I have heard many different ideas over the years about what separates man from the rest of the animals. Morality God Religion Philosophy Abstract thought I have held for years that man is the only animal with the ability to affect change in his environment on a rapid and wide scale. All these things have one thing in common – language. Language is the only way we have to communicate complex ideas. All of our political, social, religious and philosophical ideas were built with and upon language. Without language, it is impossible to communicate any of these ideas and ideals – not even to oneself. Without language, our thoughts would consist of simple emotion and reaction. Without language, our thoughts would make Homer Simpson look like William Shakespeare and Tarzan look like Homer Simpson at least. Some say that animals have language – of course they do communicate, but “language” comes with structure… rules… grammar... Without language, our thoughts would be about as complex as animal communication. Me Strong. We fuck? Okay. Woo Hoo! Or… FUCK! SNAKE! RUN! (Yes, animals DO curse a lot. That’s because they don’t have the language required to develop rules of ethics or decorum.) I have also long considered that something unique to man is his ability to justify any action to meet his own needs. We act against our own best interest – purposefully. We commit suicide! People often talk about and make claims of this or that is “Human Nature”. I don’t know what “Human Nature” is, and I am highly skeptical of any ideas that stake claims to that knowledge. We routinely override our instincts to the point that it is just about impossible to know what our instincts really are anymore. We have reasoned them out of existence (or at least buried them deep into our subconscious). By the time we can speak well enough to express what our core beliefs, needs, urges, values, ideals, drives are – they have already been shaped by our language. Every minute aspect of who you are is shaped by language. Reason is impossible without language. Herein lies the paradox. If language allows us to apply reason to override our “animal” instincts, then it is language that grants us free will. Without language, there is no self-determination – only rudimentary, primitive conditioned response. Without language our thoughts are little more than simple emotions and responses to those emotions. Though language is what gives us the capacity of self-determination, language is also man-made and taught to us by our parents; by our communities; by the world at large. Nature stops at instinct – everything above the level of instinct is manufactured. Language, a man-made construct, has unfathomable influence on the person you are. That which frees you to escape the binds of unthinking natural trigger responses, also binds & shapes your thoughts and molds the person that you are. Language creates man in its own image.