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Check Out Our What does it Mean to Be Human? Essay

Together with the development of the philosophical background of psychology of mankind, the sense of being human has undergone drastic changes. The conception of a person was largely influenced by the principle concepts of social thinking. For a long time religion maintained, so to say, a stance of a driving force that determined public mood. Epochs changed, and new values have been accepted by the society at large due to the living of restless minds, who strived for improvement in all spheres of life. Humanism was a philosophical, aesthetic, intellectual and artistic doctrine, which rejected engrained supernaturalism and stressed upon dignity, worth and capacity and proclaimed the reason as perhaps the main and the only possible way for self-realization. Humanism recognized a man and all that is humanly possible as the highest values.

Later, technological advances influenced the whole mankind, its way of living, thinking and perception. Machines entered all spheres of human activity, having taken the place of a man. People’s dream of space and subjugating of distant worlds have come true. Technogenic innovations changed people’s perception of nature and made them determine their disposition towards the environment. The initial perception of a man’s unity with the nature has been forgotten. People tried to conquer nature, trying to be dominant, thinking that a man is a master of the world. Technical advancement made humanity forget ancient knowledge in their striving to get the new ones. The initial dream of a person to have wings has been realized. Focusing on technical progress humanity seemed to have forgotten about the progress spiritual. In its turn, this predetermined understanding of humanity according to the prior experience of anthropology. Whatever the case, one thing is clear for sure: it does not matter whether one is a follower of this or that psychological or philosophic theory, one is obliged to think and ideate in terms of attitude of care towards any living being. Therefore, professing these principles makes it easier to define the notion of humanity.

What is a human being? Smith summarizes that “Some paleoanthropologists identify the category of the human with the species Homo sapiens, others equate it with the whole genus Homo, some restrict it to the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, and a few take it to encompass the entire hominin lineage. “ (Smith 2) Science cannot tell us exactly what a human is while this is rather a folk-category, but not a scientific one. Obviously, something more profound lies within the taxonomia (i.e. systematics) and the notion of species. However, folk-strategy ravels the problem even more. (Smith 6) Eugenics and supermanism, genocide and totalitarianism often went hand-in-hand. These and many others were the black pages in the history of men. Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann in his Little Zaches, Great Zinnober used the term “philistine”, which meant a gnat strainer, a haggler, a meanie, specious person, a hypocrite, corny and uneducated. Later on, British poet, pedagogue and book critic Matthew Arnold popularized the word and made synonymous to anti-intellectualism. Indeed, no one can tell what is going on, but the hierarchy of the savants is opposed to the power of philistines. On the other side, none but a person to whose hands falls any idea, is designated for the consequences.

A vast thing in favor of these arguments is the philosophy of existentialism. Jean-Paul Sartre created sui generis manifest that determined a swim of that time – his tractate “Existentialism is humanism”. What is peculiar about each realistic epoch, being this renaissance or classicism, or neo-classicism as a branch of Modernism, is declaration of man a highest value. Actually, this made realism contradictory to romanticism. Scientists proved that the wave theory is valid as far as history of culture is concerned. Actually, Sartre struck a blow for existentialism as a philosophical, deontological and aesthetic movement. Nowadays, something different happens. Neither Modernism, nor Postmodernism, cannot be regarded as rational and be analyzed in terms of logical laws. Why it happened so, that information began to develop so rapidly, and the degradation processes bore upon culture and human mind, is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. The only thing, which everyone understands for sure, is that information and knowledge are no longer synonymous to the notion of humane, and they should be.

Considering all the whys and whethers, one feels puzzled. Punditry, men of word, art and science exhausted themselves in the effort to find answers to eternal questions. Indexical expression is a term that gets its content from the context in which it is uttered. (Smith 7) In this case, all that chaos seems more ordinated. This means, “When we describe others as human, we are saying that they are members of our own kind or, more precisely, members of our own natural kind.” (Smith 7) As far as dialectology is concerned, the world in itself is a cascade of binary oppositions. Therefore, one should distinguish between natural and artificial in order to find things out (Smith 9). “In Plato’s vivid metaphor, they ‘cut nature at its joints.’ Weeds are an artificial kind, because they exist only in virtue of certain linguistic conventions and social practices, but pteridophyta (ferns) are a natural kind because, unlike weeds, their existence is insensitive to our linguistic conventions.” (Smith 9)

If a person identifies oneself with the notion of human, it means that he or she acknowledges someone belonging to the same biological species as he or she does, i.e. confesses someone of his or her own kind. (Smith10)

What is human? Still, it remains one of the most fundamental issues of our existence. Yet, the grand diversity of opinions made the answer remarkably elusive. (Popova 1) Consciousness and sub-consciousness are the essence of human beings. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio gave his basic definition of consciousness:

Consciousness is the special quality of mind, the special features that exist in your mind, that permit us to know, for example, that we ourselves exist and that things exist around us. And there is something more than just your mind. Mind allows us to portray in different sensory modalities – visual, auditory, olfactory, you name it – what we are like and what the world is like, but this very, very important quality of subjectivity is the quality that allows us to take a distant view and say: ‘I am’.  (www. brainpickings.com)

So, physical specifications of the matter are collateral. They do not reveal any signification. Still, to some extent, they are over- and under- estimated at the same time. The balance between physical (material) and mental (spiritual) is the stumbling block and the cornerstone of philosophical anthropology at once. Practically, disputes around coexistence of an animal and the human in a man, the evaluation and perception of good and evil pushed people to a conflict. It happened relatively recently that private interests began to rule the political life.

 “Following thinkers such as René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, modern philosophers tend to think of our rational minds imposing meaning of the world”. (Beattie 3) Our perception is determined by our desires. Intellectual development and senses play an important role. “Enriched with a deeper appreciation of the source of beauty and goodness, understanding is transformed into love and our desire pivots back towards objects in order to express…love. Love, knowledge and goodness are inseparable”. (Beattie 3)

What is human? Nothing and no one but life can give the best answer. It is important to understand the two aspects of the issue: the score of being a man and the notion of being humane. In both cases, this means to realize moral and social responsibilities. A common person should remember one thing – being human means to be a loving creature. Only loving each other and the nature we can achieve true happiness. Liability for one’s own doings is implied. In case with “humane”, deep respect and carrying are taken for granted, i.e. are regarded as a part of the course. It does not matter, whether this exists because of people’s desire to intitule everything, but aspiration for beauty, kindness, freedom and peace is a cherished dream of all living souls.

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