"If you need something to worship, then worship life — all life, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together!"
- Frank Herbert in "Dune Messiah" (1969)
My own ideas on the issue:
Some people seem to think that animals are just made by humans to look like humans when we say that an animal is jealous or shy or reclusive. There is a fundamental misconception here. We share at least all the very basic ones of our basic emotions with other animals.
Emotions are not something that humans need to teach to animals. Emotions are things that are shared by all animals that have passed beyond certain evolutionary level. We have these feelings and emotions because we are animals and not the other way around.
Animals do have emotions. The more evolved an animal is the more like human emotions these emotions tend to be. In the special case of dogs, there has been for many thousands of years a strong evolutionary pressure of selecting into breeding of those dogs who best in understanding human motions.
However, the fact that a dog can so well interpret human emotions is based on the simple fact it has quite similar basic emotions itself. The intensive breeding has just intensified this ability and now dog is a breed of animals that can read and understand human emotions better than any other breed of animals, I think.
The extremely strong human cultural evolution that originated from the invention of speech has molded how humans handle, show and control their emotions to a degree that is unknown in other species of animals.
However, the very basic emotions have been developed by evolution during the hundreds of millions of years of development that has produced the species of animals that roam at the face of the earth at this moment.
All emotions do serve a species in a very basic level. They help us cope with wild variety of different situations. They also keep us doing different things that will benefit us, our society and sometimes even the whole species. Most of all in the long run they can drive us into doing things that emotionless animals would not even dream of doing.
Emotions are sometimes seen as a disgusting animal-like force in otherwise rational humans. However, there is a very rational reason for the existence of every single emotion that we have.
A major problem is that emotions are also misused in ways that were unimaginable before the invention of language. Emotions are often used to make people do irrational things. This is, however, not a problem with emotions, but with the people who knowingly misuse them.
(This piece was refurbished on 29th of December, 2012)
"Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Though also a short story author, he is best known for his novels,most notably Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics and power. Dune itself is the "best-selling science fiction novel of all time," and the series is widely considered to be among the classics in the genre."