The Woman On The Radio (WOTR) just said apologetically “of course, this is anthropomorphism..” and this made me think. Anthropomorphism is roundly condemned with patronising self riotousness by Johnny Scientist. People who protest the practice of animal testing, for example, are often accused of anthropomorphism.
From what I have heard the argument runs something like this:
Layman: Testing on animals is awful because it causes animals pain.
Scientist: We do not know that it causes them pain.
Laymen: Well, why the hell is the animals screaming and writing around? It is obviously in pain.
Scientist:. You are assuming that because screaming and writhing around are indications of pain in humans that they must be indications of pain in an animal. Furthermore you are assuming that because humans are conscious of pain that animals but be conscious of pain. You are being anthropomorphic.
Johnny Scientist thinks that he is so so clever but he is making a major scientific error. Implicit in his argument is that humans are somehow fundamentally different from all animals. If one is religious one might well believe this. Some brands of Christiananity, for example, might believe that humans are the only class of being to have souls. If we assume that other animals do not have souls then it might be possible to argue that they do not experience pain the way humans do.
However, the introduction of religion and souls into any argument is not good scientific practice and Johnny Scientist would normally scorn such arguments the way he scorns anthropomorphism. So how is it that Johnny Scientist can consider that humans are fundamentally different?
I would argue that this assumption is fundamentally wrong. If one argues that humans are fundamentally different from other animals then one must ask why cannot we argue that cats are fundamentally different from all other animals (including humans).
From a feline perspective one might argue that, although some animals such as humans can move fairly well, they in no way approach the grace and beauty of any cat and they are hopeless at preening. Therefore cats must be considered as fundamentally different from all other animals.
In truth we must assume that either all animals are different from each other or that none are. Surely, from a scientific viewpoint, humans are just another animal. Sure we are more intelligent just as dolphin are better swimmers, just as elephants have fantastic noses. From our perspective our intelligence sets us apart. From an ant’s perspective their ability to work together as a colony sets them apart.
I would argue that the concept of anthropomorphism is fallacious as it is assumes that man is separate from nature. This assumption is derived from a Judeo-Christian interpretation of the world which is unscientific.
We do not have the concept of Felipomorphism or Canipomorphism so we should not have the concept of anthropomorphism.