Letters

The Human Animal

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1288
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6138.1288-b

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  • RE: The Dance of Neoteny and Ontogeny

    Paul Shepard (1978/1998) eloquently states "Central to this book are the lifelong tasks of refining the idea of the self to the self. ... There are a whole series of developmental undertakings in human mental and emotional growth that depend on the availability and abundance of nonhuman life. Until we understand exactly how these work, we should follow what might be called 'the principle of phylogenetic probity,' which is simply that the healthy function of an organ is most assured under the circumstances similar to those in which it evolved" (p. 189).

    Quillin assumes that implying that humans occur in a category separate from animals may have unintended consequences. And what would those be? Arrested development, perhaps.

    "Generally speaking, social bonds [attachments] accompany the successive matrices of being, as the ground from which novelty is explored and the self delineated, while ecological reality (flowers-bees, bears-salmon) become satisfying otherness in their own right and metaphorical sign images or messages about the inner world, the binding forces of human society, and the invisible spiritual realm" (1982/1998, p. 112).

    Neuroses, indeed.

    References

    Shepard, P. (1998). Pretending that animals are people: The character of the caste.
    In Thinking animals: Animals and the development of human intelligence. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press (pp. 148-212). (1978).

    ...Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.

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