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Passions in Poetry

Are Humans Animals?

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Bob K
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25 posted 02-17-2008 05:12 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Essorant,

     I am not sure if the "we" in your first sentence, Essorant, means those Folk who talk here or Homo Sapiens and other branches of the animal kingdom.  If it is amongst our human selves, we differ, how and what are the "harsh" differences?  I'm unclear.  And are you saying that we are acknowledging a common bond, we humans, in our views about animals?  Or that we humans are acknowledging, commonly, a bond with animals that we have (somehow) decided are different than we are?  Perhaps less tasty, or more so?  Or that, somehow, we and the animals have reached an accommodation?  

     The entire structure of this sentence leaves me puzzled.  I think you may be saying something I could agree with, but I can't tell for sure.

     As for man and other creatures being sharply different from each other, I would have to ask, Compared to what?
Compared to things that aren't in many cases 98 and 99% genetically identical?  The word "sharply" may be good rhetoric, but may not quite pull its weight otherwise.  In the same way, man does not "surpass" other beings in uniqueness.  You have set up an arbitrary scalar model for comparison.  To say any single being can be measured for uniqueness doesn't fit such a model; it's simply more anthropocentrism.  I see no real distinctions to be made here.

     The question, "Are Humans Animals?" seems to me to be difficult because of how we think of animals and how we feel entitled to treat them.  Thus far we have managed to distance ourselves enough from Animals to convince ourselves that our treatment of them is not an extension of an essentially suicidal agenda for ourselves and our kids.  All my best, BobK.
Essorant
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26 posted 02-17-2008 09:14 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Bob,

I was talking about "we" in the thread, that seemed to agree for the most part that humans are animals.

The common bond I meant is being part of a family in which we are related to the other animals.

The "sharply" different is in our art, civilization, and the extent to which we use language and symbolic behaviour, which completely surpass the other animals.  Did you ever see any of the other animals create Romes?  Any of the other animals writing poetry or drawing pictures, or practicing religion, or cataloguing special events of their lives?  How about wearing jewellry or dressing in clothes made by their own hands or by a machine they made?  

Being a human naturally makes us human-centric to some extent, but that doesn't mean we can't clearly see the evidences and truth in a comparison between humans and animals.  I am willing to say humans are animals and are related to other animals, but I am also willing to acknowledge how much they stand out from other animals in a way that no other animals do.  

Huan Yi
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27 posted 02-17-2008 01:14 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


"Are Animals Humans?"


.
Essorant
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28 posted 02-17-2008 05:20 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Huan Yi

Yes.  Animals in that particular shape we call "humans", are indeed humans.  
Bob K
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29 posted 02-19-2008 11:13 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

  


Dear Essorant,

          As always, thoughtful; and thank you for that.  It's always a pleasure to talk with somebody who doesn't simply react reflexively.

     I believe we are all animals in this together.  You believe we're part of the family.  To my mind that's close enough to establish a large area of agreement.  We do have and use art, language and symbolic behavior.  The degree to which we are civilized is open to interpretation.  I believe we have always been too free in granting ourselves slack in that area, when the evidence to the contrary is ignored like an elephant in a phone booth.

     I would probably agree with you about the nature of art, except I don't know enough about the possibility of aesthetics in non-human animals.  What is the role of aesthetic in the success of a bird call, for example. and how would you define that?  There are male birds who build nests out of gewgaws who offer them for the judgement of the females; is art and aesthetics of value here?  How would one tell?  The question is at least open to some interesting discussion.

     Language becomes a like problem.  Ants building a tunnel from two ends have been observed meeting in the middle.  There is some sort of communication here that must be evaluated and acted upon, even when the ants are several inches apart.  Is there some sort of "language" or proto-language at use here?  Seems unlikely, but it is certainly a possibility.  How do birds know when to turn en masse when in a flock more swiftly than line of sight and neural reaction time would allow them to do so?  The same question applies with schooling behavior in fish.

