SoundEagle in Biomusic, Biosphere, Ecology, Flora, Fauna, Astronaut, Earth, Moon, Sun, Star and Space
We can begin to look upon the age-old dichotomy of humans versus nonhumans with scepticism and even disdain, and start to see living things as entities interconnected in multiple ways through common evolutionary heritages, in which various physical, mental and social manifestations, including emotion, intelligence, creativity, sapience, self-awareness, intentionality and even culture, are the hallmarks of sentient beings — hallmarks that are not exclusively confined to Homo sapiens, but commonly found and functionally comparable in both humans and nonhumans. Bearing the goal or desire to dissolve the human-nonhuman dichotomy (whether conceptually, ideologically or existentially), how does one contemplate the nature and crossroads of humanity and nonhumanity? How does one fathom what is it like to be nonhuman? Answering these questions, whether via solid research or solemn introspection, and also by way of interspecies communication (including the artistic and musical kinds already discussed), will slowly and surely reveal something deeper or darker about our own species as we scrutinize our own views of, and relationships with, our fellow creatures on Earth, even as we struggle to acknowledge and reconcile that humans, through ignorance, hubris and greed, have repeatedly erred and committed discrimination and even atrocities against nonhumans, such as exploitation, displacement, vivisection and extermination. One significant way of relating our (way of) being with that of the nonhuman beyond (the rules and limitations of) linguistic, literary or textual means, beyond (the traps and constraints of) the dominant paradigms of the modern and postmodern, and beyond subsuming reality with signifiers and becoming prisoners of discourse, has been revealed and contemplated by AJOwens in a post entitled “On Saving the Planet: Beyond Signifiers” as follows:
… The immediacy of our connection with the other, the basic phenomenon of experience, is what is real.
As the modern begins to consume itself and become the postmodern, this is the way forward: to go beyond the elusive public reality of the text, and to embrace the reality of private experience, not only as an idea, but as a way of being, a way of interacting with the world, meaning everything from people, to animals, to plants, to landscapes, even desert and rock. These mean inexpressible things to us because we share their being.
This is the true solution to the problem of climate change and other difficulties with our relationship to nature: not to ask whether they are real, or what the discourses and truths of science or economics or politics have to say about them, in search of some instrumentalist way of managing the problem; but to tackle the problem at the root, by partaking as beings in the immediacy of all other beings we sense around us. In this way we may hope to prevent the mechanistic neglect, or blindness, or selfishness toward nature and the other that has brought us to our current condition. This is only to say: to be poetic, to appreciate Nature, as Spinoza or Whitehead might suggest; but in way that relates our own being, as Kierkegaard might remind us. (To be fair, all of them would insist on bringing God into it.)
The journey towards seeking some ontological truth of, and epistemic truce with, our place on Earth and our prejudices rooted in our self-imposed human-nonhuman dualism may eventually uncover that speciesism is not, in and of itself, a complete answer to the root cause of our defence mechanism and offensive stance towards otherness and animality. Considering that speciesism entails the assignment or attribution of different rights, values, justifications or special considerations to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership (in other words, what species they belong to), it can indeed be argued that speciesism is a pervasive form of prejudice akin to racism, ageism or sexism, insofar as the treatment of those nonhuman individuals by human beings hinges on group membership and physical differences rather than ethics, decency, morality or equality. Upon closer examination, we are bound to discover that the crux of speciesism, as of anthropocentrism, and of every otherness that we could discern, is our deplorable ineptitude as humans to (be)hold difference and sameness together. This fundamental inability has handicapped the formation of an outreaching mindset capable of recognizing that both humanity and nonhumanity are part of being earthlings, that each is often necessary to the other, and that we, in the light of species richness, interdependency and biodiversity, can only truly possess and preserve our humanity when both the uniqueness and commonality of other nonhuman species are held in high esteem as treasures equally worth preserving for their own sake, and for their intrinsic significance. What is and has been mistakenly construed as “a clear line of demarcation between animals and humans” (let alone multiple lines) can be quite illusory and segregating, often creating misunderstandings, denials, conflicts, exploitations, denigrations, decimations and/or even extinctions (potentially including our own). Rather than dwelling on the rigid and delusional belief in there being “a clear line of demarcation between animals and humans”, one should be openminded, receptive and observant towards the spectra and continua on which humanity and animality exist, merge, converge and diverge. In other words, what can be perceived and distinguished as “the clear qualitative and inherent differences” as well as the likenesses, affinities, and similarities of forms and characteristics both between and within human and animal species actually coexist and manifest in multiple continua, just as many aspects of Nature and the human and nonhuman worlds are continua or platforms affording many opportunities and avenues for humans to (be)hold difference and sameness together. Furthermore, the human-nonhuman dichotomy has tenuous currency and feeble validity when we are able to acknowledge that the diffuse (evolutionary and ecological) boundaries and separateness between humans and nonhumans defy absolutely clear demarcations or easy categorizations, given that nonhumans have coevolved with, and contributed to, humans and their culture, even more so since the advent of domestication, and lately, of genetic modification. The unfolding and blossoming of this intricate interspecies dance can be quite contrary, if not diametrical, to the frequently stark and rigid stereotypes promulgated by certain myths, beliefs, cultures, traditions and even some outmoded scientific claims. In this regard, the tragedy of speciesism has been something long encoded in the human world and etched in human history, and thus cannot be erased retrospectively with continual denial, and also cannot be overlooked or ignored with persistent inaction or indifference, if humans were to live sustainably whilst curtailing their ever-burgeoning ecological footprints.