If I were a butterfly…

by Amy Woodgate

If I were a butterfly, would I care to thank a male, human creator for giving me my wings? And as a kangaroo, would I hop right up to a humanoid, worst still would such humanoid be expecting it? Sure, if I were a fish, I’m probably going to splash around a bit but I doubt as a bear, octopus or crocodile, should these creatures possess the same level of higher reasoning skills as humans, I would think to thank another species for my species’ attributes.


If other animals evolved such skills, would they makes species-specific versions of humanism – llamaism or amphibianism – each species feeling they are the most important entity in existence, with each other species shaped purely as a comodity for their superior development?

Biologically : species bias; difficulty to see the world through eyes you do not possess, especially if it is more than just environmental factors, the entire physiology is different.

Type bias – societies and cultural prejudice – in group/out group mentality

Is it the higher reasoning itself that triggers such opinion forming or is it the coincidence of species higher reasoning and lack of regulatory ‘other’, ie another species of equitable reasoning who can debate relative standing and promote ‘humility’, that has caused the human bias?

When animals become friends, does the cat look at the dog and think ‘you’re a funny looking cat, but I’ll be friends with you anyway!’ or is this an irrelevant over simplification based on a human categorised view, ie we like to categorise things to make meaning of them but this distinction is only important to our systems and has very little impact or purpose in other contexts – it is far more likely that the cat will look at the dog and think ‘I don’t want to eat you and I think you won’t eat me, so let’s collocate for a while and maybe we can kill a mouse together’.

Danielle: A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?

Leonardo da Vinci: Then I shall have to make you wings.

— Ever After (1998)

Rather than post-humanism, which by definition attracts focus to the human, we should in fact be thinking about going back to the roots of life: ‘pre’ humanism.

Taking steps backwards in moving ‘forward’ – pagan > Christianity. Although Humanists would not themselves agree with bundling up their ethical framework with Christianity, they share common attributes – celebration of the human. Whereas Pagan theology typically celebrates a wider set of living and non-living things.

Pantheism: “divinity is inseparable from nature and that deity is immanent in nature.” (Alder 2006)



Adler, Margot (2006) [First published 1979]. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America (Revised Edition ed.). London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-303819-1.