     Symbolic behavior, such as sign language, has been learned by chimps, who can understand it and communicate  with it, and who will teach to to their kids.
I don't know that we understand the nuances of other animal communication well enough to know if there's symbolic behavior involved or not at some points along the spectrum.  It is comfortable to assume there is not for us.  It was also comfortable for us to assume that the retarded did not feel pain for many years.  I worked for a year in a residential school and saw the results of that particular change in understanding.

     I have never seen a Rome created by an animal.  On the other hand, I have seen organizations as large an complex
in the form of ant colonies, coral reefs and such.  Cities are a recent invention, I should remind you, in human history, perhaps 10,000 years old.  Before that, for the majority of our time on earth, we were hunter-gatherers, and we ourselves are but poorly suited for city life and the adaptations it forces on us.  A reef, a flock, a hive or a school is much better run as an organization.  It doesn't require all the slaves that Rome did.

quote:
Essorant:
    [Did you ever see]... Any of the other animals writing poetry or drawing pictures, or practicing religion, or cataloguing special events of their lives?  How about wearing jewelry or dressing in clothes made by their own hands or by a machine they made?  


     As for clothes and jewels or hands or machines, Nope, I never did, though I did mention the birds who loved there gewgaws.  On the other hand, it's not clear they actually needed any of these things either.  I'm not terribly good at living in boiling water with loads of sulphuric acid in it, myself.  Nor am I happy at swimming around 12,000 feet underwater, looking for tasty squid or zooplankton.  I personally don't see much call for that sort of thing.  It's not in my job description.  With the amount of fat I've got on me, you'd think I wouldn't need any clothes, either, but my wife tells me otherwise.  Party-pooper.

     As for pictures, poems and calenders, not to mention religion, I simply don't know.  Many of them seem to manage complex migration cycles fairly well.  My father-in-law, who lives in Buffalo, has never been able to get to Miami for the winter, or to California.  If you mean drawing and writing, I'd have to agree with you.  I don't think Homer could write, nor could the Beowulf poet.  We have no idea what those whales and dolphins are saying to each other now, do we?  Though frankly, I think my point there is awfully weak.  I'll have to think more on it.

     The point of all this is, that you're holding up human beings as a yardstick.  Now I'm a human being, and I happen to like being the yardstick.  But looking back on everything so far, while that positions done us a got of good as a species, it's also gotten us in a lot of trouble.  I mean A LOT of trouble.  I happen to admire the ecological model of biology, the web of life, of which humanity is a part, and every time our mistreatment of other species knocks one off, we've cut another strand in the web that supports us.  

     So, are humans animals?  You bet we are.  We can't afford not to be.  Our species is on the line if we don't acknowledge it and act accordingly.
Stephanos
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30 posted 02-19-2008 05:24 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I think ecological responsibility is only maintained in the awareness that we are more than mere animals, since there is no evidence in animals of moral critique of their own behaviors.  There are no prairie-dog councils about the ecological effects of excessive hole-digging.  And lemmings do not question the value of self-induced genocide.

Of course, one may also say that this is partly due to their comparatively benign habits, being unable to produce and consume fossil fuels, or harness nuclear energy, or manufacture plastics and a plethora of harmful substances.  But then again, that is also proof (to me) of the gulf between humankind and animalkind ... We are godlike in our destructions as well as our ingenuities.  Animals also have their wonders, and I don't mean to belittle them ... It's just that the ability to wonder is perhaps the greatest wonder of all, and I think (for all practical purposes) that is the jurisdiction of man.


Stephen
Huan Yi
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31 posted 02-19-2008 05:38 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/592352.stm


.
Stephanos
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32 posted 02-20-2008 01:28 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John, what do you think the significance to your link is, in reference to the present conversation.  Help me out.


Stephen.
Essorant
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33 posted 02-20-2008 02:11 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"in the awareness that we are more than mere animals"


That is because not being merely an animal is merely part of being an animal, Stephanos.

No animal is just an animal, and that is why no animal is officially called only "animal".

