What separates humans from all other lifeforms?

Essay by motleyprismCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2007

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"What does it mean to be human?" I would rather like to ask, "What, about the human race, is unique compared to all other living things?" Some people might say that there are a lot of things that are unique about humans. One might suggest that the never ending capacity for learning is unique. Another may say that a distinguished ability to survive, adapt, protect, and nurture above all other beings is also unique. Many believe that it is our behavior and emotional responses that make us unique. I, however, do not agree with any of the above. There aren't very many things that make us unique from other living things; rather, there is only one substantial capability that truly set us apart from our furry friends. To be human, and unique from all other living beings, is to have intelligent thought. It is through intelligent thought that we not only think objectively, but abstractly as well.

We are able to reason and contemplate complex concepts. We have the ability to comprehend, draw from an experience, and learn from it. It is also through intelligent thought that we exercise freewill- making choices in the deterministic process of influencing our circumstances. This usually requires the investment of morals, which insinuates the application of values. The ability to measure morals and values, and hold an individual belief of what is valuable is unique of human intelligent thought. To not only measure good vs. evil, but to question it as well, is unique of human intelligent thought. The greatest component of human intelligent thought is the ability to question things: "Why is the sky blue? Why am I here? Do I truly exist? Does God exist? How do I know? Was that a stupid question? Should I even be asking?" The ability for...