Monday, May 3, 2010

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Narcissism and Anthropocentrism

Dear Francesco,

thank you for your questions. Well, I think the idea that "democracy, contraception, equality and non-discrimination" are outside the natural laws could be discussed, since humans belongs to nature and everything they can do is inside nature. And saying humans can "avoid natural laws" draws back to that anthropocentrism you want to discuss.

The story you tell is indeed interesting, and there are many similar paradoxical stories. I think there are some levels we have to take into account (her I indicate the main ones):

1) Maybe the Grizzlys's reserve was build, protected and mantained by humans for those bears, so it is in someway a human construct;
2) Although the reserve is a human construct it was given to the bears, hence it becomes the Grizzlys', not the humans', territory, and humans should be aware that entering this territory can be very dangerous;
3) The little girl, who was in the Grizzlys' territory, was attacked and her father shooted the bear;
4) The judge considered that the humans were in a territory which wasn't of their own and that they should have been aware of the risks in entering it, giving them the total responsibility.

Although it may seem strange and cruel too, the judge's behaviour sounds logical, even from an anthropocentric viewpoint. And stresses the fact that the idea of nature we have is weak, bucolic, fairy-talish (we could say: anthropocentric). We say we love nature, but only when nature is harmless, in that corner we have locked her in, silent and controllable. But this is not nature. Nature is often unpredictable, intractable, uncontrollable, violent, strong... it can be very dangerous. And so "she" becomes an "enemy", a "monster", a "menace" to fight...

Some artists worked in this direction, questioning the simple idea of nature humans often have. For instance Julia Reodica and Adam Zaretsky in the "The Workhorse Zoo Art and Bioethics Quiz" ( project. In this direction also go some SymbioticA's (, Aniko Meszaros' (, Eduardo Kac's ( and Marta De Menezes' ( projects. On the relations between animal species and languages we published on Noema some Louis Bec's researches:


Pier Luigi

Il giorno 02/mag/2010, alle ore 18.17, francesco monico ha scritto:

