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What Makes Us Human?

Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology. Which is most intriguing to you?

Mujtaba Malik

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of What Makes Us Human?

Anthropological Answer
Sociological Answer
Paul Ekman !
Psychological Answer
Sigmund Freud
What Makes Us Human?
By: Mujtaba Malik
Unit 2 Culminating Activity
HSP3M1-03 (Ms. Zissopoulos / Period 2)
Since time, we as human beings began asking questions. We began questioning things such as the supernatural, science and religion, however, these questions were never given a definite answer. Instead, theories were introduced.
Social Scientists from Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology created theories to answer one of the most disputed questions - What Makes Us Human? I wish to clarify by pointing out that each of these are theories, and that we are entitled to our own opinion.
The Three Perspectives
Anthropologists believe that we as humans have undergone evolution over a step-by-step process over a long period of time, and that certain characteristics have been acquired over the Evolution process. Challenging the Theory of Evolution is Creationism, which is the belief that life has been created by an all powerful being.
Psychologists firmly believe that the reason we are humans is due to our ability to think, ability to communicate, memory, thoughts and our emotions. Psychology also looks at our conscious and subconscious mind, as well as our childhood, which is determinative of our personality as adults.
Sociologists hypothesize that our emotions and innate expressions are ultimately what make us human. They also hypothesize that we are humans because of our linguistic skills, in comparison to our gender.
My Personal Belief
While all three social sciences contribute effectively to the ambiguous question as to “What Makes Us Human,” psychology is the most effective as it explains personality composition, effects on personality due to composition and the subconscious mind. We as humans are living proof of the theories contributed to science by psychology, for we all possess various personalities and we all come from different places, which would logically dictate that we all have different personalities.
Charles Darwin !
Notable Theories about "What Makes Us Human?"
Original Theory of Evolution
Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest
Original Theory of Evolution
Rather than originating from a supernatural being, or being created at a specific time period, Darwin became convinced that species were evolving, and had evolved from a common ancestry. (Zimmer, 2009)
We humans as a species have evolved and have learned to adapt to our environment. We evolved from simple primates, to the advanced species we are now.
We as humans have had the most favourable evolution, and have acquired five unique - 3D vision, bi-pedalism, opposable thumbs, a complex brain and precision grip.
While evolution occurs over an immense period of time (millions of years) it seems to be undergoing rapid change as human intellect increases. (Zimmer, 2009)
Darwin realized that species contained different amounts of inherited genetics, which allowed individuals within a species to adapt better to their environment and create more offsprings. (Zimmer, 2009)
Natural Selection allowed for species to be better adapted to their environment, and this relates to human because we have grown susceptible to environmental change. Children in poorer countries tend to have stronger natural immune systems, versus children in richer countries who originally have weaker immune systems without antibiotics.
Survival of the fittest depended on genetic traits passed down. Animals better adapted to their environment survived due to their assets, such as bright feathers in birds. (Zimmer, 2009)
We as humans play survival of the fittest in a more sophisticated way. As we enter politics, we understand that money is our form of survival. We use it to buy food and clothing. Once we lack these necessities, we look to people who have money (or food) in hopes of support.
Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest
Islam and Creationism !
Islamic Theories about "What Makes Us Human?"
Creation of humans and the world
Composition of humans
Why did God create humans?
Qu'ran (Holy Book of God) states that god created the heavens and the earth within six days, though six days is unspecified. (Dodge, 2012)
Muslims acknowledge that god is the only creator, and he is behind all things that happen, and all things that are to come.
Life began with the creation of Adam and Eve, who committed sin under the influence of Satan, and cast humans out of the heavens.
Creations of humans and the world
Composition of humans
Why did God create Humans?
The Qu'ran describes that God created man from sand and mud. (Dodge, 2012)
The reasoning behind the different colours of human beings is due to the different sands around the world.
Humans and all other life on earth is created from water.
Water in Islam is considered to be one of the most purer and necessary elements on earth for human beings. (Dodge, 2012)
We as humans are unique because we possess a soul and conscious, knowledge and free-will. (Dodge, 2012)
Humans are put on this earth to follow the teachings of the prophets and the holy book, to gain paradise. The teachings and ideologies distinguish good from bad, so that one may know how to gain paradise. (Dodge, 2012)
Humans are given free will not only as a gift, but as a means of testing how we will use this gift. Using it for bad intentions is sinful, while using it for good intentions is merited.
"Oh humankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). (49:13, Qu'ran).
The quote above refers to one of the main goals as humans in Islam. We as humans need to love and cherish one another. We have been created as beings separated so that we may get along with each other and experience love. Not necessarily intimate love, but feeling of love through friendship.
Notable Theory about "What Makes Us Humans?"
Unique approach to Theory of Emotions
Theory of Emotions
American Association for Advancement of Science (AAA)
It has been long known that emotions are accompanied by changes in nervous system. (Ekman, 2009)
Our facial and bodily expressions are often representative of our feelings and emotions.
Ekman believed that expressions were innate, and were not learned. Instead, they were existent since birth. He also believed that expressions were universal, and that all people had the same expressions worldwide. (Ekman, 2009)
Ekman reported in 1989 at a meeting of the AAS that the people surveyed were making the same facial and bodily expressions. (Ekman, 2009)
