What is Human?
Humans and Animals compared ...

Focus questions & responses

Characteristics of humans Human & ape skull on spine

Animal characteristics compared to human characteristics




Animals the teach their young

Human Chimpanzee musculature comparison

Human chimpanzee musculature comparison

Primate family evolution comparison

Primate family comparison


Consequences for the decision of what is human

What are the consequences for how we decide what is human?

Beside the philosophical and educational consequences of what we think of ourselves and others, and the differences between us and other living organisms. How we decide what is human has legal consequences, which is becoming more significant with recent advances in medicine, biology, neuroscience, and genetics demonstrate how it more challenge to decide, what is a living human? The answers we give are very serious, as they decide who or what deserves the respect and dignity we give to being human.

Here are ideas and questions to consider.

Historically a legal definition of a living starts with birth and ends with death and what is human has been understood as the organism's relationship to his parents and their ancestors (animals of one species produce animals of the same species). However, recent events raise questions, whose answers are not resolved comfortably based on these understandings.

Considered these examples:

Organs donated and transplanted into others. The organ is considered living, never dead, & ownership is transfered from one conscious human to another.

What about these?

Archaeologist used to define fossils as human by certain characteristics of bone structures and artifacts discovered with them. With the sequencing of the human genome, genetic similarities is used. However, there is no one human genome. There are billions of them alive and dead and they are constantly evolving.

Considered these examples:

A definition of human is used to determine what has the status of a human and therefore, given protection as a member of the human family? If the example of birth and death is used, then what protection should be given to humans before they are born and after they die?

Considered these examples:

How should death be determined?


Related resources

Educational theory related to human characteristics


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
homeofbob.com & schoolofbob.com