This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Project Nim: Film Review

Saganic Rites's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Saganic Rites

Comment 1 by InYourFaceNewYorker .......To realize that a chimp has human-like emotions ...... Julie

I've never fully understood this viewpoint, which usually leads to the person making the claim to be accused of anthropomorphism, and I feel that the opposite is closer to the truth. We split from our common ancestor with the chimps between 2.5 - 4 million years ago (depending on whose hypothesis you're looking at), which is not that long ago in evolutionary terms, so surely it would make more sense to assign humans with chimp-like emotions, or at least with us having shared emotions. We both clearly demonstrate the ability to feel jealousy, affection, anger, happiness, misery, etc., so it would appear obvious that these are attributes that we both inherited from the common ancestor, the difference being that we alone seem to have the cognitive abilities to understand and control these emotions.

It may seem like a minor distinction but I think that it's an important one to bear in mind, especially for those who are usually so eager to play the anthropomorphic card. Instead of making their accusations of imposing human qualities onto animals, they ought to see our qualities as mere extensions of shared qualities; they may then realise that, far from others being anthropomorphic, it is themselves that are being anthropocentric by making human emotions a special case.

Sat, 06 Aug 2011 14:32:54 UTC | #858649