The Delusion of Human Superiority

head-254866_640The reasons for believing in the superiority of Homo Sapiens over other species are varied: some think it is our increased ability to reason, some think it culture and civilization, some think it a more complex psychology, some think it imagination, others our ability to make tools and develop complex technology. Whatever the reason offered, it is ultimately a delusion. This is mainly fueled by our inability to psychologically accept our mortal creatureliness a refusal to accept the finitude of life. We are animals and our existence is finite – our denial of this is ultimately the origin of our ill treatment of fellow animals.

The key assumption where this entire mode of thinking is fundamentally flawed, is the difficultly in attempting to judge one animal superior to the other. Most importantly, what is the definition of superior? That the species is the greater number? That the species can hunt more efficiently? That the species can create poetry? That the species is faster? Is a cow superior to an elk? Is a fish superior to a bird? Is an eagle superior to a bear? Is a human superior to a chicken? When one thinks about this, one realises that calling one species superior to another is utterly pointless as it entirely depends on the qualification. The horrible irony is that we ourselves are the ones most gravely guilty of this flawed thinking – essentially the core reason behind our blatant disregard of other animals’ wellbeing and very lives and the unimaginable amount of suffering inflicted upon hundreds of millions of sentient beings every single year, is most tragic indeed.

We feel superior to fellow animals, when we are still driven by the same basic drives and impulses as our “simpler” animal cousins; the difference is that we are in acute denial of this. How tragic we are.

We act as though our entire species are off the charts in terms of our intelligence and rationality. Really, what portion of the human species are truly rational, in the philosophical sense?

The main consequence of this denial? We ignore the rights of animals. To the most heinous degree. Who suffers? Everyone else but us (aside from the slow health decline of consuming an animal-based diet.)

9 thoughts on “The Delusion of Human Superiority

  1. I like part of the point but disagree with the assumed direction the points could lead one to conclude. I agree that we’re not superior to animals in a sense that we may receive special privilege allowing us to mistreat them and the world around us. I do believe that we can respect and care for the animals that we consume, furthermore I believe it’s out correct path to continue being carnivorous. Are you stating that in order to respect mother nature we must go against out own natural makeup?

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    • I agree that we should not mistreat them – ending their existence to consume them when it is not necessary for our health (consuming animal products harms us more than benefits) seems to me mistreatment. I appreciate where you are coming from – respecting animals to the point where we consume them but treat them magnificently would be a huge step in the right direction, but the ending of their existence for our unnecessary dietary wants still seems wrong to me. If you have a gander at the science of what makes a carnivore a carnivore, you will see that we are omnivorous at most, and seemingly herbivorous. (teeth, size of digestive tract, etc)
      Tough last question – very briefly, if the ethics of the situation warrant it, yes, although it’s lot more complex! Great topic for another post though, thanks! 🙂

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      • Our development as part of Natural Selection has a very strong foundation in meat eating. Mostly to support our large caloric consumer, the brain. Without meat we could not have developed into what we are today. Like you said though perhaps this is another argument all together. My philosophy tells me to respect every living thing from the tree in my back yard to my neighbor. I’m wondering if you’re for the support of an entirely synthetic diet since that day in technology is approaching.

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  2. Very true. Too often people point to the notion that humans are more psychologically complex than animals to justify their horrid treatment. The assumption seems to be that if something is more psychologically complex than another then there are more ways for that being to be wronged, thus granting more rights. But this isn’t at all how we should think of rights, it seems to suggest that we have rights and from those rights moral status, when it seems quite plain that we have moral status as beings and that that moral status grants moral rights. As living beings animals then of course have moral status and thus moral rights.

    Glad to meet another animal rights advocate on wordpress. Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    Cheers

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    • Great point, couldn’t agree more. Moral status is not dependent on belonging to homo sapiens – it is about harm and suffering, not who has the more complex psychology. There was a certain animal researcher (can’t remember who!) who thought that if other animals don’t have certain perceptions of future and time, when they are in pain, they may not know that it will end, whereas we do. So their pain may actually be worse than ours.

      Also, thanks for the kind words. There will certainly be lots more coming on animal rights – that’s my core intellectual concern! Working on a book on it too, will be several months to completion though 🙂
      Will be updating this post and sorting the blog out in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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  3. This is a very interesting and important topic regarding our ecology.

    It is interesting, to me, the way that the idea of humanity’s domination over the planet has evolved. In the early days of Christianity, the artwork you see from the western world depicted as being a commanding authority over nature. Whereas; if you move a little further east in Greece, their artwork depicted Adam as being another element in nature, in harmony and friendship with the rest of the animals.

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  4. As a pure vegetarian, I couldn’t agree with you more on the subject. In this iron age of quarrel and hypocrisy, enveloped in cocoon of refined deceptions, many will come up even with so-called ‘religious’ references to justify why they believe it’s ok to eat meat, without feeling guilty about it. It’s sad; some people truly don’t understand the implications. The bottom line is, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ The universal law of karma.

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  5. Pingback: Different Yet Equal: The Umwelt And Its Ethical Significance | REFLECTION SELECTION

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