Zman Kietilipooskie

This conversation is closed.

Debate: Are humans better than other forms of life?

Many people think that something called respect applies to all forms of life; on the other hands humans are essentially above other animals is the sense of intelligence and culture. Because of our mental superiority it is ethical for animals to be farmed and mistreated, animals treated by the standards human would receive as punishment for murder and other horrendous acts.

Are Humans really superior to other forms of life?

  • Dec 5 2012: Humans are not superior, however our technology is. In fact, our technology is the only thing keeping us at the top of the food chain because without it, we would still be running from predators. Believing we are better than any other species that are surviving is narcissistic. The only reason humanity has been able to progress is an anomaly in itself. Mostly caused by superior predators being extinct. To assume that we have simply fought our way to the top of the food chain all by ourselves is ignorant. All creatures/being are equal in the fact that we can all be destroyed by this planet. I mean we rose from a evolutionary glitch, we could just as easily fall by one.
    • thumb
      Dec 5 2012: Being that what makes us great is our metal capabilities, isn't a product of our superiority our superior technology. Other wise relatively our technology would not be so great if other animals had a equal or greater intellectual capacity.

      We didn't fight our way to the top we outsmarted everything else, there is a difference.
      • Dec 6 2012: I have to disagree. Our superiority is secured by our technology alone our greater mental capabilities mean nothing if we are competing in the wild. A lion will hunt you down and kill you no matter how intelligent you are. however you can survive the attack if you shoot the lion with gun. And superiority is all a matter of perspective.m
        • thumb
          Dec 6 2012: A little fun fact about lions, I am not sure which or how many tribes in Africa do this but a coming of age ritual is to kill a lion by yourself with a spear. It is not our technology that kills the lion or makes the gun, it is our intelligence.
        • Dec 6 2012: I have to agree with Zman. Samantha, If your argument is...

          (We are at the top of the food chain) = (because we have Technology)

          and it is true that..

          (We have Technology) = (because we have Higher intelligence)

          Then it only follows that..

          (We are at the top of the food-chain) = (because we have Higher intelligence)
    • Dec 5 2012: Evolutionary Glitch??? How can technology be a glitch if it was created through the process of evolution. Further more it was our brains which adapted to survive and solve complex problems that gave rise to technology. That being said I do believe that it is ignorant of us to put ourselves above every other species on this planet, there is no better or worst scenario. If some other species was pressured into evolving intelligence, they very well could have been in our shoes. Evolution is a very powerful mechanism, and will always continue to create new species and new types of life, now whether we as a species will survive long enough to see this is entirely up to us.
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: in a more green manner.
    Life on a planet is finite.
    I think that our intelligence could direct us down a path to our destruction, it depends on what we consider to be important parts of our world.
    Ecosystems are balanced, meaning that they are in equelibrium with the earth and we are not at that point
  • Nov 30 2012: The 7 Levels of Consciousness

    1) Sensitivity
    2) Sensibility
    3) Instinct
    4) Sub – consciousness (operates in a habitual way just below the surface of our awareness.)
    5) Consciousness ( begin the use of MIND)
    6) Self– Consciousness (spiritual awakening, awareness of Self)
    7) Self-Super – Consciousness (total awareness within the Worlds of Existence (past and present) as well as total awareness in the realms of Beingness. Self-Super-Consciousness goes beyond the limiting concepts of time, space or place of the three Worlds of Existence. )

    matter 1)( iron rusts when exposed to oxygen)

    Plant l1) +2) (Plants respond to light)

    Animal 1)+2)+3) ( animals seek food, protect territory)

    Human below Level of Consciousness 200 1)+2)+3) +4)

    Humans at Level of Consciousness 200 = 1)+2)+3) +4) + 5)

    Humans at Level of Consciousness 400 = 1)+2)+3) +4) + 5) + 6)

    Humans at Level of Consciousness 100 = 1)+2)+3) +4) + 5) + 6) + 7)

    ( Note: LOC values are on Log Scale )
    • Nov 30 2012: Does it mean that everything (and I do mean everything) are different degrees of condensation of the same stuff ?
      • Nov 30 2012: Hi nn

        well I didn't get the TED boot for that one!! :-) and yes ...

        and that "stuff" is the "Light of Consciousness" non-refelected..self emanating and self maintaining
        • Nov 30 2012: Hi, Ed !
          I've come up with this 'model' too, it implies that the universe is a unity ; matter and spirit ( or mind ) are not separate and death is a kind of impossible condition for below ( scientific world view embraces it ) as well as above, as all sacred teachings are trying to convey.
          " There is no dust that has not been alive "
          Thanks for responding ! :)
  • Nov 29 2012: Superior by what measure? Generally, we are more intelligent and more adaptable. We may be the only species on the planet that has control over its own survival or extinction. From an evolutionary perspective, insects and microbes are far more numerous. From a moral perspective, there is no reason to say any species is superior.

