Exceptionalism, the stupidity of

Via Ellis, I learn that whale songs have syntax.  That is so beautiful I want to cry.

And yet, you know, add this item to the endless list of abilities and behaviors shown by “animals” that you’d have sworn – just sworn – are special abilities given directly to Adam by Jesus himself, because we humans are different.

Which is horseshit, of course.

Chimps mourn their dead babies.  Animals in zoos get depressed from the captivity.  Birds use tools.  Bees dance out maps.

People?  We’re apes who learned how to write.  (A virus with shoes, as the philosopher said.)  Our entire species will be gone someday, as if we’d never been here in the first place, and the planet will be just as magnificent.  More, even, maybe, once all that asphalt’s crumbled back under the ground.

There is no ape-king in the sky who looks like us, and our particular species of chimp is not set apart by having a “soul.”  What we have is a breathtakingly complicated, wrinkled chunk of electric meat in our skulls, just like the whales do.


8 thoughts on “Exceptionalism, the stupidity of

  1. Tom

    You’re such a dirty hippie Steve. If you go vegetarian on me we’re not friends anymore; that, and I’m going to dance on your nutsack.

    Do you honestly believe that people kill more indiscrimately than animals (with the obvious exception of Mogadishu) or have something to learn from animals? In your magnificent wilderness your mother would have eaten you, what’s so magnificent about that?

    Mourn our dead? Check.
    Depressed in captivity? Cubicle. Check.
    Dance out maps? All the fucking time. Why, just this morning I had to rearrange the furniture so I could properly tell Megan how to get to Staples.

    Whales have souls my ass. Shouldn’t those whales be out spying on submarines for us or something? Whoever has the thickest cerebral cortex gets to eat the species with the thinner or non-existent cerebral cortexes. That’s the way it works.

    You whalefucker.

  2. Steve

    That is exactly the opposite of the point I was trying to make. It’s not that whales have souls, it’s that we don’t. We’re just chimps, and we’re not as starkly different from the rest of the animals as we’d like to think.

  3. Ananth

    Why can’t whales have souls? I for one am pretty sure my dog has a soul, so I would think whales do too. Also, you shouldn’t confuse god’s self appointed interpertors statements as being the word of the big guy(s) or girl(s). Just because the catholic church doesn’t think that animals go to heaven, doesn’t mean they are right, know what I mean?

  4. Tom

    Only people have souls, I have a soul, ME ME ME!! Whales don’t! Whales are meat! MEAT MEAT MEAT!!! Yummmmmm….

    And, “soul” is the name I give to my hearty layer of cerebral cortex that allows me to engage in abstract thought, and call you a whalefucker. whalefucker.

    I had no problem with your soul-business, actually, I was annoyed at the insinuation of how everything will be grand once people are gone and the animals rule. That won’t be grand. That’ll suck, because we’ll be dead.

  5. Nicole

    did you know that if you stretched out a human cerebral cortex it would be about the size of a classroom?

  6. Steve

    Nothing has a soul, not even your dog. Your consciousness is an emergent property of the electric meat in your head.

    There is no ghost, only machine!

    I find the idea of gods and religion to be an insufficiently tiny lens through which to perceive such a vast and wonderful planet (let alone universe).

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