The Options of Moral Sense
Why are humans considered a higher animal? Is it because we know the difference between good and bad or that we are intelligent beings capable of technological advancements? Yet, even though humans are considered a higher animal, they still murder, steal and rape for fun. Humans are able to do both good and bad, yet which one of these qualities comes natural to humans? Are humans generally good or evil; are they the lowest or the highest of animals? There are humans that will do what society perceives as the right thing, while there are humans that will do the opposite. But in the mind of the individual, a good thing can be bad to society.
So how can one accurately deduce that humans are good or evil compared to other animals? The answer to that is simple, compared to other animals; humans are both naturally good and evil. This is because humans are the only animals that actually perceive what good and evil are. Humans are the only animals that are consciously aware that they are doing what they think are good or bad deeds. What this does for humans is give them the option of being either the lowest of the low or fly above all. But what this also does is limit it so that only humans can become the lowest animal by their own standards. Because humans are consciously aware of what is morally good or evil, they become the only animals that can achieve these two qualities.
In The Lowest Animal, Mark Twain explains a theory on why humans are actually the lowest of the animals. Twain argues that man is cruel and takes unnecessary actions. He explains how humans commit actions for sheer amusement and entertainment rather than for survival. “…they killed seventy-two of those great animals; and ate part of one of them and left the seventy-one to rot… I caused seven young calves to be turned into the anaconda’s cage. The grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied.
It showed no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them… The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and an anaconda is that 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” (Twain 2). This quote describes a known event that has proven humans to be cruel and unusual. Twain then goes on to explain many other happenings that describe how humans are the lowest animal. He states the many actions and traits that humans differ from the higher animals, whether they are traits humans have that animals do not, or vise versa. He claims that humans have degraded from animals.
Then Twain comes to a conclusion that because humans have a moral sense, they are the only animals able to do evil, because humans are the only animals ever to define evil. “I find this Defect to be the Moral Sense. He is the only animal that has it. It is the secret of his degradation. It is the quality, which enables him to do wrong… the infliction upon man of the Moral Sense; the ability to distinguish good from evil; and with it, necessarily, the ability to do evil; for there can be no evil act without the presence of consciousness of it in the doer of it” (Twain 7).
Because humans can tell good from evil, they have the ability to do evil. But when considering this, there is also an alternative theory that can be drawn. Humans always have a choice to do the right thing. But the right thing to do differs from person to person. Because of the fact that each individual differs from each other in many aspects, their views will also differ.
In many ways, humans can do evil, but with this, there is also the opposite, in many ways, humans can do good. While humans are the lowest animal by nature and their own standard, they can still fly high. But this concerns the individual, and not humans as a whole. “I was aware that many men who have accumulated more millions of money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more, and have not scrupled to cheat the ignorant and the helpless out of their poor servings in order to partially appease that appetite” (Twain 2). This quote shows a human capability to choose to do evil. The rich choose to be selfish and try to make as much profit as possible, even to the extent of taking it from the poor.
Humans naturally are selfish and mainly do things to support their own lives, but this does not mean that humans cannot choose to sometimes do a good deed that will not necessary support them. There are many cases where humans actually do give money to the poor, even when they are poor themselves. Firemen risk their lives every day to put out a fire and save the people who might as well have died in the fire. While humans naturally do things for self fulfillment and interest, there are still cases where they choose to do something good for one another. All the goodness we see in the world today or find in the pages of history is a result of this innate goodness… Human beings, who have been given the freedom of choice by their Creator, have the potential of surpassing the angels in goodness when they follow the path of obedience to Allah out of their free will… Of course, human beings have freedom to choose another path… Instead of worshiping God, they can worship and obey their own lusts and desires. They can do whatever pleases them or feels good (Baig).
This quote explains that humans can choose to do both good and evil; it all lies within that choice. The fact is that this choice all depends on the influences around the individual. Humans seem to be naturally selfish because of the fact that the influences around them affect them this way. “Today the affairs of this world are being controlled by the lowest of the low and the daily news is a reminder of that tragic fact” (Baig). Because there are influences surrounding every individual, the decisions and choices each individual make will project that influence, which produces the affect that humans are naturally selfish.
Even with the choice to do good or evil, if those in power are doing evil, then those without will follow in hopes of obtaining that same power.