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What makes us human?

Evolutionary biology and scientific evidence tell us that all humans originated from and evolved from ape-like ancestors over 6 million years ago in Africa. From knowledge gained from the discovery of early human fossils and archaeological remains, it appears that there were probably 15-20 different species of early humans that existed, some beginning as early as several million years ago. These species of humans, called “hominins,” migrated into Asia about 2 million years ago, then into Europe, and the rest of the world much later. While different branches of humans died out, the branch leading to the modern human, Homo sapiens, continued to evolve.

Have you ever?

1. felt dismayed when somebody, in response to, ‘Hi, how are
you?’, doesn’t answer, ‘Fine, thanks’, but starts to tell you
about their health?
2. had a tricky conversation with someone whose name you’ve
forgotten when they clearly know who you are? Should you
ask their name?
3. discovered to your embarrassment that you’ve been walking
along, talking to yourself because your friend stopped a
while ago to look in a shop window?
4. said you’re pleased with your hair in a hairdresser’s, despite
hating it, and can’t wait to leave the shop and comb it out?
5. spent a meal debating with yourself whether to tell the person
you’re eating with that there is some food on their face?
6. asked someone in a supermarket where something is, only
to learn that the person is another customer like yourself?
Or worse, have you had the reverse happen to you?
7. wished that you’d bought some of the things in the trolley
of the person ahead of you in the supermarket queue?
8. found it difficult to keep your smile and patience, after a third
failed attempt when someone is taking a group photograph?
9. felt awkward because after saying a long and affectionate
goodbye to someone you both set off in the same direction?
10. said, ‘We really must meet up again sometime’, when
you really meant ‘Not a chance!’?


What is the difference between human being and being human?

There is a very distinct difference between Being Human and Human Being. The dictionary describes Being human as simply understanding that others are human too. … describes Human Beings as a person, especially as distinguished from other animals or as representing the human species.


Our Mind: Imagination, Creativity, and Forethought: A Blessing and a Curse


The human brain and the activity of its countless neurons and synaptic possibilities contribute to the human mind. The human mind is different from the brain: the brain is the tangible, visible part of the physical body; the mind consists of the intangible realm of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and consciousness.
Thomas Suddendorf says in his book, “The Gap”:

“Mind is a tricky concept. I think I know what a mind is because I have one — or because I am one. You might feel the same. But the minds of others are not directly observable. We assume that others have minds somewhat like ours — filled with beliefs and desires — but we can only infer those mental states. We cannot see, feel, or touch them. We largely rely on language to inform each other about what is on our minds.” (p. 39)


Storytelling

Thanks to our unique memory, acquisition of language skills, and ability to write, humans around the world, from the very young to the very old, have been communicating and transmitting their ideas through stories for thousands of years, and storytelling remains integral to being human and to human culture.


The Future

No matter how you look at it, humans are unique, and paradoxical. While we are the most advanced species intellectually, technologically, and emotionally, extending our lifespans, creating artificial intelligence, traveling to outer space, showing great acts of heroism, altruism and compassion, we also continue to engage in primitive, violent, cruel, and self-destructive behavior.  

As beings with awesome intelligence and the ability to control and alter our environment, though, we also have a commensurate responsibility to care for our planet, its resources, and all the other sentient beings who inhabit it and depend on us for their survival. We are still evolving as a species and we need to continue to learn from our past, imagine better futures, and create new and better ways of being together for the sake of ourselves, other animals, and our planet.


Resources and Further Reading

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-makes-us-human-4150529


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