uniquely human essay

Kevin Boilard

The Human Animal

Dr. Dolby

October 9, 2009

Uniquely Human

It is no doubt that human’s have certainly set themselves apart from any other animal with the huge strides they have made over thousands of years. What they lack in size, speed, and other characteristics that help most animals survive generation after generation, they make up for in intelligence. Due to their extreme brainpower humans have become so accustomed to and adapted to their environment that they have come up with a solution to almost every problem that a normal animal would face. Because of this safety and comfort humans spend less time worrying about surviving and spend more time enjoying their life with thanks to the things that make them uniquely human.

One such example of an activity that is unique to humans would be their artistic work. People today have a tremendous appreciation for artwork and those who create art. Art is considered a way to express oneself and it is not limited to the most popular form of art, painting and drawing. Musicians, writers, poets, photographers, filmmakers, sculptors, and basically any work that someone does that is expressing themselves would be considered art. What makes art special is the fact that it has been unique to human activity since the Neanderthals drew the first cave paintings. However, just because humans may be the only animals that create art, that does not mean they are the only animals that appreciate beauty. For example peacocks have extravagant colorful tails in order to attract mates. The tail serves no other purpose other than reproductive advantages; it has no survival value and may even be detrimental to the peacock’s survival. Also, both elephants and chimpanzees have been taught to paint in captivity but it is doubtful that they are expressing themselves through the artwork.

The fact that humans are so much smarter than every other animal would be a moot point if not for man’s advances in technology and without tools that humans have created technology would not even exist. Early hominins used simple tools such as an ancient hammer like tool to break something open or a spear in order to make hunting easier. Thousands of years later humans have created the technology to harness and create artificial heat, light and innumerable other inventions that make our lives easier than they have to be. To be fair there are some species of primates that use large rocks to break open nuts to eat which is an extremely simple in comparison to what humans have created but still classifies as a tool.

Another activity that is specific to humans is drug and alcohol abuse. Humans are the only animal that uses drugs and unlike the past two activities drug and alcohol use is clearly harmful to one’s health and yet people still do it. There is no definite reason as to why humans do it but one such explanation is that humans would get natural highs from hunting and other survival activities that are no longer necessary for modern humans to take part in. In order to make up for these highs they replace it with drug use and alcohol abuse. Some animals do wait for fruit to be far passed its ripeness and as it rots and begins to ferment the animals begin to eat it. The reason this relates to human substance abuse is because the fermentation of this fruit produces alcohol and the animals become inebriated (National Geographic). Although it is doubtful that the animals do this on purpose it is the closest thing to human alcohol use.

It is no doubt that humans have set themselves apart from any other animal thanks to their extensive brainpower. They use art to express themselves and their abstract thoughts. Man has used tools to their advantage in order to further technology and make their lives easier. Humans are the only animal that use drugs and alcohol in a way that is clearly detrimental to their health. Although there are stretched examples of how other animals mirror human actions but it is clear that man is uniquely human.

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