Our Brothers The Animals

Those of us who are still thinking along Cartesian lines, that we are uniquely sentient while animals are automata, and also those of us who hold the Christian belief that we are ensouled while animals are not, in short everybody who denies that we ourselves are animals, need to ask themselves whether they would save a cat or dog from a burning building, and if so why. Might it be that all that talk of an unbridgeable gulf between ourselves and the animals, talk that has managed to survive more than a century of modern biology, was never anything more than theory, whereas in a real situation everyone would act in accordance with a quite different maxim? That when we see a terrified animal trying to escape the flames, we recognise its fear as being the same emotion as our own fear, and thereby recognise the animal as the same sort of thing as ourselves, namely an incarnated will to live?

Posted on March 30, 2009 at 09:39 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Beings and Gentlebeings

2 Responses

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  1. Written by urban
    on March 26, 2011 at 20:12
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    I just love the desperation with which we continue to deny that we are animals as one after another of our self-claimed distinguishing characteristics gets stripped away. Language, reason, tool making, all gone.

    Now we cling triumphalistically to our opposable thumbs. OK, so no other animal can touch a thumb to a forefinger. So what? Set against all the impressive things that various animals can do that we can’t such as fly, breathe underwater, leap many times their height, change color to blend in with a background, scale smooth vertical surfaces, etc., I’m not sure how impressed I am with that parlor trick.

    I have my own definition of what it is that makes us unique. Humankind: the species that thinks it isn’t an species of animal; the species that believes everything revolves around it. As you have pointed out in various contexts, Hugo: the species that admires itself so much that anything other must necessarily be lesser. This delusion must have had survival value at one point in our history, but the trait seems to have outlived any usefulness.

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on March 27, 2011 at 08:47
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    I’m going to do a whole chapter in due course, called “The Enslaving Mammal”.

    Now that’s our killer app. Many animals predate, but only Man can make other men work for him.

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