Re: Are we "special"?

John Waters (
14 Dec 1996 23:14:07 GMT wrote in article > >is this thread.
> >
> Why spoil a fun thing. I have been following
this thread with
> great
> interest for a while. As a matter of fact I have heard
better arguements
> between
> high school debating teams. "Are we special ?" The first
point discussed
> between the H.S. kids would be to define the term
"special". They would
> perhaps decide to substitute the word "unique". Or at
least to decide
> which
> meaning of special they wish to debate.

JW: A fair point. Perhaps we should avoid knee-jerk
reactions here, and start by defining the word special.

In my dictionary the definition is given as: Particularly
good; exceptional; out of the ordinary.
> If all concerned could admit that Homo sap. sits on the
end of a
> long, shakey, and uncertain branch we might be able to
make a good guess
> as to how special we are.

And noting your interest in branches, the definition of
special branch is: a police department dealing with
political security. ;-)

So is the Human species particularly good? exceptional? or
out of the ordinary?
In a morphological sense, I think Phillip was making the
point that there is nothing special about the species. But
should you limit the argument to the morphological aspects?

It is Paleoanthropology isn't it? The Paleo bit maybe all
morphology, but what of the anthropological aspects? Is
there a social element here? Is the human species out of
the ordinary in respect of its social interactions? Should
this be discussed or considered?

If the human species is the only species of (placental)
mammal to rear multi-age broods to maturity, does this make
it out of the ordinary? or in any way exceptional? Or
particularly good at rearing multi-age broods?

It is not only physiology, it is behaviour. Are there any
Anthropologists out there?