Nothing in common?

Continuing thinking about anthropomorphism. Could it be that humans have absolutely nothing in common with animals?

Cover of Primates and Philosophers

Philosopher Franz de Waal says:

I still remember some surrealistic debates among scientists in the 1970s that dismissed animal suffering as a bleeding-heart issue. Amid stern warnings against anthropomorphism, the then prevailing view was that animals were mere robots, devoid of feelings, thoughts or emotions. With straight faces, scientists would argue that animals cannot suffer, at least not the way we do.’ (Pg 76 P&P)

Frans de Waal called this separatism ‘anthropodenial’ and it has hopefully withered under Darwin’s theories of evolution. (It may, however, be quite popular in modern creationist America.)

Another philosopher, Christine M. Korsgaard, in an essay about the evolution of morality, discusses the vested interest we have in our dominion over the animals:

I think it is fair to say that we are more likely to be comfortable in our treatment of our fellow creatures if we think that being eaten, worn, experimented on, held captive, made to work, and killed, cannot mean anything like the same to them that it would do to us. (Pg 104 P&P)

Jared Diamond concludes in The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, that it is basically our human capacity for genocide and the basic human desire to take drugs to get off our faces that marks us as different from the rest of the animal kingdom. In the prologue he says:

Among the…[se] characteristics unique to us are the abilities to talk, write, and build complex machines. We depend completely on tools, not just on our bare hands, to make a living. Most of us wear clothes and enjoy art, and many of us believe in a religion. We are distributed over the whole Earth, command much of its energy and production, and are beginning to expand into the ocean depths and into space. We are also unique in darker attributes, including genocide, delight in torture, addictions to toxic drugs, and extermination of other species by the thousands. (Pg 1 Third Chimpanzee)

The rise and fall of the third chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

So does it seem to you that us humans are not actually very different to our animal cousins after all?

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