense of awe akin to reverence. Apparently not true either.

  1. Altruism? There’s plenty of evidence. A dolphin saving a beached whale and its calf. Gorillas working together to dismantle dangerous poachers’ traps. A pod of sperm whales adopting a disabled dolphin. Rats gnawing through cages to help other imprisoned rats. A bear assisting an injured crowLions chasing away an Ethiopian child’s kidnappers and guarding her until human help arrived.
  2. How about awe? Chimps are known to ritualistically dance at the advent of thunderstorms and dance at waterfalls. They’ve also been observed dancing (rather than fleeing instinctively) in the face of wild grass fires.
  3. Meditation? Baboons have been observed performing a sangha, sitting in silence for over a half hour gazing at a stream of water, even the juveniles remaining quiet.
  4. Love? Probably yes according to research with cats and dogs who seem to be tapping into fields beyond our conscious awareness to know when their owners are coming home.
  5. Funerals, those too. Elephants weep in sorrow and grieve their dead. They’ve also been known to sense the death of humans important to them, even from great distances, as two tribes of African elephants did when they walked for hours to mourn at the home of a conservationist who’d once rescued them. Ritualized behavior to mourn death is common in animals including foxes,  magpieswolves, dolphins, and gorillas.
  6. Maybe even religion. Cetologist Hal Whitehead‘s research indicates that sperm whales not only transmit culture to their young, they may have have evolved a form of religion to make sense of their purpose.

 

Even these terribly incomplete examples have probably taxed your patience although there are thousands of other fascinating proofs out there. Let’s remember, all these observations are human-centric, further evidence that we judge animals against one species—-us.

We wouldn’t have particularly good scores if tested according to the abilities of our fellow creatures. It’s not as if we can age in reverse as a jellyfish named Turritopsis dohrnii does, possess a snake’s infrared vision able to assess the difference in temperature between moving prey and surrounding area on the scale of milliKelvins, emit a protein that neutralizes nearly every poison as an opossum does, regrow limbs and organs as the salamander can, or are able to hear as well as the wax moth Galleria mellonella which is capable of detecting frequencies of up to 300kHz, (we humans at best hear to about 20kHz).

According to evolutionary biologists, we humans aren’t better than animals, just different. Researchers in fields like comparative psychology and language study, say there’s an “emerging consensus among scientists that animals share functional parallels with humans’ conscious metacognition — that is, our ability to reflect on our own mental processes and guide and optimize them.”

As naturalist Henry Beston wrote in The Outermost House,

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

 

animal capacities, Eden,

“Paradijs met dieren” by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1620

133 thoughts on “Are You An Anthropocentrist?

