Essay on Man is a Tool-using Animal



Man is an animal; but he is the only animal that has invented and can use tools. Other animals can use only the weapons or tools with which they have been provided by nature, and which are parts of their bodies, such as teeth, claws, stings, legs, wings, fins. But man, whose natural weap­ons, such as teeth, nails, fists, feet, and so on, are feeble compared with those of many animals, has the intelligence and genius to invent tools and weapons, and these have made him the master of the brute creation.

For example, man cannot run very fast or very far, as compared with horses, deer or ostriches. But he has discov­ered the power of steam and petrol; and by their means he can travel in trains and motorcars at over sixty miles an hour. Man's teeth, as curing instruments, are weak, and his nails feeble, compared with the fangs and claws of lion and tiger; but he has used steel, and made himself knives and chisels, swords and spears. Man's arms and fists are feeble weapons compared with the arms of the bear, the hoofs of the horse, or the trunk of the elephant. But he has discov­ered gunpowder and high explosives, so that with his gun he can kill at a thousand yards, and blow up a ship fourteen miles away with a shell.

Man cannot swim fast or far; but he has invented the rowing boat, the, sailing ship, the steamer and the subma­rine, so that he can cross the water faster than the swiftest fish.

Man has no wings; but he has invented the aeroplane, and can now fly faster and farther than the fastest bird. Man's eyes are weak compared to those of the eagle; but he has invented the telescope, by which he can see stars billions and trillions miles away and invisible to the naked eye; and the microscope, by which he can see the infinitely little. His voice is feeble compared to the roar of the lion or the trumpeting of the elephant; but he has invented the telephone, by which he can speak to others hundreds of miles away; and now wireless broadcasting, by means of which a speaker in London can be heard plainly by listeners in New York or Bombay.

So one might go on multiplying illustrations of the won­derful tools that man has invented for his own use. No other animal uses tools; so it is a just definition to describe man as a "tool-using animal". This is only another way of saying that, while man is physically like many other animals, mentally he is quite different.