> Dear Pier
> is clear that "anthropocentrisms" is a synonym of "species-centrism", also
> your idea of "egoism of life" is clear, but you don't think that since
> humankind avoided natural laws, through democracy, contraception, equality
> and non-discrimination, this humankind acquire the responsibilities to
> develop a "respect of the natural exploitation"? (because we break the other
> side of the nature..) In other words we need to kill for eat but we can kill
> with respect (this is a Buddhist position, 'the story of the withe rabbit').
> Another story is the one that append in Colorado were in a sunny warm day a
> father bring his little daughter in a grizzly reserve, here a grizzly had
> the natural idea to take a snack with the little daughter (a milk-fed veal),
> logically the father shooted the bear, but unlogically (for the
> anthropocentric logic) the judge condemned the father to jail.
> what do you think?
> francesco
>> We put ourselves "in the center" because we have to survive, and in
>> surviving we come first (there can be exceptions, like in the parental
>> relations. and, I know, the idea of "surviving" can be very questionable for
>> humans). In this perspective "anthropocentrism" could be (humanly) defined
>> as the "egoism of life", and it is totally natural, because living implies
>> taking and using some basic resources from the environment.
>> More, according to Maturana and Varela, we can't be but anthropocentric
>> because we can't exiting our body. Our mind - and all what it means - is
>> what it is because it is embodied in *this* body. Hence we can't, for
>> instance, think as a rabbit or as a lion or as a serpent because we have
>> very different bodies.
>> In these respects I think it is impossible to eliminate "anthropocentrism",
>> because it is the only view we can achieve. What we, as humans, can do, and
>> that in part we are developing, is expanding our knowledge and awareness of
>> nature and environment and of the other species, is understanding the other
>> species' basic needs, but always *from our viewpoint*. I think we could
>> balance (expand) our bare anthropocentrism with a better knowledge of the
>> environment we live in - you can call it "eco-centrism" - but in the end
>> this is again a form of anthropocentrism (maybe we could call it
>> "enlightened" :-). It should be stressed that all the ambientalist/green
>> initiatives are the celebration of anthropocentrism, because, in the end, in
>> the center they put the idea of nature and environment as best suitable for
>> the humans' survival (but it is a normal behaviour as a species!).
>> So what we can do is trying to deepen the other species' understanding and
>> awareness. Some artists are trying to experiment in cross species
>> communication, searching for a sort of interspecies language based on the
>> roots we can both understand and share: the body. It is, for example, the
>> work of Louis Bec, and of Antony Hall in particular with his ENKI project (
>> Best,
>> Pier Luigi
>> Il giorno 28/apr/2010, alle ore 09.44, francesco monico ha scritto:
>>> Dear Pier,
>>> as you noticed "anthropocentrism" is part of a basic human ideo-logic, as
>> a
>>> cog of the mechanism of a human driven logic.
>>> I think that this vision is not merely a product of the invention of
>>> science, but it arise from more deep reasons, it cames from the necessity
>> to
>>> put a reason, based not on experience but on revelation, in the centre of
>>> our human logic. In order to justify what is not explicable or what is
>> not
>>> understandable, we revealed the supremacy-divinity, of the humankind that
>>> became, after Plato, a sort of methapyisic idea, and that became with
>>> Plotino the foundation of all the western methaphysics. And it would be
>> th
>>> case that Heidegger was rights with is idea that "all western
>> methaphisic,
>>> based on the Plotinic idea, is wrong".
>>> My proposal is that Anthropocentrism, is a metaphysically driven concept,
>>> not based in any experience of the Nature, but invented by man in order
>> to
>>> exploit love and the sense of the world.
>>> So you're right questioning if this all imply that anthropocentrism is
>>> fading out? Or, better, does it imply it will/can disappear? What is to
>>> probe is if it would be possible to shift our anthropocentrism to
>>> Eco-centrism, maybe we have to disappear in order to change experience
>> and
>>> reappearing in a more balanced position.
>>> What do you think?
>>> francesco
>>> 2010/4/23 Pier Luigi Capucci <>
>>>> hello,
>>>> sorry Francesco, Roger and all for joining this discussion late. It is
>>>> indeed a very intriguing topic, and, as Natasha noted, a
>> multidimensional
>>>> one.
>>>> Indeed the idea of "anthropocentrism" as some kind of ideology which
>> puts
>>>> humankind at the center of the known world has been historically put in
>>>> discussion in a long path. 2009 was both the 400 anniversary of the
>>>> telescope's invention by Galileo and the 150 anniversary of the
>> publication
>>>> of Darwin's "Origin of the Species" (and the 200centenary of his birth).
>>>> [BTW 2009 was the centenary anniversary of the Futurism avantgarde too,
>> with
>>>> the central position their time's technologies had in their poetics, but
>>>> we'd go too far]
>>>> With his invention Galileo gave an extraordinary push to the sky's
>>>> observation, to the diffusion of the heliocentric system and of
>> Copernicus'
>>>> theories, also through the "scientific method" (which is often called
>>>> "Galilean method"). Copernicus dethroned the humankind from his central
>>>> position in the Universe, but, although dislocated in a remote zone the
>>>> humankind remained the chosen creature, the first one, the highest among
>> the
>>>> living beings on the Earth. Darwin dethroned the humankind from his
>>>> privileged position. Like all the living beings, humankind is the result
>> of
>>>> an extremely long process, of a "design without a designer". All the
>> living
>>>> beings, humankind included, were not created as they are and are not
>> steady
>>>> and unchangeable, but evolved starting about 3,8 billion years ago from
>> a
>>>> remote group of primeval common organisms.
>>>> Hence all the living organisms are related, and each individual,
>> whatever
>>>> species it belongs, is unique but it is pervaded by the matter and the
>>>> processes which compose all the other living beings. The fundamental
>>>> processes and the control mechanisms are essentially the same in all
>>>> species; in our genes we have the genes of many other species, even of
>>>> viruses. And the difficulties and discussions in the science domain on
>> the
>>>> definition of "species" and on the methodology to set the differences
>> among
>>>> the species emphasize this "unitarity".
>>>> It seems today the humankind is reaching another topic point in this
>>>> relativization path, since he has the chance to use sciences and
>>>> technologies to hugely modify some issues which deeply define the "human
>>>> essence", which becomes basically uncertain. But does this all imply
>> that
>>>> anthropocentrism is fading out? Or, better, does it imply it will/can
>>>> disappear?
>>>> More after.
>>>> Pier Luigi

Pier Luigi Capucci
skype: plcapucci

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