Animalism Is Not A Humanism


More Is Different. Similarly, Humanism Is More Than Animalism. Identifying Humanism To Animalism Is Incorrect, And No Way To Progress.
All advanced animals, including squirrels, have consciousness (by definition of “advanced”). But animals have more or less consciousness, and much more, or much less, can be very different. Studies on worms have shown that as little as three neurons can endow a worm with apparent free will: three neurons, free will. But of course worms do not have consciousness and free will as we do.

An analogy will help the wise: an isolated ensemble of very few particles is endowed with, and controlled by, quantum properties; however an ensemble of many particles, with few exceptions (Bose-Einstein condensates) is a classical object: more is completely different. The quantum description vanishes, the classical description replaces it. Similarly and for the same reason, from quantum to classical, or a variant thereof, the animal description disappears and the human description appears.

In the end, we are completely different from squirrels.

Now, of course, should one be a Nazi one may want to consider people to be no more than animals, so the Nazis elevated animals to the level of humans, to better exterminate the latter. After all, one exterminated insects with Zyklon B, and, having identified people to insects, the Nazis could then exterminate the former like the latter… with the same insecticide!

Our ancestors 60 millions years ago, resembled squirrels, but they ate insects. Our descendants became ever more brainy, in great part because of their carnivorous diet and habits: running after potentially dangerous prey while clinging to branches requires much intelligence… while squirrels, content to much on nuts, a less demanding task neurologically, stagnated neurologically. A quick look at evolution tells us that squirrels are probably 100 millions years away from civilization (should all of their deadly competition, namely primates, magically disappear; with primates to eat them, squirrels would never get there, to civilization, because predators tend to stay smarter, and primates are dozens of millions of years of intellectual superiority over squirrels).

To claim ever more intelligence makes no difference in grounding morality should be a well-known pitfall.

Civilization’s progress ever since there are animals and they think, is called humanism.

Animalism is not a humanism. Sentient mussels are not conscious chimps. Much more mind is completely different.

Patrice Ayme

Magnolia (named after French botanist Magnol), Monterey cypress, Luna… Berkeley CA, 2/23/2021 Do other animals appreciate beauty? Some apparently do. But surely not as much as humans do.

***

P/S: this is the second essay on the “Animalism Is Not A Humanism” theme in a few days. What is going on? There is obviously a deep propaganda campaign launched suddenly by the plutocracy promoting the opposite, namely that animalism is humanism. Plutocrats are animals, but we should think of them, all of a sudden, as human (that seems to be the secret message supposed to imprint our subconscious: you are just an animals, thus we are all equal, rich or poor, commander of the world, or not). This time the spark to my reaction above, a comment which I sent to the New York Times, was an article in the New York Times 2/23/2021, today… in the NYT’s philosophical series called “THE STONE“. My comment was blocked, as it put the plutocratic newspaper to shame. Here are extracts of the NYT’s article, with comments I add now (those were not sent to the plutocratic propaganda paper, naturlich!):

Humans Are Animals. Let’s Get Over It.
It’s astonishing how relentlessly Western philosophy has strained to prove we are not squirrels. By Crispin Sartwell; Mr. Sartwell is a professor of philosophy.

If one were to read through the prefaces and first paragraphs of the canonical works of Western philosophy, one might assume the discipline’s primary question to be this: What makes us humans so much better than all the other animals? Really, it’s astonishing how relentless this theme is in the whole history of philosophy. The separation of people from, and the superiority of people to, members of other species is a good candidate for the originating idea of Western thought. And a good candidate for the worst.

[Patrice Ayme: As I explained, more is different; that’s a well known idea. One snowflake doesn’t make an avalanche, and cannot behave as one; many snowflakes make an avalanche, a completely different agent; one neuron does not make a civilization, dozens of billions of trillions of them, entangled, over the fullness of time, do. The transition from quantum to classical mechanics is the best example; that analogy is a hard data point great philosophers did not have before: Quantum Physics, in full, dates from 1924…

The so-called “philosophy professor” Sartwell pursues: The Great Philosopher will, before addressing himself to the deep ethical and metaphysical questions, pause for the conventional, ground-clearing declaration: “I am definitely not a squirrel.” This is evidently something that needs continual emphasizing.

Rationality and self-control, as philosophers underline again and again, give humans a value that squirrels lack (let’s just stick with this species for the time being), a moral status unique to us. We are conscious, and squirrels, allegedly, are not; we are rational, and squirrels are not; we are free, and squirrels are not.

We can congratulate ourselves on the threat averted. But if we truly believed we were so much better than squirrels, why have we spent thousands of years driving home the point?

[It is of course not just “Great Philosophers who make that point. People eat squirrels casually; when they eat Mr. Sartwell and his ilk, they thank the gods, at least so I have been told…]

Sartwell: One difficult thing to face about our animality is that it entails our deaths; being an animal is associated throughout philosophy with dying purposelessly, and so with living meaninglessly. It is rationality that gives us dignity, that makes a claim to moral respect that no mere animal can deserve. “The moral law reveals to me a life independent of animality,” writes Immanuel Kant in “Critique of Practical Reason.” In this assertion, at least, the Western intellectual tradition has been remarkably consistent.

