TED Conversations

Alex Hutchins

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 30 2013: It means we are God's only mistake. It means that God was perfect in created 8.7 million other species on earth and only fxxxed up once. As far as odds go, that is pretty good. Now God is trying to figure out how to stamp out this species, again! Any ideas for God?
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Jul 4 2013: You have a good eye Moonstroller as do I, it is mostly solid cherrywood and I picked it up for $50. I later sold it for $500 dollars. Now I have a mostly oak desk, same size, I picked up for $40.
    • thumb
      Jul 4 2013: I think he should study under a good master before he start mucking around trying to change things.If he didn't intend to make us this way then obviously there is much to be learned.
      • thumb
        Jul 4 2013: God built the garden of Eden for us and it is still here but I don't think she imagined we could screw it up so much. It's like a fellow is given a ton of Gold and then sit's around complaining all day that it is to heavy.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.