Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're All Animals

In his book On Love, Alain de Botton notes that what distinguishes us from animals is our ability to be social. We build personalities off of what others perceive of us, and we in turn, return the favor by shaping and molding the personalities of others.

"What does it mean that man is a "social animal"? Only that humans need one another in order to define themselves and achieve self-consciousness in a way that mollusks and earthworms do not. We cannot come to a proper sense of ourselves if there are not others around to show us where we end and others begin."

-Alain de Botton, On Love

An interesting theory and if it has any truth, he who surround himself with worthless, unsubstantial creatures just using up oxygen must also be misshapen and worthless. If I want good feedback on my actions, I need worthwhile friends but also friends who I see reflections of what I aspire to myself. Friends should not only support us but they should also stimulate and challenge us. So before I turn this into the corniest, friends-are-the-greatest-thing-ever blog posting, let me get back to how we're all just animals.

Yeah, we're social but the reality is that most people surround themselves with worthless (I'm sure they're really nice...or hot) people. These are the kinds of people that make the world go round....and round. This is how mankind works. But what makes the world stretch...what makes the world bounce up and down like a basketball. Um, nothing?! That doesn't happen...Oh, but it does. There are people who change the world - for better or for worse. There are people who will cure cancer and there are people who cause the genocide of millions. And these people have friends. If you bothered to look, these friends wouldn't be much different from the individual you study. For example, Osama Bin Laden's friends are probably pretty much like Osama Bin Laden.

So back to how we're all animals. Well, most of us are. We're just animals chewing on hay like all the other animals. Mating like all the other animals, etc., etc. So on this day that we're supposed to be thankful for all we have, I get this sinking feeling that mankind needs to upgrade...alot. Get a life.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting premise that I think has a lot of truth but there are other dimensions to friendship that I think are important to note. While I would love to pontificate on those other aspects, I think the more apt comment is to say that you are not speaking about the worth of friendships in this post but more so the worth of individual humans. If we are able to reduce people down to a single dimension, then I would agree with a lot of what you say. It makes sense, we have a singular viewpoint about many people in our lives, but the ones that stir the most emotion, thoughts, etc. usually show us (or we choose to notice) their endless complexity which we all have as individuals.



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