Essay On Humans And Animals: Can We Distinguish Animals From Humans?
Can we distinguish animals from humans?
In my view, if there is no difference to distinguish from humans, then why can’t the chimps write the articles? Be musicians? Or make macaroni? It seems that humans have something in common with animals, but they also have a huge difference when compared with animals. We both have the ability to understand our own language but are different in forms of expression. We both have thoughts but are different in ways of thinking and behavior. In my view, humans can be distinguished from animals in terms of the intelligence, spirit (law, response, morality and persuasion), behavior (self-control, instinct) and social relations. The bible makes claims that humans are “created in the image of God”. What exactly does this mean? The first significant difference is that humans tend to be more intelligent and creative than any other species in terms of language, science, culture, tradition, economics, entertainment and food. Moreover, creativity, consciousness, abstract thinking and personality are the key things that make humans unique. Typically, humans have the ability to combine the concepts of diverse areas of knowledge such as arts, space, nature, social relations and thereby, generating new laws and other technologies.
One of the founders of this thought is Rene Descartes, distinguishes humans from animals based on the possession of a mind and the capacity for the conscious thought (Descartes 1646, 59). He discusses the idea that was held by Pythagoras and Montaigne that animals are thinking beings, which to him was prejudicial (Descartes 1646, 59). He, however, agrees that some of the animals are stronger than humans and that some have an instinctive that is cunning to the shrewdest of humans. He furthers explains that these animals only imitate or surpass humans in actions that are not guided by their thoughts. The lack of speech in animals is evidence enough that animals are not thinking beings and though they have organs that are used for speech, their lack of speech must be the result of a paucity of the thoughts that are necessary to motivate speech.
Michele De Montaigne was a bit skeptical of the perceived superiority of humans to other animals. He also denounced cruelty to animals arguing that animals with life and sense deserved justice. Through a letter, An Apology for Raymond Sebond, Montaigne challenges the notion that animals cannot communicate their thoughts and emotions. Montaigne argues that drawing rigid distinctions between the abilities of human beings and other animals bore no rational justification. He further adds that animals are capable of acts of kindness and cross species communications mechanisms. According to Erica Fudge (,7), animals are both similar to and different from human beings. It means that they are like us in ways such as forming bonds, communicating with each other and some, just like humans, manage monogamy- but simultaneously, they are completely lost to humans. Fudge continues to argue that many of the apparently friendly gestures that humans bear towards other species are grounded on a firm belief that humans are superior rather than the concept of how animals are worth. Human beings may act as if they are kind and concerned about the welfare of animals while in real sense they are shielding themselves from animals that are prevalent in the society. Fudge (10) offers a great example in relation to this. When the dog-carts were banned in the nineteenth century, London was not announcing new understanding to the rights of animals; rather it was a response to the displeasure of human beings at the very visible nature of animal abuse on the streets and to human disgust at the perceived pollution from animal dirt and disease (Fudge, 10).
The dogs that were banned did not live happily ever after with their owner but were slaughtered simply because they were expensive to maintain. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy argue that animals display an array of emotions, including love, hope, fear, joy, compassion, sadness, grief and shame. The chapter about grief sadness, the authors recounts stories of animal sorrow that produce emotions as profound in animals as in the lives of human beings. An example of these story is one of a male dolphin who died three days after the death of his companion simply because he was grief stricken and refused to eat (Masson & McCarthy, 91). Another example of mourning lost love is one of Misha and Maria, two huskies who had formed a pair bond. When the owner of these two pets took Misha away, Maria tried following him out and was prevented; she rushed to the window seat and sat there with her back to the room. Maria sat there for two weeks hoping that Misha would come back, but he never did. This depressed here and she started changing. She grew emotional and started being petty and reacting to things she would not react to normally. Research done about the Orangutan culture by a number of scholars show that orangutans and African ape branches shared a common ancestor- 14 million years ago. From their research, it is clear that there exists geographic variations in primate behavior that are not as a result of environmental conditions but social learning or cultural variations (Schaik, Ancrenaz, Borgen, Galdikas, Knott, Singleton, Suzuki, Utami & Merril 2003, 13).
Descartes, R. (1646-1649). From the Letters of 1646-1649).
Fudge, E. Animal. Reaktion Books.
Masson, J. M., and Susan. M. Grief, Sadness, and the Bones of Elephants.
Montaigne, M. D. An Apology for Raymond Sebond.
Schaik, C. P. V., Ancrenaz, M., Borgen, G., Galdikas, B., Knott, C. D., Singleton, I., Suzuki, A., Utami, A. C., and Merril, M. (2003). Orangutan Cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science 299, 102-105. Copyright AAAS