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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: Hi Alex,
    I am also sure that it has different meaning for different people, different groups of people, and different cultures. Being human has whatever meaning we want to attach to it.

    That being said, for me, being human simply means that I want to explore everything, in every moment while "being" all that I can be as a human. I am here on this earth now, and I see no reason to live either in the past, or with anticipation of a certain future. I like learning, growing and evolving as an individual while hopefully contributing to the whole of humankind. Seems pretty simple to me:>)
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      Jun 27 2013: This is excellent and I agree that it is different for different people and cultures. We aspire and in so doing all else is subordinate.

      But it is more than that Colleen because animals and fish explore all aspects of their world and they learn and pass along to their babies in the form of instincts.

      Perhaps it is nothing more than being SELF AWARE...
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        Jun 27 2013: I don't understand. Being human is the same for all people and cultures right?
        That the meaning can be different for different people I can agree with..

        Instincts are genetically bound, only epi-genetics supports some flexibility therein.

        Being human, being only being self-aware, if so that would be an anti-climax.
        There is no ideal in being self-aware, for all we know, some animals could be too.
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        Jun 28 2013: Alex and Vincent,
        Humans also have instinct and intuition, and I agree that on some level other animals may be self-aware. Being self aware doesn't do much good, unless we apply the information.......does it?

        Humans have the ability to think and feel on many different levels, and perhaps other animals have that as well. How are we ever going to know, if we do not try to connect with other animals on their level? When we assume that we are more intelligent and superior, we give up the opportunity to discover anything more than that.

        Alex, you write..."animals and fish explore all aspects of their world and they learn..."
        Do humans explore "all aspects of their world and learn"? Sometimes yes....sometimes we are so busy being arrogant, thinking we are so intelligent and superior, we may be giving up that opportunity.

        When I used to scuba dive, we often went to the bottom and simply hovered there for the duration of the dive....observing all the sea life. Since we did not appear to be a threat, all the creatures came right up to us, swam and interacted with us all the time....they were obviously exploring "all aspects of their world", and seemed to be welcoming us into their world as well:>)
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      Jun 29 2013: Let Us keep on running toward Our “ goal ” > >>> contributing to the whole of humankind ….

      Wish Colleen, In Joy & In Peace.
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        Jul 1 2013: Thanks Lamb Lamb! Wishing you peace and joy as well my friend:>)

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