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What is a human being?

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tgarcia4 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:01 PM via web

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What is a human being?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 4, 2013 at 8:32 PM (Answer #1)

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“Human being” is a signifier, whose signified can be circumscribed by referring to such physiology tools as the Great Chain of Being and other taxonomies (see Linnaeus) – in this context it refers to the mammal most developed in the ape family, the “homo sapiens” or “featherless biped” (remember Donald Hall’s warning: ‘The definition of a word is another word.”). In a philosophical context, the phrase refers to Des Cartes’ duality, the body and the mind; in a religious context, it includes the “soul”, that extra-physical eternal entity that “dwells” inside the “flesh” and survives it. The term usually serves to exclude “us” from other, lower, species and animate or nonanimate objects. It is basically a Chauvinistic term, setting us apart from and higher than something. Miguel de Unamuno refers to a human being as “a man of flesh and bone” in The Tragic Sense of Life.
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Stanton Winder | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 10, 2013 at 6:25 PM (Answer #2)

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Christian theologians refer to humans as having an immaterial and material part (a body and a soul or human spirit). Man is spoken of as being created in the image of God meaning that man is like God in some ways and represents God. We are like God 1) in the fact that we have an inner sense of right and wrong that sets us apart from animals. 2) We not only have's physical bodies but also spirits which means we have a spiritual life that enables us to relate to God as persons. 3) We engage in rational thought and use complex abstract language. 4) We are relational and have a sense of community with each other. 5) We have a complexity of emotions which means that we can feel almost simultaneously happy, thankful, irritated, or sad. All of this is a part of being uniquely a human being and sets us apart from other beings or things in the universe. (see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pp. 440 - 450.)

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