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Human Nature Watch 3: The Animal Studies Movement

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First, the entire field is founded on a non sequitur. From the undoubted fact that many evolutionary continuities exist between human beings and the other animals, the conclusion that “the once-sharp distinction between humans and other animals” has become “blurred” simply does not follow. Any more than it follows from the fact that chickens and humans are both bipedal, that they cannot be rather easily distinguished from each other.

Give me a mixed crowd of humans and chickens, and I can infallibly sort all the chickens into one group and all the humans into another, with nothing left over “in between.” Same with chimpanzees.

In short, the founding premise of the field of animal studies is obviously, demonstrably, crashingly false. In reality, no one has the least difficulty distinguishing between human beings and any other kind of animal whatsoever. If nothing else, you can always tell the human beings by the way they’re dressed: They’re the ones in the white lab coats.

So, the entire field of animal studies is founded on a logical fallacy. That is one problem.

The other problem is its moral blindness.

– James Barham, “Human Nature Watch 3: The Animal Studies Movement” ( January 9, 2012)The Best Schools blog More.

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2 Replies to “Human Nature Watch 3: The Animal Studies Movement

  1. 1
    champignon says:

    Somehow Barham takes this…

    The field builds partly on a long history of scientific research that has blurred the once-sharp distinction between humans and other animals. Other species have been shown to have aspects of language, tool use, even the roots of morality.

    …and concludes that the central issue is whether we can tell the difference between humans, chickens, and chimpanzees:

    Give me a mixed crowd of humans and chickens, and I can infallibly sort all the chickens into one group and all the humans into another, with nothing left over “in between.” Same with chimpanzees.

    I for one am awed by Barham’s skills of discrimination, but that aside, does he really want to pin his human exceptionalism on the fact that our nearest evolutionary neighbors happen to be dead?

    And surely he understands that the point of the first quote is this: many faculties that used to be regarded as uniquely human are no longer seen that way. A world in which elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, pigeons exhibit math skills, crows fashion tools, rats demonstrate empathy and even spiders learn by imitation is a very different world from one in which these traits are exclusive to humans.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    Everything about humans is different from animals if we are made in the image of God which means also out thinking in everyway.
    Language, Music, speed of thought, diversity of thoughts at the same moment , and complexity of thought.
    Animals only have memory and instinct for help in their thoughts.
    We have these but more importantly we think like God.
    No comparison between us and critters.

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