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Old 04-24-2009, 03:59 PM   #1
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What is it that makes us human?

Not even sure what I ask... I've been watching Blade Runner again. Anyway, to ask the question; why do you think you're human? How well does that argument hold up? And if not, what *do* you think you are?
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:20 PM   #2
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:24 PM   #3
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Well... That's an argument, I s'pose...
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:28 PM   #4
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Well... That's an argument, I s'pose...
Defining humanity based on taste? Oh well, theres no discussing taste.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:32 PM   #5
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Defining humanity based on taste? Oh well, theres no discussing taste.
Nooo... but we can still discuss differences of taste
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:34 PM   #6
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Humanity is, first defined by genetics. 99% of everyone's genes are identical. So that's a place to start.

Next, is the cognition approach. We think and are sentient, therefore we get to define ourselves as human.

Then, there is the humor definition. By laughing, we are showing ourselves to be human. Just some thoughts.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:53 PM   #7
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Humanity is, first defined by genetics. 99% of everyone's genes are identical. So that's a place to start.

Next, is the cognition approach. We think and are sentient, therefore we get to define ourselves as human.

Then, there is the humor definition. By laughing, we are showing ourselves to be human. Just some thoughts.

Maybe so, but each of your arguments applies also to chimps. I think I read that we share 97% DNA with them. They have the ability to make tools and wage war, so that shows intelligence. And they certainly laugh, showing much more gruesome teeth than even your current avator shows.

How about the ability to plan ahead? Or romantic love?
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:04 PM   #8
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Maybe so, but each of your arguments applies also to chimps. I think I read that we share 97% DNA with them. They have the ability to make tools and wage war, so that shows intelligence. And they certainly laugh, showing much more gruesome teeth than even your current avator shows.

How about the ability to plan ahead? Or romantic love?
But only 97%, not 99%, which is why I started there. Chimpanzees display the ability to pair bond, and definitely plan ahead.
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:16 PM   #9
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As far as I understand (I'll find the refs if you need them) chimpanzees do have the ability to plan ahead - but do they know why it is important and meaningful? (to some humans? And why IS IT is feels so nice to able to plan ahaed? (it feels nice to me)
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:18 PM   #10
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How about religion being the defining characteristic?

Drats, it's time to go home now. Where is EA? He opened up this can of worms then vanished. EA, what's your thoughts here? (never mind, I was too slow)
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:26 PM   #11
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Ea is me?? I assume - and I'm she!

Sorry, but I'll be going to bed soon, livin' in Europe an' all it's bedtime here for me.

Anyway I consider a religion an overall superficial characteristic of who you are. THere is more to who you are than your religion. OR yor religion define more than I expect
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:31 PM   #12
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Please - no considerations how equal two sets of genes are. All those comparisons I have read so far are BS (e.g. we have no complete high-quality assembly of either of those primates ...)

I dont think religion could be any mark for "human" - I am an atheist. Perhaps the ability to try to define "whats a human" is a human thing - most other animals simply recognize their spezies
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:34 PM   #13
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I think we want to know: why do we think we think? What makes us conscious?

And why is that important?
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:41 PM   #14
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Fascinating question!

I'd suggest reading "The Human Story" by Robin Dunbar -- unfortunately it's not available electronically as far as I know. One (of several) areas it touches on, that perhaps others more versed in the area can expand on, is the theory of mind or the levels of intentionality. E.g. I think is one level, I think you think, are two levels, I think you think I think are three levels and so on.

One of the fascinating, or perhaps worrying, aspects of this approach is that it then begs the question are infants humans, and the entire set of debates related to that and other similar issues.

In fact, there are very few definitions which don't, at least to some extent, identify some individuals as not human. To somewhat mis-use DixieGal's suggestion (with apologies) that humanity is defined by religion, does that mean that Richard Dawkins is not human?
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:45 PM   #15
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Well - crows for example do think "what do you think" (or at least they can extrapolate what other crows know. E.g. let them hide something to eat while another crow watches. Then remove this other crow - they will search another depot if (and only if) they believe the other crow watched them).
Its very difficult to define a difference between humans and other animals based on cognitive features - we simply dont know enough 'bout their cognitive features and some animals have quite a lot of them.
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