What is the difference between the instinctive nature of animals and humans?
Question from the Internet:
“If instincts are in all living beings, and if humans are unique from most living beings, might being human then mean being able to transcend instincts?”
You are completely right. To be “truly Human” means transcending our instinctive nature and acquiring a new nature.
All beings in nature are instinctive. All levels of the natural system are driven by the instinct to survive and develop. This is built into all elements of nature, and how we survive and develop is coded in us by nature’s evolution which is deterministic.
But there is a major difference between humans and all other elements of nature.
While all elements of nature want to secure their own survival, and fight and make 100% efforts for that survival, this individual survival reflection or instinct never threatens the general balance and homeostasis of the whole system. All element in nature — still, vegetative or animate — blindly and automatically sustains and contributes to this general balance and homeostasis, even at the expense of self-sacrifice.
In the face of general and all-encompassing systematic calculations, all individual calculations and the individual perception of existence disappears. Nature’s elements do not sense their own existence as something independent, they all, automatically sense themselves as part of the whole, seamlessly integrated system like cells of the same body.
In contrast, human beings are born with totally independent and individualistic survival instincts. We do not feel the general and mutual integration, we do not feel the “mutual guarantee” — selfless and unconditional mutual complementation for the sake of the whole — that facilitates the life of the natural system.
As a result, we instinctively destroy and consume everything beyond our necessities, while actually enjoying survival and success at the expense of others and nature.
Thus humans, as long as they act and exist instinctively, are as harmful to each other, nature, and themselves as cancer.
This has been purposeful by evolution. Human beings are expected to become the natural system’s only fully conscious, integrated but at the same time independent beings and partners. This is possible only if human beings willingly and in full awareness start existing and behaving above and against their instincts.
“Human” — based on the Hebrew origin of the word — means “similar”. “Truly Human” beings are those who become similar to nature’s finely balanced and mutually integrated system above and against their destructive and “unnatural” instincts.