Table of Contents
Part V: Is Man An Animal?
The Expression of Humanism (continued)
In the present
context, by the word individuation I have in mind underscoring
the quite exceptional degree to which in man, the individual
may develop a uniqueness of character which marks off one person
from another. Even in cultures which frown upon "being different,"
there are individuals who stand out as exceptional people. Their
endowment seems to mark them out as "great" when judged
by the standard of the rest of their community. The human potential
seems to have encompassed within itself a tremendous range of
variability in terms of personal differences between individuals,
and this far exceeds anything that is found among the animals
within a species which have not been interfered with by man.
In domestication, by selective
breeding man has produced varieties of particular species which
have markedly different character from other varieties, as different
as the bulldog is from a spaniel, for example, or a Clydesdale
from a thoroughbred race horse. These
animals differ not merely
in physique but in temperament. But if one compares bulldogs
with bulldogs or spaniels with spaniels, or any other variety
with members of its own variety, one finds a uniformity of character
which makes it possible to predict animal behaviour in a way
that is totally impossible in man. The unpredictability of a
human individual and the predictability of the animal has been
underscored by Chesterton's famous remark: It makes good sense
to ask the young child what he's going to be when he grows up,
because that is virtually impossible to predict; but it is quite
unnecessary to ask a puppy what he's going to be when he grows
up, because we know. It seems as though God has assigned to each
species of animal a place in the total economy of things, and
a form and a disposition entirely appropriate to that place.
It may be objected that there are
notable animals in a herd or a pack ‹ born leaders, as it
were. But as far as I have been able to discover from a fairly
wide search of the literature on herd leaders, there is pretty
well unanimity of opinion about the nature of this kind of leadership.
In 1832 the English jurist, John Austin, published his famous
Province of Jurisprudence Determined. (205) He was one of the founders of University College,
London, and its first professor of jurisprudence. And although
almost everyone disagreed with his thesis, he had a profound
influence on the thought of his day, and on people like John
Stuart Mill. Essentially, his view was that all laws, properly
so-called, are commands addressed by a human superior to a human
inferior, and that the system or institution of government by
law evolved from this basis. It was a kind of "great man"
view of history. The curious thing is that most disagreed with
him because they could not see any evidence for such a "great
man" thesis among animals, and it was felt that such a view
made man too exceptional.
The position regarding animals
has not changed. One can legitimately speak of "great apes,"
but one cannot speak of a great ape. It has been pointed
out many times that herd leaders are not commanders in the sense
that human leaders are. (206) They function really as special sense organs for
the group, that is, for the herd, the flock, or the pack. They
watch and listen, while the rest of the members tend to the other
businesses of life. The group reactions of the herd are not responses
to commands, but rather group reflexes set off by stimuli transmitted
through the leader, acting as a sensory receptor for the group.
There is a sense in which the "leader" of a wolf pack
may maintain a certain hierarchy by establishing superiority
205. Austin, John: quoted by Raymond Pearl,
Man the Animal, Principia Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1946,
pg.18 of 39
206. Herd leaders: Raymond Pearl, ibid., p.115.
as a fighter, but it
is a transient leadership, and he may very easily be displaced
by some other member of the pack who showed no special character
up to that moment and who may later return to the position of
being merely a follower when another leader takes over. The leadership
appears to be transient and must at least quite often be the
result of almost an accidental victory in a fight, which was
In his The Territorial Imperative,
Ardrey referred to some experiments by C. R. Carpenter who
established a colony of rhesus monkeys on an island in the West
Indies. (207) Groups
marked out territories, and one of these groups was led by a
male of very strong dominance, which continually led his followers
into neighbouring preserves with much success. When this male
was experimentally removed, the group no longer trespassed, so
that he was clearly a leader. When restored to the group, again
trespassing went on as before. Ardrey observed that Carpenter's
experiments were impressive evidence of leadership, but he pointed
out that later research revealed that in rhesus life the conditions
which Carpenter established were artificial because territory
is not normally defended at all.
By and large, animals of a species
have a distinct character that can be described, and the vast
majority of the members will fit the description. There is a
uniformity that seems to be native to the species. Now and then
some accident gives rise to a single exceptional animal, but
it seems to be a rare event. With human beings such uniformity
is found only among primitive people, but for reasons which should
be noted briefly because it really has nothing to do with their
potential for individuation. The uniformity of character is the
result of a particular situation.
Primitive people have always tended
to show more respect for Nature and for animals than highly civilized
man. Western man has customarily attributed this to some kind
of spiritual kinship, a kinship most of us have lost and therefore
look upon with some nostalgia. The sense of community with Nature
appeals to the tired city dweller every now and then, though
not as a steady diet, or he would move to the country. Actually
primitive man (a very unjust epithet really) is not so much
in communion with nature much of the time as he is in
awe of it, or envious of its self-sufficiency. In reports of
those who knew the Eskimo years ago in his "unspoiled"
times, we read of his reverence before the capture of his prey,
but then are surprised at his almost insane delight after the
prey has been subdued.
207. Ardrey, Robert, The Territorial Imperative,
Delta Books, 1966, p.279.
He often took a kind
of savage pleasure in proving his mastery over it by a display
of cruelty toward it that was rather unnecessary. Later he might
feel it wise to apologize to the dead animal or to the Creator.
The fact is that primitive man saw and envied the strength or
wisdom, or skill of the creatures he hunted -- or which hunted
him -- and he was impressed with the precariousness of his own
position As long as he was the weaker element in some particular
situation, it was necessary to be humble, but the moment he had
the upper hand he could exult in being for a short time superior.
As an illustration of what I mean,
consider the following incident which was told to me by a man
who had spent some time in the Arctic. An Eskimo who had a number
of dogs trained to pull his sleigh and whose hunting trips often
took him a hundred or more miles away from home, on one occasion
got lost in a storm because his dogs wandered from a track which
they normally followed quite regularly. His friends had often
observed how well he treated his dogs and how there seemed to
be a good working relationship between him and them. Such dogs
do not normally make pets, but he had apparently got as close
to this as ever happened. When he discovered his dogs had followed
the wrong trail, he was furious and started to whip them. The
dogs became excited and frightened, and then a little vicious.
