Humans are exceptional

This belief underlies a great deal of our (toxic) culture. (Shall we ignore the possibility that all culture is toxic?)


Are we on top? If so, why and how and how can we stay that way? If not, why do so many of us act like we are? Do we reign over the animal kingdom? Who says it's a kingdom? Some guy?

This tenet is the mirror image of one of the core themes of the human story: humans are exceptional. If you don't believe me, do a cursory search for "what makes humans unique" or what sets humans apart. In this vein of separatism, one will discover a host of theories, and books on each one, stretching back into the annals of history. (I'd better rope off a post for another time on this wide spectrum of pseudoscience.)

Examples of this folly

From Recapture the Rapture by Jamie Wheal:

We appear to be unique in the animal kingdom in discovering you can hot-wire pain to experience pleasure and even healing.

  • Using pain for pleasure or healing as in BDSM

From Mastery by George Leonard:

The human individual is equipped to learn and go on learning prodigiously from birth to death, and this is precisely what sets him or her apart from all other known forms of life. Man has at various times been defined as a building animal, a working animal, and a fighting animal, but all of these definitions are incomplete and finally false. Man is a learning animal, and the essence of the species is encoded in that simple term.


"unique in the animal kingdom" "what sets us apart from all other known forms of life"

Humans are exceptional