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"Desire is the very essence of man." - Spinoza, Ethics, part iv, prop.

Definition of Human
Updated: 03/31/2020

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: Language

Now, in some cases such as some dolphins and whales, the line gets blurred, maybe a lot. But these distinctions generally hold.

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