Anthropocentrism (/ˌænθroʊpoʊˈsɛntrɪzəm/; from Greek Ancient Greek: ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos, "human being"; and Ancient Greek: κέντρον, kéntron, "center") is the belief that human beings are the most important entity in the universe. Anthropocentrism interprets or regards the world in terms of human values and experiences. The term can be used interchangeably with humanocentrism, and some refer to the concept as human supremacy or human exceptionalism. Anthropocentrism is considered to be profoundly embedded in many modern human cultures and conscious acts. It is a major concept in the field of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy, where it is often considered to be the root cause of problems created by human action within the ecosphere.
However, many proponents of anthropocentrism state that this is not necessarily the case: they argue that a sound long-term view acknowledges that a healthy, sustainable environment is necessary for humans and that the real issue is shallow anthropocentrism.
Anthropocentrism, also known as homocentricism or human supremacism, has been posited by some environmentalists, in such books as Confessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman and Green Rage by Christopher Manes, as the underlying (if unstated) reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to "develop" most of the Earth. Anthropocentrism is believed by some to be the central problematic concept in environmental philosophy, where it is used to draw attention claims of a systematic bias in traditional Western attitudes to the non-human world. Val Plumwood has argued that anthropocentrism plays an analogous role in green theory to androcentrism in feminist theory and ethnocentrism in anti-racist theory. Plumwood calls human-centredness "anthrocentrism" to emphasise this parallel.
One of the first extended philosophical essays addressing environmental ethics, John Passmore's Man's Responsibility for Nature has been criticised by defenders of deep ecology because of its anthropocentrism, often claimed to be constitutive of traditional Western moral thought. Indeed, defenders of anthropocentrism concerned with the ecological crisis contend that the maintenance of a healthy, sustainable environment is necessary for human well-being as opposed to for its own sake. The problem with a "shallow" viewpoint is not that it is human-centred but that according to William Grey: "What's wrong with shallow views is not their concern about the well-being of humans, but that they do not really consider enough in what that well-being consists. According to this view, we need to develop an enriched, fortified anthropocentric notion of human interest to replace the dominant short-term, sectional and self-regarding conception." In turn, Plumwood in Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason argued that Grey's anthropocentrism is inadequate.
It is important to take note that many devoted environmentalists encompass a somewhat anthropocentric-based philosophical view supporting the fact that they will argue in favor of saving the environment for the sake of human populations. Grey writes: "We should be concerned to promote a rich, diverse, and vibrant biosphere. Human flourishing may certainly be included as a legitimate part of such a flourishing." Such a concern for human flourishing amidst the flourishing of life as a whole, however, is said to be indistinguishible from that of deep ecology and biocentrism, which has been proposed as both an antithesis of anthropocentrism. and as a generalised form of anthropocentrism.
Maimonides, a scholar of the Torah who lived in the 12th century AD, was noted for being decidedly anti-anthropocentric. Maimonides called man "a mere 'drop of the bucket’" and "not 'the axle of the world'". He also claimed that anthropocentric thinking is what causes humans to think that evil things exist in nature. According to Rabbi Norman Lamm, Maimonides "thus deflate[d] man's extravagant notions of his own importance and urge[d] us to abandon these illusions."
In the 1985 CBC series "A Planet For the Taking", Dr. David Suzuki explored the Old Testament roots of anthropocentrism and how it shaped our view of non-human animals. Some Christian proponents of anthropocentrism base their belief on the Bible, such as the verse 1:26 in the Book of Genesis:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
The use of the word "dominion" in the Genesis is controversial. Many Biblical scholars, especially Roman Catholic and other non-Protestant Christians, consider this to be a flawed translation of a word meaning "stewardship", which would indicate that mankind should take care of the earth and its various forms of life.
Anthropocentrism is the grounding for some naturalistic concepts of human rights. Defenders of anthropocentrism argue that it is the necessary fundamental premise to defend universal human rights, since what matters morally is simply being human. For example, noted philosopher Mortimer J. Adler wrote, "Those who oppose injurious discrimination on the moral ground that all human beings, being equal in their humanity, should be treated equally in all those respects that concern their common humanity, would have no solid basis in fact to support their normative principle." Adler is stating here, that denying what is now called human exceptionalism could lead to tyranny, writing that if we ever came to believe that humans do not possess a unique moral status, the intellectual foundation of our liberties collapses: "Why, then, should not groups of superior men be able to justify their enslavement, exploitation, or even genocide of inferior human groups on factual and moral grounds akin to those we now rely on to justify our treatment of the animals we harness as beasts of burden, that we butcher for food and clothing, or that we destroy as disease-bearing pests or as dangerous predators?"