He suddenly dropped his whip, ran back to the sleigh, got his
gun and shot them one by one, every single one of them, shouting
a great victory cry as each animal fell over in its tracks. He
then turned his back on the whole outfit and walked the full
hundred miles to his own camp with a sense of high elation. In
his own mind he had proved his absolute mastery of the situation.
Most primitive people live precariously,
partly because they occupy areas that the more civilized members
of the human race have not yet taken over, because of its inhospitability.
Such people, over the centuries, have learned how to adjust themselves,
their behaviour, and their needs to the limited resources of
their environment. The margin of survival is often very small.
As a consequence, these people become highly conservative and
are very reluctant to upset the pattern of living. Given the
superior weapons of the White Man, all the caution, which was
often mistaken for some sense of communion with Nature, is apt
to be lost very quickly. With horses and firearms, the Indians
probably did as much as the White Man to bring the buffalo, on
whom he had depended for centuries, almost to extinction.
The point here is that in any society
which lives in a precarious position, it is not wise to rock
the boat. Individualism is therefore
suppressed. Every member
of the community must be trained to conform to the established
way of life with as little disturbance as possible A small tribe
with little margin of survival cannot support individualism.
Yet, for all that, now and then great individuals do arise in
such societies, strong enough and with sufficient character and
intelligent enough to ignore the taboos and caring about radical
changes in their own culture. Such men may displace hereditary
chiefs and become leaders by sheer will-power and sustained personal
In the animal world, the situation
at first appeared similar, but closer study has suggested that
this is not so. In the first place, animals do not live in a
consciously precarious condition. They belong in the web of life.
Instinct guides them to avoid certain dangers, to eat certain
foods, to respect neighbour's rights, and to seek no goals that
are not natural for them or proper for them individually. It
is well known in England that foxes will not molest natural prey
in the immediate vicinity of their own home base. And these neighbours,
whether birds or rabbits or any other like potential sources
of food, know this instinctively and do not therefore live in
constant fear. Of this sort are the checks and counter-balances
in Nature. Accordingly, it is not on account of any fear of disturbing
the status quo that exceptional individuals are discouraged from
emerging as such. It is simply not in the nature of animal species
other than man to individuate.
To be a leader, one must have followers.
Among animals this "following" seems to be instinctive.
There is a kind of tension between any individual who strays
out from the group and the rest, which either causes him to double
back or leads the other animals to suddenly follow. (208) Quite by chance any one
individual can stray and be followed, thereby becoming a leader,
purely by accident. Konrad Lorenz described an interesting little
experiment conducted by Erick von Holst who operated on the brain
of a minnow in order to destroy the animal's tendency to stay
with the rest of the fishes. As a consequence, whenever this
brainless minnow did actually stray, it did not have the same
sudden urge to return to the shoal, and the end result was that
the rest of the shoal immediately set out after him. As Lorenz
put it, "By virtue of its deficiency, the brainless animal
had become a dictator." (209)
In conclusion, I suggest that Homo
sapiens is in some unique way
208. One often observes a beautiful V formation
of Canada geese suddenly breaking off and reforming when some
particular goose seems to have decided to leave the line.
pg.21 of 39
209. Lorenz, Konrad, On Aggression, translated by marjorie
Kerr Wilson, Bantam Books, New York, 1967, p.140.
equipped to become individual
in his person, in a way which does not apply to other animal
species. This does not make every man great, but in a remarkable
way it does make every man unique. Even physiologically, this
uniqueness exists and is reflected in the fact that skin grafts
cannot be made from person to person (except, of course, in the
case of monozygotic twins), whereas the same operation has readily
been performed from animal to animal, providing that they are
of the same species. (210) Only in primitive societies where extreme conservativism
has tended to take over for circumstantial reasons does individuation
seem to be minimal, but the potential is there ‹ as we can
see at once in the so-called "emerging nations."
The Impulse to Breed in Man and
It has been said that when God
makes the mold in which to cast an individual, He breaks the
mold when the work is done. I think it must be true.
mating and the impulse to breed are virtually synonymous. In
man the impulse to breed has been sublimated, and in normal human
male-female relationships it is no longer the only bond which
holds them together. It has become only one of several contributing
elements in the expression of what we call love, a term which
is indeed difficult to define but which, perhaps ideally, is
most directly equated with a willingness to make self-sacrifice.
As such, it seems to be essentially a human relationship, though
there is no question that some animals that have become domesticated
will deliberately give expression to it by sacrificing themselves
‹ as dogs have been known to do. I think it is safe to say
that within a species, that is, between members of a single species,
love as a basis of relationship is uniquely human.
In animals, the drive to breed
is almost, if not entirely, the basis of all social organization.
It is the fundamental regulatory mechanism which controls their
behaviour, whether social or antisocial. The behaviour patterns
of animal communities are predetermined and regulated by the
reproductive cycle of the female. This, in turn, is chemically
controlled but is in some way responsive to environmental conditions.
Thus among species which live under environmental conditions
that do not favour the raising of young at certain seasons of
the year, it has been observed that the period of heat is governed
by the gestation period in such a way that the young
210. Medawar, Sir Peter B., The Uniqueness
of the Individual, Basic Books, New York, 1957, pp.148,176,177.
See also R. A. Reisfeld and B. D. Kahan, "Markers of Biological
Individuality," Scientific American, June, 1972,
will be born when environmental
conditions provide the best opportunities of surviving birth
and reaching a stage of comparative independence. Samuel Brody
Species that evolved and are
living in regions with wide seasonal temperature fluctuations
confine their breeding activity to a sharply limited interval
of the year. . . .
Shifting of the animal to another
latitude correspondingly changes the breeding date. Shifting
the animal to the tropics, where fluctuations in temperature,
light, and food supply are insignificant, or domesticating it
so that its food supply, warmth, and light are uniform throughout
the year, often abolishes the seasonal breeding rhythm.
Thus, whereas wild cattle breed
in the autumn only, domesticated cattle breed throughout the
year. Whereas wild fowls produce only one batch of perhaps half
a dozen or a dozen eggs in the spring, domestic fowl may produce
eggs throughout the year.
In Nature, the
optimum breeding season is regulated by factors which are not
directly under the control of the individual animal. Even domestication
does not alter this fact, it only broadens the range of conditions
under which the mechanism is triggered. This mechanism governs
also the migration schedules of birds, the periods of separation
of males and females among mammals for a large part of the year,
and the antagonisms and the bonds between the sexes and within
a sex. It is, in fact, pervasive in regulating animal behaviour.
