Humans and the Superiority Complex

During last week’s meeting we discussed the connection between animals and humans. Many argue that one cannot draw comparisons because unlike animals, humans are emotional creatures with an intellectual capacity that is unmatched. Many philosophers, scientists and individuals who are keen to this idea use anatomy as their tangible evidence that humans are superior beings. They argue that because our cortex is much bigger than most other animals, we have the ability to carry out higher cognitive functions and perform the one task that no other animal could—reason.

Though a larger cortex may be related to increased cognition, it does not necessarily imply superiority (many of us happen to commit very questionable acts even though we have the capacity to do otherwise). Many animals have abilities that we try to emulate but can never duplicate. For example, gibbons (shown below) demonstrate remarkable social intelligence in which they are able to communicate over 20 different sounds—each containing a different meaning-- to their peers.  The following is a youtube link showing the incredible range of these wonderful primates.

As discussed briefly in our last lecture, our pets also have amazing talents that humans can only dream of having. Dogs, for example, have a meticulous sense of smell. It is why there are used so frequently by police in order to search for items like weapons or drugs. In fact, dogs use the sense of smell to distinguish humans from other humans. We cannot even tap into some of this olfactory information, which can rival the type of rich information provided by the visual world.


Many of us drift off to a dream state and imagine how invincible we would be if we had some of the abilities that animals have. What if we could fly as majestically as a bird? What if we can run as fast as a cheetah? What if our arms were as strong as an elephant’s trunk? It is when we snap back into reality that we realize that maybe we’re not so superior after all.


"Human Brain vs. Animal Brains." ENCOGNITIVE.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.

"Gibbon." (Hylobatidae). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.

"Dogs Have An Amazing Sense Of Smell." Sense of Smell. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.



"Animal Connection: New Hypothesis for Human Evolution and Human Nature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.

"Dogs Have An Amazing Sense Of Smell." Sense of Smell. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.

Mosbergen, Dominique. "Human Intelligence Isn't Superior To That Of Other Animals, Researchers Say." The Huffington Post., 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 28 May 2014.

"Humans Not Smarter than Animals, Just Different, Experts Say." Humans Not Smarter than Animals, Just Different, Experts Say. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014.

Tyson, Peter. "Dogs' Dazzling Sense of Smell." PBS. PBS, 02 Oct. 0012. Web. 28 May 2014.