The anti-humanism is flowing hard and fast these days. I just reported on a piece published in Science decrying “human supremacism.” Now, the New York Times has published a piece arguing in favor of human extinction.
Professor of philosophy (of course!) Todd May believes that we should go the way of the dodo because we are “the source of devastation of the lives of conscious animals on a scale that is difficult to comprehend.” Never mind that animals cause each other suffering, which May recognizes. We cause by far the most, so away with us!
But would our demise be a tragedy? Let’s put on our thinking cap:
If this [causing so much suffering] were all to the story there would be no tragedy. The elimination of the human species would be a good thing, full stop.
But there is more to the story. Human beings bring things to the planet that other animals cannot. For example, we bring an advanced level of reason that can experience wonder at the world in a way that is foreign to most if not all other animals. We create art of various kinds: literature, music and painting among them. We engage in sciences that seek to understand the universe and our place in it. Were our species to go extinct, all of that would be lost.
Gee, could it be that we are exceptional? Whatever. The cost of the suffering that we cause versus the loss of art — also a theme of the anti-human movie remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still — weighs heavily against us.
How much suffering and death of nonhuman life would we be willing to countenance to save Shakespeare, our sciences and so forth? Unless we believe there is such a profound moral gap between the status of human and nonhuman animals, whatever reasonable answer we come up with will be well surpassed by the harm and suffering we inflict upon animals.
Actually, there is a “profound moral gap” between the status of humans and animals, a chasm, that is both of kind and quality. For example, only humans have the capacity to worry about the suffering we cause to other life forms, and only we have the duty to not cause suffering gratuitously.
Does May think that we should all die now? Good grief, he’s not sure! But he is certain that no more of us should come into being (my emphasis):
One might ask here whether, given this view, it would also be a good thing for those of us who are currently here to end our lives in order to prevent further animal suffering. Although I do not have a final answer to this question, we should recognize that the case of future humans is very different from the case of currently existing humans.
To demand of currently existing humans that they should end their lives would introduce significant suffering among those who have much to lose by dying. In contrast, preventing future humans from existing does not introduce such suffering, since those human beings will not exist and therefore not have lives to sacrifice. The two situations, then, are not analogous.
Basta! The growing anti-humanism among the intelligentsia, bioethicists, environmentalists, and animal-rights activists — often promoted subversively (as here) by the New York Times — is profoundly unhealthy and a fuel for nihilism.
Worse, human-phobia can be dangerous because there are mentally unbalanced people out there who don’t see this crap as an intellectual mind game and could act out their misanthrope.
Actually, that has already happened. Eight years ago, a mentally ill anti-humanist named James Lee terrorized the Discovery Channel, taking employees hostage before eventually being killed by police. The reason Lee acted violently was explained by ABC News:
On his website, Lee posted a rambling manifesto under the title “My Demands,” which espouses a far-radical environmentalist and misanthropic philosophy and calls on the channel to cease programming about giving birth, war and weapons.
“The planet,” he wrote, “does not need humans.”
The document, which appears to have been created on July 17, is interspersed with references to esoteric philosophers, childish language, misspellings, and capital letters…
The channel, he wrote, should produce a program about “how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution.”