  1. Excellent post! I think we humans have a tendency to evaluate animal intelligence, resourcefulness, etc. at the individual animal level (and there is plenty of evidence for it there) but some of the most amazing things I’ve observed about herd animals (or bee hives) is the evidence of intelligence and resourcefulness at the herd level. For them it seems that their behavior is often determined by what is best for the health and welfare of the herd rather than the individual animals. It is fascinating and perhaps we humans once behaved like that more often when we were in more traditional forms of tribes.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. My favorite is the story of Kanzi the Bonobo. From Wikipedia: “(He became) not only the first observed ape to have learned aspects of language naturalistically rather than through direct training, but also the first observed bonobo to appear to use some elements of language at all.” Not only does his story prove the intelligence of animals but also the predisposition of primates to learn some advanced things passively.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This post reminds me of the concept of Theory of Mind, which for some reason, I’ve been coming across a lot lately. Roughly speaking, TOM is the idea that other people (and animals) have mental processes completely separate from our own and that understanding this is the key to empathy. It’s both a philosophical concept and a field of study in neurology and psychology. Those with poor TOM perception have a hard time predicting others’ behavior, and presumably, relating to their motives and feelings. This may be why many people tend to have a hard time appreciating the intellect and emotions of animals. On the other hand, some people with high TOM attribute feelings to inanimate objects. I watched my small niece cry after breaking a pencil, because she felt bad for hurting it. The Wikipedia article on TOM is very interesting, with discussions of how the concept applies to parenting, treatment of animals, autism, etc. In some ways, high TOM perception is a lonely business because you realize how small your own little world is. But knowing others (and also recognizing that they may have surprises up their sleeve) also allows us to know love.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. This was great. I have a biology degree and I totally concur with your assessment. I’d like to point out a couple things though. Humans are (recently) able to control their own destiny. We are the stewards of the planet, not the owners, but merely the caretakers. Our 21st century global civilization is able to combat natural selection to our benefit. For example, a person who is born with a debilitating condition is selected by nature to be at a disadvantage and thus, according to natural laws, will die before producing progeny. But humans have developed ways to save these people. We are able to do things that no other Earth dwelling creature can. Therefore, I’d argue that it’s far better to be a human being than an elephant in Africa. Of course, I don’t know what it’s like to be an elephant but I’m pretty sure they can’t create a blog on WordPress and share valuable ideas with their counterparts on the other side of the world. But your premise has a solid foundation. We are different, not better. But this difference is vast.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I agree elephants can’t create a blog, but so couldn’t humans a few decades ago. Well if you still are going to tell that those humans were not as lucky as us, then I think I would partly disagree. Just because they were not even aware of something doesn’t mean they don’t have perfect lives.
      By creating blogs we get to share ideas but due to this vast network which helps us communicate ideas across the globe we have our own set of problems too. A girl in my country got beat up just because she shared a comment against a rapist.
      What I’m actually trying to say is that nothing is perfect. The lives we humans live is absolutely different from the lives elephants would live. Personally I don’t think two distinct things such as the above can be comparable. We are different, not better. But this different can never me compared as vast or tiny with any other creature.
      I’m sorry that I kind of disagreed with you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I pride myself in having the ability to see things from another’s point of view. I totally understand what you’re saying. I really do. I’m truly sorry to hear about that girl. I will not ramble, but I’ll say this. We humans learn to hate. It is not an innate feature of our biology. Hatred is culturally transmitted. The species Homo sapiens is the most powerful and capable the great Earth has ever seen. We are a double edged sword, we have the capacity to achieve wonders as well horrific destruction. We’ve come so far. The advances in medicine alone in the last century have saved more lives of animals and humans alike than any other development in the history of the world. Our intimate knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology has enabled us to thwart the cruelties visited upon us by nature. Life expectancy is higher for all humans now than ever before. We are a species of ideas. Everything you see around you; your car, modern medicine, telecommunication technology, the stove, air conditioner, refrigerator, computer, radio, television, space station, the lightbulb, plumbing, running water, the printing press, our great cities and civilizations, even something as simple as a chair, once only existed in the mind of a human being. The MRI machine and the internal combustion engine do not exist in nature. These things were only real inside the mind of a human. Because we have a complex language that allows us to share ideas, these great marvels of technology have been manifested in the physical world through the toil and ingenuity of mankind, vastly improving the quality of living for many billions of people. I personally value all life, in every form. We are not the owners of the Earth, but given our immense, almost unimaginable capabilities, we are most definitely the stewards. Carl Sagan is one of my favorite people and I would urge you to type his name into YouTube and have a listen. I subscribe to his ideology and he can convey those thoughts far more eloquently than I can. Lastly, Animals are more cognizant than we realize. But the difference between human beings and the rest of life on Earth is evident. We are explorers. We are curious about the world. In the 21st century a global network of human minds is forming. A global consciousness. I believe our future is immensely bright. Humanity is going through growing pains, but we are statistically at our least violent period in our history. That is a fact that can be backed up by raw numbers. We are so beautiful. Unless a catastrophic event renders us extinct, mark my words: we will reach for the stars. 1,000 years from now, if enlightenment touches every human, if wars cease or at least become rare and if we accept that this universe is full of wonders unimagined by our forebears, humanity will achieve things that you and I literally cannot even dream of. We alone have the power to restore and maintain the glory of Mother Earth. Whether you like it or not, humanity is in charge of taking care of this planet and all life found on it. Call me a naive optimist, call me an idealist, but I believe in my heart of hearts that humanity will one day realize its potential. We have and will continue to, accomplish wonders.

