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What Does it Mean to be Human?

Humans are moral beings with freedom, which makes them different from animals (Ridley, 2011). Humans are described as having feelings or passion. In themselves, these feelings are neither morally good nor morally evil. How humans see themselves is the foundation of their values, choices, and relationships with people and nature.

Elements of being human, making their own decisions and bearing the consequences of them, being able to fit in different racial, religious, cultural, and political groups, having the ability to communicate consistently, and thinking about the past, present, and the future and any other element of being human will be analyzed, explained and illustrated in this paper. These are the specific elements that distinguish humans from other beings, making our lives livable.

Human beings make their own decisions and bear the consequences that come with them. These decisions vary on where to live, what to eat or wear, and what to do and when to do it. Despite the fact that animals make decisions on what to eat and when to mate, their choices are always influenced by humans (Premack, 2007). On the other hand, humans have cognitive abilities that enable them to make sound decisions, some of which have lifelong consequences throughout their lifespan (Santos & Rosati, 2015).

Humans possess the ability to live and fit in varied racial, religious, cultural, and political groups (Boesch, 2007). Ecologically, humans are organisms that can interact with other living beings. These help them develop a more comprehensive planetarium consciousness and perspective. As a result, migration enables humans to fit into different cultural groups in their search for settlement, vacation, and work activities. Humans are viewed as an incarnation of internalized worldviews, traditions, beliefs, and values, as well as the perception of reality.

The third element is that humans are spiritual. Some believe in religion, and others believe in its non-existent. The group of religious people believes they were created, hence purposeful and correctly designated. It is characterized by the elements of oneness, constancy, and eternity (Finlay, 2010). Regardless of an individual’s religious beliefs and thoughts of what happens after death, humans are well aware of death and life after death, unlike other living beings. Even though some beings react when one of them dies, they are unaware that it affects others. Humans have similar elements to other beings, but the spiritual aspect is unique to them (Wood, 2001).

Another element that makes humans is the ability to self-consciousness and appreciation of beauty (Goffinet, 2011). Beyond a simple recognition of self, which is seen in a few other beings like animals, humans can admire, critique, and understand their environment. He realizes what needs to be done to make the world a better place. On the other hand, humans can appreciate the beauty and make efforts to preserve it. It can be a simple sunset, a piece of artwork, or a design of a flower. They can understand, create, and express humor (Lavenda & Schultz, 2018). Humans can detach themselves from their surroundings to understand things. In conclusion, these elements help define humans and what makes humans unique from other beings. The ability to appreciate beauty, be aware of death, be spiritual, and the ability to fit in different cultures, groups, and races illustrate the nature of humans, hence making their lives livable. Despite the numerous physical and biological similarities between humans and other beings, the variation between them is the combination of complex reasoning, the ability to recognize and have respect for one another, the use of language, and the ability to solve problems and overcome challenges and introspection on our own. These are the significant elements that make humans.


Boesch, C. (2007). What makes us human (Homo sapiens)? The challenge of cognitive cross-species comparison. Journal of Comparative Psychology121(3), 227-240. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.121.3.227

Finlay, G. (n.d.). What really makes us human. Human Evolution, 265-283. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139627092.007

Goffinet, A. (2011). What Makes Us Human? A Biased View from the Perspective of Comparative Embryology and Mouse Genetics. Current Research in Embryology, 13-25. doi:10.1201/b12877-2

Lavenda, R. H., & Schultz, E. A. (2018). Anthropology: What does it mean to be human?

Premack, D. (2007). Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences104(35), 13861-13867. doi:10.1073/pnas.0706147104

Ridley, M. (2011). Nature via nurture: Genes, experience and what makes us human.

Santos, L. R., & Rosati, A. G. (2015). The Evolutionary Roots of Human Decision Making. Annual Review of Psychology66(1), 321-347. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015310

Wood, A. T. (2001). What does it mean to be human?: A new interpretation of freedom in world history. New York: P. Lang.



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