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What Defines Us As Human

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posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 05:39 PM
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I was inspired by the thread Stephen Hawking denounced for believing... but I'd like this to be it's own discussion rather than a discussion of Professor Hawking's opinion, so I am starting this as a new thread.

What defines us as human? Are we just biological machines or something more as many would like to believe? What if they are wrong and we are nothing more than the sum of our parts?

So what if there is no scientifically definable soul, or consciousness? What is a soul anyway? A belief that personality remains intact beyond physical mortality. A dream to conquer death, a goal common to spiritualist and scientist alike. And a dream to be lived, in my opinion.

What is free will but an egoistic altruism. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things that we may be all we are ever going to be at this moment; that we are destined to be who we are?

And what is consciousness but the free will of the soul to choose it's respective reality. And if the other two are scientifically undefinable, which they are up to this point, then so must this be. But it isn't any of these things which define us as human beings, that make us unique in the animal kingdom. And it isn't a few other things either.

It isn't self-awareness...

Self-recognition, once thought to be an ability enjoyed only by select primates, has now been demonstrated in a bird. The finding has raised questions about part of the brain called the neocortex, something the self-aware magpie does not even possess.

In humans, the ability to recognise oneself in a mirror develops around the age of 18 months and coincides with the first signs of social behaviour. So-called "mirror mark tests", where a mark is placed on the animal in such a way that it can only be observed when it looks at its reflection, have been used to sort the self-aware beasts from the rest.

Of hundreds tested, in addition to humans, only four apes, bottlenose dolphins and Asian elephantsMovie Camera have passed muster. Helmut Prior at Goethe University in Frankfurt and his colleagues applied a red, yellow or black spot to a place on the necks of five magpies. The stickers could only be seen using a mirror. Then he gave the birds mirrors.

The feel of the mark on their necks did not seem to alarm them. But when the birds with coloured neck spots caught a glimpse of themselves, they scratched at their necks - a clear indication that they recognised the image in the mirror as their own. Those who received a black sticker, invisible against the black neck feathers, did not react.

Source

I don't believe it's artistic ability...


It isn't language...

When Slobodchikoff first started studying the prairie dogs, he couldn't really tell the difference between the calls for, say, a coyote or a hawk. But the prairie dogs responded to the different calls with specific behaviors, like dropping into their burrows or standing up to get a better view. Slobodchikoff started to think there might be something in those "chees" that he wasn't hearing. So he decided to investigate.

Slobodchikoff and his students went out into the prairie dog villages, hid behind bushes, and stuck out their microphones whenever a human, or a dog, or a coyote, or a hawk passed through. They recorded calls that the prairie dogs made in response to different predators. Then he took his recordings to a lab and used a computer program to analyze the sounds. Any given sound is actually made up of different frequencies and overtone layers on top of one another. Slobodchikoff's computer measured those frequencies and separated out all the component tones and overtones.

What Slobodchikoff discovered was that the calls clustered into different groups, and each cluster had its own signature set of frequencies and tones. Prairie dogs, in other words, don't just have a call for "danger" — they have one call for "human," another for "hawk" and a third for "coyote." They can even differentiate between coyotes and domesticated dogs.

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Or unrestrained sexuality...

The bonobo was officially classified as Pan paniscus, or the diminutive Pan. But I believe a different label might have been selected had the discoverers known then what we know now. The old taxonomic name of the chimpanzee, P. satyrus-- which refers to the myth of apes as lustful satyrs--would have been perfect for the bonobo.

The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations--and not just between males and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner combination (although such contact among close family members may be suppressed). And sexual interactions occur more often among bonobos than among other primates. Despite the frequency of sex, the bonobo's rate of reproduction in the wild is about the same as that of the chimpanzee. A female gives birth to a single infant at intervals of between five and six years. So bonobos share at least one very important characteristic with our own species, namely, a partial separation between sex and reproduction.

Source

But it is the drive to be more. To go farther and push whatever boundaries we find. To challenge ourselves. To strive not just for what we want but for what is possible.

What if this life is it's own reward? Doesn't that make it more worth living and living well? I believe so.

In the end, it doesn't matter what drives us. Whether it be our biological function or a function of our will. We seek in the personal quest for truth, much to the chagrin of our would-be 'leaders' and will continue to do so as long as we remain human. That doesn't mean we can't be good to each other simply for the sake of the continuation of our species if nothing else. If only to see how far we really can go.

