People and Animals

In his book, Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer defines some of the words commonly used in the food industry. The first set deals with human-animal interaction:

Anthropocentrism – The conviction that humans are the pinnacle of evolution, the appropriate yardstick by which to measure the lives of other animals, and the rightful owners of everything that lives.

Anthropodenial – The refusal to concede significant expereiential likeness between humans and other animals

Anthropomorphism – The urge to project human experience onto other animals.

People and animals have much in common. Both have eyes, noses and mouths. Both eat food and produce offspring. Yet, a line is clearly drawn between master and property. What makes humans superior to animals? Two words, anthropocentrism and antropodenial, accurately describe how this relationship came about.

People are clearly different from animals. We have cognitive thinking, we have tools and we have political divisions. Animals do not. Recognizing these differences may have lead to the notion that the world revolves around humanity. Anthropocentrism, as it is known, allows us to do whatever we want to planet and its other inhabitants. After all, we’re the dominant species.

The only problem with doing whatever we want to the other species is any remorse we might feel afterward. Anthropodenial affords us the opportunity to separate ourselves from the animals we might harm. By stripping animals of any real likeness to us, it is much easier to exploit them.

Of course, it would be unlikely for everyone to share this egotistical view of the world. As I understand it, this is more of a rationalization for animal cruelty that occurs in the industry.

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