        Liked by 2 people

          • I agree with that. The only semi-dissenting opinion that I can offer to that well written blog is that humanity can now destroy the entire planet. We have the capability to ruin it for all other creatures. Whether by pollution of the biosphere, expansion of cities and urban centers (uprooting the habitats of other creatures) or nuclear Armageddon, we clearly have the power to destroy all life on this planet. No other animal can do that. So I would argue that we now play a more important role than the rest of Earths creatures in realizing this enormous capability and taking steps to ensure the survival, as best we can, of our animal brethren. Chimps, squirrels and birds while NOT superior to us in any way, do not have the burden of responsibility that we now do. The decisions of a flock of geese have no consequence for the future of all other life on Earth. But the decisions of humanity DO have consequences for all other life on Earth.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Yes humans do have the power to destroy the entire world within seconds but that only makes them powerful, not better. Like you said – this power is a burden and a blessing, but I just think that no matter how powerful a person might be it never makes them better but only more responsible. Just because it’s the king of an empire who decides whether his kingdom dies or lives in glory, it doesn’t mean that he is any better than one of his own people. I never intended to start this argument by saying that humans are not powerful. I only meant to say that they are not better. That’s all.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Oh this is no argument. Just a discussion. Lol…we agree on a lot. I’m happy to have talked with you. It’s valuable to hear things from another persons point of view, especially when the tone of the conversation is friendly. So…thanks!

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! This has put my vegetarianism into a whole new perspective! Originally I stopped eating meat because I didn’t like the idea that what I was eating was carcass , but upon further research new lights have been shod (shedded? Shod? Shode? Who knows?) on the topic and this has really helped.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. So we shouldn’t kill or use non-humans or their secretions for food, clothing, entertainment, laboratory research, drugs, sport, etc., Yes?

    Otherwise we end up saying things like, I’m not (racist, sexist, , homophobic, speciesist,…) BUT, and the go on to say why someone’s differences make them less deserving of life, freedom, and physical security or whatever it is we’re about to destroy, dishonor or discount for that being.

    Thanks for putting together all the references and examples of how non-humans are astonishingly intelligent, and the similarities we share with them. Go Vegan.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. I still rather hold to the fact that we are distinctly separate from animals, we are above and supreme to them- regardless of their “human-like intelligence. I don’t not believe we are biologically classified as animals.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This is one of the best post I read within the past few months! Thank you so much for talking about this important issue. Speciesism is so deeply rooted in human minds and it’s the basis for cruelty against so many innocent animals. Overcoming speciesism raises fundamental questions about animal rights and our cruel, factory-farming society is certainly in need of that. I’m gonna share this amazing post wherever I can!

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Interesting read. As a child, I recall the premise of our superiority being that we do not have any predators. That’s not to say a tiger would not kill and eat us, but that we are not constantly vigilant of being preyed upon.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Have always thought along these lines. I get a bit fed up of people arguing we are some kind of aliens, when everything about the earth tells all living things we are so much more the same than different. Thanks for this reminder.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Love this. I’m currently playing hide and seek with a fun loving pheasant and two wagtails fly into my path on purpose daily, playing with me. I love nature and believe we can learn so much from animals. They are clever beings.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Beautiful! I’ve been having interesting conversations as of late regarding our understanding and treatment of other species. This builds the case for respecting each other. I wish we could unlock the secrets to better communication.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Excellent post. I think the most important point in this discussion is that every living thing on this planet is a product of evolution. Every species that is around today exists because it has adapted to survive. And we are no different. Some species evolved to run fast, others to fly, and we evolved to think and be social. We are not “chosen” to be superior to animals. We ARE animals, just trying to survive like everything else.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Very interesting post Laura. I agree with you that humans are superior to ‘animals’ – rather, we can be more savage than even them. We used to class blacks as ‘animals’ – incapable of emotion or higher intelligence – but forgot to judge ourselves. Are we really more than animals?

