What are humans

Some years ago, I answered this question on Quora, "Philosophically, what are humans?" with one word, "Workers". Looking back, this sounds cynical to me. We are working for survival. We are working for our wants and needs. Working is not a bad thing. We can work to make the world better. We can work for the hereafter. However, my one word answer does not do justice to us. We are multifaceted and worker is just one part of us.

What is the essence of our being? What is the core of our being? I feel like we are vessels of love. I found this quote that expresses how I feel, "Love is the water of life, and we are the vessels made of clay. The more love we contain, the more life we have." I cannot be sure of the source but it is possibly a variation of writing from the Sufi poet Rumi. These words suggest that love is the essence of life, and that we are all here to learn to love more deeply and to share that love with others. But am I being simplistic and idealistic?

Deviating from the original question, what would be a scientific approach to this question? Roy Baumeister is a social psychologist and has written extensively on the nature of humans and what makes us unique. Through his work we can say that we are beings who are uniquely capable of self-control, intelligence, creativity, and morality. These capacities are essential for our ability to create and learn cultures, and they are what make us human.

Maybe to answer the question of what are humans, we should answer, what humans are not? We are not machines. We have emotions, thoughts, and feelings that are beyond the capabilities of machines. We are not animals. We have higher-level cognitive abilities, such as language, reason, and abstract thought. We are not gods. We are limited by our physical and cognitive abilities. We are not perfect. We make mistakes and have flaws. In the end, we should love each other for who we are while working on making each other better. Let us lift up each other with love. We are human after all!


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