What Is A Human Being?
We can acquire all sorts of knowledge as long as our senses functions the way they were meant to function and we can learn what our body is capable of learning. Since the golden age in Greece through the dark ages into our modern world, there has been a multitude of men and women trying to acquire the knowledge of who we really are and what our purpose might be on this planet. There cannot be a reasonable way to explain the meaning of life without first knowing what we are, who we are, and why we are. “Know Thyself” like the oracle of Delfi once said. Analyzing this can be difficult and has been explained by many philosophers through time by using their various scientific and logical tools. This curious type of organism that has been analyzed in so many ways is scientifically classified as an animal. It is constantly on a quest to gain knowledge through questioning thoughts as well as various forms of physical items in order to create a picture of reality. I believe a human being is a creation containing two unique parts, equally important for our ability to interact with everything that surrounds us along an endless mysterious path known as time. One part is crystal clear; it is the physical and material matter occupying space, known as the body. This form of matter has size, shape, and dimensions and can be experienced empirically. The other part of the human being is harder to understand since it has no shape, size, or dimensions and cannot be experienced by empirical knowledge, it is the mind. Here our deepest feelings, emotions, consciousness, and our idea of reality originate. Event though our thoughts involving our senses are created in our mind we cannot see, hear, touch, feel, or taste the mind. Combining these two parts allows us to act in certain ways and evaluate certain things.
Travelling in space interacting with everything that surrounds us to gain knowledge by experience would be known to Protagoras as an empirical type of Psychology. Reality is the sum of all the experiences throughout time making a human a constantly curious organism willing to learn from experience. Socrates would also agree with this to a certain extent, using his talent of questioning. Gaining knowledge through interacting with everything that surrounds us, through questioning people about what they hold to be true interpretations of life. Although knowledge itself was not so important to Socrates it was the benefits of learning and the desire for happiness guided by a daemon which had value. I do not agree with Socrates fully since human beings are curious and want to explore some things we might not consider would lead to happiness. It would be much harder for humans to know themselves without knowing the meaning of the pain principle that does not lead to happiness. However Plato would not fully agree with Socrates either, this is demonstrated through his “Myth of the Cave”. The search for true knowledge by using the senses is what makes a human being aware of reality and him/her self. It is the importance of acquiring the knowledge that is more important then the benefits. Interacting with whatever is surrounding us allows the human being to gain knowledge, thus getting to know him/her self. I do not totally agree with Plato either since he claimed that the truth of human nature involves knowledge of another world. Using the senses to gain knowledge, and that it is the knowledge that is more important then the benefits of knowledge, I agree with. Interestingly Plato’s student Aristotle reasoned that humans are rational animals and human nature requires only knowledge of our own world. Again interacting with our surroundings using our senses is important to Aristotle; “The purpose of the eye is to see, and of the ears to hear.” Clearly the philosophers of ancient Greece agree that the human being interact with everything that surrounds him/her in order to gain knowledge. Although the knowledge and its importance have its own meaning to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Before these western philosophers great visionaries of India had created a theory, for life and reality in a collection of hymns known as the Vedas. I do not like their idea of a fundamental reality which is neither existence nor non-existence. Although among other things in the Vedas there is a philosophy known as Brahman which is the ultimate reality. Brahman appearing in the Upanishads writings cannot be seen, smelled, felt, heard, described, or imagined. I believe this is not reality but it is like the mind where human beings create their picture of reality. The philosophers also thought that knowing yourself is part of reality and by acquiring this knowledge one could understand the reality. Atman is identical with Brahman and it is exactly like the mind. Atman is beyond our knowledge to understand just like the mind. Eastern philosophy from India therefore applies to my definition of a human being since it describes the mind. While the early western philosophy from Greece is more akin to analyse everything that surrounds us. Blending western and eastern philosophy from Greece and India explains how a human being is a creation containing the two unique parts, which makes the human being complete.
As modern philosophy came along, arriving from the closest centuries the definition of a human being begins to weaken. The Darwinian Challenge or Darwinism disturbs my definition. I can agree to the theory of evolution to a certain degree. It is obviously more accurate than the Christian view of philosophy. Evolution describes why a curious animal is classified to the genus homo and to the specific species Homo Sapiens, scientifically a human being, and the reason why we experience our body the way we do. Simply I would like to say that it defines what a body is and how it became the form it is now. Although when it comes to purposes that are related to the body I do not agree at all with Darwin. The idea that the body was not created for a purpose, not to interact and learn is outrageous. Of-course the body’s purpose is to work together with the mind to acquire knowledge it is however not just developed by random variations without any purposes. Without any will or purposes humans would be extinct years ago. If our purpose was not to survive, love, or reproduce, how could we continue to live?
Finally another modern view of philosophy came from Jean Paul Sartre. Much of what he claims applies to the definition of human beings, there is one mistake I believe he did though. Sartre went into deep in his theories trying to hard, I am satisfied with most of what he claimed, but some things are not logical at all. Existentialism holds true that humans create their own nature through free responsible choices and actions. The destiny of human beings is not fixed our life’s depend on what we choose to interact with and what we select to learn, at least most of the time. Small children are often left without free will and choices therefore existentialism can not be universally generalized. Sartre went to deep when he claimed that humans are free because we are not. Everyday we learn and experience things we initially did not choose to do, for example humans do not choose to get murdered by some hostile lunatic. The murderer choose to kill whoever got killed therefore leaving the victim without choice and without freedom, the victim is therefore not responsible for his own death. Human beings are not what our choices makes us we are rather what we are influence by on our way to learn, explore, and experience, along an endless timeline.