    IMO, the best reason for putting homo sapiens at the top of the biological hierarchy is that I happen to be a member of homo sapiens. It may be the most honest reason too.
    • thumb
      Nov 29 2012: We are probably at the top of the biological hierarchy from the simple fact that we dominate the world. We also dictate almost every aspect of the earth. Not only to we exist, we thrive and we developed a society as well as developed technologically, intellectually, and socially. These are things that put us apart from the rest. We are also, by far, the most moral race on earth; being that we are the only species on earth not to be applied to Darwinism.
      • Nov 29 2012: Yes, of course, by YOUR values and indicators, humans are at the top of the hierarchy.

        Now ask a whale, one of the few that have escaped our harpoons.
        • thumb
          Nov 29 2012: Have you see the show whale wars.
          The just a few examples of how our species is above the standards of other creatures. This is because we can do these things we are better then other creatures that live on this planet. Termites may create their own cities but do they understand the world around them, can the create machines that make their lives easier.
          These are not my specific values or indicators, these are things that other animals cannot do, any animal on this planet is effected by us, and in a way is around because we let them. Viruses and other tiny forms of "life" and even they are soon to be controlled by us.
      • Nov 30 2012: "... any animal on this planet is effected by us, and in a way is around because we let them."

        IMO, it is exactly this attitude that makes humans inferior.
        • thumb
          Nov 30 2012: We dominate the planet so doesn't that make us superior. Other animals would, if possible, take over the planet; but the ecosystem keeps them in balance.
  • Dec 10 2012: I asked my dog the same question.

    She said "Woof!"

    She always says that
  • thumb
    Dec 10 2012: Humans are not better than other forms of life. They are simply different however, they are the most destructive of all the species. This makes humans the most dangerous, not better, not worse.
  • Dec 9 2012: "I guess we have no absolute basis that Humans are superior to other forms of life." The answer to that is that we have killed all the other species off so we are. There are only 35,000 lions left in the wilderness, about the same as the number of humans in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania, so seems like we are pretty superior even to the king of the jungle.
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2012: If it is true that dogs have masters and cats have sevants then the cat is the dominate species ... or at least rank before humans.
    • thumb
      Dec 8 2012: not sure what you mean, even if somebody who owns a cat is a "servant" it doesn't mean that the human is not superior to the cat.
      • thumb
        Dec 8 2012: zman, this is an American joke about the independence of cats.

  • Dec 6 2012: I guess we have no absolute basis that Humans are superior to other forms of life.

    Humans just have different kind of abilities from other's. Animals are well adapted to the nature itself innately, for instance, they have more greater physical abilities such as excellent sight and muscular strength than Humans. By comparison, Humans are born without specific physical capabilities, so to speak, which protect own body from environmental hazards.

    Instead, Humans have superior brain and create tools with mental superiority to protect themselves. Let us suppose that both Humans and animals would be neglected in a state of nature without any manipulation. I guess we would come to realize that Humans are more fragile than other forms of life literally and figuratively.

    However, I am afraid that Humans have never thought so. Unfortunately, animals are mistreated and abused by Humans and their coarse selfishness. I think we should not overlook the point that all Humans are also parts of Mother Nature, that is Humans are not more than Nature and Cosmos. Eventually, symbiosis is possible when both Humans and other forms of life go together, and that is the best we can hope for.

    Thank you for this chance to think about. Is there any motive that makes you have this question, if you do not mind my asking:)?
    • thumb
      Dec 6 2012: If I think about it it this question is based on the human races assumption that we are superior, because that is after all how we act, we dominate the earth define its inhabitants and destroy all that get in our way. This is just something that I feel like all should be aware of.
  • Dec 5 2012: We aren't necessarily more superior. I mean we have evolved in such a way that allow us big and better technology for survival. But as animals ourselves, we're about on par with any and all forms of life.
    • thumb
      Dec 5 2012: I would think that the simple fact that evolve would be to vague a measurement, a slug is not equal in is evolution compared to a fox. We as human are a dominating species because life doesn't evolve evenly, and therefor all forms of life aren't on par with each other.

