Thursday, June 24, 2010

Third Wheel

If we could project human emotions and responses on our ape cousins this image might well invoke the old adage, "Two's company; three's a crowd." At one time or another we've all felt like the odd-man out. It's not a comfortable feeling nor a happy one.

One wonders if this chimp is feeling similar emotions. The body language certainly leans in that direction. Then again, it just might be another boring day at the office as he watches the zoo visitors ogling him.

The romantic in me wants it to be the former. I know animals can feel jealousy and loss. Any pet owner can tell you that. But do they "feel" it on more than a primal level? That may seem like a bizarre question as many would equate emotions with the most basic and non-intellectual of functions, barely above instinct. But humans have the capacity to understand why they are feeling in that state. Do apes, chimps or cats?

Most of us can say "I feel hurt" and know why we hurt. We can rationalize it and talk ourselves out of a purely emotional response or we can immerse ourselves in our primal misery - our choice (assuming we are not clinically depressed or suffering from some mental disorder). Can they? Can a chimp say "I feel bad because my best buddy is grooming the most desirable female in the troop and they are both ignoring me" and jolly himself out of his funk? As much as I'd like to think so, I don't really know. And how would we ever find out for sure?

No comments:

Post a Comment