University of Buffalo New York Department of Art Gallery. The ancient philosopher Protagoras is most famous for his claim: “Of all things the measure is Man” and today, Western societies continue to promote anthropocentrism, an approach to the world that assumes humans are the principal species of the planet. We naturalize a scale of worth, in which beings that most resemble our own forms or benefit us are valued over those that do not. The philosophy of humanism has been trumpeted as the hallmark of a civilized society, founded on the unquestioned value of humankind defining not only our economic, political, religious, and social systems, but also our ethical code. However, artists recently have questioned whether humanism has actually lived up to its promises and made the world a better place for humankind. Are we better off privileging humans above all else or could there be other, preferable, ways to value life? With the continued prevalence of violent crimes, even genocide, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we see the ways in which the discourse of humanism falters, as groups are targeted through rhetoric reducing them to the subhuman, and therefore disposable. But what if the subhuman, nonhuman, and even the non-animal and material, were reconsidered as objects of worth even if far removed from us?
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