The question of whether humans are animals raises profound philosophical questions about our identity and place in the natural world. The notion that we are somehow distinct from the animal kingdom continues to captivate our imagination despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Philosophers often assert that rationality and self-control provide humans with a unique moral status, distinguishing us from other animals. It is argued that our consciousness, rationality, and freedom set us apart from animals like squirrels who lack these attributes.

Aristotle's assertion that humans are primarily rational animals has been called into question, as some argue that it is not the traditional conceptions of humanity as purely rational beings. That undermines this view. Aristotle's claim that humans possess a unique ability to reason distinguishes them from other animals, even though this does not imply that humans are always rational. However, there is a crucial contrast between humans and animals: humans are believing animals. Humans possess beliefs about a wide range of subjects that other animals lack, including their place of work, social conduct, and even the cosmos. Thus, a fundamental difference between humans and other animals lies in our capacity for belief rather than reason, raising questions about the primacy of reason in defining what it means to be human.

The concept of animalism, which posits that humans are essentially biological organisms rather than spiritual entities, suggests that the notion of an exclusive human nature is illusory. The Thinking Animal Argument is a compelling argument for this position. The argument states that there is a living human organism, a biological human animal, sitting in your chair right now. This organism is not just any ordinary animal, but one with a functional brain that is capable of thinking. You are the only thinker present in your chair, which establishes your identity with this human animal. Therefore, you are a human animal. This argument suggests that we should embrace our animal nature rather than rejecting it, and it challenges our assumptions about what it means to be human.

Immanuel Kant expounded on the notion that the moral law reveals a life free from animality. The Western intellectual tradition has shown considerable consistency in upholding this principle. However, this way of thinking also leads to problems when it is used to differentiate among humans. Some humans are free, rational, and aware of themselves, while others are ruled by animalistic impulses. This turns out to be a convenient excuse for racism, slavery, and colonialism. Viewing humans as animals has been a powerful tool for creating and maintaining social hierarchies and inequalities based on race, ethnicity, and culture.

The idea of superiority and inferiority between individuals and groups dates to ancient times, with Aristotle laying the groundwork in his concept of slavery based on the distinction between the soul and the body, and between humans and animals. Aristotle's justification for human hierarchies is based on the analogy of people to animals, with the real goal being the superiority of some individuals over others. Every human hierarchy, so far as it can be justified philosophically, is treated by Aristotle by analogy to the relation of people to animals.

One of the ways that some humans have tried to justify their domination and exploitation of other humans is by viewing them as animals or subhuman. This dehumanizing strategy has been used to rationalize colonialism, slavery, and racism throughout history. For example, some European colonizers saw themselves as superior to the indigenous peoples and Africans they encountered and used their alleged inferiority as a pretext to conquer, enslave and oppress them. Some of these colonizers also relied on that portrayed non-Europeans as closer to apes than to humans in terms of evolution, intelligence, and morality. These ideas persisted even after the abolition of slavery and the rise of anti-racist movements, and still cast a shadow over the image and identity of many people of African descent and other marginalized groups.

The dichotomy between the human body and mind has been a prevalent notion throughout history. However, I am inclined to challenge this view as it fails to capture the complexity and interconnectedness of human existence. I refuse to see myself as a mere program running on a biological machine. I’d like to see myself a lot more advanced than that.


The claim that humans are fundamentally different from other animals is not without merit, but it is not necessarily a distinction of superiority. We should shift our focus to our commonalities with the rest of the animal kingdom. Our affinity with other creatures should not be perceived as a threat to our identity, but rather a source of inspiration to enhance our own abilities.