Vulnerable by Farangis Yegane
Man-Machine? Animal Reason! (Part 1)
The basic question about the categorical division into (nonhuman) “animals” and “humans” (Homo sapiens), brings up probably before the question of its moral implications, the question about what exactly hides beneath both these big generalized identities.
Why has the view about that what-animals-are and that what-humans-are finally lead to us only viewing animals under biological terms today?
Is it enough to attribute only an instinctual behaviour to nonhuman animals?
Is it thus the ‘fault’ of animals that humans won’t relate to them in any further way than how they are relating to them today?
What other options are there?
Animal = instinctual? Human = reasoning? Attributed identities in a human-centered narrative
If we don’t accept the view that nonhuman animals are those who have to stand below humans, within a frame given by e.g. a biological, philosophical or even divine hierarchy-of-being, then such a claim doesn’t have to be solely morally motivated. It can also mean that we question the way in which both identities („animal“ and „human“) are understood, that we question the separation and qualifications of these identities, even before the questions of our wrongdoings enter the floor of debate.
We can ask if the interpretation of the characteristics that are considered to make up the marking dividers within a human-animal hierarchy, are in reality a negation of the autonomous value of otherness in nonhuman animals.
We know that the single criterion that serves as our standard, is the human parameter, i.e. the human model counts as the ideal, as the standard, for creating norms.
So what happens if we put this standard of measurement into doubt?
It’s a question of perspective!
Conclusions deduced in the fields of biology and psychology, with those being the main academic sectors that deal with the explicability of animal identity, nail the perspectives:
- on relevant characteristics
- on how animal characteristics (in either, the case of humans or nonhuman animals) have to a.) express themselves and b.) in which exact correlation they have to become „measurable“, in order to reach a certain relevance or meaningfulness from a human point of perspective.
So the problem lies in the question why humans won’t accept nonhuman animal autonomy when it can’t be made fathomable through the perception of a value-defined comparison.
Why are own animal criterions and why is their independent meaningfulness (for the sake of themselves and for their situation within their natural and social inter- and co-specific contexts) rendered irrelevant, when they cross our perspectivical glance, and when these animal criteria could also be understood and accepted to fully lay outside of our hierarchical-framework?
To be willing to accept an autonomous meaningfulness of nonhuman animals, means to question the deindividualization, that our views and explanations about nonhuman animals purport.
Those are the views that allow us to set nonhuman animals in comparison to us, as ‘the human group’ of identity, instead of seeing otherness in itself as a full value. And those are also the views that seek to sort out how the existential ‘meaning’ of nonhuman animals might relate to anything that matters to us “humans” as a closed group of identity.
The deindividualized view of nonhuman animals almost automatically goes along with the subtraction of value in terms of attributed meaningfulness, and so we land at the moral question now, as the question of identities, individual existence and deinidivdualisation pose some ethical conflicts.
Nonhuman animals, and the attributed identities in the fields of “animal” and “human” social contexts
If we can view nonhuman animals, apart from their localization in the realm of biology, for example also in a sociological context, then we could ask the question: „How do people act towards nonhumans animals?“
Can we explain the behaviour of humans towards nonhuman animals solely by referring to the common notion that one can’t really behave in any particular way towards nonhuman animals because they are supposedly ‘instinctively set’ and ‘communicatively restricted’ compared to us, and that thus our behaviour towards them can’t contain an own quality of a social dynamic?
Can we legitimate our typically human social misbehaviour towards nonhuman animals by referring to the „stupidity“ that we interpret into nonhuman animal behaviour?
(Such questions would of course only feed themselves on stereotypes of animal identity, no matter from where they stem.)
However we probably can’t ask any of such questions a sociologist, though it could fall into their scope to analyse these relationships. Sociologists likely would prefer to deal with the Animal Rights movement and not deal with the interaction between humans and nonhuman animals, since everyone seems to be with the fact that a natural science, biology, has already determined what the identity of nonhuman animals “factually” is. And it must be said that even the Animal Rights movement seems the place moral question somewhere almost out of reach by accepting the explanation of the identity of animals as something more or less strictly biological.
End of part 1
Reaching far? Animal Thealogy – female animal deities, female human deities, on the terms of such angles.