Anthropocentrism: Definition, Origin, Pros & Cons

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Anthropocentrism: Meaning & Definition

Anthropocentrism

Anthropocentrism – Philosophical doctrine that conceives the human being as the center of the universe.

Definition of Anthropocentrism

Anthropocentrism is a philosophical doctrine that conceives the human being and his interests as the center of the entire universe. Under his conception, the rest of living beings are subject to the interests, needs and well-being of human beings.

Through anthropocentrism, extremely important ideas that persist even today were consolidated, such as pursuing prestige and personal success, or the special valuation of science over other disciplines.

Throughout history, anthropocentrism favored the multiplication of universities and limited the action and power of religions.

Anthropocentrism: Definition, Origin, Pros & Cons

Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci, Renaissance, 1490.

Origin of Anthropocentrism

The conception that prevailed during the Middle Ages was theocentrism, until with the arrival of the Renaissance there was a change in the individual’s way of thinking. This was a reaction to the lethargy of knowledge that had been maintained during the Middle Ages.

The interest in knowledge promoted a change in thinking that led to the emergence and prevalence of anthropocentrism.

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The advancement of scientific knowledge laid the groundwork to replace faith with reason. This includes that the human being seeks the explanation of the phenomena through tangible and demonstrable processes, instead of through divine or supernatural phenomena, as happened from ancient times to the Middle Ages.

In this way, by being able to find reasoned explanations of the phenomena that were previously attributed to God, man began to be the dominant figure in all aspects of life, displacing any intention or belief that was not directed for this same reason.

Anthropocentrism leaves out the rest of the living beings, since the human being, as the only living being with reason, constitutes the predominant figure on the planet and is above all other beings.

Anthropocentrism and Theocentrism: Differences

The theocentrism is a doctrine that everything that exists is caused by a higher will or divine. Within this thought, God is the reason and explanation of all the phenomena that dominate the universe. This was the predominant doctrine during periods of great religiosity in history, where religions had almost absolute power.

In contrast, anthropocentrism focuses its doctrine on the fact that human beings’ own reason is the object and center of the entire universe, and therefore leaves aside mystical phenomena.


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