Saintly Thoughts

On Man & Animals

We have expended much energy as a species trying to determine what sets us apart from the other animals.  This seems to me a ludicrous project, even when viewed from the  perspective of religion.  The question shouldn't be what separates human from animal but what separates animal from person.  As an animal, humanity is only a somewhat more complex extension of traits and behaviors seen elsewhere in the animal kingdom.  We are persons because we tell stories to one another and delight in those stories.  If someday we should discover (or if we have already discovered) that one of our fellow creatures has evolved to the extent that they can share stories amongst themselves, then we will recognize in them a nascent personhood.  If we as humans should be able to share stories with them and they are able to reciprocate, then we will recognize them as fellow persons.  Perhaps we see the beginnings of this exchange in the relationships we form with our pets.  A person is, before anything else, a storyteller.  Thus a person has the capacity to tell lies.  By their lies we shall know them.