Ekman recorded the physical responses (such as heart rate, skin temperature and speed of breathing) of 46 Sumatran men, ranging from ages 17 to 28 and found that they made the same facial expressions. They also had the same bodily expressions as those of the Americans tested. (Ekman, 2009)
"It is the first evidence of the universality of autonomic nervous system pattern." (Ekman, 2009)
This is proof that we as humans are born with innate expressions and emotions. The Sumatrans were recorded with same expressions amongst themselves, even having being brought up separately. What is even more commendable is the study of the Sumatrans and Americans. Despite having major background differences, they showed same body expressions!
Deborah Tannen !
Notable theory about "What Makes Us Human?"
Difference Theory
Difference Theory
Deborah Tannen theorized that men and women see communication differently. Men tend to see it as useless for problem solving, while women see it a valuable tool in problem solving. (Lakoff, 1998)
Tannen believes that men and women interpret conversations and interactions differently. Men view it as a form of hierarchy and competition, while women believe it is both sexes with different opinions that make the interaction meaningful. (Lakoff, 1998)
An example of this would be when a woman finds solidarity in her male friend by telling him about her troubles at work. By confiding in him, she feels content by getting his output.
Due to the fact men and women view communication differently, divergences are created in the communication between different sexes. Women seem to ask more open-ended questions in order to involve participation but men view this as illogical. (Lakoff,1998)
Difference Theory Cont'd
In conversations, the power quotient comes into play, and power itself is often associated with the dominant speaker and the person choosing a topic. Men tend to talk for longer periods of time, and it was found that men interrupt women much more times than women do men. (Lakoff, 1998)
We as humans can see that humans are distinguished through sex. We grow up in separate groups and environments, typically talking to the same sex as us outside our family. Even in educational institutions, we can see that men and women are often split, or there are predominantly one sex in a group.
Deborah Tannen claims that women are communicatively disadvantaged throughout their educational careers. Despite these difficulties however, they are working towards public communicative equality. (Lakoff, 1998)
Notable Theories about "What Makes Us Human?"
Psychoanalytic Theory
Structure of Human Personality
Psychoanalytic Theory
Sigmund Freud introduced psychoanalysis as a form of therapy, in which the conscious and subconscious mind were investigated (Freud, 2009)
Freud used this form of therapy by looking at dreams, as well as childhood memories to explain problems adults may have.
In dream psychoanalysis, the dream remembered by the patient is interpreted by the patient saying the first thing that comes to mind about the dream without censorship. (Freud, 2009)
Freud divided the human personality into three interrelated components: ego, superego and id.
Ego: The personality component which rationalizes.
The role of the ego is to see that the id is satisfied, while the superego is undisturbed. (Freud, 2009)
Superego: The moralistic and relatively angelic part of the mind.
The superego includes all our cultural values, ideals and rules established by our parents. (Freud, 2009)
Id: Pleasure seeking part of the mind.
The id contains all basic drives and emotions we have repressed due to unacceptable thoughts. (Freud, 2009)
Structure of Human Personality
Erik Erikson
Notable Theories about "What Makes Us Human?"
Identity Crisis
Eight Psychosocial Stages
Identity Crisis
Coined the term "Identity Crisis," which led him to create the "Identity vs. Role Confusion" psychosocial stage. (Allhusen, 2002)
Identity Crisis occurs when one is unsure of what they are doing with their life.
Eight Psychosocial Stages
These traits are what make us humans, as we continue to grow!
Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust
Stage 2 : Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt
Stage 3 : Initiative vs. Guilt
Stage 4 : Industry vs. Inferiority
Stage 5 : Identity vs. Confusion
Stage 6 : Intimacy vs Isolation
Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation
Stage 8 : Integrity vs. Despair
Eight Psychosocial Stages explained
Stage 1: Development of trust based on caregivers and the amount of care given to the child. Virtue: Hope
Stage 2: Erikson believed that giving the child just enough room to feel independance allows them to grow. Helping too much can lead child to become too dependent on others. Virtue: Willpower
Stage 3: During preschool years, children begin to interact with others and develop a sense of control and power. Virtue : Purpose
Stage 4: Child begins to produce pieces of work and develops a sense of pride in achievements and abilities. Virtue: Competence
Stage 5 : During adolescent years, Erikson believed it was vital for children to explore their independence and develop a sense of self. Virtue: Fidelity
Stage 6 : Erikson believed it was vital people develop close relationships with people during this stage. Virtue: Love
Stage 7: As we become adults, we build our lives by focusing on family and career. Virtue: Care
Stage 8 : This stage occurs when a person reaches an elderly age, and reflects back on life. Virtue: Wisdom (Allhusen, 2002)

Psychology, as well as the other two social sciences offer several theories and ideas as to "What Makes Us Human." While the answer to the question is debated, the theories provided by psychology are most accurate and deemed true in my perspective because they offer solutions which we as a human species can relate to. We all have intellect, feelings, memories and personalities that are affected by our surroundings. As we grow, we continue to struggle to answer who we really are in this world of over six billion people. Anthropologists argue their case of evolution and the fact that we have evolved from a common ancestor, but it is constantly in conflict with the theory of creationism. We as humans have developed linguistic skills, and are very unique because of the ways we express ourselves through gestures.
We as humans have come very far, as the most sophisticated beings on the planet. We may never know what makes us human. We are all focused on the differences, that we do not see the similarities in each social science. If we consider war, we see the psychology and sociology behind it. We come to understand the affects war has on a person. We see how it awakens an animalistic sense to us, as though we were living millions of years ago! Sadly, it is in human nature to focus on the differences, and that is what is holding us back from becoming a truly civilized world.
The age
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