Monday, August 13, 2012

The Difference Between People and Animals.

This is one of those things.  The argument has been around forever and it is one of those problems that never seems to go away.  I hadn't thought about the issue for awhile until I read half an article about it in Harper's.  I would of read the other half but I was done with lunch and I REALLY wanted to play Cataclysm.  Man that game is fun.  Anyway I was thinking about it today and I figgured some things out.

First of all I think that if mankind had adopted more herbavores as pets we would seen more evidence of tool usuage a lot earlier.  I mean my bunny loved the Albertson's Brand Fruit Punch soda that was its favorite thing in the world.  One day I watched as it approched an open can.  I half expected the bunny to just knock it over and drink away.  However, I think it knew it's satisfation would be thwarted by myself.  So instead it wanted to carry it away.  It spent 5 minutes carefully bending the opening tab upwards so it could have a handle that would allow my bunny to carry the can away.  It would of worked too but the bunny misjudged the weight of the can, tripped over it, and then it scampered off trying to hide.  We don't think of bunnies as tool users but there you have it.  My bunny carefully and deliberatly made a handle for itself so it could carry something away that it ordinarily had no way of lifting.  I loved that bunny.

Whatever distinction we tried to come up with between man and animals hasn't worked.  It isn't going to work.  Animals just do lots of the basic things we do.  Part of the problem with this debate is that it is rooted in dualism.  Dualism almost never works when complextity is added to the situation.  Dualism started with the distinction between the mind and the body but you see it everywhere.  I think there is something in man's nature to carefully compare two things to see differences and similarities.  Whatever, while it is a handy illustrative tool it has little to do with actual reality.  Ergo the prime differences between man and animal isn't that we talk and they don't or we use tools and they don't but rather the degree and ability to which we can do these things. 

We can teach a monkey sign language, we suspect that dolphins have a complex form of communication, we've seen pack animals communicate but nothing approaches what I am doing now.  Or even youtube comments as pathetic as they are.  That doesn't mean that animals don't do it it is just that we do it more.

The same goes for tool usages, the way we deal with bordom, our relationship with instincts and all sorts of other things.

Animals also have both emotions and personalities and I believe that these are very close to our own.  I don't think we loose anything from this line of reasoning and it is a lot more productive than standing around with your arms crossed shouting "monkies don't speak" when the can. 

This is such a simple idea and it is sad that I've never seen it before.

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