Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Semantic Animal

Can an animal be human? Do you see the irony of this question?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal

Definition of ANIMAL
1: any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation


This definition identifies the composite structure of an animal. This structure unifies all complex creatures: our need for nourishment, interaction and ability to engage in the world around us. The definition implies similarity versus exclusion, however, if you continue reading, the conflict of the human spirit emerges. The human species had the ability to think hypothetically, to reflect upon one's being. We have unique languages which we use to convey impressions and thought. We do so in an effort to connect and create shared understandings with other. Each word is carefully selected in an effort to match the essence of our impressions with the perceived meaning of the word we chose to represent it. This allows humanity to discuss what is not directly in front of us with people who are nowhere near us. However, inherent in any selection is the process of choice: deciding what is the most important components of your message. The dictionary is a source where speakers of a language can go to clearly determine the socially accepted use of a particular word. It aligns a word with relative ideas to try to convey a clear vision. We understand this explicitly with artistic word creations like poetry, novels, movie dialogues, public speeches.... but we fail to understand the beauty of every day speak and the impact of our word choice on how we view this world.

2a : one of the lower animals as distinguished from human beings b : mammal; broadly : vertebrate
3 : a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also : this nature


Differentiation. Since we can talk about ourselves and reflect on our behavior, humans can express how we're different from others. Based on our focus, we imply a preferred way of being. An implied value structure that society has more or less agree upon. Would you agree that generally high is better than low? That we would prefer to be at the apex than at the bottom? Is it coincidence that our science has developed a structure in which humans appear at the top and all other creatures are lower? Value for self is a value for life. Since we are capable of thinking, would it not be "rational" for you to share this perception? The main function of your being is to live physically, so you can live essentially, emotionally through interaction with others. Rational? Does that not imply a thought process free of emotion? Is emotion not an inseparable part of the human experience? By denying our physical being, the wellspring of human emotion, are we truly defining human? From the moment of birth, we are immediately faced with overcoming our own natural state.

It is within the intricate, evolving, reflective use of language that we can examine the human species, but you need to redefine the basic assumption about animal. The human cannot be separated from in physiology since our engagement in the world involves our physical being. By embracing our instinctual drive and physiological processes, we can begin to truly understand the motivation of language. Therefore, to be human is only flawed because have defined it to be so.

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