In man, the situation is uniquely
different. In an article entitled, "The Influence of Hormones
on Man's Social Evolution," Sir Solly Zuckerman pointed
There is one major difference
of a negative kind between us and the rest of the zoological
group to which we belong. . . It is our freedom from the rigorous
internal chemical control of reproductive functions, such as
is experienced by apes and monkeys, and even more so by other
mammals. Recent research into the physiology and chemistry of
the hormones which control reproduction ‹ the hormones of
the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, and the steroid hormones
of the gonads ‹ shows that this freedom must have been vital
to our emergence as Homo sapiens.
He then pointed
out that the rhythm of life in most wild animals is rigidly fixed
by the periodicity of the reproductive processes. The entire
life of most mammals, he argues, is constrained by the periodic
functioning of the sex organs. He summed this up by saying: (213)
The worlds of such animals,
already restricted to their immediate environment and immediate
present, are thus rigidly determined by an internal
211. Brody, Samuel, "Science and Social
Wisdom", Scientific Monthly, Sept, 1944, p.206.
212. Zuckerman, Sir Solly, "The influence of hormones on
man's social evolution", Endeavour, April, 1944,
213. Ibid., p.82.
chemical control, whose bonds cannot
be broken; what they do next and their social relationships are
This internal chemical control
is not as strict in the world of apes and monkeys, but, as far
as is known, it is still sufficiently powerful to dominate the
lives of almost all species.
pointed out that the relationships of the females to the males
within each family unit, and of the females to each other, are
controlled by the alternating periods of heat of a female. He
concluded: "From all this man has been freed," and
to it must be attributed "the stabilization of the family
When we examine the relationships
that appear in man, we find a fundamental difference: the time
of heat and the time of ovulation no longer coincide, and indeed
the former seems to bear no relationship whatever to the latter.
G. W. Corner of the Carnegie Institute, writing in the British
Medical Journal, noted in this connection: (215)
There is a strange difference
in the outward expression of these two events, between the human
species and other mammals. . . In animals commonly observable
to us ( mouse, rat, guinea pig, etc.) sexual activity of the
female is restricted to a limited period at the time of ovulation.
In the human female a very different pattern exists. The event
of ovulation is not marked by any outwardly observable sign,
nor by a surge of erotic responsiveness. This great recurrent
crisis in the human life process is silent and occult.
examined briefly the evidence for the existence of any peak of
sexual response and sought to relate it to the chemical events
which are occurring in the female body. He then concluded: (216)
Although in the human species
the corpus luteum phase begins with no outward sign, its conclusion
is marked by a conspicuous event, namely, menstruation. Exactly
the opposite condition prevails in those animals in which estrus
and the ovulation phase are physically evident. . . .
In the case of the human female,
however, the peak of sex response occurs at the very time when
both estrogen and progesterone are at or approaching their lowest
level in the cycle. We must therefore assume either that the
rhythm of endocrine control differs from what we know in other
animals, in the face of all the similarities in the cyclic histology
of ovaries and uterus between the human and other species, or
(which is more probable) that in women endocrine control of sex
arousal has become subordinate to other factors, presumably neuro-psychological,
which culminate not at the time of ovulation, but shortly before
Now the effect
of freeing of human behaviour and responsiveness in this matter
from hormonal control has been to throw the responsibility
pg.24 of 39
215. Corner, G. W., "The Events of the Primate Ovarian Cycle,"
British Medical Journal, August 22, 1952, p.403.
216. Ibid., p.405.
for restraint upon the
individual himself. The sexual drive, being liberated from chemical
control, had to be placed instead under some other kind of control
in order to make social organization possible, otherwise chaos
would have resulted in family life and consequently in social
life. This has had tremendous repercussions in human society.
Robert Lowie pointed out some of these: (217)
The admirable researches of
Yerkes, Carpenter, and others about the sex life of the anthropoid
apes do not directly help us (in understanding our own problems).
. . .
The sociologist has to cope with
the fact that every known society discriminates among forms of
sexual intercourse. Biologically, rape, incestuous unions, fornication,
concubinage, companionate, civil, and ecclesiastical marriage
are not distinguishable. Sociologically, the several forms of
mating are outlawed, reprobated, condoned, accepted, or definitely
approved. The forms enjoying the highest approbation constitute
"marriage" in a given society. . . .
A chasm, then, yawns between
man's sex life and that of the gorilla or the chimpanzee. The
question is not at all whether the gorilla may turn out to be
monogamous or polygamous: the question is whether gorilla society
countenances, punishes, or otherwise judges the sexual activity
of its members.
So we are once
again forced to recognize the absolutely fundamental difference
between the impulse to breeding which is instinctive and governed
entirely by chemicals, and the desire to breed which in man has
been separated from purely chemical control. Once again, man
seems to be in a class by himself. How did this come about? Of
course, the evolutionists cannot admit a separate creation for
man, but they do admit, much as Humboldt admitted for the possession
of language, that man must have been truly man as soon as this
dissociation occurred. What caused it to occur is a mystery.
And just as we know that the most primitive of societies from
whom evolutionists hopefully expected to be able to draw some
conclusions regarding the twilight period when man was "becoming"
human, threw no light whatever on the origin of language since
primitive man has had more complex forms of speech than highly
civilized man, in the same way ‹ as Lowie pointed out ‹
"Extremely primitive tribes are monogamous, very advanced
societies permit polygamy." (218) Thus we do not find promiscuity among the very people
who are supposed to give us some clues about human nature and
behaviour in this twilight period. It looks as though man was
created as he now is with the freedom and therefore the responsibility
that he now has in the matter of his sex life.
217. Lowie, Robert, Social Organization,
Rinehart, New York, 1949, p.87.
