How to Be An Animal – Melanie Challenger Book Summary

How to Be An Animal – Melanie Challenger | Free Book Summary

How to Be An Animal – Melanie Challenger

How to Be an Animal is a book about our relationship with the natural world.

The book explores how we can connect with animals and learn from them.

It highlights the importance of respecting and protecting animals.

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It provides practical advice on how to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly life.

The book is written by Melanie Challenger, an expert on environmental philosophy.

What It Means to Be Human

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How to Be Animal tells a remarkable story of what it means to be human and argues that at the heart of our existence is a profound struggle with being animal. We possess a psychology that seeks separation between humanity and the rest of nature, and we have invented grand ideologies to magnify this. As well as piecing together the mystery of how this mindset evolved, Challenger’s book examines the wide-reaching ways in which it affects our lives, from our politics to the way we distance ourselves from other species.

Humans Have a Destiny

According to the three major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—humans have a special nature and destiny, different from and superior to those of other animals. Created by a divine power, humans resemble it in not belonging entirely to the natural world. They exercise a freedom of will no other animal possesses and, thanks to the afterlife, are exempt from mortality.

Rationality & Self-Awareness

In Western societies monotheistic ideas no longer prevail in the explicit forms they once did, but the claim that humans have a unique standing has not been renounced. It continues to shape our view of ourselves and our planet, though the defining feature of humanity is now commonly identified as rationality or self-awareness rather than the possession of a soul. 

A Creator

For those with deep belief in a creator, we have a soul that is unique to the human body. For secular humanist thinkers, we have soul-like mental powers that are unique to the human brain. Each is a reason for why humans aren’t truly animals. At least, not in any crucial way.

Being Human is Being Animal

We know from evolutionary biology that humans emerged from the natural world. At the same time, many think we have cast off our animal origins; some think we can direct our future evolution. This discrepancy between what we know from scientific inquiry and the image we have formed of ourselves is Challenger’s central theme.

The truth is that being human is being animal. This is a difficult thing to admit if we are raised on a belief in our distinction.

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