Monday, May 09, 2005

Humans and other creatures

UPDATED
What is the difference between humans and other creatures? Anyone has thoughts about this? I'm interested in how different people draw the difference and think about this. How are humans different from other Earthly creatures? Do you have an answer? Don't expect any from me.

UPDATE:

I've compiled the answers that people provided below. I was thinking of saying what I think of each answer, but I'll pass on that. I'll provide someone else's answer however.

So the reason I brought this question up, is I was thinking of Ali Izetbegovic's answer. The one he provides in his book, Islam Between East and West. He provides and answer which I like, so here's an excerpt:
Generally speaking, there is nothing in man that does not also exist in higher stages of animals, vertebrates, and insects. There is the desire to satisfy needs and join in societies, and some form of economy. Looking from this side, man may appear to have some thing in common with the animal world(11). However, there is nothing in the animal kingdom which resembles -- even in a rudimentary form -- religion, magic, drama, taboo, art, moral prohibitions, and so forth, with which the life of prehistoric as well as civilized man is surrounded. The evolution of animals may appear to be logical, gradual, and easily understood, compared to the evolution of primitive man, who is possessed by strange taboos and beliefs. When an animal goes hunting, it behaves very logically and rationally. No animal will let an opportunity pass. There is no superstition or the like here. Bees treat their useless members in a most cruel way: they are simply thrown out of the beehive. Bees are the best example of a well-organized social life which completely lacks what we usually call humanism: protection of the weak and disabled, the right to life, appreciation, recognition, and so forth.

For animals, things are what they seem to be. For man, things have also an imaginary meaning which is sometimes more important for him than the real one. It is easy to understand the logic of an animal struggling to survive. [...]

As such, the animal was an excellent hunter. Primitive man was the same, but he was at the same time the tireless creator and "producer" of cults, myths, superstitions, dances, and idols. Man always looked for another world -- authentic or imaginary. This is not a difference in developmental stages but in essence.

--
(11) In a very revealing passage (6:38), the Qur'an talks about the animal creations in terms of communities with a plan: "All of the animals walking on the earth, and the beings flying with their wings, are communities like you."
On describing Humanism, Begovic says later in the same chapter:
Humanism is not charity, forgiveness, and tolerance, although that is the necessary result of it. Humanism is primarily the affirmation of man and his freedom, namely, of his value as a man.

Everything that debases man's personality, that brings him down to a thing, is inhuman. For instance, it is human to state that man is responsible for his deeds and to punish him. It is not human to ask him to regret, to change his mind, to "improve", and to be pardoned. It is more human to prosecute a man for his beliefs than to force him to renouce them, [...]

To reduce a man to the function of a producer and a consumer, even if every man is given his place in production and consumption, does not signal humanism but dehumanization.

To drill people to produce correct and disciplined citizens is likewise inhuman.

Education, too, can be inhuman: if it is one-sided, directed, and indoctrined; if it does not teach one to think independently, if it only gives ready-made answers; if it prepares people only for different functions instead of broadening their horizons and thereby their freedom.

Every manipulation of people, even if it is done in their own interest, is inhuman. To think for them and to free them from their responsibilities and obligations is also inhuman. Our quality of man obliges us. When God gave man the ability to choose and threatened him with severe punishments, He confirmed in the highest way the value of man as a man (59). We have to follow the example set by God: let us leave man to struggle for himself, instead of doing it for him.

--
(59) Verily, We have created man into toil and struggle... Have we not made for him a pair of eyes? And a tongue and a pair of lips? And shown him the two highways? But he has made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to you the path that is steep? It is freeing the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship; or to the indigent down in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe and enjoin patience and constancy and self-restraint and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion (The Qur'an 90:8-17).

------ Answers compiled from the comments section ------

ANSWER 1: Knowing God.
They are just animals, angels or whatever... They have no choices, no pleasure of 'knowing and tasting' as we human do. Isn't this 'knowing' is the amana that god spoke of, and all the others things refused. Plus, didnt we all attest that 'there is GOd', answering 'alastou berabikoum'?
ANSWER 2: Humans are f*cked up. Everything else isn't.
ANSWER 3: it's a bit harder to see the similarities between humans, but from a grasshopper to another grasshopper possibly there's not so much variance. u think?
ANSWER 4: self-awareness ... the ability to make and use tools ... complex linguistical ability.
ANSWER 5: Animals don't care about safe sex and birth control!

15 comments:

haal said...

what do you mean by 'other creatures', animal kingdom? or creatures from other planets? I am serious.

Mohamed said...

No no.. I mean Earthly creatures.. animals, ants, etc.

haal said...

the knowing!

Mohamed said...

la la'a.. please elaborate. Knowing what?

haal said...

Knowing God...

so?

Mohamed said...

So you're saying that humans "know God". Interesting (especially coming from you). Hope to hear more from others as well.

haal said...

What do you mean 'coming from me'??

What are the other differences ya3nee. They are just animals, angels or whatever... They have no choices, no pleasure of 'knowing and tasting' as we human do. Isn't this 'knowing' is the amana that god spoke of, and all the others things refused. Plus, didnt we all attest that 'there is GOd', answering 'alastou berabikoum'?

well, I will spoil this post. So, will be interested to know what this will unfold into.

Mohamed said...

Why do you think you'll spoil this post?!

The whole purpose of this post is to see how different people think of this. Are you sure your answer is right, and that everyone agrees with it?!

This post is not supposed to unfold into anything. Just to collect different views of different people. This is a simple question, and I think everyone has something in mind regarding the answer. Just curious to know it.

How are humans different?

haal said...

spoiling it was in refrence to my desire to be going back and forth in comments trying to understand your awkward statment, 'coming from you.' Didn't particularly like it.

DNA said...

Humans are f*cked up. Everything else isn't.

Anonymous said...

it's a bit harder to see the similarities between humans, but from a grasshopper to another grasshopper possibly there's not so much variance. u think?

praktike said...

self-awareness ... the ability to make and use tools ... complex linguistical ability.

Anonymous said...

Animals don't use condoms.

egyptiansally said...

In T.H. White's "The Once and Future King" he makes the point that ant colony, while the most totalitarian of regimes, would never wage war against its same species as mankind wages upon itself.

Solomon2 said...

Humans use tools to make tools. As far as I know, apes, crows, chimps, and other tool-using animals have not demonstrated this ability.

There are plenty of animals out there that are f**ked up. Outside my window, a mushroom-chomping squirrel is trying to jump a rabbit.

I believe self-awareness has been demonstrated in animal studies. I don't know about G-d.

Insects may fight others of the same species, although such battles may be limited to the queens themselves.

At least some animals do have language skills, but complex ones may not yet be recognized. I think humans have learned only two animal languages thus far: grizzly bears and honeybees. Both languages seem quite limited. Scientists have also taught some primates to communicate in sign language.