Anthropocentrism is the current of thought that places the human being as the center of the universe.

Through anthropocentrism, the human being is situated as the element on which all branches of study and knowledge revolve. It also places the human being above all species, and the rest of the world has to seek the satisfaction of its needs. Anthropocentrism, moreover, is one of the most important characteristics of Humanism.

The word comes, etymologically, from the Greek, being anthropos human being, kentron center and the suffix -ismo denotes current or doctrine. Therefore, literally, it is the doctrine that puts the human being at the center.

Origin of anthropocentrism

Anthropocentrism originates at the same time as Humanism. In fact, it is one of the defining characteristics. Throughout the Middle Ages theocentrism stood out, the idea that God occupied the center of everything, divinity ruled the lives of citizens and they had to act and live according to it. Furthermore, all branches of knowledge revolved around this idea.

Anthropocentrism arises in a context of change, since, with Humanism, it went from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. And this idea that man is the one who is at the center of the rest of things was a fundamental pillar in the change.

It was a great scientific advance, since, until now, science was relegated. Many of the phenomena were attributed to God and his will, and anthropocentrism breaks with this, substituting faith for reason. Thus it was achieved that human qualities were those that inspired knowledge, being reason and research the new pillars that replaced the old divine method.

Characteristics of anthropocentrism

Among the main characteristics of anthropocentrism are:

  • It was born from the hand of Humanism, in the 15th century, breaking with the Middle Ages and passing to the Modern Age.
  • Substitution of God as the center of everything, becoming the human being.
  • Human abilities and reason as inspiration for the scientific method.
  • Partial secularization of society.

You criticize anthropocentrism

At the time, anthropocentrism was considered an idea contrary to the interests of the Church. But over time, criticism has focused on the aspect of the supremacy of the species, carried out by animalists and environmentalists.

The animalistic current defends the moral idea that all living beings are equal and, therefore, they should not be used for human enjoyment. As in everything, there are different degrees, from respect and good treatment of domestic animals to positions such as veganism and animal liberation. The fact that human beings, due to their intellectual supremacy, use animals to work, to feed themselves and to enjoy shows is the object that sustains this criticism.

Environmentalism goes along the same line, it does not believe that human beings have the moral power to put all natural resources at their disposal. Ecologists criticize practices such as the overexploitation of nature, the felling of trees, the urbanization of beaches and forests and the emission of polluting gases, among many other things.

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