A dog is more than just an animal, he is a dog, and even as a dog, he is more than just a dog, he is a kind of dog, and a dog with special looks, special personality, a special name, etc. It would be just as incorrect to call it just "animal" or "dog", as it would be to call a human only "animal" or "human".



TomMark
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34 posted 02-20-2008 03:25 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

quote:
A dog is more than just an animal, he is a dog, and even as a dog, he is more than just a dog, he is a kind of dog, and a dog with special looks, special personality, a special name, etc. It would be just as incorrect to call it just "animal" or "dog",

?
A dog=animal+dog
A dog=dog+C+D+E+F+H (anything but human)
so animal+dog=dog+C+D+E+F+H
Animal=C+D+E+F+H
so animal is not human.
Huan Yi
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35 posted 02-20-2008 04:11 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


There is a constant attempt to draw some sort
of equivalence which I think is a function of
the safe distance from other species.  People
in Africa know that given a chance an animal
will kill you. In the West where apart from
house pets we have little inter-action we
romanticize everything from lions, tigers,
and bears to killer whales.

To me there's not one other species
on the planet worth the life of a single
human child.


.
Stephanos
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36 posted 02-20-2008 10:31 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant
quote:
No animal is just an animal, and that is why no animal is officially called only "animal".


Essorant, I am referring to what separates humanity from ALL of the rest of the animals.  If you don't want to make that distinction, that's fine, though I think you're refusing to see something.  The Imago Dei was not given to animals, as stately and wonderous as they are.  Animals have never ventured into the realms of art, religion, philosophy, self reflection, or anything of that sort.  That is simply fact.  You may call it an insignificant fact, but it is striking to me.  

You seem to think that "mere" must mean to degrade.  But it does not.  "This is a mere diamond, I cannot cook with it, because it is not a pot." is a perfectly sensible statement.  And though I AM making a hierarchical statement in saying that humankind is no "mere animal", it is not meant in the fashion that you seem to be taking it.

For you Ess, what would make it okay to sell a cow in a meat market, but not a young lad?  What is the divide for you, and why?


BTW, John, I agree with you, in your valuation.

Stephen
Bob K
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37 posted 02-21-2008 03:47 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

    

Dear Stephanos,

           I've had the conversation with you about your use of the word "mere" as well.  Despite your well reasoned explanations—and you are most always well reasoned—you may perhaps have somehow freighted to your use of the word with an unintended condescension.   The word does carry that meaning with it, and as one of the preferred options.  Your presentation of the use of "mere" is for a fairly specialized use of the word by fairly educated folk; in general usage, the word is used in a dismissive sense.  Your examples tend toward the fastidious.  To my ear.

     Huan Yi is, I believe, accurate in his first paragraph.  The second paragraph does not follow from the first, though it sounds as though it should.  And it provides a lot of problems in its reasoning.  Take zoo-plankton, for example; no zoo-plankton, in all probability no human kids at all for lack of sufficient oxygen levels.  Nor do I see very much effort being put into the preservation of human life in this society other than that of the folks who don't have it yet.

     If the question were, instead, not trading entire species of animals for single children, a very comfortable because entirely theoretical statement calling for no personal effort, what if the question were trading the education, health,welfare of all and the lives of a substantial number of the children in the world in return for 20% of Huan Yi's annual income.  That is a bargain we could very likely pull off.

     Or, what if we made the bargain Huan Yi was proposing more realistic and ask instead that we treat ourselves and our world with the same respect that we'd give a decent car.  Why not think about giving ourselves a tune-up?  What's the best level of everything that the planet can carry.  We can stack it toward the humans if we want, we're doing the counting after all.  Simply let's find the level that let's the kids grow up healthy and have their kids healthy.  If we want to expand our population, we'll need to figure out what to do with them now.

