Thursday, October 04, 2007

Power and the Anthropomorphization of Animals

Reading Schumacher today I realized an interesting possibility in the current trend to relate humans more closely with animals and animals more closely with humans. What if it was tied to our sense of power?

This argument assumes that we are ontologically different than animals, higher being who have categorical differences with non-human animals. This assumption being made, what would the possible motives be for anthropomorphizing animals? Well, they can be made to seem like they have human emotions, human capability for speech (save we cannot understand them), similar social arrangements, and a host of other humanizations. The end of this promotion would seem that we can treat these animals as humans, while remaining gods to them. We can appear totally benevolent, life-giving, caring, and all-powerful while maintaining that these creatures are really closer to ourselves that they actually are ontologically.

The flip side of this is that either animals are promoted or we are demoted. Many people do both, "we are just cool animals" and the like. What could the motive for this be? Well, we can completely comprehend animals (potentially) because they are on a lower level of ontology. Thus if we relate ourselves more to the animal we can mistakenly think that we have much better understanding of the human person than is the case. Again, this feeds our sense of power because we (and the other) are no longer a mystery to ourselves. We Know.

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