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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 4 2013: We are but biological machines.

    We eat because when we do, it makes us happy.

    We reproduce because sex makes us happy.

    Everything we do that improves our life is a direct result of happiness in some way or another.

    Yes we have other emotions and we often feel anything but happy but without happiness we would not be the emotional beings we are which makes us human...

    Evolution? eh?
    God? eh?

    One thing I can say is that we are intelligent, scientifically advanced and evolution does NOT have a hold on us because we are firmly in the wings of genetic engineering and biomolecular design and are at the cutting edge of merging biomechanics with robotics and nanotechnologies... And again, everything we are doing is in the wake that it will make us happy, whether it be by extending our lives to repairing our aging bodies... Happiness is the key catalyst in our being in being human...

    Whether you are atheist, religious or whatever, it all boils down to what drives us to continue on as a species and that key aspect is happiness. So again, to answer your question, "What does it mean to be human?" the answer is happiness. As I posted below, we are part of infinity becoming happy to be alive.......
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      Jul 5 2013: There is a lot of sex that is performed that has nothing to do with making one happy... animals have sex and regardless of whether or not it makes them happy, they are still not human.
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        Jul 6 2013: I know, right. I wonder if they know that if they have sex they will reproduce and have offspring like us humans know.

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