218. Ibid., p.229.
There is another, more specifically physiological,
difference between man and all other animals which shows up as
soon as we begin to attempt to apply to man the breeding principles
and practices which work so well with animals. From the point
of view of eugenics it has often seemed desirable to be able
to improve the race selectively by mating individuals who seem
to have superior characteristics. Hitler actively supported research
along these lines in the hopes of producing a super race. I'm
not sure whether any adequate report has ever been made of these
experiments, but certainly in the rest of the scientific community
very little hope of success is placed in such experiments. The
fact is that man seems to be afflicted with more deleterious
mutant genes than any other species. If an attempt is made to
inbreed the members of a family who by chance have produced a
number of outstanding individuals and who are therefore assumed
to have some measure of genetic superiority, the results have
proved most disappointing. Raymond Pearl wrote:
In absolute numbers the vast
majority of the most superior people in the world's history have
in fact been produced by mediocre or inferior forebears And furthermore,
the admittedly most superior folk have been singularly unfortunate
in their progeny.
that any analogy drawn between human breeding and livestock breeding
is in part both specious and misleading. Inbreeding with animals
may and often does lead to the rapid, sure, and permanent improvement
of a strain of livestock. But as he said "When the results
of human breeding are interpreted in the light of the clear principles
of the progeny test (i.e., empirical results), the eugenic case
does not fare too well." (220)
So disappointing have been the
few such attempts made, that in certain countries even the formation
of a Eugenics Society has been virtually suppressed by the scientific
community in view of the fact that it is not only in danger of
becoming a political tool, but it is almost certainly doomed
to failure. In his book Why We Behave Like Human Beings,
George Dorsey wrote: (221).
Man could probably breed a race
of human beings with the following traits: bald, fat, long chest,
short and crooked legs, left handed, six-fingered, fingers and
thumb webbed, near-sighted, deaf and dumb, feeble minded curly
hair, cataract, albino, long-lived, and prolific with a tendency
to twins. . . . At any rate, these are a few of the so-called
Mendelian traits capable of transmission.
219. Pearl, Raymond, Biology and Human
Trends, Smithsonian Report for 1935, Smithsonian Institute,
Washington, D.C., 1936, Publication #3364, p.339.
221. Dorsey, George, Why We Behave Like Human Beings, Blue
Ribbon Books, New York, 1925, p.116.
The fact is that in
every primitive society, as well as in the higher civilizations,
one of the most rigidly enforced taboos is that regulating the
mating of individuals too closely related. Experience throughout
history has shown that under normal circumstances such matings
rapidly degrade the stock. In small communities, isolated from
larger communities, where continued inbreeding has occurred,
the incidence of deaf mutism and the number of imbeciles relative
to the size of the population is far above the average. (222) Willard Hollander wrote,
"Hidden within many of us are recessive genetic factors
which, if we had ill-luck to mate with another carrier, would
be deadly to our offspring." (223) And again in the same connection Hollander said,
"The quickest way to expose lethal traits is by intense
and continued inbreeding." (224)
In a paper entitled "A Biological
View of Human History," Bentley Glass attempted to indicate
the kind of possibilities that there are of multiplying the effects
of man's seemingly excessive complement of harmful mutant genes.
(225) He certainly
did not favour the Christian view that man is a fallen creature,
but if in the Fall man began in himself a unique process of deterioration
which has been cumulative through the succeeding centuries, we
would have some explanation for this unhappy uniqueness. Moreover,
that incest was not forbidden until long after the creation would
seem to suggest that at the beginning there were no such dangers
from inbreeding, because there were few if any mutant genes.
The marriage of a brother and a sister might be undesirable for
quite other reasons, but it would not be forbidden because of
its probably disastrous consequences to offspring. Cain might
safely have married a sister ‹ as indeed, he must
have done. (226)
222. W, L. Ballinger remarked, "Forty-seven
marriages between blood relatives produced seventy-two deaf mutes"
(Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear, 8th edition, Lea
& Febiger, Philadelphia, p.823). E. B. Dench stated, "Consanguinity
of the parents is among the most common causes, and the greater
frequency of deaf-mutism among the inhabitants of mountain districts
is probably to be explained by the fact that intermarriage is
much more common among such people" (Diseases in the
Ear, Appleton, 1921, p.694). And Lajou's Analytical Cyclopedia
of Practical Medicine states "Several statisticians
have proved that the closer the degree of relationship between
parents, the larger was the number of deaf-mute children born"
(p.450). Curt Stern wrote, "If a gene is a rare autosomal
one, it is highly improbable that a woman heterozygous for it
will marry a man who also carries it . . . unless the spouses
are closely related to each other" (Principles of Human
Genetics, Freeman, San Francisco, 1950, p.226). It is rather
interesting that the effects of such close intermarriage should
be found in that area of man's constitution which is so essential
for speech, and by which therefore he stands separated from the
pg.27 of 39
223. Hollander, Willard, "Lethal Heredity," Scientific
American, July, 1952, p.15.
224. Ibid., p.60
225. Glass, Bentley, "A Biological View of Human History,
Scientific Monthly, December, 1951, p.367.
226. Custance, Arthur, "Cain's Wife and the Penalty of Incest,"
Part VI in Time and Eternity, vol.6 of The Doorway
I can hardly do better than sum up this aspect of
man's total uniqueness than to quote some words of John H. Hallowell:
Man's Dietary Lack of Wisdom
It is the transcendence of man's
spirit over the physical and historical processes which distinguishes
man from the beast. It is for this reason that man can never
be completely comprehended or explained in physical terms alone.
The sex impulse which man shares
with the animals is never purely biological in man as it is in
the beast. Sex in man is bound up with love, and when man endeavors
to make the sexual act a purely biological experience it is only
by an act of perversion that he is able to do so.
Only man is capable of perverting
his natural impulses; animals are not.
man better display his ineptitude than in the matter of diet.
He is the only creature who eats what is not good for him. He
eats when he is not hungry, drinks when he is not thirsty and
does not replace his water loss adequately when he ought to do
so. In some strange way, man's senses are out of kilter. His
sense of hunger no longer regulates effectively the quantity
or type of his food intake, and his sense of thirst is no longer
adequately adjusted to the fluid needs of his body. To my knowledge,
all the experimental evidence at present available points in
precisely the opposite direction with respect to animals. Their
discriminating powers can only be described as absolutely fantastic
when it comes to choice of diet, and their sense of thirst is
precisely adjusted to any water imbalance in their bodies.