     Let's not go around holding kids hostage for species of animals or the other way around.  From baseball we've learned there all all sorts of things you can do between a strike out and an all bases loaded home run.  Why is it that we pretend that in problem solving there are only two answers?  Give me that species, Staphanos, for me to turn into mulch or I'll shoot this kid!  Did I mention how small and helpless he is?  And that the species is MAN EATING CROCKS that probably enjoys kids anyway, just for the fun of it?  And that they make good looking belts and that they taste just like chicken.

     But now I'm just getting silly.

     The Crocks would probably buy kiddy filets, though, and not think twice about it.  I mean protein's protein.
Soylant Green Kiddy Crunch, we could market it as a breakfast cereal—Now in Extra Crispy.  No No Bob; this time you've gone too far.  Too far I tell you.

My best to all, BobK.
Ron
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38 posted 02-21-2008 07:58 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Animals have never ventured into the realms of art, religion, philosophy, self reflection, or anything of that sort.  That is simply fact.

Sorry, Stephen, that's not fact but, at best, conjecture and, at worst, assumption. Until and unless we can communicate with the higher order animals, we can't know anything of the sort. It's probably a good guess, I'll grant you, but it's still a guess.

BTW, every dog I've ever had in my life was devoutly religious. Each of them worshipped me.
TomMark
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39 posted 02-21-2008 10:07 AM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

By creation, animal and human are different. Animal belongs to the lower class. Human is the manager.

By evolution. From non-biological /biological
plant/animal  animal/human are different in quality. And human is still the higher class.

If we can not put ourselves  up into space to become God, why shall we lower ourselves  to lower level?     

quote:
Until and unless we can communicate with the higher order animals, we can't know anything of the sort.

Why? whatever they have if they have any is at their animal level. Elephant paints; Parrot talks; monkey does tricks and dog worships, all at their lower animal level. Can elephant design a website? Can parrot give a lecture? Has ever monkey work like a magician?  Dog could worship any edible      

quote:
every dog I've ever had in my life was devoutly religious. Each of them worshipped me.

What have they done to you!!!!

[This message has been edited by TomMark (02-21-2008 11:56 AM).]

Stephanos
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40 posted 02-21-2008 10:25 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron:
quote:
Sorry, Stephen, that's not fact but, at best, conjecture and, at worst, assumption. Until and unless we can communicate with the higher order animals, we can't know anything of the sort. It's probably a good guess, I'll grant you, but it's still a guess.


And yet it is as good a guess as any we make.  Ventures into such realms (by animals) would yield some sort of evidence or artifact don't you think?  It least what we see lines up with my conviction that people have a divinely ordained distinction from the animal world.  The rest is all conjecture.

Ron, I would argue from a catish standpoint ... As my cat is like a Roman ruler of old, who demands sacrifice.

And Bob,

I never denied that my use of "mere" involved an expression of hierarchy.  I'm only insisting it is not to degrade.  It's simply that when I use such terminology, no one argues against the idea I speak of, but rather chides me for insulting animals (or something like that).       But the fact is, as long as eating at Chik-fil-a is even halfway acceptable by you, the hierarchy exists for you as well.


Stephen    
Bob K
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41 posted 02-22-2008 03:40 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Stephanos:
quote:
I never denied that my use of "mere" involved an expression of hierarchy.  I'm only insisting it is not to degrade.It's simply that when I use such terminology, no one argues against the idea I speak of, but rather chides me for insulting animals (or something like that).


     This is a distinction I would suggest is beyond the range of most of us.  At best, you'd want to make it to somebody who considered themselves thoughtful.  I spent most of my adult life working with crazy folks or relatives of crazy folks who didn't have time for such.  Last time I tried to make a distinction like that got me, quite literally, a sore jaw.  It didn't matter very much what sort of baseball it was I thought I threw, they reacted to what it was they thought they were catching; and it wasn't a baseball.

     There may be reasons that you are not being chided for the ideas that you are defending.  An attack upon the subject—it would be ad hominem were it a person the attack were directed against—changes focus rather abruptly from the original discussion.  The fact the the discussion has now taken a new direction does not mean that you have been correct in your prior reasoning.  You may have been, you may not have been: That discussion has been derailed.  An assumption of victory is impossible to justify, even if it might be correct in the long run, because the discussion has been sabotaged.  It has not been resolved.  The discussion has instead been disrupted and the point has been lost.

