Saturday, February 20, 2010

Human beings are Special?

I've been seeing a lot of forums discussing such broad philosophical concepts recently, particularly dealing with how Humans are different than other Animals. I'm shocked to see such a huge amount of people who think that Human beings are superior or are completely disassociated with Animal kind.

This idea has always alluded me, I've always seen my kind as just another extension of branches on the tree of life. Bound together with all other living things on this planet. When someone says Human being, I immediately think either Mammal or Great Ape because we are defined as both.

So what makes us so special? Well there are many theories or opinions on this matter, but for the sake of simplicity I'll deal with a few main ones.

Human beings have the ability to create things!

Yes, this is a true statement. However, people neglect to associate this coined "Human" quality with other animals. There is much work done with other primates which show that they have the ability to both make and use tools effectively with purpose. Some interesting ones which come to mind are sponges made from leaves, hammer stones, and (my favorite) spears used to hunt and kill monkeys. These creations tend to carry on within troops through generations.

Humans have morality!

This one really gets to me, because morality is such ambiguous term which is so subjective to the culture one is accustomed to that there is no clear definition. For instance a highly Christian sense of morality would probably be very disturbed by the morality set of a tribe in New Guinea. This whole morality idea to me seems very fallacious. Many Human made groups accuse other Humans of being immoral, so if Human beings are moral creatures by definition... why does this not make sense?

I like to use the example that Animals are subject to the same evolutionary laws as we are, killing each other is deemed a bad thing for animals in groups. For solitary Animals, it is less of an issue. So why is it that it isn't okay to kill people in a mall, but to travel to some other land and kill someone else in the name of some greater good. Human is Human, one can't pick and choose who is more Human or not.

Animals do not comprehend concepts!

Well, this is true, mostly. Some animals have a better grasp on things non-instinctual than others. We happened to evolve away from such things, but there is much evidence showing that some Animals do understand. Primates in particular have the ability to trick, lie, and with hold information to benefit themselves or for other reasons. These a big concepts, and shows a great deal of intellectual ability to intend to do an action with reason to get a result.

I'll leave these with you, I personally don't think Humans are any more special than any other animal. Our purpose remains the same, to continue generations and survive. We've not even been on the block for very long, so we have a long way to go before we can even start claiming superiority in that regard.

Well, it has been fun. A little heavy but fun.


Kelly said...

I think our bigger brains have allowed us to be more technologically advanced. But on the whole, I believe our actions do not differ much from animals. These observations, I believe are true.

You've written a though provoking post. And whether you care or not, I agree with most of it, but at a slightly different standpoint.

I believe and have seen there are the few Humans that have proven themselves unique during their lifetimes.

We should strive for a higher purpose than simple survival but I am not a believer that 95% of the Human species would care to make that a goal. But like I said, I believe there are a few who could be up "to the challenge". And I'm one of the biggest cynics of all:) If you knew me, heh heh, you'd know.

Snake Eyes said...

Totally agree with you, the only thing that really makes us all that different from other animals is our thumbs. Take ants for example they have wars build cities, and some species even domesticate other insects for farming

Dark Slander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dark Slander said...

Snake Eyes: That's some interesting info about ants, I actually love ants but I've never studied them at length.

Animals are quite capable of things which we ignore to a great degree. It is widely known that in Chimp culture there are wars(with weapons) over territory and they even commit infanticide and genocide on rival troops. Some are full on battles, and others are very tactical raiding parties.

Thanks for the comment.

Dark Slander said...

Kelly: Kelly: Great perspective, and it reminds me that you can see that individuals in other animal populations besides Humans do happen to have huge intelligence variation.

For lack of a better example there are Einsteins within the animal kingdom. It is this in this variation where we get a few very productive animals within the population. These are innovative individuals which have a remarkable similar process.

I do agree that we should strive for much more than we are, we have the ability to have more than just survive. With these abilities I also think that Humans should attempt to push progression to its limits.

I deleted the original to add:

Thanks for your perspective, it is appreciated.