Namaste,
Traveler in the Dark




posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 06:13 PM
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I was going to say empathy for species other than ourselves, but I have seen animals show care and concern for other species, so maybe the awareness of our own mortality? Maybe the ability to visualize the future and act accordingly or plan, beyond just food shortage for the oncoming winter. Our sense of humor is pretty developed, beyond just play and giggles. We cry, laugh, sing, mourn, lash out, design tools and shelter, but this can all be found in the animal kingdom too. So I guess we are just really smart animals instead of different entities altogether.

Peace,
spec



posted on Jun, 13 2011 @ 06:13 PM
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Nice post I agreed with just about everything, I too believe it's our curiosity that makes us Human. Man once saw the horizon and wondered what is beyond that, he saw Mt. Everest and fantasized about what that would be like, and last but not least (according to nasa) we did the impossible by landing on the moon and returning home. I think our inner drive to want to know more and more about this unbelievable reality we experience is the backbone of what defines us as human.

Oh and we also love to fight with eachother, that I still can't figure out.



posted on Jun, 14 2011 @ 01:11 PM
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reply to post by TravelerintheDark
 


I think different things "define" us at different times. And sometimes, well unfortunately often, what we think defines us comes to control us.



posted on Jun, 14 2011 @ 01:14 PM
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I think it has to do with the HUMAN soul signaure created. That has been embedded into the Sapiens sapiens body to function on a EA 3d sphere.



posted on Jun, 15 2011 @ 07:47 AM
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reply to post by Ophiuchus 13
 


I understand what you mean, but can you say with any certainty that such individual soul signatures are uniquely human? Animals certainly possess personality as just about anyone who has kept a mammalian pet can attest. Perhaps it isn't even our willingness to cross boundaries as this video may demonstrate.



But the good news is that our drive and willingness to go beyond our boundaries is generally a positive trait, even if we don't always look before we leap. I believe it's the one thing that can save us from ourselves.



posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 06:00 PM
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The force that creates random chance, and simultaneously ensures the continuous existence of the universe, is an intelligence, and that intelligence is what stands between a world of complete nothing, and a world where infinite possible "somethings" can be structured into a stable fabric of existence.

Basically, everything can possibly exist, and we are a part of that everything.

If it is impossible to imagine not being aware, then, nothing can exist if it is not aware of its existence.

Something that exists, amidst infinitude, is something that is able to observe itself.
edit on 16-6-2011 by SystemResistor because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 07:31 PM
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the way i see it is that the one thing we as a race can do that no other can is have the ability to hold ourselves to a higher standard and live by them. what i mean is that the only thing separating us from behaving like animals is the fact that we possess the power to not behave like animals.



posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 07:38 PM
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maybe the ability to have and express deep feelings, even though thats debatable.

better yet, we humans live and cease to be like everything else around us.
we live in a world and universe where everything must and will perish.

yet we have concepts like immortality and transcendence in general.

so id say what makes us humans is our imagination and subsequent creativity, or lack of it.

we live here yet we always feel we should be somewhere else, yep thats us humans.


 
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posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 07:44 PM
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Reply to post by Visionaryium
 


last time i checked animal live in harmony with nature, we dont.

so whats wrong with being an animal?

oh i think i cracked this thread, because it seems that what makes us humans is we are the only ones who destroy and or try to dominate the very thing that sustains our existence.

we are the ones who opose
nature instead of going along with it.


 
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posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 08:06 PM
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What defines us as human?

The cosmogenesis of the noosphere born of the capacity for self reflection.

We are the uppermost inward and upward twist of the path to eminance at the summit of an eternal cosmic evolutionary process, recognizing, as if for the first time, that our legacy must include by extension the whole process of life, that our own inner being, contains imbedded within itself, at core, a reflection of the whole, and that we are that to which life aspires in eternity - we are a process on a path of progress towards perfection, never a mere "thing". We have a morphogenesis in common with the animals, but we alone stand relative to the whole of everything, with increasing degress of self conscious awareness, we alone can plumb the depths of inward nature of reality using our own soul as the standard in what Terrance McKenna liked to call "felt experience". We are the personality of all ages, we alone are Christ come of age in the fullness of time and history.



posted on Jun, 16 2011 @ 08:09 PM
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killing for the fun of it, and killing on a massive scale is what defines us. throw in pollution and sexual depravity and you get homo sapien sapien

when the aliens come down, they are talking to the cows and whales, and vaporizing us



posted on Jun, 17 2011 @ 07:42 AM
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Originally posted by AnotherYOU
Reply to post by Visionaryium
 


oh i think i cracked this thread, because it seems that what makes us humans is we are the only ones who destroy and or try to dominate the very thing that sustains our existence.

we are the ones who opose
nature instead of going along with it.


