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Minding the Animals: Ethology and the Obsolescence of Left Humanism

Author(s): Steven Best

Journal: International Journal of Inclusive Democracy
ISSN 1753-240X

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 8;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: animals | humans | Ethology | Chimpanzee | Cognitive | Claustrophobia

"We do not regard the animals as moral beings. But do you suppose the animals regard us as moral beings? — An animal which could speak said: 'Humanity is a prejudice of which we animals at least are free.'” Friedrich NietzscheWhat does it mean to be “human”? The question, though it has occupied some of the greatest Western minds of philosophy, science, history, and political theory, could not have been answered with any plausibility until recently, for we have only begin to acquire the scientific knowledge necessary to provide an informed response. At the same time, recent scientific and technological developments have produced radical and vertiginous change. The possibilities of artificial intelligence, robotics, cloning, pharmacology, stem cell research, and genetic modification pose entirely new challenges for attempts to define “human” in fixed and essentialist rather than fluid and plastic terms.
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