Thaddea Thompson

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What does it take to be considered Human? What are the basic requirements?

Why are we human different from other animals? How do we know that we are human other than some one else telling us so?

  • Mar 23 2013: We are human due to our having reason, and the ability to use reason decipher between right and wrong, as Aristotle calls us rational animals. Also our ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong, or our free will, is the other component of our humanity. These both have to do with the nature of the human soul, which is divine in essence. There are characteristics of the human body that compose the human being that are different from animals, but that is not what makes us human.
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    Mar 20 2013: .
    It is human DNA.
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    Mar 13 2013: more and more, in this age of devotion to all things machine and digital, it is our capacity to make mistakes that makes us human. our unique ability to be flawed.
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    Mar 13 2013: The ability to recognize potential and exploit it. Potential in this context should not be confused with Opportunity.
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    Mar 13 2013: What I was hoping to address in the blog piece is what makes our species different to other species. Those differences, surely, are things that make us more human not less.

    What I am suggesting is that we have developed a second channel for passing advantage to our offspring, besides biological evolution.

    While other animals may have complex social structures—there may be an argument that the extent and level of interconnectedness among humans has no comparison in other species—I believe we are unique in the way we can pass both ideas and possessions down through generations.

    For me the passing on of advantages is what shapes the world we live in. A simple example is the idea of property laws—not to mention the concept of law—which have at their core the idea that once we gain an object or some territory we can pass that on to our offspring.
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    Mar 13 2013: Considering that our genome is almost exactly the same as the one of a chimp I'd say that the defining feature which makes us human is culture. If one can't use cuttlery properly, they are animals to me.
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      Mar 13 2013: You statement is true for male chimps and humans or female chimps and humans, 99%. But human men and women, that is the XX or XY, only share 98.4% of the same DNA
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    Mar 13 2013: What is this question related to in your mind?
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      Mar 13 2013: what is normal? and how is it being used to classify ourselves in society as wierdos and normals?
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        Mar 14 2013: Hi Thaddea, can you answer these questions? I'm really curious about your point of view.
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    Mar 13 2013: Currently, Regret and the ability to see beyond the horizon, hopefully we will also gain the ability to not be so fixated on one type of system. We see this individually but collectively it turns to noise and the collective is very infantile at this junction in time.
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    Mar 13 2013: Biologically a key defining difference is we can only reproduce with other humans at the appropriate times in our life cycle (unless there are after health issues)

    I wonder how far back modern humans could reproduce with our ancestors. Probably could with the Neanderthals. Homo erectis? Homo habilis I doubt.

    I suggest there is a continuum of human ancestors with less to more differences with other animals. At some point modern humans could not interbred with our ancestors making us distinct species

    In a lot of ways we are not that different from other animals. Sexually reproduce, eat, sleep, bleed, breathe, bones, age, die. Just a supped up brain, language, culture and mobile phones.
  • Mar 13 2013: IMO, having human DNA. Being born of human parents.
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      Mar 13 2013: I think Barry is right on this one, the biological definition of being human is pretty clear cut. Of course some humans have tried to twist that definition, usually to kill or mistreat others (genocide, slavery..)

      Why are we human different from other animals?

      In my humble opinion the big difference is that our species has developed a second channel for passing advantage to our offspring. I have written about that here.
      http://seamus.mcgrenery.com/2013/03/bear-versus-superape.html

      How do we know that we are human other than some one else telling us so?

      Knowing is complicated. Using words to describe being human assumes a shared cultural understanding of what the word 'human' means so in that sense someone else telling us they share the same meaning of the word as we do is important. However, like all mammals, we have a range of systems for detecting if another creature is of the same species as us. In a fundamental we know that we are human, and don't need to be told by anyone else.

      Also, while others may be faster runners or better spellers than we are, we should know in that same fundamental sense that we are equal with others.
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        Mar 13 2013: i agree when yousaid " knowing is complicated. Using words to describe being human assumes a shared cultural understanding", however I would have used the word "agreement" instead of understanding.
        I have alos asked the question of "How do we know other than by someone else telling us so?"
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          Mar 13 2013: We know lots of things without being told. For example people can detect if some foodstuffs are inedible using our sense of smell.

          These systems we have are quite complex. For example the human sense of smell also seems to play a role in detecting if a potential mates immune system is complimentary.

          If our senses can work at that level of detail we can be pretty sure that they will tell us we are human.
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        Mar 13 2013: The blog piece only says that humans have an advantage of a complex social structure.
        Don't other animals have complex social structures a well?
        Remove the "advantage" and how are we less human?
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    Mar 13 2013: Perhaps a combination of the following:
    walking upright
    the neo cortex and brain size
    the use of a language
    Here's what others have said:

    Daniel Dennett, cognitive scientist: We are the first species that represents our reasons, and can reason with each other.

    Patricia Churchland, neuroethicist: The structure of how the human brain is arranged intrigues me. Are there unique brain structures? As far as we can understand, it’s our size that is unique. What we don’t find are other unique structures. There may be certain types of human-specific cells — but as for what that means, we don’t know. It’s important not only to focus on us, to compare our biology and behavior to other animals.

    Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist: The critical unique factor is language. Creativity. The religious and scientific impulse. And our social organization, which has developed to a prodigious degree. We have a record of history, moral behavior, economics, political and social institutions. We’re probably unique in our ability to investigate the future, imagine outcomes, and display images in our minds. I like to think of a generator of diversity in the frontal lobe.

    Marvin Minsky, artificial intelligence pioneer: We do something other species can’t: We remember. We have cultures, ways of transmitting information.

    Nikolas Rose, sociologist: Language and representation. We are the kind of creatures that ask those questions of ourselves. And we believe science can help answer. We’ve become creatures that think of ourselves as essentially biological — and I think we’re more than biological creatures. I’m not sure biology has answers.
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      Mar 13 2013: I like this scientifical response from you. yet I agree that biology does not have all answers.
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    Mar 13 2013: At my house ... not picking up your cloths ... being rude .... not closing the door ... bad hygein habits ... body sounds ... or anything that demonstrates you have bad parents would cast you into the animal category.
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    Mar 13 2013: Mistakes and learning from them.
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      Mar 13 2013: Yeah, on a mental growth level I can see where you are coming from.
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        Mar 13 2013: Will you care to explain your comment please?
        Edited addition after 15 hours of my question. I am asking this because I have a feeling you are saying that I am a retard who hails from a poor, backward and corrupt third world country. I may be mistaken also so want your comment clarified. Thanks.