It might be supposed that domestication
would have upset this discrimination. But apparently it has not
done so. As far as I'm aware, the sole exception to this rule
might be that horses will drink water immediately after eating
oats and thereby endanger their lives rather dramatically, because
the oats swell and the animal is choked. If young colts are allowed
to take water at will after eating oats, they will tend to avoid
this mistake by drinking very little and will not act unwisely
when they grow up. It is true that pets will sometimes be led
into eating things that violently disagree with them but even
here, if they are given half a chance, they will recover themselves
by selecting other foods which serve as antidotes.
The powers of discrimination of
both domestic and wild animals in choosing the most nutritious
foods where there is a selection of varying value in this respect
is almost unbelievable. Curt Richter, (228) in an extended article significantly entitled "Total
227. Hallowell, John H., Religious Perspectives
in College Teaching: Political Science, Hazen Foundation,
New Haven, no date, p.17.
228. Richter, Curt P., The Total Self-Regulatory Functions
in Animals and Human Beings, Harvey Lecture Series, no.38,
in Animals and Human Beings," a title appropriate indeed
for animals but hardly for man, found experimentally that rats
would refuse to eat sugar or fat when their bodies were operatively
modified so that they could not digest these substances. When
they were given increasing quantities of insulin, they ate increasing
quantities of sugar made available, precisely adjusting their
intake to what was appropriate for their condition. Subsequent
experiments with rats have only served to emphasize their powers
of discrimination. Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania
demonstrated the remarkable ability of the thiamin-deficient
rat to sense the deficiency and search for food containing thiamin.
(229) The rat would
change his eating pattern as the deficiency became evident, abandoning
its current diet and exploring new food sources. When placed
in an "experimental cafeteria" containing a variety
of flavoured foods, one of which had adequate thiamin, the rat
went into a "testing mode." That is to say, it ate
small meals of one new food at a time, spacing its meals several
hours apart. It is thus able to locate or identify the food containing
thiamin. Rozin says that the rat behaved precisely as would a
rational man who had lost all the labels in his medicine cabinet
and was feeling ill. In the wild, whenever rats encounter novel
food, they will eat a small amount of it and wait before consuming
more. Thus they are able to detect poisoned baits while minimizing
Bennett Galef (230) of McMaster University was able to demonstrate something
which is perhaps even more surprising ‹ that experimental
rats are able to associate the effects of a particular food with
the food itself, even though those effects do not show up until
hours later. Moreover, he showed that this is not because traces
of the meal or drink lingered in the mouth or gastrointestinal
tract. No visual cues were involved. Colouring the disagreeable
food in order to mark it visually, or serving it in a particular
form, or on a particular dish, did not provide the cue. In the
experiments, such possible visual cues were eliminated by scrambling
them constantly. The rats were still able to identify which food
was causing its discomfort.
In a fascinating paper entitled
"Discrimination in Food Selection by Animals," William
Albrecht collected in short compass some of the extraordinary
evidence of the sensitivity of animals to the relative nutrient
values of the same foods grown in variously enriched soils. (231) This applies both to
animals in the wild and to farm
229. Paul Rozin: referred to by John Garcia,
"The Faddy Rat and Us", New Scientist and Science
Journal, 7 Feb., 1971, pp.254-255.
pg.29 of 39
230. Bennett Galef: referred to by John Garcia, ibid.,
231. Albrecht, William A., "Discrimination in Food Selection
by Animals," Scientific Monthly, May, 1945, p.350.
animals. He spoke of
their discriminating powers as being "uncanny." Among
many examples he gave the following, relating to a particular
hundred-acre area which was well enriched up to 1936 but then
had no further treatment of any kind until the time of the experiments
in 1943. The delicacy of the appetite of the cattle kept there
is clearly demonstrated by the following factors in the case.
No more than 600 pounds of fertilizer was put on the surface
of the soil (i.e., only six lb per acre). It was subjected to
an annual rainfall thereafter of thirty-five inches for a period
of eight years. Nine crops of hay were removed. This "treated"
hay was each year "diluted" by being mixed in the proportion
of one part in five with other hay taken from untreated fields.
In the eighth year the animals were still bypassing the untreated
hay in the mixed haystacks. It should be borne in mind that this
hay was enriched only to the extent that it came from soil treated
eight years previously and since washed by 280 inches of rain.
By the ninth year the cattle could still recognize the effects
of the original fertilizer if free to graze in the hundred-acre
lot, but they no longer recognized it when cut and mixed with
the other untreated hay. He concluded: (232)
In the light of this evidence
the animal's choice must be recognized as a refinement of detecting
differences in the crop coming by way of the soil that chemistry
as yet cannot duplicate.
have been reported for wild deer, for hogs, and "very delicate
differences are even recognized by chicks," as demonstrated
by Weston A. Price. With respect to hogs whose capacity to exercise
choice he also described as "uncanny," Dr. Price had
this to say: (233)
When it is now reported that
vitamins are generated through microbial activity in the cow's
paunch, we may appreciate the soundness of the old practice of
hogs following fattening steers in order to gather the undigested
that by and large the evidence shows that in otherwise unmarked
patches animals will crop out of a field which has received varying
enrichment treatments with such accuracy that they will recreate
these patches by close cropping to within an inch or two of the
original demarcation line. He spoke of this as an animal detecting
instrument with a delicacy such as approaches that of the chemist's
So much, then, for the ability
of animals not only to choose what
233. Weston Price: quoted by William Albrecht, ibid.,
is best for them, but
also to compensate for vitamin or other deficiencies in their
own bodies. Nor do animals over-indulge. Only man becomes needlessly
fat thereby endangering his existence. I have said "needlessly,"
because animals do fatten themselves in anticipation of extended
periods without food intake. But man does this to his own ill-health
and for no other reason than that his appetite has somehow got
out of adjustment with the demands of the body. If a man were
to eat only just the food that would satisfy the demands of his
body, he would be hungry much of the time. One basic reason for
this is that his body is so inefficient relative to the bodies
of animals. This may well be due to the effects of the Fall.
But the mechanism responsible for this lack of adjustment is
fairly well understood.
The following statement is an over-simplification.
We obtain the energy we need for the work we do by burning food
in the body. This generates heat. The experimental evidence,
which has been substantiated in hundreds of laboratories, shows
that the human body in this respect is only about 20-25 percent
efficient. We have established in our laboratories, for healthy
young men (army volunteers) doing various exercises and at rest,
efficiencies that show considerable variation, running from 16
percent to 36 percent in one case. The high figures were always
for men riding a bicycle ‹ in a way a curious finding, but
one which has been reported by others also.