Author and anthropocentrism defender Wesley J. Smith from the Discovery Institute has written that human exceptionalism is what gives rise to human duties to each other, the natural world, and to treat animals humanely. Writing in A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy, a critique of animal rights ideology, "Because we are unquestionably a unique species—the only species capable of even contemplating ethical issues and assuming responsibilities—we uniquely are capable of apprehending the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, proper and improper conduct toward animals. Or to put it more succinctly if being human isn't what requires us to treat animals humanely, what in the world does?"
In cognitive psychology, anthropocentric thinking can be defined as "the tendency to reason about unfamiliar biological species or processes by analogy to humans". Reasoning by analogy is an attractive thinking strategy, and it can be tempting to apply our own experience of being human to other biological systems. For example, because death is commonly felt to be undesirable, it may be tempting to form the misconception that death at a cellular level or elsewhere in nature is similarly undesirable (whereas in reality programmed cell death is an essential physiological phenomenon, and ecosystems also rely on death). Conversely, anthropocentric thinking can also lead people to underattribute human characteristics to other organisms. For instance, it may be tempting to wrongly assume that an animal that is very different from humans, such as an insect, will not share particular biological characteristics, such as reproduction or blood circulation.
Anthropocentric thinking has predominantly been studied in young children (mostly up to the age of 10) by developmental psychologists interested in its relevance to biology education. Although relatively little is known about its persistence at a later age, evidence exists that this pattern of human exceptionalist thinking can continue through young adulthood, even among students who have been increasingly educated in biology.
The notion that anthropocentric thinking is an innate human characteristic has been challenged by study of American children raised in urban environments, among whom it appears to emerge between the ages of 3 and 5 years as an acquired perspective. Children's recourse to anthropocentric thinking seems to vary with experience and cultural assumptions about the place of humans in the natural world. Children raised in rural environments appear to use it less than their urban counterparts because of their greater familiarity with different species of animals and plants. Studies involving children from some of the indigenous peoples of the Americas have found little use of anthropocentric thinking. Study of children among the Wichí people in South America showed a tendency to think of living organisms in terms of their taxonomic or perceived similarities, ecological considerations, and animistic traditions, resulting in a much less anthropocentric view of the natural world than is experienced by many children in Western societies.
In fiction from all eras and societies, there is fiction treating as normal the actions of humans to ride, eat, milk, and otherwise treat animals as separate species. There are occasional exceptions, such as talking animals, but they are generally treated as exceptions, as aberrations to the rule distinguishing people from animals.
In science fiction, humanocentrism is the idea that humans, as both beings and as a species, are the superior sentients. Essentially the equivalent of racial supremacy on a galactic scale, it entails intolerant discrimination against sentient non-humans, much like race supremacists discriminate against those not of their race. A prime example of this concept is utilized as a story element for the Mass Effect series. After humanity's first contact results in a brief war, many humans in the series develop suspicious or even hostile attitudes towards the game's various alien races. By the time of the first game, which takes place several decades after the war, many humans still retain such sentiments in addition to forming 'pro-human' organizations.
This idea is countered by anti-humanism. At times, this ideal also includes fear of and superiority over strong AIs and cyborgs, downplaying the ideas of integration, cybernetic revolts, machine rule and Tilden's Laws of Robotics.
The 2012 documentary The Superior Human? systematically analyzes anthropocentrism and concludes that value is fundamentally an opinion, and since life forms naturally value their own traits, most humans are misled to believe that they are actually more valuable than other species. This natural bias, according to the film, combined with a received sense of comfort and an excuse for exploitation of non-humans cause anthropocentrism to remain in society.
Afrophobia is a perceived fear of the cultures and peoples of Africa, as well as the African diaspora.Ahmad Fardid
Seyyed Ahmad Fardid (Persian: سید احمد فردید) (Born in 1910, Yazd – 16 August 1994, Tehran), born Ahmad Mahini Yazdi, was a prominent Iranian philosopher and an inspiring and dedicated professor of Tehran University. He is considered to be among the philosophical ideologues of the Islamic government of Iran which came to power in 1979. Fardid was under the influence of Martin Heidegger, the influential German philosopher, whom he considered "the only Western philosopher who understood the world and the only philosopher whose insights were congruent with the principles of the Islamic Republic. These two figures, Khomeini and Heidegger, helped Fardid argue his position." What he decried was the anthropocentrism and rationalism brought by classical Greece, replacing the authority of God and faith with human reason, and in that regard he also criticized Islamic philosophers like al Farabi and Mulla Sadra for having absorbed Greek philosophy.Fardid studied philosophy at Sorbonne university and University of Heidelberg. The sparsity of Fardid’s written work has led to his recognition as an "oral philosopher". This was, to be sure, a puzzling attribute. Although Fardid tried to justify his expository reluctance to the poverty and contamination of the language, (in the Heideggerian sense) some suspect his reticence stemmed from his paralyzing perfectionism.
