The Damned Human Race Essay

Mark Twain wrote ‘The Damned Human Race‘ in 1905, arguing against Darwinism. The author highlights the flaws of man and claims that due to his nature, man will end up worse than every other species on earth. This is a generalization since it is based on his own experiences and thoughts. The author goes onto use several methods to push this narrative forward using his logic. However, further research reveals the opposite truth, that humanity, and animals have more in common then he would like to acknowledge. Human beings are also sophisticated beings capable of compassion and warmth that far outstrips the animal kingdom. It also proves the point that man ascended from the animal kingdom rather than the other way around, proving Darwin’s theory. Twain is a grade 3 thinker, he uses his feelings to direct his thoughts. He believes that human beings are not at the top of the evolution chain, but are instead at the bottom.

Humans have one main flaw; their moral sense. “The Moral Sense enables a man to do wrong. It enables him to do wrong in a thousand ways.” (Twain 41) The generalization that man is evil, cruel and wicked leads to a crude understanding of the history of mankind. Not all men choose to force their opinions on others, and certainly not all men will choose war, fighting or murder over peace, love and unity. This is a large flaw in his argument. Animals will hunt to survive; man will hunt for fun. This is cruel in Twain’s eyes, and he believes that the moral sense is to blame; he claims one flaw begets another. He uses several stories and analogies to further his point regarding man’s cruelty and primitive nature. He tells the story of an Earl that is allowed to hunt in an area, who ends up killing 72 buffalo. According to the story, only one buffalo is eaten while 71 are left to rot. In contrast, Twain tells of the author narrates the story of an anaconda that has the option to feed on nine calves. However, the snake eats just one, proving, in Twain’s eyes, that the animals do not hunt for sport.

Man cannot get out of his own way, he is stumbling over his opinions and enforcing them into others without warrant. This is the second issue with his article: doubtful cause. Twain states that men who are sick will kill their neighbor with a poisonous bite, and this is justified because the man is ill and cannot help it. Choices, decision making and the ability to reason is what sets human beings apart from animals. Twain is quite angry at the human race, he never mentions the positive acts that have come from the moral sense within man. In World War II, several nations were faced with the choice to either oppose Adolf Hitler or allow him to increase his sphere of influence as time goes on. The world could have chosen to look the other way. Instead, it chose to act against the designs of Hitler and fight for truth and justice. History is filled with incidents such as these, which show that when forced to choose between the darkness and the light, mankind gravitated towards the light.

Grade three thinking is described as “feeling, rather than thought”. The arguments that are placed before us by Mark Twain belie this chain of thought. His generalizations of human beings can be based on his own encounters. But humans have shown throughout history that they are capable of rising above their own self and contributing to the greater good of society. A more nuanced approach shows that man has shown no signs of becoming worse than animals despite showing bad tendencies in decisions from time to time.

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Work Cited
Twain, Mark, and Janet Smith. On the Damned Human Race. New York. Hill and Wang, 1986.