What must be true for us to be Human?

I do not necessarily mean a list of certain particulars (mainly biological, chemical, physical, etc) from which we fit into predesigned categories. What I am asking is, what assumptions does someone make (unstated) when they say:
“I am human.”
Such as
If I am human I exist.
If I am human then someday I will die.
I am only human, there are certain things I cannot do.
I am only human, there are certain things I may never know.
We have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to do this… (X)
Man was created by God.
Man is the result of evolution.
Man is a moral being.
Each human being has a soul.
Each human being has a mind.
Humans have free will.
Humans have no free will.
Humans are a part of a larger world.
Humans are apart from the world.
Men exist to suffer.
Men exist to profit.

Each of these seem predicated on some other assumptions not given in the claim. There must be many more, in fact, isn’t everything we think we know predicated on the assumption that we can even know anything?

What I would like to ask everyone, in addition to attempting to clarify these specific claims, is to write your own (even ones held to be deeply personal) and that we examine these without having it come down to an argument over personal beliefs. What I hope to find is some consensus related to the title of this post, meaning, what must be true for us to be human.

What I understand from the quote, “I am [only] human” is that, I am not flawless, I can make mistakes.

Is it human enough for me to say that you have asked an impossible question? I would say not at all.

Perhaps you will allow me full enunciation of this quote, the author of which I cannot recall.

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

I agree. From that I take it then, applied in general to humanity, no one is perfect.

I would like to ask you for your thoughts on this…
If we are imperfect then we cannot ultimately know what perfection is (and certainly never attain it). If we can not know what perfection ultimately is, how do we know that we are imperfect?

I submit that to be human does not necessitate imperfection.

Not arguing here, but wouldn’t the knowledge needed to qualify a thing as impossible be reliant upon knowledge of all that is possible? If we say a thing is possible or impossible in a certain aspect, is that not predicating the contention that we can have knowledge of a thing from aspects of that thing. Thus, we could know ourselves and what is required for us to be ourselves?

Gate, what’s wrong with the tried-and-true classical definitions? Like: “Man is a rational (mortal) animal.” I think the human, being the qualities of such a creature, fit the qualities you mention.

Oh, nothing is ‘wrong’ with them. Fact is there are certain basic things one has to accept as true, on some level, in order to roll out of the bed in the morning. I thought I would actually try a little dialectic (instead of always just reading about it).

Ok, the real reason… I had this thought a couple of weeks back, what if, at the moment of conception, there began a human being incapable of sight, smell, touch/feel, hearing, and the ability to taste.

Would such a person even be a person, really? Would he be capable of rational thought? If he was, what could he know, and how could he know it? And would the fact that he could not communicate it lessen his value as a human being (assuming we consider him to be such). In short, what is it exactly, we think we know that makes us human, what importance do we place on that, and (assuming we do place some importance on it) is it justified in us?

Being largely ignorant of many many philosophers, I am sure this has been tackled before, but I thought I would give it a shot, in that, if I could arrive at some basic truth(s) about humanity, I could decide if maybe this mystery man is really human.

I can look to science to help answer your question. We can say:

A ‘It is possible that it will rain tomorrow’

B ‘It is impossible that it will rain tomorrow’

It does not take any meteorological knowledge in order to understand that statement A is more probable than statement B. We cannot however, say whether one statement is true whilst the other is false, until we have reached the end of tomorrow.

“To err is human, if you get me Black Hound truffles you’re forgiven.”

“To err is human, if you get me Black Hound truffles you’re forgiven.”


How about empathy, compassion, conscience not only toward each other but toward everything else as well. All the things we would expect God to grant us if he were alive to do it.

Think of it thusly, how can we say with certainty then that anything is impossible then, even in Science.

You will have to forgive me, having never seen a truffle, but having seen Black Hounds… that sounds like something one tends to clean up with a shovel.

Could you write on this further?

GCT - Nothing is impossible in the human imagination, but in the realm of science and empiricism, we must prove what is possible and what is not possible.

ps. The word ‘thusly’ is, like, totally out, man.

Well, the way the quote goes, does not mean that we cannot be perfect at times, we CAN be perfect in some ways and not in others and even that would change over time. The quote does not invalidate perfection in life, perfection or striving for it will always be there. That is how we can define imperfection and know about it because we can see perfection occasionally even though it goes away. I was just enunciating what is actually meant by the quote and the fact that in our struggle for survival or perfection we WILL ALWAYS MAKE MISTAKES.

As for your last line, whether you believe this or not, you’re wrong where you say, “I submit that to be human does not necessitate imperfection.” That is because my dear, the most perfect human being will be the one who is COMPLETELY HUMAN! And because this human will be by this definition the perfect being, therefore, “to be human [perfect]” will always “necessitate imperfection.” Gotcha! :smiley:

For the world of science and empiricism I tend to agree with Hume.
Induction is not absolute, one thousand white swans and all that.

I am not arguing Beena… in fact Logically speaking, we are all perfectly human (so long as we are human). Care to enumerate some other ways we can be perfect?

Ok,Ok, just read after that, what I just added. If you don’t faint, tell me about it! I have a way of turning tables and proving the opposite is true, I don’t know how I do it, but I do!