Talk:Human/Archive 4

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Table of Contents

I recommend that the Table of Contents is too long -- by Wikipedia standards for Featured Articles. So we might shorten the Table of Contents by replacing for example the

===Physical characteristics===
===Mental characteristics===

with the following

; Physical characteristics 
; Mental characteristics . . .

The above will make the sub-headings

Physical characteristics
Mental characteristics

appear in the text but not in the Table of Contents--thus making the Table of Contents shorter, without losing the readability that the sub-headings give to the text. :) ---Rednblu | Talk 22:58, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I say do it. It needs it. And I am anxious to see how it works. Tom - Talk 02:31, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I tried my idea, but I did not like the looks of the text. So I am thinking about other ways to reduce the Table of Contents. ---Rednblu | Talk 08:09, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

My suggestion is to export the "Self-reflection" section (which I had inserted in the first place) to Human self-reflection, leaving only a short summary in place here. I think now that it unneccesarily draws out the article, while a link to the 'main article' would suffice. But I would leave the subsections of the other sections alone. dab 08:53, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

tried that: reduced toc by compressing "Self-Reflection" and exporting the full text to Human self-reflection, where there is more room to expand that subject. dab 09:31, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
So unfortunately the TOC compression was a trick that didn't work. I am disappointed. I was looking forward to implementing it elsewhere. Tom - Talk 14:28, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

We'll need to 'cleanup' this article again. And we need to 'run a tight ship' with regard to adding material. Almost unavoidably, material will pile up over time, as well-meaning people pass by and think of something human not yet mentioned on the page. For example, the recent "human activities" basically reporduces stuff already in the "Individual" section. I'm not saying the 'original' ToC is better, and there may be a valid argument to toss the "Individual"/"Society" organisation in favour of an alternative ToC. But we should decide on this here, and then have any proposal of additional material pass through Talk first. I hope this doesn't sound like I want to cling to 'my' version, I just really think this article will have a natural tendency to bloat if we don't control it somehow. My suggestion for the moment would be to incorporate the "Activities" under "Individual". Concerning "Religion", I am open towards a different organisation, Tom, if you make a ToC suggestion, but you haven't replied to my concern about duplicat material above. dab 10:01, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Oh, sorry. Yes. I think the main sections should reflect the different POV slants hinted in the intro if possible. This article could say a lot. But it probably needs to stay focused on the question "What is a human?" Details about humans are answered all over the encyclopedia (engineering, movies, eyes, ears, greeks, universities, and so forth). Tom - Talk 15:29, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)


The next step will be to address choice of images: The Pioneer 11 image is a very good choice for an image to represent "Humans" generally (it was created for precisely that purpose), while in a photograph, humans will always have a particular skin color, and will also mostly be roughly classifiable to belong to a particular culture. Normally, the taxobox would contain a photograph rather than a drawing, however. Could we keep the Pioneer image at the top, and choose a photograph for the taxobox (maybe also naked humans (maybe mother & child, or even better father, mother & child?) I suspect that if we choose images of "WASP" urban types, we will be accused of chauvinism, while the choice of pictures of aboriginal bushmen will lead to the accusation of condescendingly suggesting they are more primitive, or closer to the "animal" kingdom. So it's probably best to choose tasteful images of naked people with as little context as possible. See the related discussion at Race, and the solution they came up with. However, just mugshots is not enough for this page, a larger part of the body should be visible. dab 11:44, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think it might be helpful to pull out the alien visitor analogy here. It is more likely that an alien visitor would find a bunch of clothed humans running around on the planet than a bunch of naked ones. There's a painting by Norman Rockwell that shows dozens of cultures, skin tones, etc. The Pioneer 11 image is good to show our basic physiology, but I think that something like the Rockwell painting is how cultural and physical diversity would best be displayed in an image. We're probably, though, going to need more images, so we should probably create a list of all the things we need the images for (show physiology, show diversity, etc.) and then start collecting candidates for those purposes. (This is similar to how we realized we needed the article to flow in a certain manner, then started crafting language for each of those sections.) - UtherSRG 12:23, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I never found the "alien visitor analogy" particularly helpful. But the Pioneer image was of course created as a PR stunt for aliens. This articles covers at least 150.000 (if not 2e6) years of human history. What wardrobe is your alien visitor likely to encounter at a random point during this period? Or similarly, this article is about the estimated 1e11 humans that ever lived. what does a typical member of that group look like? I think the "temporal POV" (we have more information about more recent periods, therefore they are covered better) is well justified and unavoidable, but if we accept it and link pictures of modern humans, we cannot continue to invoke hypothetical aliens. An image such as the one you describe would be perfect. You are all called upon to shoot a (tasteful!) nude photo of yourself, your spouse, and possibly your offspring, and to release it under the GFDL :-D (or if not nude, at least in plain clothes and with neutral background) dab 12:33, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I will quote what I said earlier:

