What is humanity? It has been defined as the able to differentiate between what you perceive and perception itself. The most common example is that a human being can perceive a unicorn in its mind, but we know that we have never seen a unicorn before. But the very definition of humanity is coming dangerously close to changing, due to the previously unknown abilities of great apes.
I, like many celebrities of an era since long gone, have fallen head-over-heels for the appeal of the talking gorilla known as Koko. Koko was taught to speak in American Sign Language and has the working vocabulary of a five year old human child. But that’s all she needs. She can express sadness, happiness, anger, and has a great capacity for curiosity. She knows the differences between green and red. She knows the names of her family. Koko, it can be considered, is a reflection into the barbaric soul of the common.
“I want to believe,” is the proline of the popular culture television phenomenon of the 1990’s called the X Files. It describes the natural emotional attachment to a particular idea. Ideas like anthropomorphism, UFO’s, Angels, Demons, and Bigfoot. Grouped together these ideas seem so far fetched, and yet by themselves they seem to emit some sort of intellectual attraction.
A sense of intrigue and mystery.
In the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when the main character finds out the Earth was built by mice, he refers to his feeling that there was always something bigger than the Earth. That there were always other people out there. The lead architect of the Earth project responds “Oh, that’s just normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe gets that.”
Scientists, those commoners among us who like to ask questions of the natural and mechanical world(s) around them, have for the most part tried to avoid forming an emotional attachment with a certain particular. But in the field of primatology considering wether or not these close relatives emote and rationalize in the same way that humans do, not many can pursue a valid position in this field without developing some sort of emotional attachment to the subjects. Ultimately, this might be what these apes need.
There are a few different explanations for this human-like behavior exhibited by the Great Apes and many other primates (Dolphins, Polar Bears, Wild Dogs, and many other animals have also been documented acting in characteristic ways, but they are evolutionarily further removed from humans then our closest living relatives of the primate order).
The first reason is that these non-human primates ancestrally share many commonalities with human beings. This is the most widely accepted theory based on and adding to the theory of evolution.
Another reason, not commonly accepted, is based upon the first book of the Old Testament, which proclaims that since God created all creatures on Earth for the enjoyment and use by man, that the underlying wish of the majority of human beings is that we don’t want to be alone. Since we don’t want to be alone, then the Lord provided for us the chance to be able to actually communicate with our close relatives.
The third reason, one of which I have theorized, but do not necessarily believe, is based upon the notion that evolution works both ways. Humans tend to think optimistically, it’s in our nature that on a whole we strive to be greater. And so we have formatted the theory of evolution to fit our generalized understanding that evolution is purely for the advancement of species. Perhaps, however, the great apes and those other non-human primate relatives of ours were actually former honinidae, cursed forever after because of their actions to inhabit the minds and bodies of barbaric beasts.
I repeat, what is humanity? I think humanity is the ability to keep a set of core values close to the heart.