Animal efficiencies as studied
by others, are found to be very high indeed. Fish are somewhere
near the top of the scale with approximately 80 percent. (234) This efficiency is established
by measuring the work output and comparing this with the oxygen
intake, the amount of oxygen being used providing a measure of
the actual energy that one ought to get out of the human
"engine." Even at rest, of course, the body uses oxygen,
but the measurement of "work" output is much more difficult.
During exercise it is simpler to measure. In either case, what
is found is that approximately four-fifths or 80 percent of the
potential energy of the oxygen consumed by a man is not turned
into "useful" work and must be eliminated as heat.
The rise in body temperature initiates the loss of this heat
normally by radiation or evaporative cooling. The more a man
has to sweat to do the same amount of "useful" work,
other things being equal, the less efficient he is. Just as a
scale of reference, it might be added that a steam engine is
seldom more than 15 percent efficient, a diesel engine around
33 percent, and some highly refined aircraft
234. Efficiency of fishes: "Submarines
as Efficient as Fish," item under "Technological Review."
in New Scientist, June 25, 1970, p.629.
engines of conventional
design 40 percent. Compared with animals, both man and man-made
machines are not outstanding. In terms of food intake man eats,
theoretically, about four times as much as he should be eating
if he were simply an animal. But if he cut down his food intake
to one-fourth of what it is, he would be everlastingly hungry.
Susceptibility to Disease and Slowness
The same general picture holds
for man with respect to his fluid intake. It has been found that
the level of dehydration of an animal's body guides it precisely
in the control of the amount of water it drinks. Man, by contrast,
finds his thirst is quenched when he has only drunk about one-third
to one-half of what his body in some stressful circumstances
actually needs to replace water lost by the evaporation of sweat.
He accepts a severe level of dehydration voluntarily. On the
other hand, of course, he may over-indulge, to an even greater
By and large, therefore, man stands
apart from the rest of the animal world, as far as we know, both
with respect to his appetite for food and his thirst for fluid.
This may indeed be simply the consequence of the Fall, but it
also has the effect of extending man's potential enjoyment of
life in directions which manifestly would never have been likely
if eating and drinking were, for him, merely a question of satisfying
physiological demands, as it is apparently with all other animals.
Man not only
appears to have lower resistance to disease of bacterial and
viral origin but he seems to be susceptible to more of such diseases.
Animals do suffer from disease (including dental caries), but
compared with man they are relatively disease-free. And as a
matter of fact some authorities have suggested that all disease
is essentially man-made. It is a little doubtful whether this
can be wholly true, but it is possible that man is responsible
for the conditions which have allowed most diseases to invade
the animal world. Moreover, it has been observed that wounds
do not infect where man has never cultivated the soil. Some primitive
people perform rather gruesome initiation rites which involve
severe insults to the body, but curiously enough the wounds heal
without becoming infected in those societies where the soil has
never been cultivated.
pg.32 of 39
One thing is fairly clear when
comparing human and animal wounds ‹ animal wounds (with some
exceptions among domesticated animals) do not need suturing.
The animal's skin is loose and does not immediately gape open
even when very severe tears occur.
In speaking of this fact in a book appropriately entitled
The Uniqueness of the Individual, in a chapter with equal
appropriateness entitled "The Imperfections of Man,"
Medawar had this to say: (235)
If the entire thickness of the
integument in the chest region of an adult rabbit is excised
over a rectangular area of 100 sq. cm., something that looks
superficially like an irreparable injury is produced. But, so
far from being irreparable, it requires for its quick and successful
healing nothing but the most elementary surgical care. . . .
The surface area of an adult human
being is about 7 or 8 times as great as the rabbit's, but a skin
defect of the same absolute size and depth, and the same relative
position, cannot by any means be relied upon to heal satisfactorily
of its own accord. If left to itself, it will heal painfully
slowly and will gather up and scar; a wound of similar size in
the leg (which is not so much thinner than a rabbit's trunk)
could cause a serious disabling injury if left untreated. . .
. Such an injury cries aloud for skin grafting.
So he asked
why the rabbit is so accomplished in wound healing and the human
being so strikingly poor, and added that the answer hinges upon
an understanding of the mechanism of healing as it occurs in
the rabbit's skin. He then explained how healing occurs in the
rabbit by a process which is ultimately dependent upon the fact
that this skin is loose on its body. This is true of most dogs
also, domesticated though they are, and it is true of cats, horses,
and cattle. When the skin is cut, the wound does not at once
pull apart as it does in man. Medawar continued: (236)
In human beings, the integument
is no longer a generous fitting coat, but is much more firmly
knit to the tissues below; the intrinsic muscles of the skin
are now (was it ever otherwise?) confined to areas of the face
and neck, and the skin generally is much more of a piece with
the rest of the body.
The upshot of this new anatomical
arrangement is that contracture (the ability of the skin to close
the wound by drawing together), so far from being an efficient
mechanism of wound closure has become something of a menace;
it constricts, disfigures, and distorts, and may yet fail to
bring the edges of the wound together.
At the end of
the chapter he asked, "What compensating advantage the human
being gets from the novel structure of his skin is far from obvious,
though it is hard to believe that there is none." (237)
After reading this statement, I wrote
to Medawar and asked him whether the tightness of human skin
might not be related to the fact that the sweat glands, which
are deeper than the skin, express their fluid to the skin surface
to provide evaporative cooling through
235. Medawar, Sir Peter B., The Uniqueness
of the Individual, Basic Books, New York, 1957, p.130.
236. Ibid., p.132.
237. Ibid., p.133.
a comparatively long
thin tube. If the skin was too loosely wrapped around the body,
such tubes would have to be unduly elastic or they would be constantly
in danger of rupture. Such elasticity would in any case be likely
to cause rupture under certain conditions of normal sweating
because the fluid pressure in the sweat glands is remarkably
high (250 mm. mercury), (238) and not infrequently the orifice of the gland becomes
temporarily plugged at the surface. Since man is so entirely
dependent upon the effective evaporative cooling of his skin
surface via sweat gland activity to prevent deep body temperature
from rising unacceptably, any structural feature of his body
which interfered with such a mechanism or endangered it would
limit his ability to inhabit a large part of the earth's surface
where environmental temperatures exceed his normal skin temperature,
which is about 80-90 degrees F. depending upon where it is measured.
