Humans: More or Less Animals

Mark Twain, at later stages in his life, wrote about topics that were on the boarder of being almost cynical and which held a darker tone. One essay that he wrote toward the end of his life was “The Damned Human Race.” Mark Twain may have crossed the line when he went against the accepted theories of Darwinism by making the credible, logical, and emotional points that humans are not at the top of the evolutionary hierarchy. Twain used his knowledge of these theories along with experiments and the logical conclusions deduced from those experiments to make his points valid. His use of all of Aristotle’s appeals made the essay successful in my opinion as the reader.

As the essay opens Twain makes a point to grab the reader and entice them with the contradiction to a widely accepted theory of science, Darwinism.  The contradiction is such that it not only goes against the basic ideas but rather calls out the original author as being wrong on the main point of the theory. The way that the author did this, led to a feeling that he was knowledgeable in the area that he was talking as well as gives some insight into what point Twain is going to make.  Twain states that “the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one” when referring to his observations as compared to those in the theory of Darwinism (1).

Although the opinion of Twain is that the accepted theory of evolution is incorrect and a new one needs to be brought through to the scientific community, he goes about explaining how he conducted his experiments using the scientific method.  Using this system to test the hypotheses that he had, it allowed Twain too create his conclusions by how the experiments resulted.  If the hypothesis was incorrect then he would reject the assumed outcome and alter his hypothesis from what was observed.  Having used the system of the scientific method, allowed Twain the ability to create logical conclusions from the real data that was observed while working in the London Zoological Gardens.  One experiment that stemmed from an incorrect hypothesis was that of placing seven young calves in a cage with an anaconda, expecting them all to be eaten, which only killed and ate one calf (Twain 2).  Twain, having heard a story about how a group of humans killed 72 buffalo but they only kept one, Twain decided to test the hypothesis that given the chance, a predator would kill everything it could given the opportunity.  The anaconda showed that humans were the ones capable of mass killings for sport rather than killing for what is needed to survive.

This same example of overkill when talking about the story of the buffalo helps lend Twain to achieve an emotional response in the reader.  He used a tone in the essay that conveys that he is almost disgusted at the human race all together, “I find the results humiliating to me” (Twain 1).  Even with this tone being set he goes onto explain that all humans are the same, no matter color, stature, mental caliber and so on (Twain 1).  The best example that Twain uses is comparing humans to cats.  The Cat will play with its prey, thus causing fear, but the cat knows not of the fear it creates.  This lack of an ethical understanding is the cats’ justification for those actions.  Having an ethical understanding of the action we as humans take is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

The reasoning behind Twains’ theory that humans are at the bottom of the evolutionary hierarchy rather than at the top are sound if the reader has an open mind as well as they are able to look outside the cultural norms for a different possible answer to this age old question. The use of all three different appeal to the reader throughout the essay shows that Twain took the time to not only learn about what he was talking, but also that he was able to rationalize logical conclusions from the experiments that he preformed. Having the base knowledge that Twain does as well as becoming an authority on the topic gives the reader all the credibility they need to agree with Twain about why the human race is damned. We as humans continually ignore that little voice that Twain calls the Moral Sense, and look at our culture as it stands today (Twain 4).

Work Cited

Twain, Mark. “The Damned Human Race.” n.d. Web. 11 May 2012


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