Animals Survive and Humans Thrive


Laura Cercone-Period 1 Honorbound

Humans and gorillas. What’s the difference? We both have thumbs and hair, but what makes us really different? The definition of life defined in science “is that organisms maintain homeostasis, are composed of cells, undergo metabolism, can grow, adapt to their environment, respond to stimuli, and reproduce”, but people can easily argue the differences in living as surviving and actually feeling and being alive. The most common comparison for surviving vs living is looking at animals vs humans.[1] One of the differences is that unlike animals, who only truly have a basic need/want for survival, humans take action to do so much more than that “for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good.” Animals’ primary goal is to survive aka finding food and water, reproduce, and finding shelter, after that there isn’t much else.  Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum says that “for the brute [animal] has no power of self-direction, but is governed by two main instincts which…impel him to develop them in a fitting manner and stimulate and determine him in action without any power of choice”.[2]

On the other hand, humans have choices beyond those of animals. While we need the same things for survival, to live and to feel like one is living, humans need more. We have made feats in technology, medicine, and more that we created in order to enrich our lives beyond just surviving until dying from something possibly avoidable. Aristotle in The Politics says “Human beings may be able not just to survive, but to lead a ‘good life’”.[3] It is in our nature and in our roots that we want to go past survival, thrive in life, and create accomplishments that animals have no desire for. Humanity wants to make life good and happiness is one of the important aspects and that is “why they aim at nothing higher than the life of enjoyment”.[4] The human mind keeps progressing with reason in order to gain a better life beyond survival with one full of experiences and emotions of happiness that make life truly good. “It is the mind, or reason, which is the predominant element in us who are human creatures; it is this which renders a human being human and distinguishes him essentially from the brute…man alone among the animal creation is endowed with reason.”[5]

So why do we have this want to live beyond the needs of survival? “Every creature in the world, including humans, has the instinct to survive, but only humans can think beyond survival, comfort, wealth, expression, and much more”.[6] Our mind is one of the best examples of what separates us from the animal. That separation has a lot to do with what we were given, such as speech beyond just sound, but expression. “The man is the only animal whom she [Nature] has endowed with the gift of speech”[7] beyond noises for mating or to scare off an enemy. This need we have to live and thrive is what makes us different from animals like gorillas. We were given the gifts that make us “the best of animals”[8] and therefore allows us to surpass because we want to live a life worth living with true happiness, not just food, water, sleep, live, repeat.


[1] “Life.” Life – Biology-Online Dictionary. May 01, 2017.

[2] Pope Leo XIII, and Bernardo Aparicio. Rerum Novarum. Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.

[3] Aristotle, and Bernardo Aparicio The Politics. Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.

[4] Aristotle, and Bernardo Aparicio. The Nicomachean Ethics Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.

[5] Pope Leo XII, and Bernardo Aparicio Rerum Novarum. Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.

[6] “Living Is More Than Surviving.” TV Tropes. May 01, 2017.

[7] Aristotle, and Bernardo Apraicio. The Politics. Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.

[8] Aristotle, and Bernardo Apraicio. The Politics. Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 2016.


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