The creating animal (5/4)

Congratulations! If you are reading this, than you were born a Homo sapien, which, for all intents and purposes, puts you at the top of the food chain. Yeah for winning the reincarnation lottery ticket. You must have been a very nice fruit bat. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. More on that later.

First off, humans are generally acknowledged to be unique. What makes us unique, however, is still up for debate. Throughout the course of this class we have been presented with various postulates about the defining feature of humanity. Paleontologists have said walking on two feet; Wrangham said that it was cooking. And still other said that our defining feature is our ability to self-create (even if it has only occurred accidentally thus far). The latter seems to me to be closest to the truth. However, it seems like it is not only our inclination to self-create but our creative nature as a whole that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. It would be appropriate to call humans the creating animals.

Every other animal in the world that has been documented by humans so far has the innate ability to protect themselves. They have hard shells, exoskeletons, sheer mass, fangs, claws, venom, intense night vision, etc. Either that or they live fairly removed from predators (groundhogs, meerkats, etc.). Humans, on the other hand, have none of these things. We are, physically speaking, practically defenseless. Yes, we are exemplary long distant runners. Yes, we have exceedingly dexterous thumbs. But in comparison to the sheer mass of a whale, the brute strength of a bear, or the hard shell of the turtle, we’ve got nothing. Despite this disadvantage, humans have survived for almost 150,000 years now and are often considered the “ultimate predator”. This is only because humans have technology to make up for their physical shortcomings. They create weapons and clothing to emulate a giant fang or a fur coat. Essentially, a new body part. No other animal does this to the point where they are fully dependent on their technologies for basic survival nor on the massive scale on which humans do. This is simply because no other animal has to. They can survive completely without the assistance of artificial body parts. Humans cannot.

Humans, as a whole, have a desire to create. Whether it be a machine or a painting, a novel or a t-shirt. This is an innate desire that is not a learned behavior. As soon as children learn  basic motor function, they began to create. Mud pies, finger paintings, we do not normally think of these things as great creations, but they set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. No other animal creates from such an early age. Gorillas and seals have been taught to paint in zoos, but they do not do this of their own volition. They were taught by humans to paint. It is not their invention. I also sincerely doubt that they find their artwork to be emotionally fulfilling. This is not the case with humans. Humans will spend years, decades, their entire lifetime if necessary to reach what they consider to be perfection in a piece of artwork. There are very strong emotional ties between the artist and the artwork, between the creator and the creation. This is something completely unique to humans. You will not find another animal in the world that is as artistically inclined as humans. Humans are the creating animal.

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One Response to The creating animal (5/4)

  1. William Popov says:

    A very interesting viewpoint Kasey. I agree wholeheartedly.

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