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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 26 2013: My answer is that because human brains, bodies, societies, technologies, are all reflective, emergent, and self-similar to those natural, cosmic, and quantum systems in our defined/undefined reality that all that exists is human and that humanity is all that exists.
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      Jun 26 2013: Paul Ashton. Living beings existed, felt, thought, created and were amazed by this world many millions of years before the first furless monkey later to evolve into a "human" came to exist. If you stood against a homo erectus, would you call him a "human"? You would say - "Damn, he is something between a chimp and a homo sapiens sapiens...". You can see how volatile these issues are. What I can conclude from your statement about the "...reflective, emergent... systems..." is that they "created" humans and their societies because they structued they way they evolved, so it is wrong to say that they are "human". The correct conclusion is that "humans" as other living beings have been strongly a "product" of natural forces and circumstances.
      • Jun 26 2013: Yavor: your supposition that humanity is a product of natural systems holds weight if the perception of the "conscious observer" is considered "reality". The truth is that our collective perception of "reality" or the measurable universe is not absolute truth. Just because we sense does not mean we see. Ultimately weather or not we are perceiving what is "real" determines how centrist and permeating humanity is in our reality.

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