Take a look at the photos for chimpanzee, bonobo, and other animals for a good guide to how we might should picture a human. These animals are shown in casual, flattering poses. They are not displaying their male sex organs or female mammaries prominently. They are often not shown head to toe. As Red says, clothing is distinctive of humans. I was thinking of the following possibilities:
  • A discrete image of a single or pair of unclothed human (male or female) showing the head, face, and only a little more (think "The Thinker" vs. Michelangelo's David)
  • Images of an erect pair or family clothed in white draping robes reminiscent of ancient greece or the middle east.
  • A simple casual bust shot of Jimbo Wales.

I'm not really sure about suggestions. But I am comfortable that the photos we have of other living things (especially primates) focus on "personality" rather than anatomy. The idea (tongue in cheek?) of dab's that we have to get a photo of an unclothed man, woman, and children is uncharacteristic of encyclopedic treatment as indicated by what I said above. Having an image that is controversial (let's be frank) is not doing any favor to Wikipedia. Tom - Talk 15:00, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You misunderstood, I fully agree with you. I was suggesting exactly something along the lines of "The Thinker" (hey, what about using that statue? It's an artists impression of "homo sapiens"). I didn't say anything about exposed genitals. Certainly not more than in the present Pioneer image! I like the Jimbo Wales option, too ;) dab 16:56, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

PS, we have an image of the Thinker, already: Media:Thinker.png (with the highly dubious copyright notice "photo of sculpture -> free use") Certainly not suited for the intro, but we coudl put it under "Individual". dab 17:01, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I just found a list of the images sent to space with Voyager 1: [1] NASA sent them to space, but I am not sure if that makes them public domain... if so, some of them would be very useful, not only for this article. Examples: [2], [3]. dab 17:22, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC) Here is an interesting image: Media:Children_with_globe.jpg. It seems to be UN production, and also sent to space in 1977. I'm not positive on its public domain status, though. dab 17:33, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I added Durer's Adam & Eve to the "Monotheism" subsection (all of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the story). I would even like to propose it (or a similar image) for the lead section: It perfectly unites biological (perfectly drawn male and female anatomy), cultural (Renaissance) and spiritual (creation of man) viewpoints! dab 11:46, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Not bad, dab. Good work. I will be starting a discussion section here before long for the Humans in Spirituality and Religion section. Tom - Talk 03:05, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
from a purely layout point-of-view, I am a bit sorry we moved the taxobox to where it is, seeing that the toc creates a long blank space now, and the bio section is a bit squeezed between the skeleton and the box (but I'm of course happy to leave it where it is, if that buys us NPOV agreement). Maybe we could also image-process the skeleton to have it free-floating rather than with the classroom-background. I'm a bit unhappy that we still don't have a single photograph (apart from the skeleton). I would much prefer an image of a couple, maybe aboriginals, or african bushmen, in the lead, but it's hard to find a public domain image. So maybe a Renaissance painting is best for now (not only is it out-of-copyright, it also gives us "ideal" humans. We see the non-ideal thing every day, anyway ;) dab 08:07, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm trying out the "Adam-and-Eve in the lead" option. Just revert if unhappy. dab 08:20, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Human diplomats pause in their discussions.
I like the Dürer painting. But making a parallel with the other apes, I suggest a modern photograph--just an option. To the right is an example: modern setting--doing what these particular animals do best and often--discussing--posing for photographs--shaking hands--playing formality--being cultured--picking fancy backgrounds for their photographs--being loveable H. sapiens. :)) The photograph is copyright free from the French government, which very much wants us to be primarily much higher than our taxobox would otherwise indicate. :o) There are other copyright free photographs on that site, courtesy of the French government, who doubtless would be proud of the current Human page, including the Dürer painting. ;) ---Rednblu | Talk 09:29, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I like the idea. Especially because with diplomats, we are likely to find a whole range of racial types. Women are less well represented however. Also, I would prefer pictures of "the common man" because history focuses on the rich and mighty too much already... But you found a good source, here, possibly for other articles, especially the "travel diaries"
I like these: [4], [5], [6] dab 09:50, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I really, really like the three black and whites dab references above. The first image should be, I think, Unremarkable and Quintessential. Would a street or market scene in an extremely diverse city be appropriate? This is a market scene: [7] Tom - Talk 17:25, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

