Of course, humans are animals, but there must be one or two characteristics that distinguish us as unique from the rest of the animal kingdom: Animals seem to share at least some form of speech and free will.
What Makes Human Beings Unique?
Hans Lenk on symbols, interpretation and the nature of thought. Much later Johann Herder used the same concept for his thesis of humans as characterized by deficiencies and incompletenesses which necessitate the development of language and culture.
Helmuth Plessner further developed the idea of our cultural second nature in his more modern philosophical anthropology.
According to Plessner, humans fundamentally need to distance themselves from themselves: One major consequence is culture. Arnold Gehlen took up the thesis of the deficient being from Herder as well as the thesis of the cultural second nature of humanity, developing this insight within the philosophical framework of his doctrine of institutions Gehlen interpreted the function and central nature of institutions as constituting, constructing and mediating norms, values, etc: Symbolic Humans Yet all cultural means of representation are symbolic.
Only by symbolic representation may we constitute, Why humans are unique and grasp our world versions.
Procedures for checking, evaluating, controlling and planning action in an anticipation of the future for example are also necessarily represented through symbols operating according to culturally-specified rules.
Thus the cultural world is a world shaped by symbols. Our second nature necessarily exists in a symbolic universe.
Cassirer himself cited the semiotics sign theory of Peirce, Morris and S. The idea here is that symbols enable us to grasp and interpret a thing or situation beyond a mere physical reaction to external stimuli.
Thus in his second nature, man is mentally reacting to his symbols. The dependence of the fundamental capacities of the human mind on its ability to use symbols is intriguingly analyzed by Cassirer in his main work The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms Nature as such contains only individual, multifarious phenomena.
We do not describe natural facts by summarizing or even conceiving these phenomena under concepts and general laws, but rather, create language- symbol- dependent facts. In language, in religion, in art, in science, man can do no more than to build up his own universe — a symbolic universe that enables him to understand and interpret, to articulate and organize, to synthe size and universalize his human experience.
Symbolic Apes Cassirer attempted to substantiate his philosophical anthropology of the symbolic being through the then most up-to- date behavioural research with apes, especially with chimpanzees.
This conclusion was certainly plausible when Cassirer drew it inbut it does not hold water nowadays. In the meantime our understanding of primates has become much more advanced.
By using a quasi-symbolic assortment of signs and sentence parts, these apes were able to combine simple sentences of up to six words or so, or even add and subtract small numbers.
There were generalizations, and self-reflective utterances — designation of the sign-talking chimpanzee as a subject her- or himself by a symbolic expression.
Plastic chips, or symbolic notations on the display of a computer game were also used with chimpanzees and bonobos, in a combination game somewhat like Scrabble.
Rumbaugh and Savage-Rumbaugh also successfully experimented with the chimpanzees Austin and Sherman, as well as with the real primate genius, the bonobo Kanzi, and his sister Panbenisha. Washoe, Koko and Kanzi not only occasionally played the fool but also occasionally made a fool of the interviewer.
The latter was annoyed and wanted to give up. But primates are also able to creatively apply tools to a situation type as well as to individual situations. That is, they are capable of using means of representation to transfer and in a sense generalize their applications to other situations, in a limited sense at least.
They are also able to deliberately make a fool of somebody, as above, or betray or deceive partners and rivals see eg F. De Waal, Peacemaking Among Primates, Chimpanzees and other apes have even developed elementary culture, establishing traditions of learned or discovered uses of tools.
Yet in contrast, whereas in Senegal wild chimpanzee groups used sticks and branches to dig for termites, groups of chimpanzees in Uganda did not culturally develop the utilization of this sophisticated tool, although they also had termite heaps.
Boesch in Natural History 9, reported observing chimpanzee mothers carrying instruments, such as stones used to open nuts, for example. This nut-cracking technique was taught to the youngsters, who had to practice for quite a while to acquire the necessary skill to crack a hard nut.
This must be local culture, as there was also a spreading of this tool-carrying. This means a certain limited generalization of symbolic functional meaning. Tools To Make Tools In Cameroon, Sugiyama even observed chimpanzees using tools to make tools — such as using a sharp cutting-stone on one end of a twig to make a point for boring with, and hammering the other end of the twig with a stone to form a kind of brush to retrieve the termites by putting it into the bored hole Primates 26, Recently, chimpanzees were observed to sharpen a sort of spear, or rather lance, with which they pierced young bushbabies and swiped them out of tree holes Frankfurter Allgemeine, March 14, Evidently, primates are able to generalize and also to differentiate learned tool use functions, discovering things which can be spread within the local colony or even neighboring groups.
They can specify the meanings of symbols and gestures, establishing little local-cultural traditions.Articles What Makes Human Beings Unique?
Hans Lenk on symbols, interpretation and the nature of thought. “He who understands the apes achieves more for metaphysics than Locke.” Charles Darwin.
Already in antiquity Poseidonius stressed the idea that ‘man’ is by nature indispensably dependent on culture. May 25, · The remarkable human capacity for cooperation thus seems to have evolved mainly for interactions within the group.
Such group-mindedness is a major cause of . How are Humans Unique? Humans are obviously far more capable than other animals.
There's no comparison in personal capacities and social achievement. But what physically distinguishes humans? Higher animals all have the same kinds of body parts. Human brains are similar to the brains of other primates and smaller than the brains of whales and elephants.
Evolutionary biology proposes that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. If this is true then we are nothing more than glorified apes. However, compared to our closest "relatives", scientific research indicates that humans are unique on many fronts, including creativity, personality, abstract thinking, and moral judgment.
Why are they regarded to be anatomically modern human? Mostly on account of their bubble shaped skulls, large brain volumes, small teeth, and finely built jaws with protruding chins. In tracing the origins of this (admittedly incomplete) list of features historically claimed to be unique to Homo sapiens we get the distinct impression that the 'biological patch' we humans .