      Sure each form of life has a spot in the world but the size and the effect each life form has on others not the same.
  • thumb
    Dec 5 2012: I think that the answer to this question depends on how far one takes it. Yes, there are certain human attributes that seemingly make us superior: language, culture, art and music, societies, opposable thumbs, etc., etc., but it is important for us to remember where we came from. The truth of the matter is that we share a vast amount of our genetic make-up with many of the organisms on this planet today; even microorganisms have much of the same genetic code that we do. We all essentially came from the same initial source. In a sense, we are all one. That being said, another aspect of human nature is morality. Our superiority should not be used as an excuse to harm other forms of life. The fact that we are the dominant species on this planet does not make it okay to take advantage of the other species of this Earth. The reality of the matter is that while other species may not be able to achieve as much cognitively or physically, they each do have their own languages and cultures, in a sense. I don't think that it is fair to say that we are 'superior' because we can dominate other species. The only real comparison that I can make to attempt to get my point across is with Autism. The autistic mind is vastly different from societies definition of "normal", which has lead to the mistreatment and abuse of thousands of autistic people based on the assumption that us 'normal minded' folk are superior. The truth is that people with autism have perfectly functioning cognitive abilities, but it is very difficult for them to express this physically. This has lead to years and years of oppression in their own minds due to the belief that those without autism are 'superior'. I think that it's these assumptions that inevitably gets us in trouble.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2012: Not sure it matters. Every creature strives for quality of life, wants good things to eat, to be warm, etc. That is what we are doing when we farm animals, burn wood for fire, etc.

    I often think many things would never have gotten to live at all if it weren't for us. For example, there wouldn't be nearly as many cows on Earth as there are because of us.
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2012: I would think that us messing up the ecosystem and basically toturing other animals is alot different from the natural way of life.
      How can the cow and other animals strive for quality of life when they are farmed, plus, have you seen how animals are farmed?
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: How are we better?

    We are more successful, but only because we take more than we give. As a species we have more in common with a virus than any other life form. We destroy, reproduce and move on. We will eventually run out of things to destroy and then we will destroy ourselves, as all virus's are bound to do.

    We are more complex. We have languages, cultures and technology which has supposedly increased our quality of life but even this is debatable since with these advancements we have created numerous previously unknown issues like stress, depression and suicide. We have waged wars, caused plagues and committed murder (which was previously all unknown)

    We have been resoundingly successful and have achieved complexity that is beyond even our own most far fetched dreams but that does not make us better than other forms of life who have all been able to find a place of contentment where they are in balance.

    So no i do not believe we are better than other life forms
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2012: And many mental disorders could be like this because of our extremely complex brains.
      Don't forget the possibility for our intellect to give us the potential for balance.
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: Humans are better because we have complex evolving language, but other than that, humans have years of progressive technology. We can adapt well, but I think many other species can adapt as well. We can't ingest an array of poisons like opossums. We don't have prehensile tails. We do have weak immune systems compared to most other species of life on Earth. We can't breathe underwater or take much pressure. We can't naturally repel type of bugs. We can't store fats or liquids in extreme climates longer than camels or lung fish can. We don't hibernate, but can we? I don't know the answer to that one.

    Humans or homo sapiens are normally weaker, but we are much more advanced in technology.
  • Dec 3 2012: Superiority of human mind can be defined as the ability to 'figure out' that we don't know more about the Reality than animals or plants do. But we are the only species who are good at 'modeling' reality and creating our own reality that is coherent with our models. The most important thing is that ' our reality ' is a part of and has a lot to do with Reality we can't understand. It shouldn't make us feel superior but responsible
    Something like this ... :)
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: Okay, that's included. Definitely not right. It's a matter of sensitivity to life. But if someone's going to say that we have no right to farm them in a proper manner and eat them......that's ridiculous.
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2012: It is or will be impossibly to economically complete such a task, i am no expert in economics but here is a reason why things are the way they are right now.
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: There's a difference between farming animals and abusing them. When I say farming I mean taking care of them and nurturing them in order to benefit from their meat or milk. Anything more than that, like whipping, starving, shunning them etc. is considered abuse
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2012: There is a lot more then that, genetic mutation, not letting them have space to move and other such incredibly cruel things. Look it up, we do some messed up things.
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2012: Of course animals shouldn't be mistreated, but how is it even a question if we're better than animals or not?
    And if you're going to compare us to other animals, all other animals can feed off their prey but we can't farm animals????!!!
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2012: The question about use being better or not regards or balance with he environment round us.
      Saying that we farm something is very vague in its application, I could say i farm crops or animals fro example. But there is obviously a point were farming crosses the line.
  • thumb
    Dec 2 2012: No they are not.