    Arguably, yes and no, depending on how one interprets that question and their view of the world. As I said previously, I believe we are on par with animals, with some of us going beyond them (think famous humanitarians who devoted their lives to helping others in the pursuit of happiness and sharing that love) and some of us falling below them (think greedy politicians and torturous traffickers who only care about their next load of cash).

    Once again, very interesting post Laura. Loved the use of constant evidence, and I look forward to seeing more of your work!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I see what you mean Ben, but I haven’t claimed humans are superior to animals. In my opinion we don’t fall “below” animals when we act out of greed and cruelty nor do we necessarily rise “above” them when performing selfless acts (the animal world offers us examples of both). An octopus is one expression of what it means to be an octopus on this diverse planet just as a human is one expression of what it means to be a human.

      Actually, your comment has me thinking. You’re probably familiar with cosmologist Brain Swimme, who teaches that a hawk wouldn’t be a hawk nor would the mouse be the mouse without each other. The hawk’s extraordinary eyesight and precise flight speed is made necessary by the mouse’s constant attentive and elusive agility. The pressure itself to survive fosters a sort of beautiful synchronicity to these creatures, as it does to others. I wonder if the humans who demonstrate the worst of our species help to foster our greater yearning to be the best we can be?

      Like

  15. such a lovely blog Laura. True that we humans suffer with superiority complex and all that comparison is with our fellow beings. They are the most beautiful and amazing beings we could choose to live with and thanks to us we have put them on the verge of extinction. Truly loved your research on the subject.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Genesis 1:28 KJV

    And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I understand it, the word we read as “dominion” comes from the Hebrew word, radah, which is usually translated as “to have dominion” or “to rule,” used elsewhere in scripture to mean as a king rules over a kingdom. Here’s more on that from this informative site: https://christopherbrown.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/genesis-128-to-subdue-and-have-dominion-over-creation/

      The same word [radah] is used in Psalm 72, originally a coronation psalm for Solomon. Verse 8: “May he have dominion [radah] from sea to sea . . .” But now look at verses 12-14 to see what that dominion, that radah, looks like:

      He delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. (NRSV)

      What is the kind of rule that God doesn’t want? Ezekiel 34:4 gives us an example. In a tirade against Israel’s kings, God says through the prophet, “You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.”

      The dominion that God desires is one that protects the defenseless and gives justice to the oppressed. Applying this to the command for humanity to exercise dominion over creation, we can see that while we rule over creation, we’re called to protect it. As a king accepts tribute or taxes from his subjects, so too we receive a bountiful sustenance from the fruits of creation. Yet also as a king should take care of the weak and poor in his kingdom, so too we are called to guard natural beauty, preserve endangered species of God’s creatures, and even to restore the places which we have too often ruled “with force and harshness.”

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great blog! In what context are you referring “superior” to? We are on top of the food chain, unless you can think of an animal the developed world is prey to…Evolution proved that our brain far surpassed (in the sense of survive) all the cool abilities you listed.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I agree, but I wouldn’t say they have the superior genes because they can kill us. Viruses aren’t considered living organisms, they need a host cell to replicate and survive. They’re incredible for what they can do given how much genetic material they have. There are human virus hunters, lol, they look for viruses and study them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’ve got me there, virus-wise.

          I guess I take issue with the importance of deeming ourselves superior in the first place. When we claim superiority due to our dominance, our spot at the top of the food chain (along with plenty of other creatures), and our capacity to change our environment to suit us we’re really saying more about how we see ourselves as separate from our place in the larger eco-system.

          Like

  18. This has been one of the best blogs I have read since coming to WordPress at the beginning of the year.
    My degree is in Environmental Health and during the course of my studies we briefly touched on a few of the things you have written today, and at the time I found it incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to check out all of your hyperlinks!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Great blog there Laura Grace !! The reasons for us i.e. humans to think of their superiority to other animals is because human beings were one of the fastest developed animals over the phase of time both physically and intellectually owing to their strikingly different nature than other animals, their extensive use of free will and their quick integral development over time.
    All this led to the misconception , that we are superior to other animals. It is because of all this age old supermundane attitude that we think we’re superior to the other living creatures of the world.
    Congrats on a fabulously written blog post !