Stephanos:
quote:
  But the fact is, as long as eating at Chik-fil-a is even halfway acceptable by you, the hierarchy exists for you as well.


     I don't know.  I've been fighting with myself about my diet for 30 years.  I try to stay away from red meat; mostly I do.  Mostly I avoid chicken and fish, though I'm not very good at it.  Cheese and carbohydrates and a few vegetables and as many of the basic desert groups as I can find.  A pound of beef equals 12 pounds of vegetables and grain.  A pound of pork, about three or four.  I'm not sure about chicken.  But if I'm eating the beef, then I may be taking away somebody else's subsistence vegetables.
This doesn't mean I don't do it sometimes, but it does mean I do it a lot less than I used to.

     I don't think this means that I think of animals as "mere" things to be disposed of at my whim.  I think this means I'm an idiot who can't get his behavior in line with his values as much as he wants to.  I think this means that I've failed in some fairly basic ways.

     I don't know what Chik-fil-a is.  Probably some fast food chicken place.  I don't go to them, but that confers nothing on me.  If you go to them, good luck to you.
But I think what we do to animals is not so good.  I think so because I studied biology from the ecological perspective in high school way back in the early sixties.  It became very clear to me that anything you do to the ecological web is something you do to yourself.  It's not all that different that the Do Unto Others theme that runs through world religions.

     Somehow people stop thinking about this when it comes to the earth and to animals, but we depend on each other to survive.
Stephanos
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42 posted 02-22-2008 08:36 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

BobK:
quote:
This is a distinction I would suggest is beyond the range of most of us.  At best, you'd want to make it to somebody who considered themselves thoughtful.


And I was quite sure I had.    

quote:
Me: It's simply that when I use such terminology, no one argues against the idea I speak of, but rather chides me for insulting animals (or something like that)


Bob:  There may be reasons that you are not being chided for the ideas that you are defending.  An attack upon the subject—it would be ad hominem were it a person the attack were directed against—changes focus rather abruptly from the original discussion.



Bob, if you'll read carefully, I wrote that no one was arguing against my point, not that no one was chiding.  Rather than hearing in return a defense or explanation of human/animal egalitarianism, I have only gotten something that amounts to "you shouldn't talk bad about animals", which seems to be quite a misunderstanding of my position here.

I'm not sure I agree about your assessment of the original discussion.  "Are Humans Animals" is a direct question of whether humans can justify any hierarchical view pertaining to themselves and the animal kingdom.  So, while it may not be the only thing interesting to talk about in that question, it is surly not veering from it.  


quote:
The fact the the discussion has now taken a new direction does not mean that you have been correct in your prior reasoning.  You may have been, you may not have been: That discussion has been derailed.  An assumption of victory is impossible to justify, even if it might be correct in the long run, because the discussion has been sabotaged.


I'm not sure where you're going here.  I wasn't declaring "victory", as if my goal were to "win" rather than to express.  My only statement was that my points have yet to be countered, or seriously engaged.    


quote:
I don't know.  I've been fighting with myself about my diet for 30 years.  I try to stay away from red meat; mostly I do.  Mostly I avoid chicken and fish, though I'm not very good at it.  Cheese and carbohydrates and a few vegetables and as many of the basic desert groups as I can find.  A pound of beef equals 12 pounds of vegetables and grain.  A pound of pork, about three or four.  I'm not sure about chicken ...

     I don't think this means that I think of animals as "mere" things to be disposed of at my whim.


Did I ever say so?  

What I said is that a hierarchy exists for you also, as evidenced by the fact that you do not consider killing and eating animals a mortal sin ... at least not at all in the same way you would consider me purely wicked if I went out and killed an 8 year old boy simply for my culinary pleasure.  


quote:
I think this means I'm an idiot who can't get his behavior in line with his values as much as he wants to.  I think this means that I've failed in some fairly basic ways.


