Ah yes…the question that has confused, baffled and confuddled scientists, mathematicians, philosophers and mostly everyone else for centuries now. What are Humans? What is the characteristic that differentiates us from every other living creature on the planet?
Numerous personalities throughout history have given us various definitions of this fantastic being defined in science as Homo Sapien. And every single definition can be refuted. Definitions, no matter how universally truthful your professors would have you believe, are ways of arguing with yourself about what’s important. “What’s important….” Just that much is enough to know how subjective and relative definitions can be.
For a person who values the ability of humans to be able to reason on a higher level, keeping in mind the entire genus (general) and differentia (specific) fundamental that the extremely wise yet stupidly confused Aristotle put forward, the definition of humans would be along the following lines:
Humans are self-aware social mammals generally possessing the ability to speak, reason, and use complex tools.
However, what if we decided to define ourselves not in relation to other animals, but in relation to other conceivably conscious human beings and their relational hierarchies? To put it up simply, there would be someone who would find it……let’s say, more appropriate……to define humans in relation to other, more divine beings so to say (looking at you Genesis 1:27). For them, the definition of humans would be completely different:
Humans belong to the group of conscious beings that are carbon-based, solar system dependent, limited in knowledge, prone to error, and mortal.
Just as there is no mono culture for people’s understanding of movements like feminism, there’s also no concrete way to define humans that takes into account all possible factors of differentiation.
Humans are the only species on the planet with a consciousness. Every animal species operates on the basis of their experiences, their learned habits, their stimuli. In other words, actions taken by animals are purely instinctive. However, humans are capable of having rational thought, deciding for themselves what’s right from wrong.
But, like Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” We are the dominant species on the planet, disgustingly overpowering any other species on the planet. And yet, unlike other organisms which adapt to fit their surroundings, we as a species are more inclined towards making our surroundings adapt to us. The weather is too hot in a particular region? Put air-conditioning in every place possible! Lack of land to build upon? Reclaim the land from swamps and mangroves, it’s not as if they’ve been helping us in the first place!
The various unending questions of humanity shall possibly never be satisfactorily answered, but the question of “What should we do as humans?” is another matter entirely. We may not understand what we are, but figuring out that we, as the dominant species and the only conscious species, have a responsibility is definitely no Herculean task. All our mistakes, all our wars, everything wrong that has happened to our planet and to our fellow Homo Sapiens can be traced back to just one singular factor; ignorance. It’s been roughly 100,000 years since we’ve been around, evolved and thinking.
It’s time that we put aside all our differences, our stupid arguments and our mindless questions, and start truly progressing towards taking ourselves in particular and our species as a whole to their zenith.
As Spock used to say, “Live long and prosper!”