Tuesday, May 25, 2010



From wiki (link above):
Anthropocentrism is either the belief that humans are the central and most significant entities in the universe, or the assessment of reality through an exclusively human perspective.[1] The term can be used interchangeably with humanocentrism, while the first concept can also be referred to as human supremacy. The views are especially associated with certain religious cultures.

I think of anthropocentrism when I have discussions with theists regarding evolution. There are a number of traits that exist (like intellect, speed, strength, climbing ability, climate adaptability, etc), and we are the best, for all intents and purposes, at some of them, but lacking in others. These traits allow different species to adapt and excell in different ways. There's no right or wrong. There's no superior or inferior. It's all about adaptation, propagation, and survival.

Yet people hold our specific attributes to such a high regard, and really, I find that to be nothing but anthropocentrism. I don't see the justification for the view that we are superior. Our intellect is as useful to us as is the ability to play dead, pose as a log, camoflouge oneself like chameleons do, etc to other species. Yet people state that we're so superior, and they use intellect, the thing that we happen to possess (convenient, much?), as the indicator of this.

To me, this is just a self serving viwepoint, borne of a pre-existing idea, and supported by taking one attribute from a field of many equally useful (in the right circumstances) ones and arbitrarily proclaiming that particular attribute to be of the utmost importance or usefulness. And why is this determination made? How is it supported? Why? Because we possess that trait!!! Isn't that just wonderfully circular?

It's circular, it's self serving. It's anthropocentric.

At least in my view. Feel free to disagree (or heap praise upon me!).


  1. Hm. You are looking at this through a far too physical point of view. Surely, man is not as strong as the bear, not nearly as fast as the cheetah or as cunning as the fox. Imagine what man had to do to prevail, to establish himself as nature's deadliest predator.

    Sure, a man fighting a bear unarmed will not fare well, but man isn't threatened of having his cities overrun by bears. Bears are threatened to have their forests overrun by men, on the other hand.

    Was it not man's intellect that led him to communicate coherently with others of his species, to hunt in groups, to co-ordinate, to create tools and weapons? Did those not ensure his survival and rise amongst all the animals?

    Is it, perhaps, that you mean that humans, in spite of their obvious lack of physical prowess, compared to other animals, is merely a "successful" species, not a superior one?

  2. My point is that when assessing superiority, people cite the very things that make us successful. The thing is, in evoultionary terms, success is propagation, and in that sense, we're not superior; there are plenty of successful species.

    If certain traits enable survival, say brawn and intellect, one species sues intellect and the other brawn, and both are successful, I don't see the justification for calling one superior to the other. They're equally successful in different ways.


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