In the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Zina Skandrani announces, “Is the human species special? It is… in its quest for specialness”.
She should have stopped right there.
The human ability to even have a quest for specialness tells you something right away. But not something the author gets, because she goes on, and it doesn’t get better:
The remaining question is why humans can’t accept being a particular species among other equally particular species. A glimpse to other human imprinted divisions shows how profound this quest for difference is. The human affirmation of uniqueness is indeed only a mirror of other common oppositions and comparisons of the self vis-à-vis others, from the macro- to the micro-level: earth/other planets, own culture/others’ culture, own country-city/others’ countrycity, we/they, me/you, to only name a few. It thus appears that the thesis of human specialness, in the same way as the other mentioned oppositions, results less from a naturally given ordering of the living then from a human attempt to structure human life and ultimately the world. Further, the continuous production of the human/other living distinction continuously builds human identity, an identity constituted by exclusion. The human specialness leitmotiv has in this way hijacked other life-forms to define humans and their own status, revealing less about humans’ place among the species than about humans themselves.
Uh,yes. It shows that humans can think about things in ways that other life forms can’t. So?
It remains, however, that the human specialness ideology promptly becomes an obscurantist barrier to the urgent improvement and change in humans’ current actions on the environment, as soon as this advancement means challenging humans’ privileged place. And it belongs uniquely to humans to become aware of this, for the sake of all the earth’s uniquenesses.
So humans aren’t special but we really are, because only we can save the planet?
Lack of logic is apparently no barrier to a career in environmental studies. No wonder science teacher friends have treated it with suspicion.
See also: Is this the most bizarre paper ever published?