[Here Sartwell mixes up things. Mortality is one thing, morality, another. We may all die tomorrow, it does not mean our morality dies with us. That rationality gives us some of our dignity is one thing; love, or even hatred, gives us dignity too. That advanced animals are rational cannot be denied: reason is what the brain produces. That reason endows an eagle with dignity cannot be denied either. If an eagle behaved like a rabbit, it would have less dignity… Now Sartwell speaks of Kant, professor to slave traders, a philosopher extolling the slave trade, and who is to reason what the slave trader is to commerce… Kant was deeply immoral, and his law most noticeable, is slave trading. kant is to the western intellectual tradition was lung cancer is to breathing…]

Sartwell: “The connection of such ideas to the way we treat animals — for example, in our food chain — is too obvious to need repeating. And the devaluation of animals and disconnection of us from them reflect a deeper devaluation of the material universe in general. In this scheme of things, we owe nature nothing; it is to yield us everything. This is the ideology of species annihilation and environmental destruction, and also of technological development.

PA: Humans became humans because they ate meat. Otherwise we would have big bellies like chimps, gorialls and all too many Americans have. Meat gave superb nutrition, allowing to shorten the gut. Gorillas and chimps know this, and try to kill preys as much as they can. But they are not superb killers as the evolving members of the genus Homo became. Pure veganism is NOT healthy. This being said I look forward lab meat… But then why should there be cows around? Is not a world without cows poorer? Supposed I was on a lonely planet, and god would lend me Sartwell for 20 years as company, until She made Sartwell disappear in a cloud of smoke. Should there be Sartwell, or no Sartwell? Is it moral to have Sartwell? Did he suffer?

A paradox is that the animalists tell us to stop eating animals to be like animals. But animals eat animals. Even cows do. So if we would be animals like animals, we would eat animals like the animals do.

Sartwell: Further trouble is caused when the distinctions between humans and animals are then used to draw distinctions among human beings. Some humans, according to this line of thinking, are self-conscious, rational and free, and some are driven by beastly desires. Some of us transcend our environment: Reason alone moves us to action. But some of us are pushed around by physical circumstances, by our bodies. Some of us, in short, are animals — and some of us are better than that. This, it turns out, is a useful justification for colonialism, slavery and racism.

PA: The USA is the world’s top exterminationist country. How was that done? By having Hollier-Than-Thou Puritans, such as professor Sartwell, treating native Americans as if they were animals. Sartwell is still at it, indeed, a century later, in the guise of the opposite, just as the Puritans were. What he is doing is attacking reason… And this is exactly why he did not publish my comment (which was the part above before my name).

Then Sartwell accuses Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Hobbes, Descartes, and Freud of opposing “nature” and “reason”. But of course reason comes from nature, as we do, in us and the rest of animals. I have myself attacked Aristotle as a plutocratic philosopher, and he was a plutocrat himself (the person who Aristotle put in charge of his estate was no less than his friend Antipater, the plutocrat who defeated Athens and turned her in an official plutocracy where only the wealthiest could vote…).

Sartwell: “Socrates divides the human soul into two parts. The soul of the thirsty person, he says, “wishes for nothing else than to drink.” But we can restrain ourselves. “That which inhibits such actions,” he concludes, “arises from the calculations of reason.” When we restrain or control ourselves, Plato argues, a rational being restrains an animal.

In this view, each of us is both a beast and a person — and the point of human life is to constrain our desires with rationality and purify ourselves of animality. These sorts of systematic self-divisions come to be refigured in Cartesian dualism, which separates the mind from the body, or in Sigmund Freud’s distinction between id and ego, or in the neurological contrast between the functions of the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

PA: So Sartwell even accuses neurology to distinguish higher thought production and panic centers such as the amygdala… The ratio prefrontal/amygdala being presumably unfair to squirrel, and thus favorable to my culinary instincts orbiting roasted squirrels…

Sartwell finishes in a trainwreck:”I’d like to publicly identify this dualistic view as a disaster, but I don’t know how to refute it, exactly, except to say that I don’t feel myself to be a logic program running on an animal body; I’d like to consider myself a lot more integrated than that. And I’d like to repudiate every political and environmental conclusion ever drawn by our supposed transcendence of the order of nature. I don’t see how we could cease to be mammals and remain ourselves.”

This of course mixes everything up, although some of the points are correct… Of course we are not classical logic programs, we are quantum, so we have consciousness and free will. “Mind-Body Dualism” probably originates in the duality between Quantum and Classical. The “Quantum” is wholly about the integrated whole, accomplished through entanglement… We are out of nature, nature herself becoming transcendental, and of course we don’t necessarily have to have boobs to be, or stay human… Humanity has long transcended much of humanity and will transcends some more very soon… Including aging, which has a pervese effect on all of human culture…

***

P/S 2: I value squirrels: I had a pet squirrel in Africa, for many years. I also had a parrot, Mimi. I got more attached to the parrot, though. She was very argumentative… when she didn’t want to go back to her cage, for the night, she would fight. As her wings were not clipped, she would fly around like a dragon from Game of Thrones, threatening all sorts of mayhem, just for show… Unfortunately, after years of fun and games, she died from avian flu of some sort, creating great sorrow.

Feb. 23, 2021

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2 Responses to “Animalism Is Not A Humanism”

  1. Barbara I. Biel Says:

    There is no scientific evidence that I am aware of that shows that mussels have consciousness, so in that case, mussels are not morally relevant.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      With all due respect, Barbara, you are confusing “sentience” and “conscience”. We do not know if mussels are conscious, but they are surely sentient. Anybody who has eaten raw mollusks know they are sentient.

      Like

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