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Neither a Man nor a Woman Belongs in Class "Animal"

Updated on February 27, 2014

Man or woman is not translatable into "animal"

To start with, let’s distinguish a man from a woman. A man produces the “seed” while a woman produces the egg upon sexual maturity. In a reproductive act the “seed” fertilizes the egg. Fertilization results in an embryo that turns into a fetus. Man has sex chromosomes designated as XY while a woman has sex chromosomes designated as XX. The fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus of a woman who later on gives birth to a baby.

These are functional distinctions. There are kinds of definitions like deductive and functional.

An example of a deductive definition: “Man is an animal.” In this definition, “animal” is the class and “man” is a subclass within “animal.”

What is an animal? From childhood we come to understand the term animal by means of examples. A dog is an animal. A cat is an animal. A buffalo is an animal. An elephant is an animal. Kangaroo is an animal. Chicken is an animal. We learn further that an animal has four legs or two legs. Some have wings, others have no wings. Some have hairs, others have feathers.

We take note that we are dealing with features of the animal that are verifiable. We see legs, wings, hairs, and feathers. We observe further that a kangaroo is different from an elephant; that is different from a cat; that is different from a dog; that is different from a duck; that is different from a chicken.

But we call them all “animal.” That means, their differences are ignored. So, what is “animal”? “Animal” is a category. In the Philippines, and now in Indonesia, there is a TV show called “Eat Bulaga.” Indonesia has franchised "Eat Bulaga." It includes a game called “Pinoy Henyo,” meaning Filipino genius. It is played out by two. One fellow who asks questions, has on his/her head a tag where the name of an object is written. S/he cannot see or does not know what is written in the tag. The other fellow answers “yes” or “no” to the questions; he knows or sees what is written on the tag. The object written on the tag is to be identified by the fellow who has it on his head. The game proceeds as follows:

The fellow with the tag “cat” on his head asks:

“Is it an animal?”

The partner answers, “Yes.”

“Does it fly? “

“No,” comes the answer.

“Does it have four legs?”


Now, the questioner knows that he must enumerate animals with four legs, thus:

Carabao? Tamaraw? Elephant? Tiger? Lion? Dog? Cat?


The players win the game and a prize.

We observe that “animal” does not win them the game.

Animal is not a thing

“Animal” is an invention used to hold things. Deductive logic is a means of inventing that does not require truth. We can say “Liliput is a planet.” (Suppose that there is no planet called Liliput.) This sentence is meaningful but it is not true. We are not going to elaborate on how things are named.

A bit more on truth. Existence is not attributed to a class, as to say "Animal exists." But this makes us digress; it deserves another Hub on theory of definite description. Suffice it to say that we are using the correspondence theory of truth.

Sometimes, if we are not aware, a sentence in the deductive form is deceptive. What is being defined appears to have a physical reality. How? First, the definition is grammatically correct. Second, the definition is meaningful. Third, the classes (animal, dog) are so common that their physical existence is taken for granted. The existence of "animal" is taken for granted because the word 'animal' is used in ordinary language and even in scientific literature very frequently. Likewise, the existence of "dog" is taken for granted but there are several breeds that have common features like four legs, barking, biting, tail, ears, large mouth, and many more. There are few people who would care to give names of breeds like pit bull or St. Bernard. Still a breed is a subclass.

In science, mistakes would arise from the use of classes. For example, oxygen. You don't breathe just any oxygen that has several kinds: atomic oxygen designated as 0; molecular oxygen designated as O2-2; ozone designated as O3; singlet oxygen designated as 1/2O2. We normally breathe molecular oxygen that is used in the metabolism of glucose which produces energy. We don't breathe pure molecular oxygen because it is poisonous to us; we breathe 21% molecular oxygen from the natural atmosphere.

Ideal language

The exact language does not use classes. The ideal language reflects space-time as well. Take your own person. On August 6,2012, your body is composed of AA components. On August 7,2012 your body is composed of BB components. The reason is that your blood had been changed by means of programmed cell death (blood has a life span of 140 days and is replaced periodically). Your skin, bone, and muscle had likewise changed by means of apoptosis (programmed cell death). So, you are not the same person. Your memory remains because brain cells are not subject to apoptosis. Nerve cells and cardiovascular cells are also not replaceable. So, over a period of time your body (except brain, nerve and cardiovascular cells) had changed - but your name has not.

Our topic has a lot to do with language. The exact language is demanding and cumbersome. To reflect changes in my body, I will change my name every second. To reflect the water that I drink I have to call it by one name when it is in my mouth and call it another name when it is in my stomach. I will have to invent new words or terms every second that I may lose track resulting in confusion. That is why common language and classes are useful. Imagine this: yesterday when we met I called myself Pedro, today as we meet I call myself Juan, and I will not respond to you if you call me Pedro.

“Animal” is defined deductively. “Animal” is only a basket of things, as it were. In logic, it is a class. A class is not a thing.

It is analogous to: “One is a class with a solitary member.” Likewise:

“Animal” is a class with members like kangaroo, cat, dog, chicken, duck, buffalo”

But “animal” is not a kangaroo, or cat, or dog, or duck. ‘Animal,’ the term, is used for convenience.

Our fundamental template, as Huber LoneStar77 puts it, is “Zero is a class without a member.”

This definition falls under deductive logic. Next we say: “One is a class with a solitary member.” Two is a class of couplet. “ Three is a class of triplet.” Translated into verifiable things: none, one, two, three.

We can see that there are more classes than there are things, as Bertrand Russell puts it. Russell is a mathematician and philosopher, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

“Animal” is a class that may not have a member, or may have one member or many. But now, with a deeper awareness of the language that we use, we should not translate “animal” as a thing with a physical reality.

In like manner, we should not translate man or woman as an animal - with connotative meanings like speechlessness, no morality, no will, and no soul..

The members we place into a class do not make a necessary feature of the class like food that makes a tissue grow. Alternatively, the class does not confer a necessary feature to its members. The seeming exception is when the class (number) is used in counting, like two plus two equals four. However, it should not be forgotten that in counting, mathematics for that matter, we are only manipulating classes not properties of things.

Some people put man or woman in the basket or class “animal” because s/he has two legs like a chicken or a kangaroo. That may be done as a matter of convenience but not as a matter of necessity; not even for scientific reasons because man or woman has her/his scientific or biological features that “animal” as a class does not have.

“Man is an animal” is meaningful but it is not true. “Woman is an animal” is meaningful but it is not true.

A meaningful sentence has a lot of philosophical elaboration that we will not go into here. Suffice it to say that “true” is different from “meaningful.”

We can say that “animal” is not a very specific class where to put man or woman. The class where to place man and woman could be “man/woman,” for want of a term. The glue, as it were, is the fact that man has the “seed” that fertilizes the egg of a woman that perpetuates the species of a man or a woman.


Submit a Comment

  • Apostle Jack profile image

    Apostle Jack 

    6 years ago from Atlanta Ga

    I agree with you . We are humans apart from evolutionary process. Only animals evolve. Humankind do not evolve.....they just multiply. Thanks for sharing.


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