Fardid coined the concept of "Westoxication" which was then popularized by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad on his then widely known book Gharbzadegi, and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, became among the core ideological teachings of the new Islamic government of Iran. Among those influenced by his thought are also included "the theoretician of Islamic cinema", Morteza Avini, and the former conservative president, Ahmadinejad.Fardid's turbulent intellect was absorbed in the enterprise of synthesizing (promisingly or otherwise) the results of his studies of Eastern civilizations with the Western philosophy, as interpreted by Heidegger. Fardid's project remains unfinished and fraught with shortcomings and errors. Nevertheless, it remains an enormously intriguing and valuable endeavor. Heidegger himself on several occasions (including in his encounters with DT Suzuki concerning "transmetaphysical thinking" and in his valedictory interview with Der Spiegel) optimistically alluded to the possibility of a convergence of Eastern and Western thought but he never explored the subject matter himself, citing a lack of knowledge and insight about the non-Western universe of discourse. Ahmad Fardid, from his corner, hoped to produce a blueprint for the endeavor, but he only succeeded in vaguely adumbrating certain contours of it. His influence is evident in the work of many philosophers in modern Iran even if that is left concealed in their biographies and writings due to the criticism that is generally directed at his thinking by intellectuals with liberal and leftist politics.Biocentrism (ethics)
Biocentrism (from Greek βίος bios, "life" and κέντρον kentron, "center"), in a political and ecological sense, as well as literally, is an ethical point of view that extends inherent value to all living things. It is an understanding of how the earth works, particularly as it relates to biodiversity. It stands in contrast to anthropocentrism, which centers on the value of humans. The related ecocentrism extends inherent value to the whole of nature.
Biocentrism does not imply the idea of equality among the animal kingdom, for no such notion can be observed in nature. Biocentric thought is nature-based, not human-based.
Advocates of biocentrism often promote the preservation of biodiversity, animal rights, and environmental protection. The term has also been employed by advocates of "left biocentrism", which combines deep ecology with an "anti-industrial and anti-capitalist" position (according to David Orton et al.).Deep ecology
Deep ecology is an ecological and environmental philosophy promoting the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs, plus a restructuring of modern human societies in accordance with such ideas.
Deep ecology argues that the natural world is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the existence of organisms is dependent on the existence of others within ecosystems. Human interference with or destruction of the natural world poses a threat therefore not only to humans but to all organisms constituting the natural order.
Deep ecology's core principle is the belief that the living environment as a whole should be respected and regarded as having certain basic moral and legal rights to live and flourish, independent of its instrumental benefits for human use. Deep ecology is often framed in terms of the idea of a much broader sociality; it recognizes diverse communities of life on Earth that are composed not only through biotic factors but also, where applicable, through ethical relations, that is, the valuing of other beings as more than just resources. It describes itself as "deep" because it regards itself as looking more deeply into the actual reality of humanity's relationship with the natural world arriving at philosophically more profound conclusions than that of the prevailing view of ecology as a branch of biology. The movement does not subscribe to anthropocentric environmentalism (which is concerned with conservation of the environment only for exploitation by and for human purposes), since deep ecology is grounded in a quite different set of philosophical assumptions. Deep ecology takes a more holistic view of the world human beings live in and seeks to apply to life the understanding that the separate parts of the ecosystem (including humans) function as a whole. This philosophy provides a foundation for the environmental, ecology, and green movements and has fostered a new system of environmental ethics advocating wilderness preservation, human population control, and simple living.Ecocentrism
Ecocentric (; from Greek: οἶκος oikos, "house" and κέντρον kentron, "center") is a term used in ecological political philosophy to denote a nature-centered, as opposed to human-centered (i.e. anthropocentric), system of values. The justification for ecocentrism usually consists in an ontological belief and subsequent ethical claim. The ontological belief denies that there are any existential divisions between human and non-human nature sufficient to claim that humans are either (a) the sole bearers of intrinsic value or (b) possess greater intrinsic value than non-human nature. Thus the subsequent ethical claim is for an equality of intrinsic value across human and non-human nature, or 'biospherical egalitarianism'.Ecological self
Ecological self is central to the school of Experiential Deep Ecology, which, based on the work of Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss, argues that through the process of self-actualisation, one transcends the nations of the individuated "egoic" self and arrives at a position of an ecological self. So long as one is working within the narrower concept of self, Næss argues, environmentally responsible behaviour is a form of altruism, a "doing good for the other", which historically has been a precarious ethical basis, usually involved in exhorting others to "be good". Næss argues that in his Ecosophy, the enlargement of the ego-self to the eco-self results in environmentally responsible behaviour as a form of self-interest.