Medawar replied to my query very
graciously, and though not at once convinced said, "However,
I shall ponder upon the matter and allow my subconscious to pass
judgment on it." This is fair enough. Man pays a penalty
for his ability to live anywhere on the globe, the penalty of
a tight skin and certain problems in wound healing. Perhaps if
man had not fallen, serious wounds would have been very rare.
In any case, man is capable of engineering the necessary repair
because of his unique hand and brain combination. The chimpanzee
can thread the needle, but man can make the needle and the thread,
and use it appropriately to suture the wound ‹ which no animal
One further point. Man's susceptibility
to disease and his comparative helplessness when sick in a way
that animals are not, is both a curse and a blessing. Washburn
and Lancaster, in pointing out how well adapted to their environment
animals are and having in mind at the time those animals which
live in the African savanna said: (239)
Man cannot survive the diseases
of the African savanna without lying down and being cared for.
Even when sick, the locally adapted animals are usually able
to keep moving with the troupe. . . .
Although many humans die of disease
and injury, those who do not, almost without exception, owe their
lives to others who cared for them when they were unable to hunt
or gather, and this uniquely human caring is one of the patterns
that builds social bonds in the group and permits the species
to occupy almost every environment of the world.
238. Best, C. H., and Taylor, N. B., The
Physiological Basis of Medical Practice, Williams and Wilkins,
London, 1945, p.627.
239. Washburn, S. L., and Lancaster, C. S., "The Evolution
of Hunting" in Human Evolution, edited by N. Korn
and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1967,
This is certainly true and probably has far wider
application than the authors had in mind ‹ although I think
it needs qualification to this extent that there are occasions,
exceptional though they may be, in which animals have been known
to care for one another in times of injury. Some illustrations
of this in birds, dogs, and even rats will be found in another
Doorway Paper. (240)
Man the Organizer
There is no question that in some
wonderful way God has blended strength and weakness in man, so
that he can be ubiquitous because his temperature regulation
has been so elaborately refined, but only at a cost to his capacity
for healing ‹ which, in turn, has made him more than ordinarily
dependent upon others when wounded. So man takes his unique social
organization with him into every part of the world.
Grace de Laguna
in a paper entitled "Culture and Rationality," gave
an apropos observation about man's insistence upon order, reason,
and organization in his life, a characteristic that appears to
be almost entirely lacking in the animal world except where,
purely by instinct, the bee, for example, constructs a symmetrical
comb. Such "ordering" is not deliberate, not does it
extend to anything else that the animal does. Grace de Laguna
Man's rationality is not a higher
faculty added to, or imposed upon, his animal nature: on the
contrary it pervades his whole being and manifests itself in
all that he does as well as in what he believes and thinks.
One might almost
say that man does not have rationality. It would nearly be true
to say he is rationality, perhaps in some sense reflecting
the sentence construction of the Lord's words, "I am
the truth" (John 14:6), not "I have the truth."
I am not equating truth and rationality in this statement: I
mean only that in some way the Lord was the truth, not
merely holding it as part of His being. And in some way man is
rationality, not merely having rationality. I believe that he
is often irrational, but in a strange way even his irrationality
has a certain order to it, a certain rationale, unless
he is, of course, a mental case.
In almost every aspect of man's
mental activity he prefers order to disorder, reason to unreason,
structure to non-structure: where they do not exist in his environment,
he seeks to impose them. Even in the great move "back to
Nature" when the English countryside
240. Custance, Arthur, "The Survival
of the Unfit," Part IV in Evolution or Creation?,
vol.4 in The Doorway Papers Series.
pg.35 of 39
241. De Laguna, Grace, "Culture and Rationality", American
Anthropologiest, vol.51, 1949, p.380.
was deliberately restructured
to look more "natural," a revolt against the influence
of some of the great landscape artists like Claud Lorrain, a
reaction against the previous tendency to landscape everything
in straight lines and symmetrical patterns such as characterized
formal gardens after the pattern of Versailles, care was taken
not to create chaos, only an ordered disorder ‹ better perhaps,
a restrained freedom in the planting of things. Virtually every
aspect of his cultural activity reflects this drive, if we can
but recognize it. Consider the following tabulation, for which
I have no other scholarly authority but my own judgment, yet
every article of which could be the subject of a supporting essay:
Man structures time by composing music.
Man structures emotion by writing poetry.
Man structures space by art and architecture.
Man structures quantity by creating mathematics.
Man structures events by writing history.
Man structures experience by philosophizing.
Man structures his sense of justice by formulating codes of law.
Man structures social behaviour by custom (really the objective
of primary education).
Man structures his religious impulses by liturgy and ritual.
Man structures his faith and calls it theology.
Man must organize.
He cannot allow anything to remain disorderly for very long without
either feeling uncomfortable or turning his back deliberately
on something that is very deeply ingrained in his nature. In
this he is removed far from the rest of the animal world. Indeed,
so inseparably do we consider this sense of order to belong to
truly human activity that we speak of a mind which has something
basically wrong with it as being "disordered." And
when it was proposed that we should try to communicate with other
intelligences in the universe, the first proposal was that a
series of huge fires should be set out in the Sahara Desert in
such a way as to mark the corners of a right angled triangle
with squares on the three sides. It was believed by H. G. Wells
and others at the time that if there were anywhere in the universe
other intelligences who had the earth under surveillance, they
would understand from the order and logic of the fires that the
earth also was inhabited by intelligent creatures. No animal
would ever think of communicating by the use of consciously ordered
signals or displays of this kind.
