Monday, March 05, 2007

Humanity Versus

There is always – in violence, sex, danger, desperation – time when a person’s outer mask comes away and what is beneath is revealed. The desperation of falling. The climax of sex. The danger of a car crash. Watch closely and you may see an honest single-mindedness shatter the outer mask. Many call this human, humanity. But is it? No, it is one of the lower masks, the masks closer to human. It is not humanity. Rather, it speaks to an animal nature whose origin as cognitive, empirical, or instinctual is unknown.

Humanity is in movement. The only thing that allows humanity is movement. Imperceptibly small movements. The grand throw of an arm. These both allow life. But this is not only human. It is also animal. Another animal trait close to the core of humanity.

So what then, is human?

What sets humanity apart from animals is thought. Cognitive processes bringing a conclusion. The ability to break instincts. This is human. This is humanity. All an animal can choose is flight or fright. And until we have a more whole understanding of what a deer thinks I will not say that is cognitive. Sure, animals have the ability to learn, but the acquisition of patterns to support and continue life is an animal trait of humans, not a human trait in animals.

Confusion. The ability to recognize and cognate on things outside of, and inside, the empirical. Imagination. This is purely human. Confusion and imagination are the same thing. Confusion is both the acquisition of knowledge, either too much or too little, and the desire to make sense of what is known. Even knowledge sets us apart from the instinctual: the animal. Imagination, dreaming, is also the acquisition of knowledge and a desire to make sense of it. Thought itself is the same conflict between different bits of information. Therefore thought, confusion, and imagination are all the same thing.

These three are the core of what it is to be human. Not desperate self-survival, not brutality. It is indecision, confusion, the ability to force a change of oneself. We are not purely instinctual. Our instincts are augmented by knowledge found through confusion, which is where we get our leg up.

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