What does it take to be Human?

This is a question posted in a message on social media. The question was posed by a student in response to a request from her professor.

The responses were interesting as follows:

D wrote “A soul….reasoning…opposing thumb…a moral code…

L said “I’d say language and ability to speak more than one. Intelligence, religion, culture, morality…

A couple of responses to this were:

“Why do you say that” and “Animals have language”

L said “Yes they do but can it be written down and learned by others?”

H said “The ability to reason and make choices beyond instincts”

Di said “is it our family values and is it compassion for others? a lot of the human species isn’t human the way they act” followed by “they may be of the human race, but there actions sometimes prove differently

My reply was a simple “Human Parents”

E said “a conscience”

N said “I think it takes having a heart and a conscience.”

At this point I had to jump in again and posted this. “Humans do not have to have any of these characteristics. They are humans because they were born human just like ants are ants. What the hell?”

I also added this “Adam Lanza was a human as was mother Theresa and Hitler and Ghandi and Jack the Ripper . Need I say more?”

E said “Think I woulda consider them demons as they have no conscience”

My rant continued. “You can call them anything you want but they are all humans.” And then I started getting outrageously ridiculous with the following.

“ A wolf is not human nor is a dog” “Dogs have consciences, they feel bad when they do bad. Dogs do not have that thumb thing you were talking about but monkeys do.”

Now had the question been along the lines of what does it take to be humane or what does it take to be a “good” human, I could have accepted and understood some of those answers but.

  • Human


  • Humans are primates of the family Hominidae, and the only extant species of the genus Homo. Humans are distinguished from other primates by their bipedal locomotion, and especially by their relatively .


What do you all think about this important question/topic?

Sorry I did not get a chance to meet you folks at the meeting last night. I did not make it, family matters kept me busy. Next time for sure.


5 thoughts on “What does it take to be Human?

  1. You’re a brave man for getting into FB threads.

    Chimps have empathy (the root of morality), so its not that. Seriously, it’s the frontal lobe. That’s it. That’s where the magic happens and we play the long-term prediction game. No other creature can map as far ahead as we can.


  2. Wow. Big question. I want to say, just add an “e” since being humane is such an integral part of being truly human for me. I believe that what it is to be human is in a constant state of flux. Watching the movie “Twelve Years A Slave” shows clearly that slave owners did not regard slaves as fully human. Historically, women were treated as not fully human and at the mercy of their fathers, husbands, sons … children, Jews, name any minority. So I think that the definition of human is still evolving and that we still have a long way to go until we can add that critical “E” to what it is to be fully human.


    • Lesley, based on your reply one could surmise there are people walking the earth today that could not be considered human in the strictest sense. Of course that is using the qualifying “E”.


      • Well, as I said, humans are evolving. At this point, yes, there are many humanoids (!) who are not humane. In the news today is a discussion of robots replacing many jobs and robots are are now being programmed which are very close to humans. Maybe we need to distinguish among a biological definition, a spiritual definition, or a definition based on actions alone. We must have criteria in order to judge a person, and it’s impossible to give a definition which includes all of these as far as I can see.


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