Do humans, as observers, occupy a special place when observing Earth?

The Copernican Principle states that Earth doesn’t occupy a special place when observing the Universe. So does it apply to humans as well? Do humans occupy a special place when observing the Earth?

Well, we’re taller than dogs.

I don’t really get the idea, and I’m not finding the parallel with the Copernican principle helpful. Can you explain what you mean by “observing the Earth”? A special place in what sense - as a species among all Earth species?

( Also - what about one dog standing on another dog’s shoulders, wearing a trenchcoat? )

I don’t see the relevance of the Copernican principle here at all.

That said, it’s clear that human perceptions and mental perspectives are different than those of other species, all of which are different and some of which are unique and remarkable:

When we point our machines out towards the Universe, the Copernican Principle says “Earth doesn’t occupy a special place”. Wouldn’t that still be the case if we point our machines inward towards the Earth?
Quote from the article “If we see ourselves in the mirror, it is because ours is a privileged location. If we see nothing [i.e. no peculiar distortions] in the mirror, then the Copernican principle is upheld.”

The Copernican principle means that the Earth is not in a special location in the universe. We are not at a special center of the universe, the laws of physics are no different here than anywhere else. But the Earth is obviously special to us, as our home. I still have no idea what you are getting at.

Can you forget about the Copernican principle and explain what you mean?

I’m suggesting that humans are not in a special location (in time) to observe Earth’s history. When we look back in time, if we see ourselves in the mirror, it is because ours is a privileged location. We tend to think that humans are the apex of evolution on Earth, but it seems like we are looking for ourselves in the mirror. This is just a thought. I hope that explains what I meant.

All depends on your frame of reference. I’m human, so I think humans are special. Were are the the most intelligent beings on earth - that’s special.

But all sentient earth creatures deserve the same consideration, IMHO. In that regard we are not special.

Yes, it is. But it doesn’t mean that our perceptions of the world, with our everyday physical senses, is necessarily the best or most accurate. Many animals have far more finely honed senses than we do, and we’re always discovering amazing new aspects of these capabilities.

From certain vantage points we are (in so much as evolution does not have a goal). We are so far the only life form on earth to have altered our world in any meaningful way.

There is no parallel with the Copernican principle here. The Earth has not been similar in all historical eras, with or without humans.

One could challenge a conceptual framework in which evolution has an apex. But we are certainly special as the most intelligent species and the first technological civilization to emerge on the planet.

But I’m just stating the obvious. I’m still not really sure what your point is.

Them being special in other ways doesn’t negate that I think our form of intelligence is special.

There is one notable exception to the Copernican Principle, namely the Anthropic Principle. Our vantage point from which we observe the Universe is special, to exactly the extent that it’s a vantage point from which it’s possible to observe the Universe. For instance, the average density of the Universe is about 10^-29 grams per cubic centimeter, and the vast majority of the Universe is very, very close to that density… but around here, the average density is more like 1 g/cm^3. Isn’t that weird? Well, no, because even though dense spots are rare, it’s not a coincidence that we’re observing from one of them: We could only have evolved in a high-density location.

You can go a lot further with the Anthropic Principle, and you pretty quickly end up in woo territory if you do. But as an exception to the Copernican Principle, it’s quite well-grounded.

I’ve been following and commenting on a couple of threads on SD about the possibility of humans not being the first “technological” species to evolve on Earth. This is an interesting perspective - if our world wasn’t conductive to life, we wouldn’t be asking if we are the first “technological” species. Nor should we exclude the possibility that we are not.

I have an intense distrust of the Anthropic Principle. I think you’re using it just fine here, but it gets very murky when people start trying to answer “why” questions with it such as “Why is the universe the way it is?”

Are you asking the question or is some random average intelligence in a huge universe somehow manipulating our screens using your username?

If the answer is you, then your question answers itself.

Well, I’m drunk, and not too smart, but I’ll say “Yes”.

Go look at that Carl Sagen thing about the Blue Marble or whatever. I’m pretty sure nobody else has ‘observed’ our planet like Humans have.

I think you’d appreciate Kurt Vonnegut’s book Galapagos

ETA: I suppose I should elaborate on that, shouldn’t I? It posits that humans aren’t the apex of anything, we’re just one successful species occupying a niche. And when we’re brought to an end by events we’re not equipped to adapt to, the dominant species on the planet has none of our touted superior characteristics.

We’re the only species to have developed tools to extend our observation capabilities beyond our natural senses. Way, way beyond. So yes, we’re special.

But we are, we’re in the present, moving forward. We can look back and see more than any predecessor observers. That’s uniquely privileged - but we do share it with … every other current observer. But, like I said, we’re the only species with tools to do more than just look/taste/touch/etc. So, still special.

I would actually disagree with this premise. The “special place” humans occupy is that we are the only species that can adapt our environment to suit us.