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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: Answer Alex's questions, all are: Yes (+ & -).

    Human self-reflection is the capacity of human to move, to think, to feel and to remember.
    To be human is a person who can experience and understand "self-reflection".

    In the other words, “ the world is full of beauty, when your heart is full of love “.
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      Jun 26 2013: The world is still full of beauty when one's heart is full of hate....
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        Jun 27 2013: The distance between LOVE & HATE are more likely to be the size of thread ....
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      Jun 26 2013: Lamb Lamb and Alex,
      I believe both your statements may be true.

      Does it go back to your statement Alex..."Theory of the mind is also interesting but do we control our minds and the mind's perception of what we see or do not see? And, is controlling perception an illusion in and of itself? And, if it is, how is that a description of what it means to be human?"

      I believe we have the ability to focus our mind and perceptions, and I don't really care if this is an illusion or not. I tend to see the world with beauty and love, and that's my illusion....or.....perhaps it is how I focus the mind....perhaps one and the same? For me, it is a description of what it means to be human, because I LOVE exploring with curiosity and love:>)
    • Jun 26 2013: Not all people are capable of self-reflection, would you then consider them not human due to mental deficiencies?
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        Jun 26 2013: Good point Jennifer...not all people are capable of self-reflection. Are they not capable? Or not willing to self-reflect?

        As Lamb Lamb describes it, self-reflection is " the capacity of human to move, to think, to feel and to remember".

        Most of us have those human capabilities. So, while some people are not willing to go deeply into self-reflection, I think we all have the capabilities on some level?
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          Jun 28 2013: I think Jennifer is referring to true disabilities rather than a lack of willingness. There are such mental impairments.
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        Jun 27 2013: Good point, Jennifer.
        Regarding self-reflection, 1000 & 1000 different levels can be found through self-reflection-exercise.

        Self-reflection can be involved with oneself.
        Self-reflection can be assisted by others.
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        Jun 28 2013: I understand Fritzie, that there are mental impairments that may cause one to be less likely to self reflect. There are also people who are unwilling to take the journey of self reflection. My sense is that there are more people who have the ability and choose not to. That's why I asked the question....for clarity regarding Jannifer's statement and question.

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