    Any animal that wantonly destroys its own environment just for a quick buck is neither superior, nor intelligent.
    • thumb
      Dec 2 2012: Superiority has to do with domination of the environment (by "jumping" out of the ecosystem), and an animal, if dominating the environment would destroy the environment just by doing so. Intelligence is relative to you opinion on the importance or sustaining the earths original environment, after all we could survive ether way. So regardless of wither or not we choose to act "intelligently" we destroy the environment regardless. It is simply a matter of reducing the amount of damage we, as the most intelligent and superior race on this planet, cause our environment.
      • thumb
        Dec 3 2012: An animal, operating primarily on instinct, would live or die according to the environment that supports it. That species evolves in balance within its own ecosystem. That ecosystem depends on such balance in order to sustain itself.

        Humans have stopped evolving within the balanced scheme of nature. Instead, we are now evolving psychologically (and probably physically) within a technosystem of our own making, meaning we are losing that instinctual, vital connection with the earth. We do not give back what we take from nature. The inevitable result of that is we think (in our intelligent and superior way??) that technology will be our saviour, and that the finite resources that fashion it and power it, are somehow going to last for ever.

        My assertion is that yes, it takes a certain intelligence to jump out of that ecosystem in the first place as we have done, but it takes a far greater level of acuity to come to the collective realisation that this "half intelligence" we currently have is actually ruining the planet. That realisation will not be happening anytime soon, unless stupendous changes take place within our political, economic and religious institutions and the people who blindly support them.
        • thumb
          Dec 3 2012: Any reform of any kind will not change the fact that we have jumped out of the ecosystem of the planet. We will be hurting the planet not matter what, it is only a matter of degree.
      • thumb
        Dec 3 2012: I still maintain that jumping out of the planetary ecosystem as we have done, must be concurrent with a higher degree of global intelligence than we now have, in order to facilitate our essential role as custodians of the very thing that gives us and other animals, life.

        I still also maintain that our current belief systems have a corrosive effect on that vital intelligence we should have, in order to ensure planetary health and longevity.

        How do you suggest we change the degree by which we are hurting the planet?

        Will that change come about as a result of using the degree of intelligencewe have right now, or do we have to wait for a disastrous wake-up call to jolt us into that change?
        • thumb
          Dec 3 2012: The degree by which we we are hurting and will hurt the planet is detrimental as I said, and the only ways I think I believe that we could change is by changing our way of producing food and products (in a more economical manner).

          my main point is that we will always have a corrosive effect on the planet regardless of our intellect.
      • thumb
        Dec 3 2012: "...the only ways I think I believe that we could change is by changing our way of producing food and products (in a more economical manner)"

        By that, do you specifically mean developing more genetically modified crops and livestock and more intensive farming methods?

        " main point is that we will always have a corrosive effect on the planet regardless of our intellect"

        Are you saying that humans are a finite species?

        Will our 'intelligence' be the main catalyst of our own downfall?

        Can we learn anything from ecosystems that are healthy and self-sustaining, before it's too late?
  • Dec 1 2012: ...yes we are, if we are what who we are...Human...The Mindfood Chef
  • Nov 30 2012: " Man is the only animal who can be highly active while sitting still "
    We are not only self aware , we are aware that we are aware.
    And we must never forget about the importance of language. Language strongly correlates with our human way of structuring the world of our existence - time.
    • Nov 30 2012: Amen then!! ( that even rhymes :-0)
    • thumb
      Dec 5 2012: Dolphins, perhaps? I know they have self awareness, but I am unsure if they are aware of their self awareness. They have language, and are highly active also while sitting still.
  • Nov 30 2012: Frankly, I am getting tired of this debate.

