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Human Nature Essay

2126 words - 9 pages

The essays "The Intelligence of God" and "The Lowest Animal," by Mark Twain, are important because they call into question what a human being's role was originally meant to be in the world. Human beings are lower than animals because of their high levels of deceit, ignorance, and violence. Most human beings see themselves as being at the top of the food chain because (as humans would argue) we have the highest intelligence and are the most civilized of all creatures. Twain, however, would argue that things are quite opposite, as human ignorance often supersedes its intelligence. With our intelligence, comes more opportunity to abuse it and act worse than most animals. Animals do not start ...view middle of the document...

Twain seems to question whether or not God knew what he was doing when he created human beings because they are such flawed creatures and they have created such mayhem in the world. Human beings will perform negative acts all while speaking positive words. "We hunt the fly remorselessly; also the flea, the rat, the snake, the disease germ and a thousand other creatures which he pronounced good, and was satisfied with, and which we loudly praise and approve--with our mouths" (Twain 232). These are all interesting points to consider and they make sense for the reader who is open-minded enough to consider them.The essay "The Lowest Animal" goes into an in- depth comparison between man and other animals. This is important because of how Twain characterizes human nature. Throughout history, human beings have always believed that they are superior to other members of the animal kingdom. Twain argues that this is because our brains work in a manner that causes man to have "just one stupendous superiority. In his intellect he is supreme" (242). Twain makes some very interesting arguments in this story, as he brings into question the strictly human quality of cruelty. Members of the animal world base everything on survival. If one animal is to kill another, it is not based on anything but survival. Twain uses the example of putting calves in a cage with an anaconda. The anaconda will only kill one calf, as well as consume it. The other calf remains unharmed until the anaconda is hungry again. Twain compares this to human nature, specifically the story of an "English earl" who organized a buffalo hunt for his own amusement. He was responsible for the killing of seventy-two buffalo, but only one was consumed for food (234). This example proves that humans have a negative quality far more impacting and gruesome than animals could ever imagine. Humans enjoy the suffering of others and (as Twain states) "the earl is cruel and the anaconda isn't; and that the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda doesn't (234). In addition, he also uses an example of torture during his argument. Throughout history, human beings have been guilty of torturing their fellow man, for whatever reason. Twain mentions a cat will play with a mouse before ultimately devouring it, but the cat has no intentions to torture or inflict pain on the mouse. The cat acts out with complete ignorance about how the mouse feels (236). On the other hand, humans are aware that torturing another person brings them great discomfort--a psychological reasoning of why they do it. "Cats are loose in their morals, but not consciously so. The cat is innocent, man is not" (235).Based strictly on the human ideology, human beings are also the only creatures that organize wars and other fights--ideas based on one group of people trying to take things away from the other group of people. Wars are strictly human endeavors and members of the animal kingdom do not organize fights. Animals do...

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