The Alterhuman Media Project

Overcoming Anthropodenial: Tear Down That Wall

Anthropocentrism is unfortunately prevalent in Western society. According to this view, humans are accepted as having uniquely complex mental and emotional abilities. This might not initially seem like much of an issue- humans certainly are intelligent, creative, and expressive beings. The problem arises when anthropocentrism is taken to its inevitable conclusion: Since humans are complex, they are unique; and therefore separate from and even superior to all other animals.

Franz de Waal tackles the problem of anthropocentrism in a Discover magazine article titled Are We in Anthropodenial? Anthropodenial, de Waal proposes, is the flip-side of anthropocentrism: Because only humans may have complex mental lives, non-human animals are denied this complexity, despite numerous studies and observations suggesting intuition, emotion, and reasoning in animals.

De Waal suggests that we question the human exceptionalism that has become the norm; and allow ourselves a worldview of productive anthropomorphism. This isn't anthropomorphism in the sense of assuming animals have the same minds and motivations as humans; but rather allowing ourselves to see that our human traits aren't so unique after all, a rediscovery of the 'human' in the non-human.

The full article can be read at the link below:

Are We in Anthropodenial? By Franz de Waal


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