Chimpanzees and other large primates, for instance, are so intelligent and personable that they blur many of these boundaries. But since we are so closely connected evolutionarily, it is easy to tacitly view them as way stations toward the human apex, impoverished versions of ourselves rather than somebody in their own right. There is, however, nothing else remotely like an elephant. (Its closest living relatives are sea cows — dugongs and manatees — and the hyrax, an African shrewmouse about the size of a rabbit.) As such, it presents the perfect opportunity for thoughtful reconsideration of the human difference, and how much that difference really matters.
's Anatomyof Criticism: Four Essays (,1957) attempts to formulate an overall view of the scope, theory,principles, and techniques of derivedexclusively from literature. Frye consciously omits all specificand practical criticism, instead offering classically-inspiredtheories of modes, symbols, myths and genres, in what he termed "aninterconnected group of suggestions." The literary approachproposed by Frye in Anatomy was highly influential in thedecades before and otherexpressions of .
Of course, similar mechanistic explanations are now often applied to human actions as well. As Poole acknowledges, they are grounded in something real, but do not allow for the fullest understanding of what is going on. In a way, it may actually be more instructive to look at the flaws in this line of reasoning with an animal example, which helps to avoid some of the metaphysical minefields surrounding the issue. Properly nuanced discussions about animal activity can be soundly without being . Animal science that describes their real abilities, where they can receive credit for intelligent or compassionate actions driven by more than mere instinct, would by extension elevate man’s stature too — not flatten it with animals’, but raise them both above the low bar of pure determinism.
Incidentally, in an entirely different kind of “image test,” elephants are distinguished as well: . Very few other animals have been shown to do this, mainly dolphins and great apes. The test is performed as follows: While the animal is unconscious, some part of its anatomy out of its range of vision is marked with odorless paint, and often for control a corresponding location is marked with a clear version of the paint. When presented with a mirror wherein the mark is reflected, it turns to that location to explore it, indicating both self-awareness and an understanding of the meaning of the mirror. Human beings begin to pass this test at about eighteen months of age.