PÄR SEGERDAHL Associate Professor of Philosophy and editor of The Ethics BlogPhilosophers often put humans on display as beings that have some unique quality, like rationality or conceptual powers. And conversely they present animals as beings that lack that quality.

What comparison underlies such a notion of “human positivity” and “animal negativity”?

One could suspect that the dualism arises through a human-centered comparison. As if intellectual football fans treated football as the sport with which all sports are to be compared, which would turn football into the sport that has the unique qualities of full-fledged sport, while all other sports are grouped together as hollow sports that lack what football has.

One could thus suspect that philosophy implicitly employs a human standard for its comparisons, as if philosophy was a human fan club, busy to secure power and exclusive membership rights.

I have my doubts, though, since football can be surveyed in a way that human life cannot be. It is hardly possible to place “us” at the center, since we don’t know who “we” are as football fans know what football is.

Whatever is placed at the center, it will have to be an idealization; not actual human lives.

This implies that the philosophical dualism might be unjust not only to animals, but also to humans who breathe and talk and live independently of philosophical ideals and claims about their essence.

Pär Segerdahl

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