What makes us different from animals?

Your question is: What makes us humans different from animals?

To preempt those who will (correctly) point out that humans are animals, I propose a more appropriate question: What makes humans different from all other animals known to us?

The answer is, many things, far more than I can possibly hope to delineate here. We have developed immensely more varied and complex methods of communication than other animals. We have explored space, created art, literature, philosophy, science, and developed technology is so far above the primitive tool use of those few other animals known to use tools at all as to boggle the mind.

Yes, I am familiar with the writings of scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould and others who insist that differences between humans and other animals are only a "matter of degree" rather than a "matter of kind," and then somehow think they're bolstering their case by pointing out the inane fact that we share virtually all our DNA with other higher primates. Did it ever occur to them that any conceivable difference is capable of being described as only a matter of degree by linguistic gerrymandering? Snow geese fly thousands miles each year. I, on the other hand, can hop over a narrow ditch. But, hey, by Gould's reasoning, perhaps our actions differ "only" by degree rather than kind. After all, each creature's feet are removed from the surface of the earth for a period of time, just as each must eventually surrender to the effects of gravity and return to it. On the DNA question, suppose I introduced you to a someone at a cocktail party and ensured you you'd be close friends, because, after all, you share 99.9% of the same DNA? I presume you'd think I must be either joking or insane.

Perhaps I shouldn't be making a joke out of this, but actually I am making a joke out of it. It is simple and boringly obvious that humans are radically different from all other known animals. Does this mean humans are "better" (whatever that word may mean in this context) or more worthy of survival? I very much doubt it. But we are utterly unique as far as known animals go. I'm not sure what follows from this pedestrian observation, but it's foolish to deny it.


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