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Ideas / Anthropomorphism


anthropomorphism - Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena.

This can be a pretty annoying trait at times. I think there is some interest here though: human characteristics overlap a lot with non-human characteristics. This suggests to me that a lot of anthropomorphizing is only so because of its emphasis, not it's basic content.

Elephants (say) behave like people, and people like elephants, but not because of some mind-boggling cosmic fluke, or inter-species copy-catting. I would say it's more easily explicable by the idea that both humans and elephants have shared characteristics derived from a common source external to both of them: some element of common origin.

We shouldn't make the mistake that human motivation, characteristics, behaviour are uniquely human. To some degree or other, we have something in common with anything in the whole of the rest of reality. And to that exact same degree, we will be like said thing. It's not only like us, and we're not only like it: the likeness is reciprocal, equal and opposite.

Anthropomorphism might be annoying, but I think recognising unity is highly valuable.

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Page last modified on June 01, 2007, at 11:09 PM