Thursday, February 25, 2021

Philosopher compares humans to squirrels

Philosophy professor Crispin Sartwell writes in the NY Times:
Humans Are Animals. Let’s Get Over It.
It’s astonishing how relentlessly Western philosophy has strained to prove we are not squirrels.

Rationality and self-control, as philosophers underline again and again, give humans a value that squirrels lack (let’s just stick with this species for the time being), a moral status unique to us. We are conscious, and squirrels, allegedly, are not; we are rational, and squirrels are not; we are free, and squirrels are not.

So he is puzzled that philosophers have struggled to show that we have a moral status superior to squirrels.
Our resemblance to squirrels doesn’t have to be interpreted as a threat to our self-image. Instead, it could be seen as a hopeful sign that we will someday be better at tree leaping.
I guess he thinks that philosophers have failed, and we are no better than squirrels.

I have heard many evolutionary biologists make similar arguments. That squirrels have evolved to fit their ecological niche just as well as anything else, and that it is wrong to say that humans are at all morally superior to cockroaches.

I just post this to show the sorry state of philosophy. Aristotle and other ancient thinkers clearly understood that humans were superior to other animals.

Apparently because they also thought that they were superior to slaves, and we now reject slavery, we are supposed to reject all of their analysis. To reject it, one has to claim that it is bigoted to human consciousness, rationality, and free thinking over whatever squirrels do.

If Aristotle were alive today, he would be very impressed with our science and technology, but likely to think that much of what else goes on in universities is garbage.

1 comment:

  1. I have an incredible respect for actual philosophy (i.e. anything pre-postmodernist and not deconstructivist drivel) ...which would explain why I don't have much regard for Crispin Sartwell, who hasn't apparently mastered the prerequisites of rudimentary logical reasoning and rhetoric yet.

    What exactly is the point of being a professor of philosophy and then openly declaring you haven't the capacity to actually do philosophy? Or even parse the rather obvious nuances between man and squirrel?

    If poor Mr. Sartwell truly thinks a rodent is HIS intellectual peer, it would explain much about why he thinks tree leaping is such a good idea...and why he has no idea what philosophy is for.

    'What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?'