History reveals that it took in excess of sixteen hundred years, multiple religious inquisitions, and a prodigious amount of human conflict, to finally, and officially, admit that “man” was not the” center of the universe.” We tip our proverbial hat to Copernicus for mankind’s grudging acknowledgement that the earth orbits the sun and not the other way around, as previously maintained. This “heliocentric” theory was indeed late in coming, but with the authoritative approval of great philosophers and scientists, such as Galileo, it was grudgingly accepted by most rational minds.

Continuous research into the disciplines of physics and astronomy has progressed to the modern view, that there appears to be an infinity of outer space and an uncountable  inventory of galaxies, suns, planets and other phenomena. The ultimate realization was inevitable, that the” heavenly bodies” were unfathomable, and that they exist and function completely independent of any reference to the existence of mankind on terra firma.

Mankind, the extremely fortunate inhabitant of planet earth understandably takes great pride in its inclusion in the unique society of Homo sapiens; possessing the most prized gifts of evolution, most especially the capacity for advanced reason. Thus, it is problematic that a great many individuals, unexplainably, and egocentrically, choose to project various features of such unique human identity, in some ethnocentric (earthnocentric?) fashion, on other life and on the natural phenomena.

One such category is the sophomoric projection of features of the human persona onto our family pets, by some child-like anthropomorphic analogy; such behavior may be revelatory of a lack of mature perspective, as well as a failure of appreciation of man’s uniqueness. People will choose to assign, to their household animals, such human emotions and feelings as annoyance, impatience, sadness, recrimination, meditative concentration (the latter, most especially on cats) and jealousy. This may be an indication of a lack of ability to see the environment and outside world as separate and independent of man, a significant failing and a diagnosable species of classic egocentrism. The array of emotions, joy, jealousy, critical rebuke, courage, generosity and the like, are characteristics of man, and not properly consigned to beagles or Labrador retrievers.

Similar egocentric tendencies are demonstrated by our practice of viewing meteorology in personal terms, especially with reference to our hopes and planned expectations. Inarguably, the atmosphere surrounding the planet changes, or remains the same, in accordance with its own applicable laws of nature, regarding which we have little influence on legislation.{ Our sole ability, sadly, is to despoil said atmosphere with carbon and other impurities}.

Why then do humans see the “heavens” as reflections of their good or bad fortune? All egocentrics need reminding that “it is not about us.” How many times have we heard such mundane nonsense as “if the sun will be out tomorrow, we can have a picnic, or if it is sunny enough, we can go to the beach; it should be no especial disappointment or insult to be told that we and our plans are irrelevant. Need it be said that meteorology has little interest in our plans for recreation or travel. Incontrovertibly, the sun is “always” out as are the moon and the stars, whether we egocentrics are able to see them or not. The stars will indeed sparkle even when we are asleep; assuredly, we are not cast members in the theater of the natural phenomena.

Incidentally, the real villains responsible for the frustration of any outdoor plans are the clouds. They block our view of the sun, moon and the stars, which we continue to insist, are always there. We should instead, properly ask if the “clouds” are out. In any event, the feeling that the” disappointing” weather (stated accurately, our disappointment in the weather) is cruel, is childishly egocentric.

Mankind’s egocentric proclivity to see the universe and the world in personal terms is at best fanciful and childish, and at worst, ignorant and misleading; like the theory of the solar system prior to the ascendancy of the heliocentric understanding. The foolish complaint, “We have not had any sun for an entire week” is, additionally belied by the evident fact that we, and the planet, are still in existence.

The enlightenment represented by man’s acquisition of understanding of the proper (heliocentric) functioning of our solar system, enabled great advances in human understanding and scholarship. It dealt a well- deserved blow to man’s ego with the profound realization that he is not the center of the universe.

A further extension of such progress in the attainment of proper perspective, to the extent of a mature reevaluation of the egocentric practice of projection of human traits onto animals and nature, would continue to further the advance of man’s rational awareness and understanding of himself, his uniqueness and the world.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I believe the Universe is amoral and Man is egocentric. However I disagree that domesticated animals lack personality traits and behaviors also possessed by humans. Cats and dogs have a cortex quite similar to humans…. I would beg to argue that the similarities are greater than the differences and leading to similar behaviors. Only a couple of examples, which are too numerous to count, why cats are used to study vision behaviors and oculomotor task learning, mice used to study navigational behaviors, and genetics in dogs used to elucidate human psychiatric illnesses and behaviors.


  2. Thanks for the interesting comment. I agree with your point concerning the facts about anoimal traits; I was not intending to say otherwise. But the comment referred to people’s need to project human traits on their pets based upon their own inclination at the moment and irrespective of the pet’s potential for feeling.


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