    Perhaps someone else could join, as a whale, and ask homo sapiens what makes them think they are even close to being the equal of the obviously superior (and better looking!) whale.


    The book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn addresses this question much better than I ever could. I strongly recommend it. It is fairly short, and it provides a very non-human point of view about the environment.
    • thumb
      Nov 30 2012: Its kind of obvious that from an "aliens" perspective each animal would be unique and have their own advantages. But the simple fact of this situation is that no other animal can have this conversation.... Even a whale cannot talk on TED...
      • Nov 30 2012: And a human cannot talk to a whale in the whale's environment.
        • thumb
          Nov 30 2012: Yes we can... look it up. But even then they would not be able to talk about biological hierarchies.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2012: The essence of life is less noble than many people are willing to think, especially within the animal kingdom, in which the 'battle of the food chain' is a daily threat on lower ranks.

    As humans we are no better form of life, but due to our cleverness we made our way up the food chain and used the 'extra time' we gained by our efficiency to civilize ourselfs to a certain degree. By this 'civilization' we lost our direct connection to our origin, which caused us to become arrogant by 'superior' thinking.

    We lost our respect for the animals we keep for our food, as we reduce them to their purpose in our behalf and do not value their purpose in the whole picture. How many of us are still really greatful on thanksgiving and to its original idea? Probably just a view and for all others it is just another holiday and a day off.

    If we could regain respect to 'mother nature', we would compensate for some of the downsides of our civilisation. By this farming animals could become more respectful again to the 'beings' and therefore less in 'profit maximisation'.
    • Nov 29 2012: Interesting that you would bring up Thanksgiving as my mindset immediately went to the Native Americans who inhabited North America pre-colonialization. The had a great respect for the earth and her beings ad only took what they needed to survive, not wasting a scrap of any animal that they harvested in order to survive. If our society was less wasteful it would, therefore, be more profit oriented in that nothing is excluded as potential profit.

      Our aptitude and clever nature does make us innately "better" (I prefer more advanced) than our animal counterparts, but, as such, we should have the presence of thought to give respect to creatures beneath us in due process.
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2012: I abolutely agree with your conclusion and I think it is no coincidence that Native Americans struggled immensely with our mindset - besides being dominated. Almost everywhere this 'western ideology' destroyed and blinded regional traditions or got banned only temporarily like it was in China.

        I wonder if we could make our 'peace' again with this planet by using our technological knowledge wisely. Yet so far 'wisdom' is no discipline taught at our schools and universities and our genaration has not much to 'hand over' to the ones following us. I think we have developed way to fast and at this pace our 'respect' just could not keep up with us anymore. Time will show if we are that 'more advanced' to rightly claim and name ourselfs 'Homo sapiens' - 'the wise man' ...
        • Nov 30 2012: Lejan, "... I think it is no coincidence that Native Americans struggled immensely with our mindset ... "

          My only concern with this is the past tense. Many Native Americans still struggle to understand the Euro-American mindset. IMO, this is a good thing. I just wish we could all maintain a cooperative attitude in our mutual struggle to understand each other. Unfortunately, many "whites" are still intolerant of Natives.

          By the way, human hubris may be worse than you think. The species name for modern humans is Homo sapiens sapiens. Every time I think of it, I laugh.
      • thumb
        Nov 30 2012: @ Barry Palmer

        Thank you for correcting me! You are absolutely right and I should not have used the past tense!

        I also agree with your opinion, as one of the only ways to reflect my own lifestyle is to see myself through the eyes of those who managed to be less influenced by our Euro-American mindset.

        Much of the wisdom of Native Americans and other native tribes to me is exemplary and reminds me on the true values of our existence, which 'we' traded many centuries ago.

        If 'Homo sapiens sapiens' is what modern humans are named today, there must be an mathematical exception then that + and + is not always positive in its result. So we laugh together. :o)
  • Nov 29 2012: Humans are indeed superior; however we are creatures of habit and not efficiency. I do not believe our superior nature means we have to be callous toward other life forms, but I think that our role on earth has in many ways helped to shape the earth in a positive way. We are stepping into a new age of science and development where we can rebuild what we have lost and replenish what we have taken. As a superior life form we bear the responsibility of maintaining nature and if we need tilting the odds in favor of species we need to survive.