EDIT: yes! i like this: See bottom:
ah yes! And Scientific Usage vs Philosophical Usage!
Zoomorphism is ascribing ANIMAL STATES to HUMANS as a contrast to Anthropomorphism ascribing HUMAN STATES to ANIMALS. Excellent distinctions!
In short, Scientific Zoomorphism has been very successfully used for a long time.
tldr: Using Motor Representations from the cognitive neuroscience of _action_, building from a zoological basis up to the point where they no longer work anymore for humans. <3 this.
“Zoomorphism and the Human Mind
In this last section, I want to consider, somewhat tentatively, what kind of mental states we are justified to attribute to humans on the basis of the studies about the animal mind and whether this should lead us to reconsider the way we think about our own mind.
Probably the most salient consequence of the explanatory paradigm of zoomorphism is that it underplays the importance of conscious mental processes. If the general explanatory commitment is to only posit a kind of mental state in humans as a last resort if we can’t explain human behavior (which of course includes linguistic behavior) with the help of mental states we have evidence for from animal cognition, then at first approximation the human mind should be taken to consist of mental processes that are not necessarily conscious (see Andrews 2015, esp. Chapter 3 for a summary). Whatever mental states cognitive ethology, comparative psychology and cognitive neuroscience is entitled to attribute to nonhuman animals, they are mental states that are not individuated by virtue of their phenomenal character, but rather by their functional role. In other words, mental states that are not necessarily conscious. So it follows from the explanatory paradigm of zoomorphism that as a first step of understanding the human mind, we should attempt to do so in terms of mental processes that are not necessarily conscious.
This is, of course, unlikely to be the end of the story. Unless we want to deny the existence of consciousness, at some point in the explanation of the human mind we need to bring in consciousness. But we shouldn’t do so in the first, zoomorphic, step of explaining the human mind.
This way of thinking about the relation between understanding mental processes and understanding consciousness used to be quite mainstream within philosophy: the idea in the 1980s was to first try to understand intentionality without any reference to consciousness and once we have done that we can then go on to try to understand consciousness (Millikan 2004; Papineau 1987)—this project, at least with respect to consciousness, was a zoomorphist one.
But things have changed. Given the tremendous amount of work done on consciousness since the 1990s, not many people would proceed this way any more when trying to understand the human mind. But maybe the recent work on various unconscious mental processes (unconscious perception, unconscious attention, unconscious action, unconscious emotion, unconscious biases, unconscious learning, implicit bias, see some references in Sect. 5.1) should persuade us to first try to understand these mental processes (perception, attention, emotion, learning, etc.) without talking about consciousness and worry about consciousness later. And this is exactly what the philosophical explanatory paradigm of zoomorphism suggests.
The second important insight about how we should think about our own mind if we take zoomorphism seriously comes from the cognitive neuroscience of action. The big question in the cognitive neuroscience of action is what mental states are needed in order for an agent to perform an action successfully. And the answer is not in terms of beliefs, desires and other folk-psychological categories.
One mental state that seems very important for the successful performance of actions is what I will label ‘motor representation’ here: representation that represents all the parameters of the situations that are necessary for the successful performance of action. Just what these parameters are, as we have seen, is hotly debated: they may include the properties of the objects one acts upon, the properties of one’s own body, one’s bodily movement that is needed to complete the action or maybe the properties of the goal state the action is aimed at (see Jeannerod 1997; Nanay 2013; Poincaré 1905/1958; Bach 1978; Brand 1984; Pacherie 2011; Millikan 2004; Butterfill and Sinigaglia 2014 for very different proposals about this). I want to remain neutral about the content of these motor representations for the purposes of this paper.
Animals perform actions: they run away from predators and approach prey, for example. And they do so successfully most of the time. Thus, we have very strong reason to attribute motor representations to them. But then if we apply the explanatory scheme of zoomorphism, the first step of understanding the human behavior would be to explain it in terms of our motor representations.
This approach, of course, has its limits. While many of our fine-grained bodily movements may be explained by virtue of attributing motor representations, some aspects of human cognition (especially linguistic or rational reasoning) clearly can’t be. But if we want to follow the explanatory paradigm of zoomorphism, then we first need to see how far we can go in our understanding of the human mind by using motor representations and we can only use different mental states when the human behavior is clearly not possible to fully describe only with the help of motor representations.