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“The proper study of mankind is man, but when one regards the elephant, one wonders.” —attributed to Alexander Pope

“To the ancients, soul was anima, that which animates, the living-, moving-, breathing-ness of a biological being. In this sense, not only animals but plants have souls (of different capacities appropriate to what they are). For many religions, by contrast, the soul is specifically incorporeal, perhaps immortal, and believed to be unique to human beings, who are responsible (to a point) for its condition. To modern science it is, if anything, the hard problem of consciousness, also commonly thought to be the province of just one species.”

“From some combination of existential loneliness and intrepid curiosity, we also have for decades now been calling out for someone past the borders of our known experience. Meanwhile, although we’ve been working on it for millennia, the real depths of terrestrial intelligence are almost as unplumbed. Whether there are millions or just one, what does it mean that there is such a thing as Elephant?

“The scientific enterprise, that special activity of human beings, brings us proof of their abilities and tools to unriddle them, but scientific language simply breaks down in describing who they are — as it does with beauty or with love — leaving us at the edge of a vast field of signals out of ordinary range. Listen with your ears, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your soul for the message from these kin as improbable as life itself, different and yet the same. We are not alone.”

Do Elephants Have Souls?

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