Saturday, September 26, 2009

Being Man

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

--Mark Twain.

What does this mean?


Corrie Howe said...

Wow. These are a few words packed with a lot of thoughts.

Man is the only animal with a conscience?

Man is the only one with higher thinking skills to think about what he's done?

Man is the only one with a moral code?

Man is the only one who can act against his instincts?

Just a few thoughts that popped out.

Judith Ellis said...

Beautiful questions, Corrie. I agree that this line is thoughtful indeed and I like the sound of it.

Your thought regarding man's conscience is agreeable, but our dog would always know when he did wrong and would cower well before a word was spoken to him. What was that? What was that is own conscience or our training?

Without training, would we not have a conscience? I love your distinction of instincts here. Do animals ever act against their instincts? Do mothers of animals kill their babies?

For me, all of your questions evolve around the issue of morality which I think is the essence of the quote. If morality is a system of morales governed by culture, are humans the only ones with such a system?

Our dog seemed to blush a lot and if you watch animals in the wild they are well adept at plotting, but perhaps not as well at reflection. Maybe this is the essence of your instinct distinction above.

Thanks, Corrie. You've given me a bit more to think about.

Corrie Howe said...

We had a dog who have birth to a litter. She kept trying to suffocate the runt. We kept saving it and forcing her to let it nurse. We kept the runt. It was one of the best dogs we owned, but it wasn't quite right...if you know what I mean. It was also blind in one eye.

So was the mother's instinct correct that the runt wouldn't survive in the world if not for human intervention?

Again, I don't know, but have always been curious about this incident.

Judith Ellis said...

Wow! So, animals are animals are animals, I guess? Do you think she would have killed her little one? I guess it would still be our understanding of what any animal is thinking, our consciousness or reflection, that is. Thanks for the story.

Strawberry Girl said...

Hmmm. If you take it as the thought that man has a conscience, then the argument might be that animals do not have a conscience and yet as you pointed out dogs do seem to show remorse. But is it true remorse, as in their conscience got the better of them... I think if they were not caught then they wouldn't think of it further... they wouldn't come back later on and try to make up for it. As for myself, I never knew I could blush until someone I really admired gave me a compliment. It was interesting.

Marion said...

Okay, here's may take on Mr. Twain's quote, Judith. I think that God must've laughed out loud when he made man. Women, well, we're muses, shapely, erotic and oh, so lovely to look at. But men's bodies are just funny and I'd blush if I were a man. It must be horrible to be all 'out there' with nowhere to hide their, uh, feelings! Maybe because women are inner beings is why I think that. And I'm in a funny mood today anyhow. Tee-Hee....

Judith Ellis said...

Strawberry Girl - Dogs are interesting. I think it has a lot to do with training. But I also wonder if man left alone would be as remorseless as some other animals tend to be without training. Even with a base element of training, some of our actions are so very appalling. But I have faith in the human race and respect the animal kingdom as a whole. Thanks for your comment. Good to see you again.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, Marion, now, some women would beg to differ with you, of course, my sister girl. But you are in rare form today and you have made me blush! :-)

septembermom said...

Judith, everyone has shared such wisdom. Thanks to you all. Marion, you kept me giggling with your remark about "all out there: :)

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, Kelly, the bloggers here are so sharp and thoughtful. I'm happy to have you all here; this includes you too. I'm with you on Marion's comment! Wild thang!