Oh I don't think you're an idiot.  I personally feel that you shouldn't feel guilty for eating animals, since it is God's provision, and has been sanctified for the human conscience by his word.  That doesn't mean to be careless or to lose a respect for animals.  But it does mean that Animals are not so soulish (or human), as to present a moral horror at their simple killing and eating.  I personally think you can still thank God for a meal, when it includes meat.  


If people feel otherwise, and want to be Vegan then I respect that.  I'll just never believe it is the moral equivalent of killing a person for a good dinner.


But that really brings me again to my point, if one really wants to argue the egalitarianism of animals and humans, then he should view murder and hunting as no different ... and be consistent with that view.  If you really feel that way, I wouldn't hang around me if I were you.  I would be bad company indeed ... Though I did eat a meatless pizza tonight.  Maybe my wife is forcing me to reform from my twisted carnivorous life.    

quote:
It became very clear to me that anything you do to the ecological web is something you do to yourself.


Actually experts agree that often hunting is good for the ecology.  It is actually a tool for wildlife management in many areas of the U.S.
  

Just some "food" for thought.

Stephen
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43 posted 02-23-2008 04:46 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,


Essorant, I am referring to what separates humanity from ALL of the rest of the animals.  If you don't want to make that distinction, that's fine, though I think you're refusing to see something.  The Imago Dei was not given to animals, as stately and wonderous as they are.  Animals have never ventured into the realms of art, religion, philosophy, self reflection, or anything of that sort.  That is simply fact.  You may call it an insignificant fact, but it is striking to me.  



Remember I said that I want to make the distinction that man surpasses other animals in certain respects, because I believe that to be a true distinction.  Man is the craftiest of all creatures.  Craftiness is his key.  

But my problem is only where you say such a thing seperates us from animals.  As if the head needs to be seperate from the body to be a surpassing part of the body.  As if it floats above the body without a neck attaching it to the less intelligent parts of the body.  Certainly you should see the problem with that Stephanos.

I believe Man is surpassing among animals, but not that he is seperate and not one of them.  Not just  because the evolutionary chain of life on earth fastens him to and from the animal kingdom, but because the unity of the whole Universe binds all things.

Why can't you accept that extremely different things can still be united and related?  



For you Ess, what would make it okay to sell a cow in a meat market, but not a young lad?  What is the divide for you, and why?


That is because humans are the kind of animal we are.  Humans are most important to humans,  therefore we preserve and protect us foremost.   But we are also omnivores and therefore it is evolved that we live off other animals as well.   That doesn't make preying on certain other animals a pleasant thing, it just makes it understandable and somewhat justifiable.


Grinch
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44 posted 02-23-2008 07:38 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I think animals could be just as easily classed as  more than mere humans, after all you can load the criteria for hierarchical placement in numerous ways to put one above the other.

Blue whales might not paint many works of art but they can hold their breath a darn sight longer than Picasso, Rembrandt and Van Gogh put together.

Then again the whole question of hierarchy is a deviation from the original topic and doesn’t  prove that humans aren’t animals, at best it only suggests reasons why humans are better in some respects than their animal cousins.

Is a tiger and animal? - Yes.

Does claiming it isn’t because it’s higher up some hypothetical hierarchical ladder than a snail sound like a reasonable argument?

Humans are animals, they might be better in some respects than other animals but they’re still animals.

Stephanos
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45 posted 02-23-2008 11:10 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
But my problem is only where you say such a thing seperates us from animals.  As if the head needs to be seperate from the body to be a surpassing part of the body.  As if it floats above the body without a neck attaching it to the less intelligent parts of the body.  Certainly you should see the problem with that Stephanos.


But Essorant, a head IS separate (by way of distinction, or distinguishment) from the rest of the body, in more ways than one.  For one it is only the "head" that has the unique ability to think and direct and perceive all the other parts.  By "separation" I never meant total independence, or abandonment, or whatever else you think I mean.  To be "set apart" does not always have to be taken in a negative sense.  


quote:
I believe Man is surpassing among animals, but not that he is seperate and not one of them.


