The Animal and the Human in Ancient and Modern Thought: The ‘Man Alone of Animals’ Concept (Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies)

November 28, 2020
The Animal and the Human in Ancient and Modern Thought: The ‘Man Alone of Animals’ Concept (Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies)

Ancient Greeks endeavored to define the human being vis-à-visother animal species by isolating capacities and endowments whichthey considered to be unique to humans. This approach towarddefining the human being still appears with surprising frequency,in modern philosophical treatises, in modern animal behavioralstudies, and in animal rights literature, to argue both for andagainst the position that human beings are special and uniquebecause of one or another attribute or skill that they are believedto possess. Some of the claims of man’s unique endowments have inrecent years become the subject of intensive investigation bycognitive ethologists carried out in non-laboratory contexts. Thedebate is as lively now as in classical times, and, what is ofparticular note, the examples and methods of argumentation used toprove one or another position on any issue relating to the uniquestatus of human beings that one encounters in contemporaryphilosophical or ethological literature frequently recall ancientprecedents.This is the first book-length study of the ‘man alone ofanimals’ topos in classical literature, not restricting itsanalysis to Greco-Roman claims of man’s intellectual uniqueness,but including classical assertions of man’s physiological andemotional uniqueness. It supplements this analysis of ancientmanifestations with an examination of how the commonplace survivesand has been restated, transformed, and extended in contemporaryethological literature and in the literature of the animal rightsand animal welfare movements. Author Stephen T. Newmyerdemonstrates that the anthropocentrism detected in Greekapplications of the ‘man alone of animals’ topos is not only aliveand well in many facets of the current debate on human-animalrelations, but that combating its negative effects is a stated aimof some modern philosophers and activists.