Warwick Fox argued that Næss's philosophy was based upon a variety of "transpersonal ecology" in which self-interest was firmly embedded within the interest of the ecommunity ecosphere of which the self was eternally embeddedAs deep ecologist John Seed has stated, "Deep ecology critiques the idea that we are the crown of creation, the measure of all being: that the world is a pyramid with humanity rightly on top, merely a resource, and that nature has instrumental value only". The concept of the Ecological Self goes beyond anthropocentrism, which, by contrast locates human concerns as the exclusive source of all value. It draws upon the Land Ethic of Aldo Leopold. Leopold argued that within conventional ethics, the land itself was considered only as property, occupying a role analogous to slavery in earlier societies that permitted the ownership of people. By comparison a land ethic enlarges the boundary of moral concern to include "soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land". The basis of such a non-anthropocentric ethic, according to Leopold was that "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."Like Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, ecological philosopher Freya Mathews argues that in considering the ecological self, we need to look beyond the present to the "deep time" of ages past, in the evolution of life and the creation of the cosmos, in order to consider the real roots of human consciousness. Experiential deep ecologist Joanna Macy speaks of the Ecological Self in her book "World as Lover, World as Self", and uses the concept in her work on "Deep Time".Environmental ethics
Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. It exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including environmental law, environmental sociology, ecotheology, ecological economics, ecology and environmental geography.
There are many ethical decisions that human beings make with respect to the environment. For example:
Should humans continue to clear cut forests for the sake of human consumption?
Why should humans continue to propagate its species, and life itself?
Should humans continue to make gasoline-powered vehicles?
What environmental obligations do humans need to keep for future generations?
Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a species for the convenience of humanity?
How should humans best use and conserve the space environment to secure and expand life?
What role can Planetary Boundaries play in reshaping the human-earth relationship?The academic field of environmental ethics grew up in response to the works of Rachel Carson and Murray Bookchin and events such as the first Earth Day in 1970, when environmentalists started urging philosophers to consider the philosophical aspects of environmental problems. Two papers published in Science had a crucial impact: Lynn White's "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis" (March 1967) and Garrett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" (December 1968). Also influential was Garett Hardin's later essay called "Exploring New Ethics for Survival", as well as an essay by Aldo Leopold in his A Sand County Almanac, called "The Land Ethic," in which Leopold explicitly claimed that the roots of the ecological crisis were philosophical (1949).The first international academic journals in this field emerged from North America in the late 1970s and early 1980s – the US-based journal Environmental Ethics in 1979 and the Canadian-based journal The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy in 1983. The first British based journal of this kind, Environmental Values, was launched in 1992.Environmental resource management
Environmental resource management is the management of the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment. It is not, as the phrase might suggest, the management of the environment itself. Environmental resources management aims to ensure that ecosystem services are protected and maintained for future human generations, and also maintain ecosystem integrity through considering ethical, economic, and scientific (ecological) variables. Environmental resource management tries to identify factors affected by conflicts that rise between meeting needs and protecting resources. It is thus linked to environmental protection, sustainability and integrated landscape management.Environmental social science
Environmental social science is the broad, transdisciplinary study of interrelations between humans and the natural environment. Environmental social scientists work within and between the fields of anthropology, communication studies, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology; and also in the interdisciplinary fields of environmental studies, human ecology and political ecology, social epidemiology, among others.Ethnic penalty
Ethnic penalty in sociology is defined as the economic and non-economic disadvantages that ethnic minorities experience in the labour market compared to other ethnic groups. As an area of study among behavioral economists, psychologists, and sociologists, it ranges beyond discrimination to take non-cognitive factors into consideration for explaining unwarranted differences between individuals of similar abilities but differing ethnicities.Gerontophobia
Gerontophobia is the fear of growing old, or a hatred or fear of the elderly. The term comes from the Greek γέρων – gerōn, "old man" and φόβος – phobos, "fear".God Is Red
God is Red: A Native View of Religion, by Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux), is a nonfiction book that discusses traditional Native American religious views, particularly their relation to Western Christianity. It also details the hardships faced by Native Americans as their country was quickly flooded with foreigners eager for land and other resources. Deloria links the anthropocentrism of Christian orthodoxy and subsequent American economic philosophies with increasing environmental upheaval. Deloria also explains how religious views are rooted to "place" as opposed to being universal.The book was first published in 1972, then 1992, and 2003.Graham Harman
Graham Harman (born May 9, 1968) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. His work on the metaphysics of objects led to the development of object-oriented ontology. He is a central figure in the speculative realism trend in contemporary philosophy.Housing discrimination
Housing discrimination is discrimination based on protected class status, variously including race, gender, religion, ethnicity, age, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, marital status, or veteran status, in the realm of housing and real estate.
