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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973

"A cuckoo's egg in the nest of Nature"

"A cuckoo's egg in the nest of Nature"

Dear Sir,

From the way same people who speak one gets the impression that they hold that humanity is purely animal, only a more advanced animal. How ludicrous!

These people say that mankind should lord it over nature, and it is as instinctive as for a beaver to be an architect or a hunted stag a strategist. But mankind is not an usurper in the realm of nature but has a nobility, a dignity that places a person far above any other animal.

Run instinct for all its worth, show how a person's delicate sensibility in a thousand directions is but a development of that instinct, use instances of inherited tendencies and herd psychology and one will come up against a gigantic difference between the person and another animal. Only human people are able to direct their attention towards themselves as a thinking creature, or towards their own thinking process. So this power of reflective reason is the distinguishing feature drawing a drastic line between the person and the animal. Man's power of reflection and reasoning is quite beyond any other power in animals.

The difference between dead matter and living, between unconscious life and life that has sensations is not more pronounced than the difference between the living thing that can feel and the living thing that can reflect on it's feelings. A person can be the object of his/her own thought and this act is not susceptible of any physical explanation. Scientists show how emotions, the imagination, are governed by electrical impulses but they cannot show the same for the thinking process.

Mankind's distinguishing mark, therefore, is the ability not explicable by science, which relates and digests impression and association through the work of the independent organising intellect. Thus human beings naturally cope with the buffeting of experience and can indeed be the master of all the earth.

And if science in the future should prove that our bodies are part of a coherent system of gradual biological evolution, we humans are still, as intellectual beings, a cuckoo's egg in the nest of nature. Thus the human person's dignity must be acknowledged and safeguarded particularly with reference to each person's life.

Yours faithfully,

C. Natkin