I guess what makes us human is our ability to be self aware, capable of abstract thinking, our morals, speech and symbolic cognition, and our nimble thumbs.
The mind gives us the ability to create and think, being human means being co-creators of our reality through thoughts and feelings, accompanied by the observation and curiosity that leads us to continue searching, as well as the ego is which identifies us as individuals in this lifetime. being human is a great experience that should always be accompanied by compassion.
This is actually a fairly difficult question to tackle. I would say self-awareness and the abilities to reason, learn, and teach. However, many other animals have some of these qualities. I suppose it is unique that we are able to foresee how present events will impact the future and plan accordingly. Really, I don't think that being human is all that special. Most other creatures have adapted very well to their environments. We continue to evolve because we can't seem to find a balance with nature.
I think it is more simple. We have deep emotions which urge us to take more human actions. Without those we would still be monkeys. I'm sure a bird who looses a chick feels something like failure maybe, but not the deep wrenching grief that we feel when we lose a child. I'm sure a puppy feels happy to see us walk through the door, but they forget the feeling very quickly. We are motivated by our emotions and guided by our instincts. that is what makes us so wonderful and so dangerous.
Art makes us human. Or at least it was the action of creating art that first separated Homo sapiens from other hominids like Homo neanderthalensis. It is evident that they made tools and had intellectually advanced survival skills. But us humans were the first to "make art for art's sake". We were the ones who went beyond survival instincts and began to make aesthetically pleasing objects and images with no utilitarian purpose.
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