Four types of housing discrimination are rental discrimination, sales discrimination, lending and mortgage discrimination and homeowners insurance.Kyriarchy
Kyriarchy, pronounced , is in feminist theory, a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission. The word was coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in 1992 to describe her theory of interconnected, interacting, and self-extending systems of domination and submission, in which a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others. It is an intersectional extension of the idea of patriarchy beyond gender. Kyriarchy encompasses sexism, racism, speciesism, homophobia, classism, economic injustice, colonialism, militarism, ethnocentrism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of dominating hierarchies in which the subordination of one person or group to another is internalized and institutionalized.Object-oriented ontology
In metaphysics, object-oriented ontology (OOO) is a 21st-century Heidegger-influenced school of thought that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects. This is in contrast to what it calls the "anthropocentrism" of Kant's Copernican Revolution, as accepted by most other current metaphysics, in which phenomenal objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition. Object-oriented ontology maintains that objects exist independently (as Kantian noumena) of human perception and are not ontologically exhausted by their relations with humans or other objects. Thus, for object-oriented ontologists, all relations, including those between nonhumans, distort their related objects in the same basic manner as human consciousness and exist on an equal footing with one another.Object-oriented ontology is often viewed as a subset of speculative realism, a contemporary school of thought that criticizes the post-Kantian reduction of philosophical enquiry to a correlation between thought and being, such that the reality of anything outside of this correlation is unknowable. Object-oriented ontology predates speculative realism, however, and makes distinct claims about the nature and equality of object relations to which not all speculative realists agree. The term "object-oriented philosophy" was coined by Graham Harman, the movement's founder, in his 1999 doctoral dissertation "Tool-Being: Elements in a Theory of Objects". In 2009, Levi Bryant rephrased Harman's original designation as "object-oriented ontology", giving the movement its current name.Panayot Butchvarov
Panayot Butchvarov (Bulgarian: Панайот Бъчваров; born April 2, 1933, in Sofia, Bulgaria) is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Iowa.Theocentricism
Theocentricism is the belief that God is the central aspect to our existence, as opposed to anthropocentrism or existentialism. In this view, meaning and value of actions done to people or the environment are attributed to God. The tenets of theocentrism, such as humility, respect, moderations, selflessness, and mindfulness, can lend themselves towards a form of environmentalism. In modern theology, theocentricism is often linked with stewardship and environmental ethics or Creation care. It is the belief that human beings should look after the world as guardians and therefore in the way God wants them to. Humans should be considerate to all, from animals to plants to humans themselves. It maintains that human beings are merely here for a short time and should be looking after the world for future generations.In Christian theology, theocentricism has sometimes been used to describe theologies that focus on God the Father, as opposed to those that focus on Christ (Christocentric) or the Holy Spirit (Pneumocentric). Theocentrism was a key element of the Christology of Saint Augustine. This view is resisted among some theologians on the grounds that it poses a challenge to trinity. One of these theologians is Carl Baaten who said, "If one can speak of God who is really God apart from Christ, there is indeed no reason for the doctrine of the Trinity. Some kind of Unitarianism will do the job." Paul F. Knitter, in his defense as a Theocentric Christian, said it depends on how the unity between God and Jesus Christ within trinity is seen. He says that, "we cannot so neatly or exclusively affirm that the Logos/Christ is Jesus. The 'incarnating' activity of the Logos is actualized in but not restricted to Jesus. The God manifested in and as Jesus of Nazareth is the only true God".However, the term can be confusing because theocentrism can also refer to a theology that does not center on any one person of the Trinity, but rather emphases the entire Godhead as a whole. Theologies that center on the Father are sometimes referred to as paterocentric instead.It is popular with Christianity, Judaism and Islam.Wild animal suffering
Wild animal suffering is the suffering experienced by nonhuman animals in nature through causes such as disease, injury, starvation, natural disasters, and killings by other animals. Wild animal suffering has historically been discussed in the context of philosophy of religion as an instance of the problem of evil. More recently, a number of academics have considered the suspected scope of the problem from a secular standpoint as a general moral issue, one that humans might be able to take action towards preventing.There is considerable disagreement around this latter point, as many believe that human intervention in nature would be either unethical, unfeasible, or both.