Culture and the Media
The Taxonomic Subject
Dawkins, R. (1993). Gaps in the Mind. In: Cavalieri, P. and Singer, P. (eds). The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity. London: Fourth Estate, pp. 80-87. Retrieved 24 October 2012 from here.

In this short, engaging essay, Richard Dawkins argues that humans are not only like apes, but are apes. The taxonomic attempt to separate human subjects from all other ape species is the mark of a ‘discontinuous mind’, which creates sharp divisions where there are none. Eliminating these false breaks, and acknowledging evolutionary continuity, has important implications, Dawkins argues, for our morality.

Further Reading

Agamben, G. (2004). The Open: Man and Animal. Attell, K., trans. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 23-27 (Chapter 7). A discussion of human and ape taxonomies, focusing particularly on Linnaeus.

Cavalieri, P. and Singer, P. (eds) (1993). The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity. London: Fourth Estate. The book in which 'Gaps in the Mind' was first published, which calls for basic rights to be extended to the other great apes.

Clark, S. R. L. (1994). Is Humanity a Natural Kind? In: Tim Ingold (ed.), What Is An Animal? London: Routledge, pp. 17-34. A philosophical account of many of the issues addressed by Dawkins, including evolution and human exceptionalism, which is sympathy to a religious or transcendent perspective.

Dawkins, R. (2001). The Word Made Flesh. Guardian Science section, 27 December, p.13. Retrieved 14 January 2006 from here. Dawkins discusses some of the ethical implications of a human-chimpanzee hybrid.

Dawkins, R. (2004a). The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Picking up a key theme from 'Gaps in the Mind', Dawkins traces our common ancestors (which he calls 'concestors') with forty other species.

Dawkins, R. (2004b). The Salamander's Tale. In: The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pp. 252-261. More on the tyranny of the discontinuous mind, illustrated with a different ring species.

Dawkins, R. (2011). The Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind. New Statesman, 19 December, pp. 54-57. Dawkins provides more examples of the effects of the discontinuous mind, including degree classifications, anti-abortion arguments, mixed-race labels, and US election results.

Dawkins, R. with Brodie, C. R. (2005). Author Interview. American Scientist Online (2nd October). Retrieved 18 December 2007 from here. Interview with Dawkins which addresses the discontinuous mind, speciesist double standard, their ethical implications, and more.

Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. London: Allen Lane, pp. 85-103 (Chapter 4). A characteristically clear and engaging exploration of the problems of representing the descent of species graphically.

Diamond, J. (1991). The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How Our Animal Heritage Affects the Way We Live. London: Vintage. Diamond goes further even than Dawkins, arguing that humans are not just apes but a species of chimpanzee (see pp. 14-21).

Foucault, M. (1994). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Sheridan, A., trans. London: Routledge, pp. xv-xxiv (Preface). A much-cited reflection by Foucault on attempts to impose order on the world, including reference to Borges' infamous Chinese Encylopedia.

Gee, Henry (2013). The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. A lively discussion of evolution, relatedness and human exceptionalism.

Gould, S. J. (1980). Why We Should Not Name Human Races: A Biological View. In: Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 231-36. Gould considers differentiation and continua amongst human races; interesting parallels with the White Subject.

Groves, C. (2001). Primate Taxonomy. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 3-14. In this definitive text on primate taxonomy, Groves explains 'What Taxonomy Is Meant to Do and How It Should Do It'.

Haraway, D. (1992). Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science. London: Verso. Involved discussion of the interrelation of culture and nature, focusing particularly on the history and science of primatology, the study of apes, monkeys and lemurs.

Irwin, Darren E., Staffan Bensch and Trevor D. Price (2001). Speciation in a Ring. Nature 409, no. 6818 (18 Jan 2001), pp. 333-37. Account of another ring species, the Asian green(ish) warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), whose populations encircle the Tibetan Plateau.

Irwin, Darren E., Jessica H. Irwin and Trevor D. Price (2001). Ring Species as Bridges Between Microevolution and Speciation. Genetica 112-113, pp. 223-43. On the history and unstable integrity of the ring species concept.

Liebers, Dorit, Peter de Knijff and Andreas J. Helbig (2004). The Herring Gull Complex is Not a Ring Species. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B: Biological Sciences 271, no. 1542 (7 May 2004), pp. 893-901. The authors argue that these gulls do not comprise a ring species, but may soon become one.

Tudge, C. (2000). The Variety of Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 33-62 (Chapter 3), 485-92. Accessible account of the world's species and approaches to classifying them.

Tyler, T. (2006). Four Hands Good, Two Hands Bad. Parallax 38, 12(1), pp. 69-80. Retrieved 25 August 2006 from here. Exceptionally erudite discussion of Dawkins (1993), Diamond (1991) and the question of human(ist) taxonomy. See also the fifth chapter (pp. 211-61) in Tom Tyler (2012), CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers, Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

Vonnegut, K. (1994). Galápagos, A Novel. London: Flamingo. Wonderfully witty evocation of the accidental, contingent nature of evolution by natural selection.