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Author Topic: What is Human?  (Read 269 times)

The Hammer

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What is Human?
« on: January 08, 2021, 10:30:44 am »
 So. What is it that makes us uniquely Human?

I can tell you what doesn't make us Human: The ability to Communicate, the ability to make Tools from the environment, and the possession of Conciousness; as these are all things that other Animals possess like us.

My Theory is that: the thing that makes us Human is the ability to question and posit "Why?"; and the inability to accept things the way they are, that is, to 'Create' changes.

Thoughts?
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Re: What is Human?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2021, 03:04:08 pm »
So. What is it that makes us uniquely Human?

I can tell you what doesn't make us Human: The ability to Communicate, the ability to make Tools from the environment, and the possession of Conciousness; as these are all things that other Animals possess like us.

My Theory is that: the thing that makes us Human is the ability to question and posit "Why?"; and the inability to accept things the way they are, that is, to 'Create' changes.

Thoughts?

Interesting question.

As to the second half of your definition, I must say that beavers creating their dams came to my mind - so at least one other creature that, in specific relating to their river anyway, doesn't accept things the way the are?

As for the overall question, I shall ponder and revisit at a later time...
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Sophia C

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Re: What is Human?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2021, 03:46:11 pm »
So. What is it that makes us uniquely Human?

I can tell you what doesn't make us Human: The ability to Communicate, the ability to make Tools from the environment, and the possession of Conciousness; as these are all things that other Animals possess like us.

I’m not a fan of human exceptionalism. I don’t think there’s much that makes us different from many other species. As you say, there’s evidence of consciousness and communication in other animals. Even the idea that we are the only animals who can reason and reflect on our own pasts and futures, while possibly true, is just waiting to be disproved. Every potential suggestion for what makes us unique leaves me a bit cold, as an animist and pantheist. Social evolution sets us apart from other species - including agriculture, technology and the spread of the species across the planet. But for me, focusing on those things just serves to take us down the road of thinking we’re better than other animals. And that’s what has got us everything from environmental disaster to eugenics to colonialism. I’m much more interested in what we’ve got in common with other animals.

Quote
My Theory is that: the thing that makes us Human is the ability to question and posit "Why?"; and the inability to accept things the way they are, that is, to 'Create' changes.

Thoughts?

I mentioned the ability to reason, which some scientists think makes humans unique. I think your theory covers similar ground. I don’t buy it, though. We’re starting with our own ways of reasoning - which are language-based - and assuming they’re the only way to reason. But studies show a whole range of animals can remember events and reason around them. Buckner has looked at the way elephants assess risk based on characteristics of potential (human) attackers, and the same kind of ‘executive control’ of decision making among other animals. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171101151206.htm Anecdotal evidence suggests that corvids hold intergenerational grudges and bring back personal items of importance to the people they’re fond of. And those are just a few examples of animals doing the kind of rational thinking-towards-change you’ve talked about.

For me, what makes humans unique is our ability to make a mess of our species and the world around us, thanks to eons of social evolution giving us the means to do so, but not always giving us enough of the long view to make better decisions. I could posit theories about where our social evolution went ‘wrong’, but there’s no right or wrong to evolution, just successful versus no longer successful. And I don’t even think we’re unique in that ability. Any other species that had social evolution as complex as ours, could make similar mistakes. But most of them haven’t yet, so there’s plenty still to learn from them. And I hope we do learn from them.


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Anon100

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Re: What is Human?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2021, 06:20:36 pm »
I’m not a fan of human exceptionalism. I don’t think there’s much that makes us different from many other species.

I have to agree with Sophia. I think the only thing that makes us  ( in our eyes ) 'unique' from all other species is our perception that we are.

I grew up with sci fi programmes and always wondered to myself why we assume all life has to exist on planets with certain temps and oxygen levels etc. Sure, if you're based on the same things as on earth you need it but who said all life had to be based on the same things.
Likewise, who said you have to speak english/german/spanish/japanese ( etc ) or walk on two legs or have opposable thumbs etc to have a certain mindset/consciousness/soul etc? I can as easily imagine a crow or whale having a community/intelligence/perception of self etc.

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Re: What is Human?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2021, 01:59:47 am »
I have to agree with Sophia. I think the only thing that makes us  ( in our eyes ) 'unique' from all other species is our perception that we are.

I mean technically we don't produce fertile hybrids with anything else (as far as I'm aware) which is one of the rule-of-thumb standards for the definition of a unique species. ;)
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Sophia C

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Re: What is Human?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2021, 08:05:57 am »
I mean technically we don't produce fertile hybrids with anything else (as far as I'm aware) which is one of the rule-of-thumb standards for the definition of a unique species. ;)
Depending on whether you see Neanderthals as a species or a subspecies, maybe we did once? But, fair point, start with definition of terms - biological or philosophical... :D


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