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Alex Hutchins

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What does it mean to be human?

As a College professor, I start the first day of every class by asking my students this question. Needless to say, they do not know how to answer it, even though they have previously had psychology and philosophy courses prior to the Junior/Senior classes that I typically teach.

So, if students do not know how to answer this question right away, then my next question is, do the rest of us know how to answer this question right away or would it require some reflection?

Or, does anyone really care?

I am sure that it has different meaning for different people but would it also have different meanings for different cultures?

Does being human mean some different in Christianity than it does for Muslims or people of the Jewish faith or agnostics for that matter?

Do we need to prove that we exist in order to answer this question? And, while you are pondering this one, let me explain: I am talking about "I think therefore I am," but is this life "real" or is this life a metaphor for the life that we will all be experiencing after death? If this life therefore is not real, does it matter that we exist and furthermore, does being human have any meaning at all?

Are we human because we oftentimes do not practice what we preach?

Are we human because we can skillfully put down the thoughts and comments of others?

Are we human because we are arrogant or wealthy although I see the two as mutually exclusive myself?

Are we human because we have faith and hypocritically live out that faith in our daily lives?

Are we human because we are a racist and have found clever ways to hide why we feel that way?

Are we human because we have cheated on our spouses?

Are we human because we like to engage in wars all over the globe so that we can prove we are better than others, or stronger... while really wanting to impose our way of life on them?

Are we human because we cannot accept cultural diversity as the new norm?

What are your thoughts as to what it means to be human?


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    Jun 25 2013: Wow so many questions at one go.
    what does it mean to be human?
    it means experiencing reality with a body named 'human'.
    everything which we see, feel around us is indeed real but the eyes don't have the clarity yet.
    in philosophy that would be closer to 'third eye' or enlightenment.
    But in reality its 'experiencing'...not even 'experience'!
    Rene Descartes would also agree if alive, that one can be certain only about self!
    Nevertheless, being human means experiencing every moment with clarity. With a peace that is unshakable. Clarity which would help one witness every moment that when death arrives one knows the unknown.
    Cosmic consciousness is more like a birthright!
    Being human can be understood from various 'angles' as you rightly pointed out.
    Its because one is not ONE with the whole. Then no clarity to see 'THIS' through.
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      Jun 25 2013: But do not define it through the eyes of another's thought but through your own eyes and your own thoughts. Knowledge gained is not so you can quote Descartes or use big words but so you can find your own thoughts that have been built upon those of others.
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        Jun 25 2013: there is nothing big about being able to be only certain about self,
        because that's just how things are.
        having said that i am certain about myself which needs no evidence when i am thirsty.

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