Colin Tudge

Some Like It Hot

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

By

Profile Books 309pp £15 order from our bookshop

Genesis tells us that we were created ‘in God’s image’ and that other animals weren’t – but what does this really mean? What, when you boil it down, is the crucial difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? In the seventeenth century, Descartes pinned it down with inexorable Gallic logic, at least to his own satisfaction: we have verbal language – speech – and animals don’t. Words, he declared, are the vital components of thought. Since animals don’t have words, they can’t think. Indeed, though we may whimsically care to assume otherwise, animals are really just automata. In a similar vein, David Hume in the eighteenth century suggested that whereas animals can register pain, fear and other such reactions, they cannot experience the infinite subtleties of the human soul – depression, amusement, friendship, and all the rest. It all seemed clear enough. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter