"Desire is the very essence of
man." - Spinoza, Ethics, part iv, prop.
Definition of Human
Homo Sapiens is the official
title for a species of animal, a physical life form, but the term Human
Being is supposed to imply an entity that transcends just being an
animal. What makes us human to set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom?
Isn't a human being a
spiritual being with a physical body? If I lose a finger, does that make
me less human? Does that loss diminish my personality and character,
impinge on my intrinsic worth? Obviously not. So, apparently a human
being cannot be defined just by physical attributes, and must be defined by
spiritual–or non-material, for you materialists out there–attributes.
What are these attributes? Some of the major ones are:
We have an innate ability to imagine, to create forms,
structures, situations, interactions, art, music, concepts and ideas,
readings and understandings of the psychology and intentions of others.
We have a complete volitional range, where we can choose to
believe, decide what to do, and modify our own will and feelings.
We have a complete range of humane values that we call human.
We can canvass and evaluate our own values, intentions and motives,
and adjust them according to our deeper purpose and beliefs.
We can be instilled with the highest and most noble ethics, such
as courage, honor, nobility, compassion, love, kindness, mercy, good will, etc.
How do we transcend animals? Is it not with our higher spiritual
aspects and qualities? Here are some dimensions that set us apart:
a. The truly human has the dimension of romance
that transcends mere fondness and physical desire.
b. Humans have intellect and not just intelligence as animals have. See:
Mind related definitions
c. Humans have extensive languages composed of sound symbols and not
just sound signals. These languages of "words" can define the meaning of
other words in the language and can describe to the intellect the various
facets of reality, which mere signals cannot do. Of course, most cultures
have developed alphabets and textual communication, as well as extended
systems based on codes of hand, flag, flashing light and/or other methods of
audible, tactile, or visuals signals. See: Definitions:
Now, in some cases such as some dolphins and whales,
the line gets blurred, maybe a lot. But these distinctions generally hold.