Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I am Special

Although we are made up of the same chemicals, with the same physiological reactions, we are very different from other animals.
-Michael Gazzaniga, Neuroscientist (2008)

That it obvious. I do look a tad different than my dog. I also can do many things he can't. I can think about him and wonder if he thinks about what I think about him. I have a Theory of Mind. Does my dog?

Several scientist/animal relationship stories (non-fiction books) have hit bookstores this year, including Wesley The Owl and Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human. These scientists go into detail to describe the beauty and complexity of the animal mind and may even be arguing that animals do have a Theory of Mind.

So what is it that truly makes us human? Is there more to our differences than meets the eye? This is a hot topic among neuroscientists, but it seems to me a futile fight. Yes, we are different than other animals. We are our own species, after all. I am unlike my dog, like I am unlike a daisy, or an eagle, or an ocean. All life matter contains carbon, so we must have much in common physiologically, even with an amoeba. I may be going a little far there, but I just don't see the point in proving humans are special. We are. But if we are special, so is every other living thing.

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