T Nation

Are Human's Special and if so, how?


This thread is for real data, not philosophical musings, as to why humans are unique and thus deserve special, superior rights as being special above other animals. If you make a claim, you need to post a reference of some kind with it.

I am challenging this claim. My data is that non-humans have been observed to use language, express every emotion humans do, take care of other wounded animals (chimpanzee females have been observed to pick up wounded birds and hold them until they can fly again), go to war with each other, and there is nothing that I can think of that humans do that other animals don't to some degree.

I do not see this as a negative. In fact, I don't understand what the problem is with having many other kin of varying degrees than we'd previously admitted to. If anything, this knowledge should make our experience less lonely and isolated.


Your question is philosophical in nature and it warrants a philosophical response. "Special" is not a scientific term. Humans are objectively different from other animal species in innumerable ways, just as more generally all entities are different from all other entities.

But the term "special" connotes a value judgement, and objective science is usually pretty weak in the area of value judgements.


We have ginormous penies and get special props for achieving that without a penis bone.




It's quite apparent that you are an empiricist. You also make it clear that all posts in this thread should adhere to your reductionist worldview by providing "real data". smh23 is of course right in pointing out that your question is philosophical in nature. So I will give you a philosophical musing to think about.

The materialistic astronomer concluded his lecture with: "So you see that astronomically speaking, man is utterly insignificant." Kant replied: "Professor, you forgot the most important thing, man is the astronomer."


There is nothing that a sponge can do that some colonial protozoa can not, nothing that a worm can do that some cnidarian can not, nothing that a vertebrate can do that some invertebrate can not, nothing that a human can do that some other primate can not. Could we consider a human living in a world of colonial protozoa to be special?


Excellent response. While this young lady is certainly a sharp girl she fancies herself a smidgen more brilliant and profound than the evidence would allow at this point in her brief life.




Humans are special because they can give philisophical answers to philisophical questions.


My dog certainly imagines when she's hunting squirrels in her sleep.


I'm simply asking that if you muse about it, you find some connection to reality other than your own vantage point to connect us all to your idea. Otherwise, it might be impossible for me to admit you are right because I don't live in your brain.

As for those who think I think I'm smart, why do you assume that? What about me asking for evidence makes you think I think I'm smart? What a weird conclusion.

I actually think I am far less intelligent than many of those I hang around with; I would guess I have an average IQ. I think it's fun to talk about these things, which is why I do it. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

Many people on here state a conclusion as if it's fact; that doesn't mean they think they are smart. They also deny other's opinions using reasoning; once again doesn't mean they're smart.

Let's get back on topic :slightly_smiling:


She's not imagining something that is not real, or verified, at the point of imagining.


Fair enough. All I am trying to say is that if you think there is a trait that separates us from other animals, please post evidence that, in fact, other animals do not possess that trait.


See, now this is impossible to verify, and thus can be thrown up as an idea, but not a solid one.


That's not my own idea, that is the one trait that is commonly considered to be uniquely human, and in fact the one thing that made culture possible. You know, Lascaux and other cavepaintings.


Okay, let's go with this one. What about imagination would make humans superior, if it was true that they were the only species that had it? Actually, it seems to me that this could seriously set back humans, as they would envision things outside of nature and therefore fall out of balance with the world that the depend on for existence, much the way a deer population would take over an entire mountain and kill all of the plants, thus killing themselves eventually, if they could figure out a way to get around the predators.


This is a fair expectation.

I think it is because human beings ask questions. In trying to answer those questions they create philosophy and art and thus give meaning to an otherwise indifferent universe. I think that though the Earth and its bounty are beautiful and powerful they were literally nothing until Man bent down and rose with fistfuls of ochre and climbed into a still cave and painted a mural on the wall that he could neither eat nor fuck and yet he treasured it nonetheless. She dragged stones into a still field in the British Isles and arranged them in answer to some existential question that was burning inside her.

The universe is meaningless without life. All life provides at least some semblance of meaning to its environment. Water is good for the leaf, therefore the leaf gives meaning to water. Leaves are in turn good for giraffes, therefore the giraffe has given meaning to the leaf. Human beings create the most meaning of the things we know to exist in the universe--they give meaning to leaves and water but also to sunsets, abstractions (justice), even lies. That is why I think life is most valuable in human form.


Or the inhabitants of Easter Island cutting down all the trees to roll their Moai down to the coast to protect themselves from ecological disasters.




To have an imagination one must have lots of white matter in the brain and possess a language. Signals that animals use wont do, since they only tell of immidiate needs. Neanderthaleans come closest, but some argue that their ability to imagine was weaker, based on comparisons of skulls and the braincavity, I quess. And we killed them anyway, maybe, so there is no competition.