Viruses can destroy their host, so maybe not quite.

As for imagination, animals dream so perhaps they daydream as well. We can't know for sure.

In the end there seems to be nothing unique about humans at all. Other than perhaps the fact that we build fences.



posted on Jun, 17 2011 @ 07:47 AM
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Originally posted by syrinx high priest
killing for the fun of it, and killing on a massive scale is what defines us. throw in pollution and sexual depravity and you get homo sapien sapien


Killer whales killing and toying with a seal... Not just for fun but they seem to be enjoying it.



As for massive scale, that's relative. 30 Giant Japanese Hornets vs. 30,000 bees. Massacre.



Pollution is waste and we definitely make more of it than most animals, but waste is common to all. And as for sexual depravity, that's a social judgment and you'd have to define precisely what you mean by depravity, what constitutes it. Necrophilia probably qualifies to most. So...


edit on 17/6/11 by TravelerintheDark because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 29 2011 @ 12:57 PM
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reply to post by AnotherYOU
 


if thats the case, then why isnt another animal race driving cars with us? now im not saying there isnt radical urbanization going on, because there is. but if we abided by nature for our whole exsistence, then i highly doubt we would be talking hear on this very site. what made us stray away from nature's way? what made us the dominant species on this planet? there have been organisms living millions of years before us but they arent even close to our stage of development and you think there isnt a reason we arent where we're at today? your viewpoint is perserving nothing more than sentimental value to what gave us our first breath. and it stll does. and nature will let us keep breathing long enough for us to find another place to keep us breathing. otherwise if we do what you seem to want. we all die before we find out more about what makes us human. but at least we will all die in greener pastures hmm?



posted on Jun, 29 2011 @ 02:09 PM
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Whatever the majority in power say is human. When they want to kill other humans they just redefine them to "not human" and murder is acceptable and politically correct.



posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 02:00 PM
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Originally posted by TravelerintheDark
In the end there seems to be nothing unique about humans at all. Other than perhaps the fact that we build fences.


Well, that would be my answer; humans are not unique. We are products of nature, part of an ever-evolving universe. Yes, we are intelligent. Yes, we have skyscrapers, automobiles, and the atom bomb. But at the end of the day, we can still trace our roots back 3.3 million years ago to our first bipedal ancestors.

It is my opinion that historically, people (of whom didn't have as many answers as we do today, the same as our children's children will have more than ourselves) have placed ourselves (homo sapien) on a pedestal out of an inability to understand our evolution. I'm only speculating now, but, I can imagine peoples 1k years ago saw something quite different from the rest of the great ape family; variety in skin pigment, relatively hairless bodies, shorter canines, etc. Heck, people today still argue the differences.

So what really seperates us from the rest of nature? Nothing, in my opinion. However, OP, your question was what makes us human? I would say adaptability. Sure, everything that has survived today has adapted. But, humans are, in my opinion, the most able to adapt and thus, generally have free-run of the Earth today.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin



posted on Jun, 30 2011 @ 02:04 PM
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Our ability to think up new ways to kill our
fellow human being.



posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 01:56 PM
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Originally posted by acapablemind

So what really seperates us from the rest of nature? Nothing, in my opinion. However, OP, your question was what makes us human? I would say adaptability. Sure, everything that has survived today has adapted. But, humans are, in my opinion, the most able to adapt and thus, generally have free-run of the Earth today.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin


I agree and not just in our ability to adapt to our environment but to adapt our environment to us. All those planes, skyscrapers and, yes, fences, are our way of consciously controlling the environment we live in and may be the only single defining characteristic of being 'human'. A beaver builds a lodge that may alter the natural flow of a stream but it does not do so to irrigate crops, rather that is how it has adapted to its environment.

Thanks for your well thought out reply.



posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 02:04 PM
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reply to post by NewAgeMan
 


It really reads like you are stating humans are the 'be all, end all' of evolution. I'm not sure, but that's what it reads like. That does have one element that I would agree with: 'Humans' encompass a whole spectrum of traits we see displayed in the animal kingdom whereas only a few 'human' traits are generally exhibited in a single animal/insect/organism.

That being said, I don't think humans are anywhere close to evolutionary perfection, or that we genuinely reflect the whole of creation in ourselves any more than any other species does singularly. And as for the Christ thing... How do you know elephants don't have their own Jesus? Look at Dumbo. Just saying.
edit on 1/7/11 by TravelerintheDark because: for the fun of it



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