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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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    Jul 1 2013: "What does it mean to be human?" rotflmao.... asking questions like that one. I love self referential humor.
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      Jul 1 2013: glad I could be of service...
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        Jul 1 2013: Here's a set of answers to your question.
        http://humanorigins.si.edu/human-characteristics
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        Jul 1 2013: @Alex Hutchins: I am curious about your "data evaluation" of what's here. You describe yourself as a college professor. That means that "evaluation & testing of students" is part of the program. That is your skill-set. So my question is: "How are we doing? Are the goals you had in mind when you started this thread being met? If so - how so? If not - how not? And if somehow that much does not matter (or if I miss the point entirely) - where can we go with this? How are we doing as to "The meaning of what it means to be human?"

        Or we can go with the easy question. What do your students think of this thread? And why not let them comment? Or not. Either way.

        Open ended question. Any response or no response is just fine.
        As to my evaluation - Pass/fail. Good thread! Grade: PASS! And thank you. I've enjoyed it.
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        Jul 1 2013: Firstly there is no one answer to the question. As far as not fitting in all I can say is Did you really say that?.
        If you can't see the beauty in a question that answers itself too bad. Maybe you need to read a little.
        try David Maybury-Lewis' enlightening ethnography "Akwe-Shavante Society". So to answer the question among other things To be Human means having less hair than other species of ape and perhaps the ability to ask silly questions out loud.
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      Jul 4 2013: Humans have a sense of humor they can laugh at themselves and others. I'd count that as a plus, a virtue of being human.

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