Monday, November 19, 2007

We Are Animals

The most important fact to remember is that we are animals. Everything we do is governed by this. Everything we are. And as much as we try to believe otherwise, this fact will always haunt us.
Being animals, much of what we do is based on instincts and reactions. We live by emotions, and often we don't think about what it is we're doing. And so, to understand human behavior we need to understand animal behavior.
Perhaps the first thing we must consider is just what it is which distinguishes us from all other animals. We may believe it to be our ability to communicate. But all animals communicate in one form or another. We may consider it to be out ability to use tools. Yet, many animals, especially primates, use tools to obtain food or for protection. I would suggest that the deciding difference is our ability to ask questions: to behave based on reason rather than instinct -- we have "eaten of the tree of knowledge", so to speak.
And so our dilemma becomes more complicated. For we are torn between our thoughts and our emotions. We aspire to leave our animal heritage behind us, and to be rational creatures. Yet this evolutionary baggage is still within each of us.

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