Although this article from BBC News doesn't exactly mesh with our most recent lecture topics about the Hudson River School art movement or the Ecological Indian, I believe this subject is relevant to the overarching theme of this class.
The article presents two sides of a debate: should Great Apes have human rights? Some argue yes, based on genetic closeness (we share roughly 99% of our genes with chimps) and the belief that great apes are sentient and intelligent we should extend our human rights onto our dearest cousins. Others argue that genetic closeness is no argument at all, and "human rights are a construct that can't be imposed on animals."
So how does this relate to our class? Well, besides the fact that the terms "nature" and "culture" can be found in the article, I thought it posed an interesting question, and one that we have been wrestling with in class. What distinguishes culture from nature and vice versa? This article begs us to look at the relationship between culture and nature through a new lens and investigate the overlap. Given our close "relationship" with the great apes where do we draw the line? If chimps are 99% human is it that 1% that determines all our human lovin? Are species farther away on the tree of life relegated to the chaos of nature, and not worthy of our protection?
The Great Ape Project is asking us to wield our culture (our greatest tool and weapon) in a more ethical way. Whether you agree with their goals or not the subject is a great thought experiment for this class. After reading this, where do you draw the line between nature and culture? Can they overlap or are they mutually exclusive?
Should apes have human rights?