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Interesting article. I agree that other species have intelligence, but a vast majorty aren’t close to humans. Brain size/body mass – the few mammals that do have similar ratios also share similar cognitive abilities. You mentioned crowes, they happen to be one of them.
    Humans have the ability to impact, effect, manage, and/or disrupt the environment and habitats of most species. This “privilege” should come with great responsibility and humility.

    Finally, many species eat others species. I don’t see the connection between recognizing the intelligence of other species and consumption. I’m not advocating that everyone should eat animals or products from animals. I am advocating that being more involved with animals helps in appreciating their intelligence and abilities- beekeeping, free range chickens, goats, etc

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Thanks for creating awareness. I was occupied with somewhat similar thoughts sometime before. Imagine single cell organisms, how they perform all life activities without even talking, instructions, language whatever. In fact we all living creatures just survive and try to make survival comfortable. We all stick together to form different life forms just to survive again…

    Liked by 5 people

  22. You’re almost onto something. Human beings are the only ones that were made in God’s image and were His crowning achievement.

    Adam was told to name the animals… to take care of the land and tend to the animals… and to rule over them.

    Also, one of my favorite reasons for being a fan of bacon is that even God Himself favored Abel’s offering of fat portions of his livestock… yet He didn’t favor Cain’s offering of some fruits of the soil.

    Don’t get me wrong… I love fruits and veggies. I treat animals with respect. (even the ones that I feed myself with!) Animals were also created by God, and they were given to mankind to be ruled with care and respect. Mankind was made in His image, unlike everything else… saying that the rest of creation is equal to His greatest creations would be false… and is somewhat insulting.

    We shouldn’t have some ego trip where we disrespect animals, but let’s at least recognize the fact that we (humankind) were made extra super special… indeed, better than the rest. (because we are more like the creator than the rest) It’s an honor to be human.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You just made my day!! All these days when I went around telling people that humans aren’t the rulers of the cosmos but are ‘creatures’ too, I thought I was definitely and absolutely stupid for standing against a widely held belief but you just shattered all the loneliness I felt till today. You have no idea how thankful I am to read this post of yours. Hope to see more from you.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Reblogged this on Icarus Flies and commented:
    Thanks for the article. I immediately thought of reverse anthrocentric arguments, the human things we do that no other species does.

    1. Humans Are the Only Species to drink the milk of another species without the need of an orphan.

    2. Humans are the only species to continue drinking milk after being weaned.

    3. Humans have caused the extinction and devolution of many species ; plant, animal, and insect by such things as clear cutting the rain forests, overfishing, air pollution. We have caused more ecological damage than any natural event or species.

    4. Humans are the only animals that murder in cold blood not for food or protection.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There are certainly amazingly positive things humans do that no other species does. Science, for example, that’s given us everything from remarkable trauma care to space exploration. Most forms of art. Plus extraordinary acts of compassion for people, animals, and ecosystems.

      Liked by 3 people

  25. Pingback: No, humans aren’t a special species. | No More Paper Towels

  26. Reblogged this on sonnische and commented:
    This comprehensive treatment of the complexity and authenticity of the nonhuman animal world reminds us we aren’t the best nor are we necessarily the most intelligent of all living creatures. Perhaps as a vegan I have thought more of animals than some, but I learned so much reading this. Are you an anthropocentrist? Read and find out…