for the 'population' section maybe. I don't think we want a crowd in the intro, but individuals. Either both a man and a woman, or children. While the Pioneer picture is conveniently universal, photographs will always depict particular individuals. The Albanians in my suggestion above are emigrating, I think, i.e. in a stressfull situation, while the Burkina Faso family is just peacefully hanging out, looking at a book. We could argue for the African family, acknowledging the fact that chances are that we all have african ancestors, ultimately. Or we could choose an indian family, acknowledging that they are bound to have the largest population, overtaking China in probably a few decades. dab 18:08, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC) — I uploaded the two images mentioned above and inserted them into Family and Kosovo for now. dab 10:44, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I like your thoughts and I have a crazy idea. The question of the main Human image is kind of fun and of general interest. Perhaps we should run a contest :-).

  1. Draft some general suggested guidelines (Unremarkable, Copyright compliant, Quintessential, Conformant to other living things images at Wikipedia)
  2. Run an fun sounding RFC
  3. Possibly put a "contest" up at the Wikipedia Main Page.

We may get some ideas we hadn't even considered. Tom - Talk 17:53, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think the Pioneer image should go back at the top until we can agree on something better. I don't think the Adam and Eve meets the non-bias test. Tom - Talk 02:33, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Tom. The Adam and Eve painting however is very suitable for the religion section. I really liked the black and white images dab found, but two of them show quite a bit of stress and the one with the suites is too formal. I found a public domain USDA photo of two children. I'm putting it in on top, tell me what you think. What about the caption, maybe the top image should not have a caption at all, I mean, what caption could illustrate that humans are humans anyways? -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 07:59, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)
I have a comment here about the Religion section. I will be soon opening up dialogue on that section; it needs a major rework to be in harmony with our carefully forged intro. In a nutshell, the sections, whether or not labeled as such, are really about "Humans in Biological Terms", "Humans in Spiritual or Religious Terms", "Humans in Cultural Terms". The Spirituality and Religion section is not (as laid out in the intro) to be about "Religion as expressed in Humans", but about "Humans as described in Religion". I have been wating for a quiet time, but I will go ahead and open the related section below. Tom - Talk 14:23, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I like the image! I would even prefer a boy and a girl, but what the hell. My reasoning for the Adam and Eve image was very elaborate, probably too elaborate, and it pales compared to simply having a nice image. I am slightly concerned that we may have an excessive cuteness factor now (Rednblu will agree with me that humans are not necessarily cute, and we may be guilty of pro-human propaganda here :) I am slightly reducing image size, and since nobody will know where Camp Christmas Seals is, it should either be linked or removed; I'm replacing it with the year for now. dab 08:19, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for updating the caption, I was wrestling with that, yours is much better. About the cuteness factor, they are children, and therefore by nature ooze some cuteness, but in this picture they have a quasi-serious look which gives the image a deeper "Mona Lisa" feel. Further more, 99% of all humans are at least kind of heart by nature, so I prefer showing friendly casual looking specimen like these. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 09:31, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)
It's ok. I'm quite happy with the picture. But seriously, I fear that the article portrays humans in a far too positive light. We have brief mentions of war, world hunger, hatred etc., but the overall tone is disconcertingly optimistic. Maybe we should add an ugly picture of a refugee camp, just for good measure. dab 09:50, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I guess it is inherent to Human self-reflection that we are more willing to see our positive sides and will focus on them when describing ourselves. I'm actually glad we do, I've had a similar discussion just recently, we should not put more focus than necessary on the small percentage of humans that are willing to destroy anyone with a dissenting view, whether it be in religion or politics. Life is beautiful. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 12:14, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Solitude here. The other living things generally have beautiful and flattering images. We may come up with something nice that includes adults, but the current image is nice. Tom - Talk 14:23, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
of course. I wouldn't suggest an ugly image for the intro. But I still think we could do with an image of a crowd for the population subsection. dab 09:20, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Great find--that picture! We may find one in color later--but that picture is delightful and appropriate--perfect! ---Rednblu | Talk 10:45, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

