Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Are Chimps People Too?

It’s a close call. Unlike the new-born babies of our species, they can brush their teeth. And women of our species may actually prefer the scent of their sweat. Somebody might ask: Where are the chimp philosophers, poets, physicists, presidents, physicians, priests, popes, and so on? But maybe they haven’t had the right opportunities. My serious view, of course, is tha chimps aren’t people, although they are fascinating, very social animals deserving of our protection and affection.
And we’re still stuck with reflecting on Walker Percy’s question: Is it better to be a dislocated human or a contented chimp? Not that we have the right to choose between the two options.

Discussions - 17 Comments

I’ve heard this one before about chimpanzees being more human (it seems more and more...)....where was that...oh yeah..."Planet of the Apes"

It’s a madhouse....A MADHOUSE!

Sorry, instinctive reaction to any mention of "Planet of the Apes".

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" One of the best lines in moviedom. And Chuck Heston...my favorite actor of all time.

As for chimps, they are more like us than is comfortable...even down to organized violence. I have no doubt that the only difference between us is a little grey matter and the ability for complex language.

dain, the "hardwiring" for complex language in one way makes all the difference...and we can see at the movies that an ape who somehow acquired that gift would be a whole lot like us.

I agree...a bit of hardwiring is important. Nonetheless, it’s a matter of quantity, not quality. And it’s just possible that whales and dolphins do have their own language. The bottom line is that we are a product of Nature, and ratcheting down human arrogance a notch or two would be advisable.

It’s a matter of quality...as all the "P" words in my post suggest.

Peter, you provocateur!
Re: Walker Percy’s pensive question: Even while acknowledging there are days when being a "contented chimp" holds its allures....I prefer to work towards being a relocated human......

Well, Peter, that’s your opinion, but it isn’t supported by science. Perhaps faith? Not much of an argument...and how many People are actually poets, priests,etc.? Most of us get by day-to-day, making no great contributions (just like the chimps), and we have a social order not unlike theirs.

And that’s the problem with ’faith’. The argument stops here because God is on your side, and therefore I must be wrong.

dain, I’ll grant you that some people are more chimp-like than others. But there are different views of the scientific facts before us. According to Walker Percy: "The evolutionary facts about the emergence of man, e.g., the sudden appearance of HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS (Cro-Magnon man) no more than 35 thougsand years ago, are as spectacular as the account in Genesis and allow hardly less room for theology.

"Scientists should be less worried about overt intrusions by religion upon science, which never succeed, and more worried about covert scientific dogmatism ["evolutionism"]."

Actually, Dain, the "argument" *is* joined...... precisely because there aren’t any chimps participating.....

Why the resistance to acknowledging the qualitative difference(s) between man and other animals? Because it would mean we’d have to own up to the demands of virtue?

Nomex suit (and bike riding kit) on.

Well, actually, anatomically-identical humans were around over 100K years ago. I think this more recent figure comes from the appearance of "culture." Whether that was due to biology or something else (God, ancient aliens) is a matter of argument.

Evolution isn’t dogma...it’s a worldview rooted in empiricism. All the real scientists I’ve ever met were pretty open-minded about the exact nature of evolution or its sequence of events. They only get hot under the collar when some people claim the evolution is bogus and seek to replace it with creationist nonsense. I come from a religious background...even a fundamentalist background...and I can tell you that the bulk of "creation science" out there is pure crap. Evolution, on the other hand, has overwhelming empirical support...really. It’s the major reason I abandoned my fundamentalism...my questions lead me to open my eyes, the evidence changed my mind, and that’s why very religious people are afraid of Darwin and his views. It is a direct challenge to the Biblical understanding of the world. I can’t help that, nor can I make religious people less hostile to biological science. Some day many of them will have the courage to loosen their death-grip on religious belief. They’ll look around, notice how things really are, and change their minds. Later, they’ll wonder why they had been so hostile to something that was so self-evident.

Evolution did happen...creation science is crap...what we really know about evolution and the being with language doesn’t rule creation out...evolutionary biologists usually sound stupid when they try to account for what is distinctively human about our behavior according to evolutionary hypotheses...I completely open to the evidence...when people abandon their fundamentalism they usually overreact in other direction...Gary has a good points about the lack of chimp commentary on NLT (which no affirmative action program could remedy) and the demands of virtue, which chimps, for and better and worse, don’t face.

I assure you, my "overreaction" days are long since past. Generally I find myselfs defending Christians against secular zealots. Nonetheless, evidence is evidence. "Nature" is one long conflict...arms races within and between species. People are WONDERFUL at in-grouping just like chimps. We recreate pecking order even (maybe particularly) among egalitarians. Modern species can be traced right back to their beginnings...it’s all quite logical if you view it through the right lens. I suppose there is room for a Creator, but I have my doubts that we can know much about him. Revealed religion just has too many contradictions...surely God doesn’t expect his logical creations to blindly follow things that are inconsistent?

Mind you, I didn’t want to believe Darwin, anymore than I wanted to embrace the fact that "free trade" is probably killing our country. I’ve just never been any good at ignoring logic and plain evidence. I make a pretty lousy "adherent," and my neck’s been on the block several times by my in-group du jour.

Mohgha dalla eg eeg

Eegah meeya Gahoo

Doogla eegah eg eeha

Ahgla eeg meeya Moo

What about Chimpy McBushitler? (hyuk-hyuk!)

OK, where’d you put the mop...we’ve got troll juice all over the floor again...and...ewww...troll poo as well. Man, I hate this job.

Man, I was so hoping nobody would go there.

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