I never exactly said that "he is not one of them", only that "he is more than them all".  Or ... that he is different from all of them in a superlative way in which none of them are different from one another.  It's as if I were arguing that the cube is greater than two-dimensional shapes, and you responded by pointing out the differences between flat shapes.  The cube is different in a totally different way than all the shapes differ from each other.  Or If I argued that a C major chord was greater than all the notes of the scale, your pointing out that notes of the scale differ in pitch from each other would be to miss the drama and new complexity of harmony.  Those are only analogies, but something like that is afoot when it comes to humanity, and all of the other animals.

quote:
Not just  because the evolutionary chain of life on earth fastens him to and from the animal kingdom


Not to raise up the evolution debate again, but this is granting the theory of common ancestry which I find to be doubtful.  But I am quite sure that we are united with the animals by way of design and kinship of our common author.  So either way, your point is taken.  I am not denying kinship, or even a kind of community.  


quote:
... but because the unity of the whole Universe binds all things.

Why can't you accept that extremely different things can still be united and related?


I do think they are united and related.  If you think I believe otherwise, you've misunderstood me.

quote:
That is because humans are the kind of animal we are.  Humans are most important to humans


But if you really believe a human being to be nothing more than another animal (and before you object to my saying 'nothing more', remember that you do eat the other kinds), this is quite arbitrary.  And either the moral horror that comes to mind when someone kills another person (for sport or for lunch) is fustian imagination, or our relative peace with killing and eating other animals is really reprehensible and atrocious.  


quote:
But we are also omnivores and therefore it is evolved that we live off other animals as well.   That doesn't make preying on certain other animals a pleasant thing, it just makes it understandable and somewhat justifiable.


Again, I doubt the evolutionary assumption, but I'll go with it for the sake of argument.  May not the 'other animals' that we were evolutionarily conditioned to live off of, include humans sometimes?  Why wouldn't this also be "understandable and somewhat justifiable"?  


And remember that your use of "not pleasant" lands you into the arena of subjective taste and preference, not right and wrong.  Why would the killing and eating of a fellow human be so radically different than a simple disagreement of druthers, in your mind?

Grinch:
quote:
I think animals could be just as easily classed as  more than mere humans, after all you can load the criteria for hierarchical placement in numerous ways to put one above the other.


I wonder if you see the irony that YOU are the only one out of them all that can load the criteria.  

quote:
Blue whales might not paint many works of art but they can hold their breath a darn sight longer than Picasso, Rembrandt and Van Gogh put together.


Well, the advent of the airplane and the submarine, also illustrates a power of imitation and compensation which no other animal even touches.  We don't have to be born as whales and birds, we become them through creative processes.  

quote:
Does claiming it isn’t because it’s higher up some hypothetical hierarchical ladder than a snail sound like a reasonable argument?

Humans are animals, they might be better in some respects than other animals but they’re still animals.


You're right.  A cube is technically still a two dimensional square ... At least it contains that much geometrically and ontologically, though it is a great deal more.  Humans are, in that sense, animals.  


As always, interesting interchange,

Stephen
      
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46 posted 02-24-2008 02:36 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Who built that 747
I see flying across the sky?


.
Grinch
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47 posted 02-24-2008 06:23 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
I wonder if you see the irony that YOU are the only one out of them all that can load the criteria.


I’m not sure we are the only ones Stephen but even if we are the ability to recognise the possible criteria to judge hierarchy is still only one of the possible criteria available.

quote:
We don't have to be born as whales and birds, we become them through creative processes.


You’re confusing the ability “Use of tools” with the ability “Flying” and “Holding your breath underwater” , they are different categories - separate criteria. Humans can mimic natural flight using tools (planes etc) but do not posses a natural capacity to fly.

Don’t believe me?

How tall is a termite Stephen? Is a termite seven foot tall if it lives at the top of a seven foot termite mound?