A Caucasian and an African-American girl

I'm trying out a new caption, the caption should describe the photo without being too redundant but especially without giving details not relevant to the topic. My proposal: A Caucasian and an African-American girl. Another possibility is no caption at all. It could be argued that a caption is unneccesary and will even be distracting, it will only add details that are just not relevant in an article on humans. To quote the caption guide: 'Other images (especially within standard info boxes) where the purpose of the image is clearly nominative, that is, that the picture serves as the typical example of the subject of the article and offers no further information - no caption needed. Let me know what you think. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 19:32, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)

"No caption" is my vote. Tom - Talk 21:04, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

That's a strange caption. Is the girl on the left a Caucasian-American? Would "A Caucasian-American and a Negro girl" be acceptable? Seems silly. - Xed 22:01, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

It's a nice picture, but I really have to object to the term "Caucasian". In the US, this might be understood as a synonym for the so-called White ethnic group; but the term (A) may not be understood this way by people outside the US, and (B) originates in any case in the widely discredited terminology of anthropological racism (which also gave us such words as "Mongoloid" and "Negro"). Why do we even feel compelled to label these people by ethnic group? It would be just as well to say "Two girls from the United States". QuartierLatin1968 01:37, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Why mention even United States in an article on Human? I don't think it's pertinent. -- Sundar 04:18, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)
The image was taken near New York, so "African American" may be correct but it's *completely irrelevant*, or worse, the present caption implicitly assumes that naturally, the picture was taken in the USA (where else could you take photos of humans?). There could be no caption at all. For the moment I'm reverting to "two young girls (1943)". Everyone can see it's two young girls, of course, but that's not the point. The year is an acknowledgement that the ideal picture would be "timeless", but any photo will have been taken at a particular time. dab 07:31, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I like the caption "Two young girls." Then in writing the Edit Summary, I thought "Two young ladies" -- still linked to Woman, you see. What do you think? ---Rednblu | Talk 07:39, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I like two young ladies, "girls" are always "young", and "ladies" sounds more elegant and stylish as well. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 07:53, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)
Are you serious?? elegant? stylish? Are you suggesting we change "juvenile females are called girls" in the intro too? "elegant and/or stylish females are called ladies?" "lady" is either a noblewoman, i.e. a "bread-giver", or it's an empty politeness. When did it become politically uncorrect to call a girl a girl, for heaven's sake? I'm going with "no caption" in that case. Also "young girl" is not pleonastic. If we take "girl" to apply for ages 2 to 16, "young girls" are maybe between ages 2 - 7. dab 08:01, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well no caption is fine with me as well. I think any caption will distract from the topic, as I mentioned before. I did not convert girls to ladies because it would be politically uncorrect in any way, I don't believe in that, I do believe in a smooth caption or none at all. Also our article on Girl does not specify a particular age, so I think it IS "pleonastic", was looking for that word :). -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 08:23, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)
PS. I had not noticed you changing the caption to "girls" 20 mins. before my edit, sorry if it seemed I was reverting you.
I'm thinking 'two female human juveniles'.

