Human Exceptionalism

The Anti-Human Exceptionalism Began Early in Modern Primatology

Jane Goodall the primatologist (and novelist since so much of her work is anthropomorphic, a charge she readily admits), along with fellow primatologist Toshisada Nishida, have won the coveted Leakey Prize, named after Louis Leakey, the famed anthropologist who sought to prove that humans first arose in Africa. Well good for them. But a small bit of the history of Goodall’s relationship with Leakey leaped out at me. From the story:

Since her groundbreaking work in Tanzania, when she observed chimpanzees using twigs to fish for termites, Goodall has become a rock star of primatology, with revelatory and sometimes controversial work showing chimpanzees hunting for meat, maintaining lasting relationships, expressing distinct personalities and even waging war.
Her work prompted Leakey to proclaim at the time: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine man or accept chimpanzees as humans.”

What? Chimps use sticks to poke for termites and we have to admit they are equal to humans? I think not. And redefining man is what this whole anti human exceptionalism agenda is all about, for reasons that have little to do with science and everything to do with ideology.

In this early quote, Leakey showed the game that was afoot even back then: Destroy human exceptionalism. That drive eventually coalesced into ideological campaigns like the Great Ape Project to have all apes made members of the “community of equals” with people. (Of course, we would be the only ones with the duties arising out of such a categorization. Our “equals” would be utterly oblivious since they could not even comprehend the concept.) That goal is moving closer to fruition: Spain is now on the verge of legalizing the GAP.

Goodall has been on that bandwagon from the start, even joining with Peter Singer to boost the GAP and promote other anti-human exceptionalism agendas, indifferent (or in agreement?) to his support for infanticide. No wonder she is the toast of the intelligentsia.