    Liked by 3 people

  27. I can honestly say that I’m not an anthropocentrist, despite the efforts of the educational system and my parents. I’m (an ecologically conscious) vegan, I respect life and animals, I believe they are not on this planet to be exploited, killed, and eaten by our species. Some of the famous food writers already spread this knowledge, now we need academics, biologists, and bloggers to help us. I hope that at some point, this will become a common attitude towards them, and our current behavior will be seen as deviated, vile, and plainly stupid.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Such a wonderful post, I’ve always been interested in animals and I have to admit I didn’t know all of this. I enjoyed it so much, and I hope more people will realize how wonderful and important animals are.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. No, I’m most definitely not an anthropocentrist, and think anyone who is to be closed-minded. Man need only look up to seek higher power, I’m not on about religion, I’m on about discovery, science, worlds, and lifeforms the likes of which we couldn’t even comprehend. Nah, we’re far from the most superior, for as long as we are Immeasurably small compared to the rest of what is, was, and will be.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. To be technically accurate, I am a manthopomorphocentrist. Morph = evolution. Center = right in the middle of the process, as an individual. Manthropo = XY = trapped by the risks and benefits of manliness.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I have this friend, who has a habit of telling people how stupid animals are. It is annoying.
    I find this way of thinking ignorant and self-centered/self-absorbed, because it is not in comparing intelligences between species that you find out intelligence, and it is not about “who´s the smartest”, it is by looking at each specie and finding out THEIR own intelligence that one finds out about intelligence in species. No specie would survive if they didn´t have intelligence of some sort. … Just saying.
    And something else; humans are the ones destroying the planet, humans alone are causing this, and that is the stupidest thing one can do. Isn´t it? 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  32. You would enjoy Sapiens, A History of Humankind. The author discuses humans as rather unremarkable animal who has only recently learn a unique trick of coordinating groups of individuals of larger than 150. This alone ha allowed our dominance..

    Liked by 2 people

  33. … people say I’m an animal. I remember another compounding that Koko did. Only knowing birds from pictures of chickens, Koko taken to a lake, identified “Water bird” for a duck

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Just been reading Stanislaw Lem’s “His master’s voice” He sums it up thus:
    “The notion that we have within us an ancient Beast that carries around upon it’s back
    a modern Reason–is a pastiche of primitive mythologies”. To paraphrase; the pig saddled with a conscience resents the consciousness’ confinement. The Reasoning consciousness does all it can to hide the pig within.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. I am an “anthropocentricist”. Granted, we have often underestimated animal intelligence. And Granted, animals are sentient and can feel like we can. But that doesn’t make them human.

    Tool use isn’t the real issue. It is the ability to create new tools and machines on demand. Animals have been using the same tools for thousands of years. Their technology is stagnant at a low level. And it always will be. Human technology is not stagnant.

    And as for testing “according to the abilities of our fellow creatures”, it is there where we succeed the most. We can fly higher and faster than any bird. Dive deeper than any whale. Our knives cut deeper than claws, mills grind grain better than the stomachs of a bovine. When we hunt, we are more deadly than any bear. Too deadly, perhaps, for our own good; we kill the fellow members of our species with more ruthlessness than any chimp. But we also love more profoundly than any dog. And build things more complex than any ant colony or birds nest.

    It is often said that humans are merely animals, but that is not true:

    A human can be an animal, but an animal cannot be human.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Wonderful post! I must admit that you must have put in quite a bit of work for this one. Of what I have read, I have observed a few myself!
    I have this strange relationship with crows, they come to eat at my place. We talk, we argue sometimes, they have a good sense of humor too. I guess it’s true when people say that you get to know a being only when you mingle with it.
    And I totally agree with you saying we underestimate the animals and consider our evolution superior to theirs. This is one thinking which the world should change about them. All organisms must be treated as our equals.
    This post made my day really. Thank you. Good day to you !

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Reblogged this on ky ellen and commented:
    Animals – to marvel – to joy in. The differences between their species, between all their species and ours, the differences in ours – such a gift we, humans, are so terrible at recognizing, much less appreciating.

    I choose to believe this:
    Love – the best place from which to gain understanding.
    Fear – only good for self-preservation when accompanied by rational thinking.
    Conscience – knowing that we are much better humans when love always comes first…and last.

    Even if fear sneaks in, and it will, think rationally, fairly, justly; act accordingly; and return to love as quickly as possible.

    Happiness – coexisting, collaborating, cooperating, co-mingling with all who share living. The only positive outcome from differences is understanding.

    Liked by 3 people

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