How unique are humans? | INFJ Forum

How unique are humans?


C'est la vie
Retired Staff
May 11, 2008
This article was passed on to me and I found it to be very interesting. Feel free to share your thoughts.

In his book
There are many fascinating examples of complexly improvised behavior by "lesser" animals, but they are still a far cry from humans. We have a natural emotional tendency to spare our mammalian relatives, but does that justify drawing a line between those within and those without our class, let alone between certain orders, genuses or species? It is a highly subjective distinction, and granting legal to rights to non-humans would mean elevating certain animals above their natural senses of responsibility.
The problem is, animals have cognitive development if we show them how to develop cognitively. They don't have innate language period and they don't communicate with us until we interfere in their world and teach them how. There has never been an incident of an animal coming to a human to try to teach the human animal language.

And this is the problem: Animals do things out of necessity. They do things for a reason, to receive something back or to accomplish something that is of worth to them. We keep trying to anthropomorphize animals, but they are not human. They do not create complex languages, although they can create complex cities (ants). They can do complex tasks, but it doesn't matter where they are on the evolutionary ladder to do that (certain birds use tools and complete complex tasks). Animals are animals, and some are better at adapting than others, but they aren't our cognitive equals.
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We measure cognitive ability by our own cognitive abilities, which is our only measurement reference and therefore, construct a hierarchy with our cognitive abilities at the apex. Cognitive ability may include qualities which humans are unaware of.
Other species, such as chimpanzees, may be merely subjecting themselves to our 'training' in order to acquire skills with which to communicate with the human species and to eventually teach us their modes of communication and cognitive abilities, such as an English-speaking European living in Japan and learning Japanese culture/ language in order to communicate with those living in Japan.
Perhaps the chimpanzees realized that they were capable of leaning our modes of communication and that we did not have the ability to learn theirs. Just because Chimpanzee communication sounds like screeching to us, does not imply that it is a lesser form of communication.
What do our speech patterns and languages sound like to them?

The assumption that we are at the top of the scale of cognitive abilities is founded on a scale humans developed from observations made from a human p.o.v.
Cognitive abilities may be more extensive than we realize and we should approach the other species on this planet, not as lesser beings with lesser knowledge, rather as beings sharing this planet equally who may have alternate cognitive abilities than ours.

All species are unique in their own way. None are lesser or greater than any other.
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We are only as unique as we think ourselves to be. Well, if you look at it in another light, humans have the biggest ego out of all living creatures on this earth.
:D We do have big egos...and it's true, we base language and development according to our own constructs - which is the only measuring stick we have. I have no doubts, though, that things are done outside of our own, self-created gauges but if the topic is whether or not animals have language, then I'd say they don't (because we create language). To ask if animals can *communicate* then yes, they do. Their communication skills are limited by our own understanding but they do communicate. Sometimes they try to communicate with us, but they seem to be content with communicating with their own species.

Does that make animals less important? No, not at all. But to say animals are equal to us...well, that implies that there's a gauge to measure our equality and I don't see that gauge. Are they intelligent creatures deserving of our respect? Yes, yes, and yes. But will I eat certain ones if I need meat in my diet? Yes. Yes I will.