Still vote "No caption". I've seen it go back and forth, and looks best without. All captions detract from the idea of Human (Except the silly caption "Human children"). Try checking the captions at Bonobo and Chimpanzee. Tom - Talk 19:30, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Table of Contents

I reduced the Table of Contents to, what I think, is a handsome size. :)) Notice that I used <h3> </h3> "containers" for the headers instead of the === "containers." What do you think? ---Rednblu | Talk 12:53, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't like it. But I will not revert you over such a technicality. I think that such ToC/layout issues should eventually be resolved WP-wide, with User Preferences option. The ToC should show the subsections, that's why it's there. Unless, of course, the user says s/he does not want to see them. dab 13:36, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Pardon my ignorance, but is there a way to have the TOC initially display as reduced by Rednblu with a "Click [here] to show subsections" or "Subsections [show]" at the bottom of the TOC box? JHCC 15:14, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It does indeed look nice. But it doesn't work technically. The section edit links are broken. It is non-standard. It unfortunately needs to be reverted though it is a valiant try. Tom - Talk 16:06, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)

Spirituality and Religion section (and others) name and focus

The carefully crafted intro sets a consensus direction for the article that the Spirituality and Religion section currently totally ignores. I am going to be working on fixing that. The general direction of my work will be to make the section say not, "In Humans, Spirituality and Religion are expressed thus", but "In Spirituality and Religion, Humans are described thus". Tom - Talk 14:33, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree, the expression of religion by humans belongs in the article on religion, as religion is inherently a form of human expression. Interestingly, this makes the Adam and Eve image even more appropriate for that section. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 16:06, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)
Exactly Solitude. What you said is "expression of religion by humans belongs in the religion article". This article is about humans, not about religion. Tom - Talk 21:09, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
am not sure I understand or agree. Religion is the main article, on a par with Human evolution. Just because there is a main article doesn't mean the material should not be summarized here, otherwise we could toss this article altogether, because there are about 300.000 articles that are concerned with humans already. Nor do I completely agree with your "In Spirituality and Religion, Humans are described thus": The point that Spirituality/Religion is not descriptive. Science describes. Religion may describe, but goes beyond description. Spirituality does not describe. For this reason, it is false to say "In Spirituality, X is described thus...". dab 09:18, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, then we now have a major disconnect between the carefully crafted intro and the organization of the article. The intro gives us a segue into the idea that this article is going to be a neutral treatment of the different views of what is a human. Then the rest of the article proceeds oblivious to that nice, neutral opening. If you compare the intro to the article as a whole, I think you will agree there is quite a disconnect. The Biology section follows true to form. But the rest of the article diverges immediately. This is a failure to deliver on the promise of non-bias that the intro gives. Tom - Talk 16:13, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I don't think I understand. Can you elaborate? We have the "B-S-C" symmetry (biology, spirituality, culture) in the intro. Then follows the biology section (B). Then follows the religion section (S). Then we have the Society section (C), and the now-reduced "self-reflection" was partly C, and partly "meta" (an article about articles about humans). True, the "Individual" section might not be expected from the intro. I believe that it is necessary, though, and reference to it would in principle need to be worked into the intro, but we had a difficult enough times with three "dimensions". dab 16:22, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Note that there in the Society section, there is also an entry on Religion. I think that paragraph should focus on Religion in Human society (as it already does now), basically being a summary of Religion. The Spirituality/Religion should focus more on humans being Spiritual or Religious creatures by nature. -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 13:21, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)
We consciously inserted that subsection to cover religion as a societal phenomenon. the Religion section is there as a framework in which to discuss humans, just like, and on a par with, the Biology section. dab 13:33, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The Biology section describes humans from a biological/physical viewpoint, thus the Religion/Spiritual section should aim to do the same, I think we agree? -- [[User:Solitude|Solitude\talk]] 18:12, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)

