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Essays by KT

What it means to be Human

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PH 231

21 April 2009

What does it mean to be human?  What sets humanity apart?  What makes us different than everything else?  What makes us more important, more meaningful than mere animals?  We have both a beginning and an end on earth, just like everything else in this world.  So, what makes us different from everything else in the world?

The main thing that sets us apart is that we have free will.  We have the ability to choose right from wrong.  Animals do not have this.  They are controlled by their instinct.  A dog chases a squirrel out of instinct, not because he thinks it through and decides it will be fun.  He is controlled by his instinct.  Animals reproduce out of instinct as well.  Humans have instincts, but with these come the ability to choose how they act upon their instincts.  We are given the ability to decide what choices we make, we are given the ability to “weigh the options”.

We are set apart from everything else in this world because our soul is “tripartite”.  The human soul is “vegetative”, “sensitive”, and “rational”.  The vegetative part of the soul is shown by the need for conservation and reproduction of the species.  The sensitive part is manifested through the senses, memory, and instincts.  The part of the soul, however, that sets humanity apart from animals is that of the rational.  The rational part of a soul manifests itself through the intellect and the will.

We are directed toward the transcendent.  We have been created by God and are perfected in God.  Only in Him can we reach our fullest potential.  Religion plays a huge part in my life.  It provides a median through which God provides us with the morals by which we are to live.

Morals or ethics affect the way we live.  Because of our free will, we are able, to a certain extent, to choose the ethics by which we live.  Because of our intellect and being directed toward the transcendent, we are always in search of the fullness of truth.  Ethics provide order to the world.  Without a foundation of what is right and what is wrong, the world would be complete chaos.  We are to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The Golden Rule is a great rule to live by because everyone longs to be loved. 

We have been given a body as well as a soul and we should take care of it as well.  The body is an essential aspect of the human being.  Biology helps us to better understand our body and how to take care of it.  I am not very good at biology nor do I enjoy learning this subject.  However, it is an important aspect of life, and I am very thankful for it.  It is because of this subject that we have doctors who can care for us when we are ill, so that we are able to focus our energy elsewhere using the talents that we have been given.

The mind is another important aspect of humanity.  It affects the way we live, with or without realizing it.  I find psychology a very interesting subject.  I especially find it interesting that we sometimes do not remember things that happened and sometimes remember things that did not happen.  I find it interesting in general how we deal with memories.  We are often affected by events that have happened in our life that we do not remember.

Another aspect of being human that I find interesting is sociology.  We interact with each other, and those interactions affect ourselves and others in many ways, both known and unknown to us.  We are all part of the human race, and in this way, we all have something in common.  We all contribute to society in different way than anyone else does.  None of us is created exactly the same, with the same talents, the same hobbies, the same dislikes, as someone else.  There is only one of us, and no one can replace us.  We are many pieces in this one world with the commonality of being human.  We are many parts in this common goal of life.

History is also important.  I do not enjoy this subject, but I realize that it is an essential part of life.  It is important to learn from history, so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.  However, it is also important to not dwell on the past.  If we dwell on the past, it makes it very difficult to enjoy the gift of the present, and move toward the future.  Our history is what makes us who we are today and allows us to become something better than who we are.

The two subjects I enjoy the least and are the least important dimensions to me are economics and politics.  I do not know a lot about these topics nor do I enjoy them.

Economics is important in this world because money is essential to survival.  However, sometimes money becomes a greater focus than it should be.  It is not good if one devotes his life to merely making money.  After we die, the money we have in this life, we will no longer have; it will be of no use to us.

Politics is also necessary.  I do not find this subject enjoyable, but I think it is important.  Politics helps to maintain order within the community, by making and enforcing laws.  Without laws, the world would be in complete chaos.  This is very similar to morals because the laws are based on morals; morals create the foundation for laws, and laws enforce the morals.  These morals have been given to us by God.  In this way, there can never be a separation between God and the laws, between the Church and the State.  The separation of church and state was created so there would be no mandatory state religion like there once was in England, resulting poorly.

I think being human means incorporating every aspect of life.  This is a use of that which is highest within us: our intellect.  Our intellect is what sets us apart as a human being.  We should therefore use this intellect to its fullest potential:  to seek truth.  This truth is not limited to one aspect of life, but rather, it incorporates every aspect of life.

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