How We Made the World What We Wanted It to Be

Sophiaolender's picture

In this paper, I will make a preliminary argument that we, humans, are living outcasts in our world, and that perhaps we are the pushing force of recent and modern evolution. Because humans subconsciously facilitate the growth and development of our own preferences, in order to improve our interest and satisfaction in the world around us, we have changed the natural evolution of our earth.
In “The Origin of Species,” by Charles Darwin, Darwin argues that humans are the reason that certain species have many varieties. Dogs, for example, have so many varieties because humans have always loved them. Because we have always been so in tune with the needs and interests of dogs, we have created a world in which they are loved. We spent so much time trying to create the perfect dog, through breeding all the different dogs together that now there is a dog to fit any lifestyle or any cosmetic preference, and one that can fulfill any need. From seeing-eye dogs that lead the blind to sheep dogs that naturally know how to herd, dogs have literally been bred to be the best they can be.
When a human becomes so interested in one certain animal, we gain the ability to spot each little difference between creatures. When we can spot each tiny difference, we then take more care in breeding them, and eventually, the animal has become something different from what it was. These perfected creatures will expand until they are the majority, and have outlived the initial being.
Of course, at least during prior centuries, humans had less understanding for the internal merit of an animal and only cared about its appearance. As Darwin explained, “Man can hardly select, or only with much difficulty, any deviation of structure excepting such as is externally visible; and indeed he rarely cares for what is internal. ” This line says so much about humans. We are so interested in what something looks like, that we forget to spend time on what else it has to offer. Unless something fulfills an immediate purpose, we would not give our time to a physically displeasing animal. And when the animal is disliked, it is not studied or observed, so it is never improved, and so we never learn to understand it. I wonder how many animals may have died off, forgotten, because several centuries ago, we failed to regard them as living creatures.
I cannot help but relate this idea to humans today. Yes, we now study all animals and document species, regardless of whether we think they are pretty or not, but humans still, to this day, judge based on appearance. Animals are considered below humans on the food chain, so it is considered acceptable to judge animals based on this rather than a personality that is very difficult to extract. But humans still have a disgusting tendency to judge other humans based on their looks.  All humans are equal, so it is so strange that we have not yet learned to judge solely based on who someone is, rather than what someone looks like.
From incessant racism to obesity hatred to a simple judgment on the street based on what someone is wearing, we are still in an ancient frame of mind. It is a wonder that there are still so many species on this earth, when we have only aided the special ones. Perhaps animals do not need us at all, and our help has been a disadvantage to the way the world was supposed to work. Just like someone in class brought up that technology could be the downfall of natural evolution, or it could be what was meant to be, so too is the aid of humans. Did God know that humans would grow, out of animals, to be amazing, intelligent, and self-sufficient creatures? Maybe we are the true outcast in our world, and it just so happens that since we are the most powerful, the animals who own our earth cannot stop us. Are we helping animals or hurting them? Are we disrupting the natural flow of life, or are we the only reason life still exists?
There is no way to answer these questions, but I cannot help but to feel that we have consistently pushed our species up, and pushed animals down. There is no animal that we view as equal to us. If we thought about ourselves as just another species of animal, we could begin to comprehend how unusual this is. Why are we the head of the food chain? And when did we become so? Was it the day we start walking upright? The day we developed a language? Because other species share these accomplishments, so why aren’t they at the top? Or at least, why don’t we share equal footing on this earth?
This paper seemed to raise more questions than it answered, but I do think it is preposterous how we have created a world out of our own preferences, completely bypassing all other species. We do not know what goes through the minds of other species, so how can we judge? We have created modern evolution into something that is in our own hands. We largely control the species that breed, and are constantly trying to improve upon the animals we have now. When will we be happy? I think the answer is an obvious never. It is important that we examine our behavior before we take it too far, and destroy the force of nature.


Anne Dalke's picture

Making the world

You join a number of your classmates who are wrestling w/ the question raised by the “unnatural” human interventions in the process Darwin called “natural selection.” You might want to look @ amirby’s essay on
Natural selection among humans
epeck01’s paper on “Mankind’s Influence on Evolution
and crrichar’s piece on “The Evolution of Species in Relation to Technology in 21st Century” and compare the different spots where you all come out on this question of the advantages of technological furthering of selection.

Your essay is a call to action. You take the tone of disgust, dismissing humans for their tendencies to judge (both animals and other humans) on the basis of appearance. Want to take the role of a scientist (=skeptic?) here? Why do you think we so value appearance? What might be the historical reasons for our doing so, and what evolutionary purposes might it still serve?

Since the bulk of your narrative focuses on our ability to manipulate other species, I’m not sure what you mean by saying, several times, that we are the “true outcasts” in this world. Who, specifically, is the “we” who refuses to “think about ourselves as just another species of animal”? (Do you know the work of the Animal Liberationists, such as Peter Singer? See, for example, his argument against “species-ism.)

And then I was puzzled by your mention of ‘the way the world was supposed to work,” “what was meant to be.” Is the narrative you are writing a foundationalist one, a script written before the world has played out its story?

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