What Makes Us  Sapiens? 

by Jessica Wang 

Humans are more powerful than any other creature. We are able to create rocket ships and build skyscrapers. Yet what makes us different that led us to where we are today? One of the obvious things that make us different from other animals is our intelligence. We have bigger brains compared to other primates, like monkeys, and more neutrons compared to other animals with bigger brains like whales, dolphins, or elephants.

There are many different types of human species that used to exist like homo erectus, Neanderthals, and homo floresiensis. What separates us apart from the other human species is our ability to tell fictional stories that help us cooperate with each other, even on a large scale; a trait that helps us build nations. Without this trait we would not be able to connect with strangers. Fiction is usually used as a term for stories that do not exist. But in this context fiction stories are our collective capability of thinking at a high level that even things that can only exist in our minds can become real. Fiction explains how concepts like state borders and the value of currency exist even though they are not physical things we can touch. It can also explain the phenomenon of how we can operate the way we do. How we can go to the same school with people we do not know or how we can trust what the people on television are saying even though we might have never met them in real life. We can do such things because the name of the school or television program is a fiction story that we believe in. When more people believe in the story, the more significant or powerful the story becomes.

It is also through fiction that we create government entities and limited liability corporations. Fictional stories are ideas and we make them real by bringing them to life after we give them value in our minds. Not to say that companies do not exist because all the people who work there do exist. But the company name itself is just a concept. One can know because the name of the company cannot feel pain or be physically hurt like a human or animal or plant. Companies came into existence as an idea from a person’s mind while humans came into existence through its physical interactions with the world.

Due to our ability to create beliefs and moral values, we are able to change our thinking and systems much faster than other animals that require evolution. Animals act the way they do because of their genetics but Sapiens can change their beliefs and act differently. This makes us easily adaptable to new environments and situations. As a result, we can be shaped into many things like chefs, dancers, researchers, artists and office workers. Humans are the only animals that can connect with each other in many flexible ways and on a large scale. Our ability to work in a larger group allows us to collectively be better than other animals that work solely. That is why sapiens are considered the dominant species on the planet, and other species in the animal kingdom have to find a way to fit the leftover spaces.

About Jessica Wang

Jessica Wang is a first year business student at Bradley University. Born in New York and currently living in Peoria, she is a lover of making impactful storytelling, drawing, exploring Peoria, playing piano, and eating sushi. She has participated in activities like freshflim and has over 200 hours of volunteer work.