This chapter investigates the critique of anthropomorphism that we find in Xenophanes of Colophon and Heraclitus of Ephesus. Hesiod’s Theogony is assumed as background and as paradigm for the tendency to treat either the world’s components or gods generally as humanlike. With Xenophanes of Colophon we have the first and one of the fiercest attacks on such a kind of anthropomorphism, inasmuch as Xenophanes not only challenges anthropomorphism in traditional religion and myth but also intimates that at the root of religious beliefs and practices, among his fellow Greeks as well as among foreigners, is a motive of philautia, of self-love. Another strong early critique of anthropomorphism is found in Heraclitus of Ephesus, who curtly dismisses the idea of world-making by a god and stridently attacks certain traditional forms of religious worship. And yet neither thinker can avoid sliding into a particular kind of anthropomorphism, namely into what Mourelatos calls ‘epistemic anthropo-philautia’ – philautia understood not as the ‘self-love’ or ‘vanity’ an individual may show, but rather as the species-philautia we indulge in when we project upon the cosmos structures and forms that cognitively afford special intuitive appeal to us human beings.
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