In this list above we have essentially
the sum of human activities as distinct from the accomplishments
of animals. Language we have already examined. Among animals
music is not believed to be consciously created with infinite
variety and elaborated as man creates
his music, but is used
instinctively and always bound tightly to a given circumstance
and a specific message. It is a warning of territorial rights,
it attracts the female, or it is an involuntary expression of
inner feelings of joy, pain, or anger. Because animals do not
write, they cannot write poetry or history. Their social behaviour
is, as we have seen, fixed and conditioned, and if they do happen
to add anything to its pattern it is strictly utilitarian. They
never elaborate or embroider social activity and sustain it unless
it contributes in some specific way to their survival. Man does
this even when it has precisely the opposite effect. In spite
of certain advertisements a few years ago of some brand food
which was believed to be particularly desirable for "thoughtful
dogs," there really is no reason to believe that dogs or
any other animal philosophize. Philosophy involves unreality,
abstraction, the consideration of alternatives to fact, the power
to analyze in retrospect experiences long past and to contemplate
in prospect experiences which are remote from reality. Animal
thought is contingent: they live in the present. This is true
even though they may confuse past, present, and future, as when
a dog may yelp with pain before the punishing blow falls. There
is no evidence that animals have any sense of the presence of
God, such as leads men to worship in adoration, in awe, or in
Kroeber mentions some examples
in which chimpanzees, gorillas, and Cebus monkeys seem to derive
pleasure from a form of painting. (242) Just what this means is hard to say. Some recent
experiments suggest that chimpanzees like to play around with
coloured paints, but there is no evidence of harmony, form, or
order of any kind in their "creations." They are purely
random expressions of some kind of exuberance. I do not think
anyone has suggested that they are emerging artists. Bower birds
decorate their homes, but again the essence of order and meaning
seems to be missing.
There is a report of the ability
of birds to "count," but only up to six or seven. And
in this case it appears to be more pattern recognition than number
Munro Fox, in his book The Personality of Animals, has
a whole chapter entitled "Can Animals Count?" in which
he refers to a particular zoo chimpanzee named Sally who learned
to pick up four or five straws when asked to, but that was as
far as she could count. Above five she made mistakes. (244) He also refers to a pigeon
that was taught to pick up five grains of wheat. The bird was
then placed before a heap of wheat, in front of
242. Kroeber, A. L., Anthropology, Harcourt
& Brace, New York, 1948, p.65.
243. "Learning in Man and Animals," editorial, Nature,
June 23, 1956, p.1147.
244. Fox, Munro, Personality of Animals, Pelican Booth,
London, 1952, revised edition, p.100.
which were piles of
one, two, three, and four grains of wheat. Faced with each pile
separately, the pigeon ate the grains in front of it and then
went to the heap and ate just enough to make a total of five.
Fox believes that this is real addition; but actually it could
again be simply a pattern of movements which were conditioned
leaving the bird in some kind of state of dis-ease until it had
completed the circuit of movements. It is very difficult to know
whether any of these experiments really demonstrate the ability
to count. To my mind, even the quite fascinating experiments
carried out with rats by Loh Seng Tsai, reported in Life
(January 11, 1954), did no more than to demonstrate the rat's
ability to recognize a configuration of signs and only up to
three signs in any case. However, the ability of birds to count
up to six or seven does not always appear to be merely pattern
recognition. Huxley referred to some work done by Otto Koehler
who set jackdaws the problem of taking a definite number of peas
out of a series of boxes: (245)
Surely they mastered this problem
fairly easily, but sometimes they made mistakes: and one jackdaw
realized his mistake. He ought to have taken 6 peas ‹ 2 out
of the first box, then none, 1, 2, and 1 (out of successive boxes).
. . .
He went back to his cage after
taking only five. But then he suddenly came back and counted
out his task by bowing his head the right number of times in
front of each box. When he got to five, he went on to the next
box and picked up and ate the one pea he had forgotten.
The behavior of this jackdaw in
bowing his head, however, could be taken as indicative of the
fact that he had a kind of physiological memory of the number
of actions to perform at each station that did not actually involve
counting at all. It would be a kind of conditioned reflex. And
something told him that he had not completed the performance.
. . .
We made some
experiments with a cat we once had, who was raising a family
of three kittens. When the kittens were old enough that they
could half stand up and could raise a loud mewing, we took the
mother cat out of the room and lifting the three kittens out
of their box, we deposited them in the center of the floor, their
box being in a corner of the room. When they set up a great noise,
we allowed the cat in, and she frantically dragged off a kitten
back into the box. While she was doing this, we quickly removed
the other two kittens into another room where their noise was
not heard. So long as the mother cat did not hear the noise of
their mewing, she was not concerned any further than to rescue
the single kitten. On the other hand, if we left one of the two
remaining kittens on the floor, it would
245. Otto Koehler: quoted by Sir Julian Huxley,
Evolution in Action, Chatto & Windus, London, 1953,
pg.38 of 39
make such a noise that
she would jump out of the box and rescue it also, dragging it
back to the box. In the meantime, if we quietly and quickly removed
the one she had already in the box, she apparently did not notice
its disappearance at all when she got the second one home. It
appears that she could recognize the difference between one and
none, but not between one and two.
Mathiassen in his Fifth Thule Report,
1921-24, The Material Culture of the Iglulik Eskimo, remarked
upon the method used by these people to attract caribou within
range of their bows. Two men, having sighted a caribou, will
proceed to walk away from it. The curious animal will follow
cautiously at a distance. One man will suddenly drop out of sight
behind a snow bank and remain hidden, while the other one goes
on. The caribou unsuspectingly follows, not noticing the absence
of one man; and of course, he pays the price. This seems clear
evidence of inability to recognize the difference between two
and one. Apparently it has also been found that if three men
go openly to a hideout for shooting game fowl, the game will
fly away from the area. But if one of the men openly leaves the
hideout, the birds will unsuspectingly return. Beyond this, efforts
to detect the ability to count in other animals have not been
We have, then, in man one further
unique character, namely, that of rationality, taking
rationality in the broadest possible sense to include preference
for order, which involves a form of counting, logic, truth, symmetry,
and harmony against their respective alternatives. In all these
things other animals seem to be totally indifferent wherever
they have the power of choice.
we find that it is not possible to explain man's behaviour in
terms of animal behaviour. Man's home and his role in it, and
his relationship with others, are not based on the biological
expedients of the animal world. Man displays infinite variety
in terms of personality whereas animals have uniformity of character.
But most unique in man is the quality of rationality which pervades
his whole being. While this rationality opens up such great potential
for him, he lacks the wisdom of animals in its exploitation.
There seems to be something basically wrong with him, not only
in the sickness of his body, but in the harmfulness of his behaviour.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter Next
Thus we come back to the question
first proposed, What is man? In the next chapter we shall examine
what I believe to be, at least for the Christian, the most conclusive
evidence of all that man is not merely more than, but something
quite other than, an animal.
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