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TOEFL Reading Practice 5
Please take a moment to complete this quiz.
Read the following passage and answer the question


The following passage is from a discussion of various ways that living creatures have been classified over the years.

 

 

     The world can be classified in different ways,

 

depending on one's interests and principles of clas-

 

sification. The classifications (also known as

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taxonomies) in turn determine which comparisons

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seem natural or unnatural, which literal or analog-

 

ical. For example, it has been common to classify

 

living creatures into three distinct groups—plants,

 

animals, and humans. According to this classifica-

 

tion, human beings are not a special kind of

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animal, nor animals a special kind of plant. Thus

 

any comparisons between the three groups are

 

strictly analogical. Reasoning from inheritance in

 

garden peas to inheritance in fruit flies, and from

 

these two species to inheritance in human beings,

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is sheer poetic metaphor.

 

 

     Another mode of classifying living creatures is

 

commonly attributed to Aristotle. Instead of treat-

 

ing plants, animals, and humans as distinct

 

groups, they are nested. All living creatures

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possess a vegetative soul that enables them to

 

grow and metabolize. Of these, some also have a

 

sensory soul that enables them to sense their envi-

 

ronments and move. One species also has a

 

rational soul that is capable of true understanding.

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Thus, human beings are a special sort of animal,

 

and animals are a special sort of plant. Given this

 

classification, reasoning from human beings to all

 

other species with respect to the attributes of the

 

vegetative soul is legitimate, reasoning from

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human beings to other animals with respect to the

 

attributes of the sensory soul is also legitimate,

 

but reasoning from the rational characteristics of

 

the human species to any other species is merely

 

analogical. According to both classifications, the

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human species is unique. In the first, it has a king-

 

dom all to itself; in the second, it stands at the

 

pinnacle of the taxonomic hierarchy.

 

 

      Homo sapiens is unique. All species are. But

 

this sort of uniqueness is not enough for many

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(probably most) people, philosophers included. For

 

some reason, it is very important that the species

 

to which we belong be uniquely unique. It is of

 

utmost importance that the human species be

 

insulated from all other species with respect to

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how we explain certain qualities. Human beings

 

clearly are capable of developing and learning

 

languages. For some reason, it is very important

 

that the waggle dance performed by bees * not

 

count as a genuine language. I have never been

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able to understand why. I happen to think that the

 

waggle dance differs from human languages to

 

such a degree that little is gained by terming them

 

both "languages," but even if "language" is so

 

defined that the waggle dance slips in, bees still

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remain bees. It is equally important to some that

 

no other species use tools. No matter how inge-

 

nious other species get in the manipulation of

 

objects in their environment, it is absolutely

 

essential that nothing they do count as "tool use."

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I, however, fail to see what difference it makes

 

whether any of these devices such as probes and

 

anvils, etc. are really tools. All the species

 

involved remain distinct biological species no

 

matter what decisions are made. Similar observa-

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tions hold for rationality and anything a computer

 

might do.

According to the author, what is most responsible for influencing our perception of a comparison between species?







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Sources:

Some questions are from the following sources:

Erik Jacobsen at www.erikthered.com/tutor

From the New York State Education Department. "High School Regents Examinations". Internet. Available from www.nysedregents.org; accessed 8/29/2011.
CK-12 Foundation - www.ck12.org
BEHS Sat Prep - https://behssatprep.wikispaces.com/
PWN the SAT - http://blog.pwnthesat.com/

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