The Corner

Culture

Tom Wolfe: Human Exceptionalist

The ubiquitous attacks on human exceptionalism are one of the current age’s worst decadent tendencies. HE is the backbone of Western Civilization’s commitment to universal human rights, individual liberty, and our generally shared prosperity.

Some focus on religious reasons for holding out man as unique and distinct from all other life ever to exist in the known universe. 

But there are abundant reasons based on our attributes and capacities–whether or not we evolved from bacteria, were intelligently designed, or emerged out of the Mind of God.

For example, only we have duties as moral agents. Only we can stand in awe at the beauty of a sunset. Only we contemplate purpose and meaning.

The celebrated novelist Tom Wolfe writes that language sets us apart.

Wolfe notes that evolutionists have no idea what speech is and why we possess it. (Speech is far more than the mere ability to communicate.)  But it is a distinction with a huge difference between us ans all fauna. From an excerpt of his book, The Kingdom of Speech published in the Daily Beast:

Speech is not one of man’s several unique attributes—speech is the attribute of all attributes! Speech is 95 percent plus of what lifts man above animal!

Physically, man is a sad case. His teeth, including his incisors, which he calls eyeteeth, are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch.

Yet man owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.

What is the story? What is it that has left endless generations of academics, certified geniuses, utterly baffled when it comes to speech? For half that time, as we will see, they formally and officially pronounced the question unsolvable and stopped trying. What is it they still don’t get after a veritable eternity?

Many among the intellectual elite want us to think we are just another animal in the forest, that we are mere meat machines or computers in the flesh.

Accepting the human unexceptionalist meme would be incredibly destructive to our thriving and freedom. I am very glad that Tom Wolfe does not run with that reductionist crew.

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