Anthropomorphic Maps and the

Human Shape of the Holy Land

Chapter 1 - What is Anthropomorphism?

 

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to animals, inanimate objects, nature forces and so on. The source of the word is from Greek and it means: "Human Form".

 

Current religious beliefs regard it, generally, as improper to describe the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as Human. God is abstract in them in his shape and characteristics. However, it is very difficult for the average man to describe God without an anthropomorphic framework. It should be mentioned that the Biblical story of creation describes God creating man in his shape.

 

Michelangelo  God create man  The Sistine Chapel  16th century

Michelangelo God create man The Sistine Chapel 16th century

 

Various religions dealt almost entirely with anthropomorphic divinities that had human attributes such as jealousy, hate and love. The Gods in the Greek Mythology such as Zeus and Apollo were described as having human shape.

 

Zeus and his wife Hera

Zeus and his wife Hera

 

In the Indian religion Anthropomorphism exists in the ten different human characters that are the incarnations of the god Vishnu.

 

The Indian god Vishnu

The Indian god Vishnu

 

Anthropomorphic animals are common in the myth of the American Indians. They were used to describe various principles of life.

 

A hummingbird in the lengh of more then 100 yards engraved on the Nazca Pampa of Peru

A hummingbird in the lengh of more then 100 yards engraved on the Nazca Pampa of Peru

 

In Alternative beliefs the importance of Anthropomorphism is noticeable through the creation of imaginary characters that are the incarnation of abstracts, such as 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse'.

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

 

Neil Gaiman, in the Comics series "The Sandman" anthropomorphized the seven aspects of existence, named the Endless: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delusion.

 

The Destiny character in "The Sandman"

 

Anthropomorphism is common in literature, especially children books. Examples are: "Esope's fables", "The Animal Farm" by George Orwell, The books by Beatrice Potter and Louis Carroll and "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Graham.

 

Mr. Toad and his friends from "The Wind in the Willows"

 

A major part of children's time is dedicated for watching animated movies, where Anthropomorphism is very common. It is used mostly for describing stereotyped characters that represent attributes which the author designated for them. The characters of Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, Bugs Bunny and so on, are heroes for imitation that assist the children in understanding the boundaries of the adult world.

 

The heroes of Disney Studios

 

In daily life it is common to think of certain objects as having same as human attributes, although only few people think that this has a true meaning. Examples are calling a car in a name, or begging from a machine to start working. The advancement in artificial intelligence may cause this human weakness to become a substantial phenomenon, especially when the computers will start operating under vocal orders. In addition, advanced computers are able to perform specific human behaviors, such as learning from mistakes, expecting certain information, playing Chess and other games which demands human talent and ability, and of course in the future there will be robots with human shape.

 

A dialog with the computer A caricature by Randy Glasbergen

 

In the art of speaking Anthropomorphism is a type of popular metaphor in use for creating emotional impressions. Examples are: The bosom of Earth, The howling of wind.

 

According to the lows of Logic, the use of anthropomorphic caricatures, or the attribution of human characteristics to abstract concepts, is defined as: pathetic fallacy.

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Anthropomorphism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 

 

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