TED Conversations

Harnsowl Ko

Student - B.E - Chemical Engineering, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


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Where does our identity as being "human" come from?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we discussed electrical stimulation. Research on electrical stimulation often focuses on the manipulation the electrical fields and currents. An example of this manipulation can be seen in Bill Doyle's TED talk, which deals with orienting cancer cells along an electric field in order to disrupt their replication. Electrical stimulation can also be used in devices such as pacemakers or neuroprosthetics for injury recovery. As technology begins to expand, the concept of prosthetics replacing major body parts is not far off. Thus, the question becomes does a person lose their given identity because they are not 100% “human”? But before you answer, keep in mind that the bacteria in your gut outnumber the number of cells in your entire body by a factor of 10!


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    Mar 3 2012: I think; if you live in a "developed nation", or "civilized nation" our perception of the "human-being" or "being human" is an un-natural perception instilled by the many institutions which we depend on for our understanding of the human. Organized religion and institutionalized academics are intellectual learning centers composed and edited by other humans who wish to teach you who you are. In reality they are telling you who they want you to be. Each person owes to themselves a personal journey to understand who they are "being". The aforementioned institutes practice what might be termed as homeomorphic paradigms of the human comprehension, creating an un-natural reality that obscures our perception of the human experience. By the time we leave school and/or church our understanding of our identities are so misconstrued we may never find our way home. And, I think imperialistic conquests expressed in war is evidence of this plight amongst us humans that know no other way of life than being human, and ignorant of becoming human-beings. There is a worthy juxtaposition to decipher here.
    As far as the manipulations of the electrical and electro-magnetic fields in our bodies is concerned, I think they are natural to our physical self before being introduced by the dr's of science so I don't see them as adding or subtracting anything from the physical. I am certainly most concerned about the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual manipulations of our lives by these representatives of the learning instittutions in our "civilized nations", because in that context we have forgotten what it is to be human. There is a very real difference between the "human-being" and "being human".
    Our identity crises originated long before your concerns of medical research and practice with a much more profound detriment to our existence and survivability. Medical research is just another symptom of our loss of understanding. We live in fear, because we fail to know "us".
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      Mar 4 2012: I think you summed it up very well in the line 'There is a very real difference between the "human-being" and "being human".' Very well put.
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        Mar 6 2012: Thanks Anupriy, I try to be the human who exists first as the being who is also human. I think there was no mistake in connecting the words human and being. When I recognise myself first as the being who is also human, I am on the same plane, or level of enlightenment as the other beings in the universe. I know it sounds crazy, I was raised by humans who taught me that we are superior, more intelligent and are the appointed stewards of the earth. This teaching instilled a true, "false" sense of pride in this young man growing up on the farm, I had been ordained by creation to do with the animals and earth as I thought was proper to benifit us humans. I have been confused ever since those early days and I have found it to be very difficult to relinquish my position of authority over the other beings of this earth. I think it also allowed to to believe, for my own benifit that even other humans that were not like me must fall under my protection of knowing what is best for them, as well. The longer I have obeyed the doubts in myself and the questions of our superiority I have had to admit, there are many other beings in this universe, plant, animal, reptile, insect and even mineral and metals, too, I guess. The more i have tried to know them all, the stronger the realisation has made itself evident in my life, the humans have been the most greedy, selfish ones of all, even allowing their fear of tomorrow and all it's obligations to convince them that their behavior is acceptable and expected when we subjugate and measure every other being from the standards of the human comprehension. How arrogant! From a species who exists most like a virus on this planet, always needing more and more, destroying what we consume today for all generations to come, and we rape, murder, and destroy our own species. Are we the superior, the most intelligent?, should we think of ourselves as the noble stewards? I will not lie about it. uni-verse = one-song. Thanks Anupriy.
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      Mar 6 2012: I very much enjoyed reading your comment, especially the distinction between a perception of "being human" and "human being." There clearly is a distinction between the two. To me being a human being is simply the state of being a mammalian creature, while being human is the state of being involved within the bounds of society. There is a distinction between the two, but like you said, the two are related.

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