[This message has been edited by Grinch (02-24-2008 10:56 AM).]

Essorant
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48 posted 02-24-2008 01:07 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos

quote:
But Essorant, a head IS separate (by way of distinction, or distinguishment) from the rest of the body, in more ways than one.  For one it is only the "head" that has the unique ability to think and direct and perceive all the other parts.  By "separation" I never meant total independence, or abandonment, or whatever else you think I mean.  To be "set apart" does not always have to be taken in a negative sense.  


  
That confirms my point Stephanos.  Even though you use the word seperate, there is no true seperation. There are just extreme differences and distinctions.  I do think the word "seperate" is used more to imply a very harsh or negative difference or distinction.  For example we wouldn't refer to a man's head as being still attached by a greater unity, after he is beheaded.  The incorrectness of "seperate" to the universe, is appropriate for the local extremity of a physical difference. But here in my cold philosophical perspective, I look at things from the unity which still binds all things, and will say that the difference between life and death, is still not a seperation, but just an extreme difference.  We die because we change or are changed so much, not because we become seperated from life.  Without the "dead" universe that makes up the majority of the universe, this little speck of life could never come about.  We are more dependant on dead things for life, than we are on living things.  The "dead" atmosphere itself is what allows for any of these things even to begin to begin any of the earliest and crudest forms of life, let alone civilization.  There is no life and conciousness if the "dead" and "thoughtless" atmosphere is no longer accomodating.   All this is to say, even though you argue that different living things are seperate, I will argue even beyond that and say that even the living and unliving are not seperate.


quote:
I never exactly said that "he is not one of them", only that "he is more than them all".  Or ... that he is different from all of them in a superlative way in which none of them are different from one another.



It may be true that humans do some better things than animals.  But it is true also that certain humans do better things than certain other humans.  Do you think those humans are then superior as beings because they do better things?  Chaucer is a better human because he wrote better poems?  The Pope is a better human because he follows his religion better?  The president is a better human being than all of us because he is better at running the country?  

quote:
May not the 'other animals' that we were evolutionarily conditioned to live off of, include humans sometimes?  Why wouldn't this also be "understandable and somewhat justifiable"?


Because our instincts generally urge us to preserve ourselves foremost, and therefore our civilization does too. Our instincts and civilization together establish an organization that tries its hardest to preserve and protect ourselves foremost.  We try to preserve humans most because we are humans and therefore we are more important to ourselves than any other animal.  We also try to preserve other animals to a great extent, but still a lesser extent, only because they are less important to us.

It makes sense to say that humans are most important to humans.  But it doesn't make sense to say humans are most important to the animal kingdom or to the world.  Especially when if the humans were erased, the rest of the animalkingdom and the world would not only continue well enough, but in many ways be healthier and saved from many hazards that come with the civilizations of humans.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-24-2008 11:21 PM).]

TomMark
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49 posted 02-24-2008 02:52 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

quote:
There are just extreme differences and distinctions

How significant this sentence is. In reality we  do not call ourselves dirt just because we have the same element. We don't call ourselves trees because we all grow upward or if we crawl we don't call ourselves ground cover. We don't call ourselves monkeys when we love fruits and we don't call ourselves crocodile when we are cold blooded. In reality we tell one thing form another by grouping or categorizing them, for a purpose of saying we have extreme differences.

I believe creation which does not give a confusion of animal and human.
If evolutionary view of the biological world, consider that human being are animals because human being were in the biological evolution chain. Do you think that All animals were still evolve including humans? But do you think that right start from using tools, human have stopped a lot of evolution process?

Some people might think that some part of whale were better than us. So some of us might just get evolve to have whale's lungs and that blowing hole. But many, because of the submarine, has lost the drive of longing for a better lung. same as wings.

We group our surroundings is not only because we need to tell one from another but for the priority things. When an eagle is a attacking your chicks, a wolf seducing your pigs, a tiger shines her staring eyes on human children, we have the immediate judgment on what we should do.

 
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