Human Exceptionalism

Again With the “Human Zoo Exhibits”

We have seen this before in the UK, and now in Australia: Humans exhibited in zoos as if we were merely another animal in the forest. But we are not mere animals. We are the exceptional species, human beings, unlike any other known species in the universe. We are moral beings, meaning that we have moved beyond the tooth and claw of the Darwinian world and into a way of living that is not constrained by the merely natural, but has in many (albeit, not all) ways, transcended it.

The idea behind these ridiculous exhibits is to make us more ecologically responsible. I believe the reverse is more likely. We will be ecologically responsible only insofar as we accept our exceptional status. If all we are is another animal, we have no greater duty “to the planet” than do elephants, mice, lions, or sharks. And while we are, of course, animals in a biological sense, these attempts to convince people that we just fauna can become very destructive. If that is all we come to perceive ourselves to be, that is precisely how we will act.

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