Friday, June 5, 2015


The limit to anthropomorphism confuses me. This class has taught us that we shouldn't assume animals think and behave in the same way humans do. However, in readings such as the one about elephants, we are shown that animals are able to get PTSD and the reading on animal empathy and experimentation tells us that animals can get learned helplessness and depression. These diseases are generally considered human, even if it's only because humans are the ones who found them and labelled them, so isn't saying that animals get them too anthropomorphic? Many arguments are made that animals shouldn't be tested on or abused because they have feelings too, which I completely agree with, but I also think that applying feelings to animals is a form of anthropomorphism because it is applying something that happens to humans to animals. Although I get that not everything that humans and animals have in common were human traits first, I think anthropomorphism can be used in a positive way to help us understand animals based on what we know.


  1. I think that anthropomorphism can be used as both a means to relate to animals as well as a means to unintentionally separate ourselves. When we place animals into a category where we are assessing their actions through the lens of human thought and action, we are dismissing the fact that they are instinctual beings, who we know very little about. Just as we cannot predict what another human is thinking, we cannot assume what non human animals are thinking or what drives them to act.

  2. Anthropomorphism in itself is a paradoxical concept. It allows us, as humans, to project familiar concepts onto what we do not understand but that familiarity is only an illusion of understanding that shrouds the reality of the situation. We can not say with absolute certainty what any creature other than ourselves is thinking at any time. Beyond that, what we have learned through anthropomorphism is that animals have instinctual tendencies as well as human-like symptoms of thought.