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Why Do Humans Seem To Be The Only Life-Form On This Planet Which Really Enjoys Inflicting Suffering On Other Animals (Usually Of Their Own Species)?

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Atheist | 21:09 Wed 21st Feb 2024 | Science
37 Answers

Many animals kill to feed themselves, but they don't do it for pleasure (of course it could be argued that they do it for the pleasure of filling their bellies, but on the whole they don't  go beyond that). And they don't declare war or execute (without eating) non-believers or those of the wrong shape or skin-colour, nor do they inflict deliberate pain such as burning or flaying alive.

It seems that the higher the 'intelligence', the more gratuitously vicious they become. Domestic cats can appear to enjoy playing with a mouse, but I suspect that 'playing' is simply practising for when they are grown up and need to be adept at obtaining food.

Chimps and some marine predators seem to display more 'vicious' behaviour.

It seems to me that the higher the intelligence the more cruelty enters into it.




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OG. my original post question heading might have been simplistic, but my first sub post went into further detail.

Thanks for your civilised contributions.

Otters are cute.

Can you give an example of what you mean by humans really enjoying inflicting pain. And are you saying it's the norm or only a rare occurrence? What's the animal that eats or kills its partner after mating? Don't some other animals fight or kill their own?

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NMA. Animals (other than  humans) don't burn people alive, or remove their skin alive, or take strips off their flesh deliberately to inflict pain. They do kill other animals for food. Some animals (the more intelligent) seem to approach the human level ain that their intelligence offers more pleasure when they can sense the others' suffering. A cat doesn't feel bad about biting a mouse's or bird's head off, but a human can feel pleasure from looking a human in the eye and threatening to inflict pain.

A cat kills for the craic.

But animals are not capable of burning other animals.

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NMA; I think we know that there are people who enjoy inflicting pain; we see it in the news. One of those bully dogs doesn't really enjoy inflicting pain, or it would just give a nip and them wait a bit and give another nip. Dogs don't torture, but humans do.

Fortunately, most humans just want to live a peaceful life, with sufficient food and water and enough cows or goats or money to give them that. But some humans also have an urge for more. They want power and dominance.

It's the rotten apples who corrupt the whole barrel.

or remove their skin alive, or take strips off their flesh deliberately to inflict pain.


They do it to kill and in the process deliberately to inflict pain.

Petrels killing penguins is a gruesome site.

Question Author

Roy; do you think that petrels kill penguins for pleasure, or is their tearing strips off the penguins simply the way they need to get at their food?

I've never seen petrels and penguins. I'm really wondering what their motive is in the way they eat. Do you think that petrels should be held guilty of evil or sin? I think it's just the way that life goes on.

I think that more intelligence brings more understanding of what the victim is feeling. Petrels wouldn't have that capacity and so couldn't really be accused of 'enjoying' the penguins' suffering.

The difference between us and cats, or chimps, or whatever animal you care to name, is that we are supposed to know better.

We have developed rules about what constitutes civilised behaviour. We have concepts called ethics, morality, right and wrong and yet as a species we continually break those rules.

This is nonsense.

Don't female spiders kill the males after mating? 

Question Author

Dougie; What's the nonsense? Is it my original post, or the replies?

I think you should have said "Why do some....etc?" - There have always been nasty people. It's unfair to tar all of humankind with this brush. 

But Atheist,humans arent the only ones doing this.My elderly cat loves torturing wee mice before he eats them.Is this some kind of scientific pscho-babble you are on about?

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Khardashev. I didn't mean that all humans are bad, just that we seem as a species to be capable of enjoying the infliction of pain - we have awareness of the feelings of others and some of us enjoy using that awareness for our own pleasure, or revenge, or display of power. Chimps seem to be a bit like us, and some other intelligent species.

I wonder if all intelligent lifeforms (thinking of ET's) have this problem, and if any of them manage to overcome it enough to avoid self-extiction by violence.

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Ynna... I think that animals are on the whole not cruel, so much as uninterested in what their victims feel.

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