human uniqueness…

I was just reading a review of Wild Justice that included the sentence: “Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of ascribing morality to animals because it seems to threaten the uniqueness of humans”…

Nothing could more succinctly demonstrate how neurotic a species we are. How amazingly insecure are we, the Rulers of the Earth, the ‘paragon of animals’? It used to be that we relied on an absolute division between us and ‘them’ – a distinction insisted on by our holy books – for are we not, after all, made in the image of God…? When Darwin punctured this conceit we regrouped behind other barricades – our language, our culture, our tool using, our ‘reasoning’ – as researchers have brought down each of these in turn, we have scurried to a new defence… All of them seem to me to be something akin to: but do whales sit in rocking chairs smoking pipes and reading magazines? Thus we move the goal posts to make sure we always win!

Isn’t it about time that we grew up – that we started finding confidence in what we are within ourselves, and accept that we are one animal among many…? The sooner we do that, the sooner we will stop behaving like spoilt children…

6 thoughts on “human uniqueness…

  1. Kim Stanley Robinson says we have gone from being the smartest animals on the savannah, to living in a state of denial about how we are destroying our planet.

    1. though we lord it over all creation, we’re prey animals – and if you’re prey, it’s natural to fear the ‘other’ because it could well be a pride of lions that’s going to eat you… But the truth is that, in so many ways, we ARE lords of creation – at least as far as it comes to our power to destroy. The tragedy of human beings is that we don’t seem to be able to escape our origins… however hard we struggle to do so… Since that seems to be the case, the only alternative that makes any sense to me is that we accept our origins as a prey species that got ‘lucky’……

  2. I work at Emory University in Atlanta doing the web site for the health sciences center, which includes as part of it a primate research lab. They’ve found out all kinds of amazing stuff, including the fact that many things which human have often considered “uniquely human traits” are in fact present in primates as well as other types of animals. For example, monkeys and apes have been shown to understand / act on concepts of injustice, jealousy, and greed.

    Related Links

    Darwin’s Last Laugh
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7252/full/460175a.html

    Empathy is thought to drive this pleasure that transcends primate species
    http://yerkes.emory.edu/news-item-34

    Yerkes Researchers Find Sex Differences in Monkey Toy Preferences Similar to Humans
    http://yerkes.emory.edu/news-item-43

    Wendy

Leave a Reply