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This painting is entitled “Nin Mamakadendam,” an artwork by Tom Uttech. Nin Mamakadendam suggests a few ways to understand the relationship between anthropogenism and nature in pondering how technology can affect nature and what nature can do when it is left undisturbed. In this painting, animals such as birds and bears are left to live freely without human intrusion. Eventually humans come up with different kinds of technology that destroys wild land to build homes, factories, shopping malls, amusement parks, garbage dumps. The animals that once lived there, from the bugs that lived in the ground to the birds that ate them, all may disappear. So much so that scientists talk about the “Anthropocene” 1 – the destructive Era Of Man.
Maybe all it takes is a stuffed tiger to put things into perspective for the human race. In this Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Hobbes, Calvin’s stuffed tiger, parallels a zoo to a prison. I’m sure we’ve all heard this argument time after time, even as kids when we look at all the miserable faces behind the zoo cages and wonder why none of them are happy in their artificial environments. Gary Francione, a Professor of Law at Rutgers University said, “We do not need to eat animals, wear animals, or use animals for entertainment purposes, and our only defense of these uses is our pleasure, amusement, and convenience.” The animals in the zoo, like prisoners, do not have a choice in their captivity, however, I would argue that the main difference is that there is a lack of justice being served.
This picture impicitly addresses the different ways in contrasting humans and animals in terms of humanity. Humanity can be defined either as a species (“human beings”) or as a condition (“being human”) 2. By defining humanity as a species, humans are regarded as genetically unique, so chimpanzees are not human beings due to genetic differences. On the other hand, by defining humanity as a condition, humans are held at a higher level than animals due to the ability to reason. From this definition, chimpanzees are not human beings for they are lacking the “condition” to be human.
This picture shows a mouse that is tested for brain disease. There are many pros and cons to the practice of animal testing but neither seems to be able to please everyone. Animal testing has always been controversial because it is seen as an example of uncompromising speciesism 3. Animals are killed or kept in captivity and some substances tested but may never be used for anything useful. On a brighter side, animal testing helps researchers to find drugs or treatments and improves human health.
This is an image of an Oklahoma hunter’s collection of coyote corpses decorated along the exterior of his barn’s walls; a clear portrayal of a dominant human. What is the difference between shooting a coyote and killing a human? To an anti-speciest, there is no difference. The quality of human life is seen as equal to non-human life. It’s not to say that hunting should be prohibited, but it would need to be reevaluated to where it is not allowing killing to be a sport. Hunting promotes a hierarchy of values towards the life of humans, which is on top, and non-humans, which is objectified and placed on the bottom. This hierarchy prevents the accessibility of the non-human community into the human community.
The tables have turned: the monkey with a gun is now in charge! But not really. I don’t believe an anti-speciesist would agree with this photo the way an anti-humanist would. Instead of a movement towards the diminishment of prejudice for non-humans, it represents revenge against humanity. Much like the film The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this picture displays the fear of non-humans gaining the ability to comprehend their mistreatment and acting out against it the same way we would. The ape’s use of tools (a weapon and clothing) is parallel to the gift received by humans from Prometheus. It was a way to distinguish the human species from the rest of the world. In that case, the anti-speciesist would say this photo may be making progress.
- Crutzen, P. J. (2002). Geology of Mankind. Nature , 415, 23.
- Ingold, T. (1994). Humanity and Animality. In Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology (pp. 14-30). London & New York City: Routledge.
- Singer, P. (1990). Animal Liberation. New York: New York Review of Books.