“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Like “crickets” and “nothing to see here, move along,” the charge of anthropomorphism is oft repeated in the blogosphere. This comment I wrote on a post of Levi's just now was so good (he said modestly), and I feel so passionately about this, that I thought I'd reproduce it here:

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of anthropormorphism. Indeed according to OOO that’s what we can’t help doing. Pencils pencilmorph everything in the same way.

Furthermore, as I argue in The Ecological Thought, the charge of anthropomorphism is

1) A blind alley at best and a potentially infinite game of one-upsmanship
2) At worst, a symptom of profound correlationism and thus guilty of what it accuses the other of doing!


Scu said...

Not only is the charge of anthropomorphism a common attack, but it often covers over what Frans de Waal calls anthropodenial, the tendency to believe that traits only occur with humans even when it is clearly not the case. See his Primates and Philosophers, pp. 59-67. Obviously his work is in context of primates, but still I think his criticism is right on.

ai said...

Picking up where you left off for a wander around the conceptual neighborhood...