Daniel Quinn's Ishmael reads like a Socratic dialogue between a man and an intelligent gorilla, which places an ad in a newspaper seeking a student with a strong desire to save the world. In the pages that follow, the gorilla, Ishmael, paints a picture of human history as an outsider; a non-human. Through Ishmael, Quinn points out the fallacy in the inherent human belief that mankind is somehow the apex of evolution or creation. He draws a distinction between "takers" or those who seek to exert dominance over the world and all things in it, and the "leavers" or those, such as hunter-gatherers, who live within the confines of nature's design.
It seems to me that while Quinn raises several interesting points, and addresses issues rarely touched by other authors, he falls into the same human-centric view of the earth that he rallies against. One could always delve even deeper and farther into the biological past, present, and future of our planet, galaxy, or universe. For example, ask yourself this: Why should it be assumed that the earth needs to exist, or have human, or non-human, life in it at all?.
One point Quinn makes, and I agree with, is that it's very species-centric to believe that humans are somehow the "goal" or end product of millions or billions or years of evolution. The fact of the matter is that living things of all sorts evolve, or are created, to fill a specific niche within the rest of nature. The ultimate goal of any species is to survive and reproduce so that their species can continue to thrive and evolve. Humans, even Quinn's "takers" are not exempt from this. In chapter eight, Ishmael addresses this, saying that:.
"I mean simply that, with his very first bite, Homo Habilis was in competition with something. And not with one thing, with a thousand things - which all had to be diminished in some small degree if Homo Habilis was going to live. This is true of every single species that ever came into being on this planet.