Visualize yourself confronted with the task of killing, one after the other, a cabbage, a fly, a fish, a lizard, a guinea pig, a cat, a dog, a monkey and a baby chimpanzee. In the unlikely case that you should experience no greater inhibitions in killing the chimpanzee than in destroying the cabbage or the fly, my advice to you is to commit suicide at your earliest possible convenience, because you are a weird monstrosity and a public danger.
Ending up with that gigantic outsized brain must have taken some sort of runaway evolutionary process, something that would push and push without limits. And today's scientists had a pretty good guess at what that runaway evolutionary process had been. Harry had once read a famous book called Chimpanzee Politics. The book had described how an adult chimpanzee named Luit had confronted the aging alpha, Yeroen, with the help of a young, recently matured chimpanzee named Nikkie. Nikkie had not intervened directly in the fights between Luit and Yeroen, but had prevented Yeroen's other supporters in the tribe from coming to his aid, distracting them whenever a confrontation developed between Luit and Yeroen. And in time Luit had won, and become the new alpha, with Nikkie as the second most powerful... though it hadn't taken very long after that for Nikkie to form an alliance with the defeated Yeroen, overthrow Luit, and become the new new alpha. It really made you appreciate what millions of years of hominids trying to outwit each other - an evolutionary arms race without limit - had led to in the way of increased mental capacity. 'Cause, y'know, a human would have totally seen that one coming.
If a curiously selective plague came along and killed all people of intermediate height, 'tall' and 'short' would come to have just as precise a meaning as 'bird' or 'mammal'. The same is true of human ethics and law. Our legal and moral systems are deeply species-bound. The director of a zoo is legally entitled to 'put down' a chimpanzee that is surplus to requirements, while any suggestion that he might 'put down' a redundant keeper or ticket-seller would be greeted with howls of incredulous outrage. The chimpanzee is the property of the zoo. Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody's property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees! [T]he only reason we can be comfortable with such a double standard is that the intermediates between humans and chimps are all dead.
I sometimes try to imagine what would have happened if we'd known the bonobo first and the chimpanzee only later""or not at all. The discussion about human evolution might not revolve as much around violence, warfare and male dominance, but rather around sexuality, empathy, caring and cooperation. What a different intellectual landscape we would occupy!
Frans de Waal
I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can't conceive. Just as a chimpanzee can't understand quantum theory, it could be there as aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains They could be staring us in the face and we just Don't recognise them. The problem is that we-re looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology.
When I was 7 and went to the zoo with my second-grade class, I saw chimpanzee eyes for the first time - the eyes of an unhappy animal, all alone, locked in a bare, concrete-floored, iron-barred cage in one of the nastier, old-fashioned zoos. I remember looking at the chimp, then looking away.
Octavia E. Butler
If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine - but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good - and CARES about any of it - to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.
My own diagnosis of my problem is a simpler one. It's that I share 50 per cent of my genome with a banana and 98 per cent with a chimpanzee. Banana's don't do psychological consistency. And the tiny part of us that's different - the special Homo sapiens bit - is faulty. It doesn't work. Sorry about that.
Once we ask why it should be that all human beings - including infants, the intellectually disabled, criminal psychopaths, Hitler, Stalin, and the rest - have some kind of dignity or worth that no elephant, pig, or chimpanzee can ever achieve, we see that this question is as difficult to answer as our original request for some relevant fact that justifies the inequality of humans and other animals.
Strategic thinkers were naturally rattled to find this outsider fooling around with their work. They had been thinking strategically when Reagan was just another movie actor playing opposite a chimpanzee, for heaven's sake. They think Reagan is too naive, too innocent, to grasp the intellectual complexities of cold war strategy.
It is not only visitors to the zoo who are fascinated but uneasy in the presence of chimpanzees; the same is true of scientists. The more they learn about these great apes, the deeper our identity crisis seems to become. The resemblance between humans and chimpanzees is not only external. If we look straight and deep into a chimpanzee's eyes, an intelligent, self-assured personality looks back at us. If they are animals, what must we be?
Frans de Waal
Another potentiality of our irrepressible juvenility is a capacity to maintain until the onset of senility an active creative interaction with our environment. We persist in exploring, investigating, inventing, discovering. In these respects humans of all eras, in all societies, all ages of life, are more like baby chimps and not at all like the sedate and rigidly conforming adult chimpanzee, who hasn't changed much since she was five or six years old.
Louise J. Kaplan
Consider a cow. A cow doesn't have the problem-solving skill of a chimpanzee, which has discovered how to get termites out of the ground by putting a stick into a hole. Evolution has developed the brain's ability to solve puzzles, and at the same time has produced in our brain a pleasure of solving problems.
I do not want to discuss evolution in such depth, however, only touch on it from my own perspective: from the moment when I stood on the Serengeti plains holding the fossilized bones of ancient creatures in my hands to the moment when, staring into the eyes of a chimpanzee, I saw a thinking, reasoning personality looking back. You may not believe in evolution, and that is all right. How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves.
