Anthropomorphism and anthropodenial: the devil and the holy water M. CAROSI1* 1 Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli studi “Roma Tre”, Italy “Nevertheless the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin, 1871 the «Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex», p. 85). Darwin was the first who blurred the straighforward border which had always kept human and non-human animals apart. In ancient times anthropomorphism referred to the ascription of human qualities to angels and God, however about time when Darwin made public his revolutionary evolutionary ideas, the concept of anthropomorphism was for the first time related to animals: “…we are incessantly at fault in our tendency to anthropomorphise, a tendency which causes us to interpret the actions of animals according to the analogies of human nature ” (George Herbert Lewes, 1860, p. 385). Among non-human animals, especially great apes have been considered as invaders of those empty “terrains vagues” between human and non-human animals, revolutionary creatures that instead of softening the borders have been by some considered as threatening human uniqueness and dignity. Anthropodenial (de Waal, 1999), as opposed to anthropomorphism, is the stronger refusal of any shared characteristics between humans and other animals. Is incompatibility between anthropomorphism and anthropodenial an insoluble conflict? Now, as “cognitive parsimony”, i.e., explaining behavior by appealing to the lowest possible mental capaci%es, is usually accepted and favored, “evolutionary parsimony” should also be: if closely related species act similarly, probably they have similar mental processes. If “bambification” (de Waal, 2002) can never be good science, nevertheless a categorical refusal of any continuity between other animals and us may in turn be responsible of worst consequences. Especially when research deals with specific scopes of application such as animal well-being, and when it refers to great apes, a passionate search for connections between their Umwelt (the world as it is experienced by an organism) and ours, may definitely be of completion and support to our scientific knowledge.
Carosi, M. (2019). Anthropomorphism and anthropodenial: the devil and the holy water. In 1° Congresso Nazionale di Etologia, Etica e Conservazione BOOK OF ABSTRACTS (pp.10-10).