WHO ARE ‘WE’ ?

It is known that humans are unique living beings in Earth and are considered superior to all forms of life.

But have you ever wondered:

What is it that makes us human?                                                                                                                            

What distinguishes us from other forms of life?                                                                                                                

What is human nature and how is it different from animals? 

These were the questions faced by numerous scientists for centuries, in trying to find out the qualities which separate us from animals.

 

Is it our genes?  

Research undertaken by molecular scientists for several years reveals that our genetic make-up is unique from other kinds of life both in physical features and behavioural pattern. However it only defines the attributes of a human body and not the human itself. Hence this theory does not fully explain who we are.

We are distinct from chimpanzees by only 1% of our genes (Source: http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/8/2010/07/500x_monkey-3.jpg)

 

Is it our culture?

Many anthropologists studied art and culture, with an aim to determine the distinctiveness of human. They found that our artistic creations, our design of tools and our usage of weapons are all exclusive to humans. Yet it cannot define a human since animals have also been identified to design and use art and tools.

Ancient artifacts used by humans (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Is it our language?

Language is one of the important characteristics which have developed with human evolution. Our ability to form letters, words and sentences to not only communicate with others but also to share our thoughts and exchange information, clearly outweighs that of animals. Though language used by animals is only collective patterns of sounds, they can still not unique to humans. Hence language cannot be provided as a reason to who we are.

 

What is the answer?

The answer can be derived from the ancient period, where it all started. The beginning of the exploration of human self can be dated to the era of Egyptian civilization who believed that the personality of humans lies in their heart. Over time, various theories were developed to describe the uniqueness of humans.

One such theory, put forth by a French philosopher named Rene Descartes, stated that the human existence was based on thought and reasoning processes of our mind. His view opened a completely new rationale to the scientific exploration of humans. This triggered the study of human brain, its structure and functions. As a result, the ability of the brain to differentiate us from other life forms was identified.

 

Hence, the answer to the question ‘what makes us human?’ is given by THE HUMAN BRAIN

Human Brain (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Human brain is the complex in its structure and function. It controls our behavior, feelings, emotions, intelligence, wisdom, creativity, humor, character and understanding of time, all of which are unique characteristics of human beings.  It shapes our thoughts, feelings and desires; it defines human nature; it builds models and assumptions based on experience.

Therefore, WHO ARE WE? We are the product of our environment, reasoning, emotions, thoughts, behavior and interactions with people. We are the result of all our intellectual achievements and scientific advances. We unconsciously define science in our everyday activities by observing the world, building models and testing them. We are the outcome of the scientific successes and endeavors that mankind has ever taken.

 

Sources:

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/14826563954/The-Story-Of-Science

http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/human-origins/what-makes-us-human

 


7 Responses to “WHO ARE ‘WE’ ?”

  1. pdeleo says:

    Wow! really interesting! Human brain is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

  2. rashikap says:

    Thanks for reading Meghanb and Deepika! It is true that animals are also as smart as humans. The term ‘superior’ meant the ability of humans to think and contemplate things around the world which lacks in animals. Though intelligence cannot be used to rank species, it is not only the intelligence which differentiates us from other species, but it is the combined result and complexity of brain processes. This is why we have not yet succeeded in replicating human brain in robots.

  3. Rashika says:

    Thanks Tin Wai Lam and Paing for reading!!!

  4. psoe says:

    Hmm this is thought provoking for sure and reminds me of an article that I read like 15 years ago(!) exploring what sets human beings apart in the animal kingdom. Language ability? Nah, chimpamzees could use sign language if taught. Intelligent? Dolphins are intelligent too etc. So what’s the conclusion? That article (that I can’t quite remember where it appeared) argued that the answer was in the question–no individual of any other species ever wonders how its species might be unique compared to others and tries out tests to find out! Well… that itself is debatable I guess.

  5. Deepika says:

    Nice post! Interesting how our brain is constantly evolving with our everyday experiences. I agree that human brains are objectively more complex than any other animal.That’s not to say that other animals aren’t as smart, mainly because we are defining what intelligence is in the first place.

  6. meghanb says:

    Interesting article, but I’m not sure humans should be considered ‘superior to all forms of life.’ More intelligent, certainly; but I think calling us superior to all other life forms may be underestimating the successes of other species. Intelligence isn’t the only way to rank species!

  7. Tin Wai Lam says:

    very interesting, it helps me to understand my brain more! and the 3D brain is amazing!