We are one as well as many, virtuous as well as vicious, simple as well as complex, disciplined as well as chaotic, cooperative as well as competitive, leaders as well as followers, lovers of peace as well as violence, preys as well as predators, angels as well as devils, mirrors as well as windows.
We are unique. We have an upright posture and protuberant nose. We use language. We can smile. Laughter is our unique trait. We are the only species that gossips, blushes, and sheds tears. We have opposable thumbs and we use them for making tools. We indulge in sex, mainly for pleasure, and also for procreation. We can read other people’s minds. We aspire to move ahead of even ourselves, knowing fully well that it is not possible.
Some of our ‘unique’ human traits – culture, mind reading, tool use, morality, emotions, personality – are also the traits of some animals. It, however, must be noted that the cultural sophistications of humans are not available in other animals. One might wonder at the ability of mind reading in other primates. Great apes and some monkeys have shown some signs of mind reading, as they have indicated the capability of deception that is related to mind reading. Animals use tools to crack nuts, but can they be equated with the sophistication of human tools. Animals have their representative personality. It is also true that many animals are not as characterless as we might expect them to be. It has also been argued that social mammals understand the rights and wrongs of social interaction and few norms of sharing food, defending resources, grooming and giving care. Animals have emotions, as plants have. One wonders if these are a result of conscious feeling. Many species outnumber humans. They dominate the Earth, number wise. They reproduce and mutate faster. They may know traditional rules of warfare. But can they be seriously considered as human competitors?
We are a bioengineering marvel. We are the last word of biology and the first word of sociology. We are governed by the same biochemical reactions as other animals are, but we are different from other animals. Our difference with other animals is qualitative. Our brain and mind make us different. Some argue that we are no different than other animals, as some of our base instincts are even worse than those of the animals. There is no disagreement on this point, but because we share bestial urges doesn’t make us cats.