With regard to the alternatives, we already have them. The cellular and genetic lines of research in humans are the most promising. AIDS is caused by a virus, so it makes sense to study the virus, not chimpanzees. We have learned virtually nothing about AIDS from the chimpanzee. Every major advance in AIDS research ... has come from human studies.
Certainly the first true humans were unique by virtue of their large brains. It was because the human brain is so large when compared with that of a chimpanzee that paleontologists for years hunted for a half-ape, half-human skeleton that would provide a fossil link between the human and the ape.
Imagine a life-form whose brainpower is to ours as ours is to a chimpanzee's. To such a species, our highest mental achievements would be trivial. Their toddlers, instead of learning their ABCs on Sesame Street, would learn multivariable calculus on Boolean Boulevard. Our most complex theorems, our deepest philosophies, the cherished works of our most creative artists, would be projects their schoolkids bring home for Mom and Dad to display on the refrigerator door.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I had a foretaste of another, larger kind of knowledge: one I believe human beings will be able to access in ever larger numbers in the future. But conveying that knowledge now is rather like a chimpanzee, becoming human for a single day to experience all of the wonders of human knowledge, and then returning to one's chimp friends and trying to tell them what it was like knowing several different Romance languages, the calculus, and the immense scale of the universe.
Some years ago I wrote a book called The House on Eccles Street. To write this book I had to think my way into the existence of Marion Bloom...Marion Bloom was a figment of James Joyce's imagination. If I can think my way into the existence of a being who has never existed, then I can think my way into the existence of a bat or a chimpanzee or an oyster, any being with whom I share the substrate of life.
J. M. Coetzee
What is the good of words if they aren't important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn't any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn't there be a quarrel about a word? If you're not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about? Are you going to convey your meaning to me by moving your ears? The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only thing worth fighting about.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
To talk of humans as 'transcendent' is not to ascribe to them spiritual properties. It is, rather, to recognize that as subjects we have the ability to transform our selves, our natures, our world-an ability denied to any other physical being. In the six million years since the human and chimpanzee lines first diverged on either side of Africa's Great Rift Valley, the behaviour and lifestyles of chimpanzees have barely changed. Human behaviour and lifestyles clearly have. Humans have learnt to learn from previous generations, to improve upon their work, and to establish a momentum to human life and culture that has taken us from cave art to quantum physics and the conquest of space. It is this capacity for constant innovation that distinguishes humans from all other animals. All animals have an evolutionary past. Only humans make history.
On the doorstep Adele met Tony Limpsfield. She hurried him into her motor, and told the chauffeur not to drive on. "News!" she said. "Lucia's going to have a lover." "No!" said Tony in the Riseholme manner "But I tell you she is. He's with her now." "They won't want me then, " said Tony. "And yet she asked me to come at half-past five." "Nonsense, my dear. They will want you, both of them... Oh Tony, don't you see? It's a stunt." Tony assumed the rapt expression of Luciaphils receiving intelligence. "Tell me all about it, " he said. "I'm sure I'm right, " said she. "Her poppet came in just now, and she held his hand as women do, and made him draw his chair up to her, and said he scolded her. I'm not sure that he knows yet. But I saw that he guessed something was up. I wonder if he's clever enough to do it properly... I wish she had chosen you, Tony, you'd have done it perfectly. They have got-don't you understand?-to have the appearance of being lovers, everyone must think they are lovers, while all the time there's nothing at all of any sort in it. It's a stunt: it's a play: it's a glory." "But perhaps there is something in it, " said Tony. "I really think I had better not go in." "Tony, trust me. Lucia has no more idea of keeping a real lover than of keeping a chimpanzee. She's as chaste as snow, a kiss would scorch her. Besides, she hasn't time. She asked Stephen there in order to show him to me, and to show him to you. It's the most wonderful plan; and it's wonderful of me to have understood it so quickly. You must go in: there's nothing private of any kind: indeed, she thirsts for publicity." Her confidence inspired confidence, and Tony was naturally consumed with curiosity. He got out, told Adele's chauffeur to drive on, and went upstairs. Stephen was no longer sitting in the chair next to Lucia, but on the sofa at the other side of the tea-table. This rather looked as if Adele was right: it was consistent anyhow with their being lovers in public, but certainly not lovers in private. "Dear Lord Tony, " said Lucia-this appellation was a halfway house between Lord Limpsfield and Tony, and she left out the "Lord" except to him-"how nice of you to drop in. You have just missed Adele. Stephen, you know Lord Limpsfield?" Lucia gave him his tea, and presently getting up, reseated herself negligently on the sofa beside Stephen. She was a shade too close at first, and edged slightly away. "Wonderful play of Tchekov's the other day, " she said. "Such a strange, unhappy atmosphere. We came out, didn't we, Stephen, feeling as if we had been in some remote dream. I saw you there, Lord Tony, with Adele who had been lunching with me." Tony knew that: was not that the birthday of the Luciaphils?