Is a Human just a complicated bundle of cells or is there something more to it?Is a Human just a complicated bundle of cells or is there something more to it?

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Well, what does it mean for something to be more than the sum of its parts? I am very sympathetic to this question, but in considering the issues involved, I have a hard time getting past the semantic elements of the question. To my mind, the subject might be definitively semantic, dependent on verbiage and the point of view implied in that verbiage. 

For instance, though I see tablet computers as being quite useful, they are not "more than computers" or "other than computers", even if I do think that computers in general can be compellingly viewed as being "more than circuitry". 

The usefulness (and function) of the machine is definitive of the machine. At the same time, the actual constitution of the machine is definitive of the machine. A computer is "what it does" and also is "what it's made of". 

I think these are just two ways of looking at the same thing, in the end.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is one of the most fundamental questions of the whole field of philosophy -- what is it that makes us human.  Is there anything beyond our physical bodies that makes human beings different from other animals?

There is really no way to answer this in an objective fashion.  There is no way scientific testing can tell, for example, whether we have souls.  This means that we can only turn to philosophy and or religion to tell us what makes us human.

Many religions, including Christianity, argue that we are human because we have some part of God in us.  We are made in the image of God, according to Christianity, and this is what makes us different.

However, there is simply no way to tell this scientifically.  We cannot know at this point whether there is something to us that cannot be explained in terms of our biology.

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