Accepted Papers:

Apes and hominids, humans and shamans: a heuristic journey of humaneness, humanness and humanity  


Tony Knight (University of Kent)

Paper Short Abstract:

In an age of climate change and nationalistic division, this paper explores personhood across species, examining Early Humans and modern Great Apes from the perspective of humaneness, arguing that human survival depends on the inclusion of non-human animals within future conceptions of personhood.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores personhood across species, from the dawn of human time, from the perspective of both humaneness and humanness, and seeks to demonstrate that human survival depends not only on an amelioration of nationalistic tropes of citizenship and ethnicity, but also on the inclusion of non-human animals within conceptions of personhood. Against a backdrop of climate change, both global biodiversity and human survival are under serious threat, largely due to a multitude of disparate beliefs and values led by anthropocentric 'needs' that de-emphasise humane attitudes towards non-human animals. In this paper, I argue that any potential systemic solutions will require a more egalitarian and accepting cultural framework, as well as far greater valorisation of the natural environment, and especially of non-human animals, which the IPCC (2007) envisions will suffer a mass extinction of up to 30% over the course of this century. In order to avoid this potential tragedy for all animal life, we need a different way of thinking, one which challenges prevailing notions of human identity based on citizenship and ethnicity as well as the parameters of personhood.

panel P15
Humans and other animals