Humans’ perspective was, still is and will always be extremely anthropocentric.
Humans see themselves as the center of the universe, even after what is regarded as the three big revolutions of Copernicus, Darwin and Freud.
Copernicus discovered that planet earth is not the center of the universe. The sun and the other planets are not circling the earth. Humans know today that earth is just another planet, not particularly big or special, in a not particularly big or special solar system.
Darwin has taught humans that not only are they not the center of the universe, they are not even the center of Earth. All the species have the same origin. Humans are just another animal as all the other species - nothing special about them on earth too.
Over the years there have been major discoveries in genetics, and accumulated knowledge in paleontology, embryology, comparative anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, and etc. all showing the amazing similarities between humans and nonhuman animals. Yet none of them are enough for humans to understand. Anthropocentric attitudes are still extremely far from being vanished.
One of the most important beliefs, which makes animal abuse possible, is the idea that humans and other animals are in some way separated by an unbridgeable gap.
But humans, as you know, are great apes, not gods. Genetically, humans are much more closely related to other great apes than these apes are to other monkeys. Humans and chimpanzees have about 98.4% of their genes in common, whereas monkeys have only about 93% of the same genes as apes.
The amazing similarity is supposed to fundamentally weaken anthropocentric concepts that unfortunately most humans hold.
But when half of Americans still reject the theory of evolution, superannuating anthropocentrism is far from reality.
When it comes to their perception of their place in the universe, nothing fundamental has changed.
One thing that cannot be taken from humans, is their amazing talent for rationalization.
Some are even using the genetic similarities to further strengthen their alleged superiority, arguing that humans are so superior exactly because they have done so well with so little. The fact that they are in their godlike position despite that they are so genetically close to other apes, is what makes them so special.
Freud generated the third revolution that was supposed to further shatter the anthropocentric view. He said that not only are humans not the center of the universe, and the animal kingdom… they are not even the center of themselves. Humans are not really in complete control of what they are. They are motivated by unaware impulses and by systems and mechanisms in the unconsciousness.
Freud taught us how critical and influential experiences are in the first few years of life, and how complicated it is to alter their tremendous shaping effect retroactively (in addition to the many inborn mental characteristics).
We are not even really the masters of our own domain.
Obviously many of Freud’s ideas are debatable. But the basic concept behind at least the psychological cornerstones relevant in our context, are still valid. Humans can no longer see themselves as utterly rationalistic beings driven solely by rational factors, and in absolute control over their personalities, behavior, thoughts and desires.
Conceptually, these theories are almost meaningless in the everyday life of most humans. The anti-anthropocentric aspect of these ideas is pretty simple, however most humans don’t really internalize their conceptual meaning in terms of their place in the universe.
The reasons for the gap between the revolution these ideas were supposed to create, and the everyday reality, in which humans are still convinced and act as if they are the center of the universe, are coming from a motivation to keep humans’ superior status in the world. A status that was supposed to die out a long time ago.
The sad reality is, that at a certain notorious historical era, these ideas did take hold and had a social-political influence, but it didn’t lead to humbly respecting other sentient beings. Instead, it led to what is remembered as the worst crimes (conducted on humans) in the 20th century. Distortion of Darwin’s theory was readapted into social and political theories which later evolved to Fascism and Nazism. Even the temporary extensive effect the theory had, didn’t affect the way humans see nonhumans, and poorly affected the way they see themselves and each other.
The fact that most humans still believe in the existence of a god in the 21st century, after so many discoveries refute its existence, is not an indication of ignorance (in many cases it is, but that is not the case we are talking about now), or that the alternative theories are not of satisfactory. It is an indication of the psychological motivations humans have to believe in a god, and that they are the center of its creation. The sense that an omnipotent entity is watching over them specifically is very comforting. It fills their lives with meaning and control. The need for an existential order in such a chaotic world is highly essential for humans, and part of this “heavenly” order is their special position and role in this world.
There is nothing rational in the belief that the human race is superior and the center of the universe. There is nothing rational in discrimination based on skin color, gender, class, ethnic origin or species. There are motivations to hold these perceptions and they are much stronger than the little rational thinking humans are capable of.
The fact is that most humans believe in a god, most humans believe that they are superior to other animals and most humans are racists, chauvinists and of course speciesists.
One of the strongest indications of how hopeless the chances are to create a moral change in society based on humans' compassion, is the way humans treat members of their own species. Please take the time and read our articles and posts about how humans systematically exploit the poorest of their own kind, how they treat half of their own species and their own posterity, as well as the answer in this FAQ to the question about the possibility of social revolutions, and particularity about the possibility of a vegan world. These examples and arguments, as well as many others, prove that if any, the human race’s perspective on itself and on the world has in many aspects, changed for the worse.
And finally, the request for patience which is being asked on nonhumans’ expense, is speciesist.
Given that more than 150 billion animals per year are suffering from birth to death under mankind tyranny, asking them to hold on until about 7 billion humans are convinced, is not only speciesist, it’s cruel.
A non-speciesist perspective, a point of view that doesn’t count the interests of one species over another, necessarily leads to the conclusion that this world has to be ended.