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Human Beings

10/30/2014

How are human beings like other beings?

All are life forms, sharing the basic drives of life forms, such as the drives to survive, reproduce and protect.

What distinguishes human beings from other beings?

The form of life of each other kind of being is more fixed. There’s a relatively narrow band of differentiation among individuals in a given species. Dogs act like dogs (with a hunting dog acting like a hunting dog while a herding dog acts like a herding dog). And cats act like cats (with a lion acting more socially, like a lion, while a tiger acts more in isolation, like a tiger).

The form of life of human beings is not nearly as fixed. Human beings may act according to different lights, organizing around different visions, systems, technologies, values, goals, roles and expectations. Human beings have varied forms of life, for example, hunting or herding, speaking in different languages and interacting socially in a variety of different contexts. Indeed, the variation in human forms of life is extremely broad.

That’s a pivotal difference.

And so when different human groups argue about the ‘true way’ to live, we miss a crucial aspect of our humanity – that we are the beings who explore different forms of life, each bringing something else to the party.

More, each unique human being may center a number of forms of life – not denying and not stuck in any – fluidly responding to each constellation of circumstances in different domains of life.

Isn’t this variation in forms of life, both in terms of group and individual, a defining source of our strength and creativity?

And what undergirds this creative strength must be no-thing – not a particular thing, view, belief or ideology or other limiting ground – because only what is not a thing, what is not itself a fixed position, may freely and without obstruction engender the endlessly shifting patterns of interrelations.

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