The Missing Link?

After reading a few of the articles about chimpanzees being used as research specimens I have a number of thoughts. Firstly, Project Nim Stands out significantly in mind.  The fact that researchers tried to prove that a chimpanzee could obtain a language is quite an astounding venture.  Many people had already denied this premise, stating that only human beings had the ability to develop a language. The fact that Nim did in his own way, using American Sign Language, speak, is evidence that primates are truly the closet living things to humans.  Maybe it is impossible for a primate to develop impeccable syntax, but the fact that Nim knew how to sign over 100 words and make some sort of sentence is proof of their capacity and ability.

If a human is immersed in a particular environment from birth or an early age, they become assimilated into this environment.  There are stories of children who, due to certain circumstances, were abandoned and raised by animals. (see link below) They lived like the animals and had developed no sort of language. Where do these ‘feral’ children fit in the bigger picture. It is said that language is the defining characteristic, that sets humans apart from animals. If this is so, then shouldn’t the feral child just be considered an animal? Shouldn’t a chimpanzee who can actually form a sentence and speak its needs be regarded as a human? As more research is done, it merely blurs the line between the human world and the animal kingdom and this is unsettling to many, even scientists. I guess this just epitomizes the saying “ignorance is bliss.”


One thought on “The Missing Link?

  1. keltonhalbert says:

    The Nim article was a bit disturbing to me too, both in how he was treated after the experiment, and in the context of the experiment as a whole. There is something outright unnatural about the whole ordeal, and it raises very tough questions. As someone who does not readily subscribe to Darwinism, it poses very tough questions about humanity, and I think you detailed those differences very clearly in your analysis.

    In all honesty, I am beginning to notice that as man continues his quest to discover what it means to be human, and the origins of our existence, the less and less “human” humanity becomes. The long term implications of this, I do not know.

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