Since the overall article is intended to define what a human is, or at least to present the various definitions that people use, the S & R section could perhaps show how humans are defined in different spiritual & religious systems. In that case, there is less need to define what animism or polytheism are per se, and we can put the focus on how an animist might consider a human endowed with spirit in exactly the same way as a rock or a deer, whereas a typical Christian might consider the rock inanimate (in both senses of the word) and the deer alive but without a soul as such. The form would then be "In belief system X, humans are defined/considered as Y", which gives us an exact parallel with the B-S-C paradigm. JHCC 21:23, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Brilliant, JHCC! You took my point and upped me one! Now my creative juices are flowing. If we can succeed in that form, that would be cool. Tom - Talk 07:55, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thank you for the compliment, however undeserved. Take a look at what I've done in the Animism section as a possible example. JHCC 14:35, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I agree to your general plan, JHCC. I just have the gripe that the animism section is three times as long now, threatening to eat up the space I bought us by moving the "self-reflection", and at the same time we lost reference to ancestor worship (lesser gripe, "Simply put," is not a very good start, I'm striking that) dab 15:12, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
A legitimate gripe. (The lesser gripe I won't argue.) There may be unnecessary or redundant material elsewhere that can be cut, or we might have brief summaries here and a main article (perhaps Spiritual anthropology or Spiritual definitions of humanity) elsewhere. In that case, the Animism article could be cut to just the first paragraph or even the first, second, and fourth sentences, with the balance in the Animism section of the new article. Thus, an entry under "Judeo-Christianity" could have a summary of the creation story of Genesis 1:26-30 (creation of Adam, setting over beasts & plants), 2:18-25 (creation of Eve), and all of chapter 3 (the Fall), with the corresponding section in the proposed main article having subsections for Catholic, Orthodox, various Protestant, and Mormon anthropologies and further discussion contrasting dualism, original sin, total depravity, salvation, etc. as they relate to the various definitions of the human condition. BTW, most polytheistic religions tend to focus the creation of humanity on one particular creator god (or sometimes a limited creative partnership), so that having a monotheistic/polytheistic distinction might not be as helpful as contrasting different concepts of humanity's spiritual & material makeup. JHCC 16:06, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Good to keep things short. But no reason (if there really is that much info) to keep the Spirituality section any shorter than the Biology section, is there? The Biology section is quite long. By the way, great job on the Animism section. I had no idea such a good job could be done. Tom - Talk 16:34, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I like the current state of "Animism" too. Your "most polytheistic religions tend to focus the creation of humanity on one particular creator god (or sometimes a limited creative partnership)" may be worthy of inclusion, with links to Prometheus, Deucalion etc.; but mere creation is not all that we have to cover here (in some mythologies, humans are created accidentally, or mischievously), and I still think the separation of monotheism from polytheism is crucial for reasons of morality/sin, "summum bonum" etc. I had a good look at the biology section, and it's bare bones as it is, so I don't think we can cut much (not that it doesn't just give evolutionist/biologistic viewpoints, but also very present issues like world population). But it's true that the spirituality section may be slightly longer than at present. A minor thing: as far as I'm concerned, shaman is equivalent to "animistic priest", so the link to priest seems superfluous. dab 14:06, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
There is some overlap, but the two terms are not equivalent. "Animistic Priest" would probably be more inclusive, but "Shaman" implies trance ritual, which is not a universal practice for all animistic priests. For example, in Shinto (in my limited understanding), there are both priests who perform purification rituals at temples and mediums who contact the spirit world. In other words, all shamans may be animistic priests, but not all animistic priests are shamans.
As for length of articles, let's work out the subsections for the various religious views and see how long the article turns out to be. If we keep the focus on how various religions describe the human condition and avoid the temptation to fully describe the development of religion as a phenomenon, we should be able to keep things relatively under control. If we end up with an article that is much too long, let's consider moving some of this material to a Spiritual Anthropology section. JHCC 03:07, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I added a very brief summary of how the dominant modern religions view humans. It doesn't get into specifics, but is a seed. I think unfortunately that the sections below animism must largely be re-vamped (deleted), and I am wondering (since it is the religious POV and not the development of religion we are trying to cover) what order they ought to go in and how detailed we get? As a Christian, I almost feel embarrassed (ethnocentric) putting Christianity first, though it is the major religion in the world. And if we combine lineages or logical groupings (Abrahamic, Vedic), Christianity still is dominant. So I think I better let you guys tell me what you think. Tom - Talk 07:09, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)

hm, Tom, my impression is that your new section mainly duplicates stuff that was already there. The arrangement in animism, polytheism and monotheism is the chronological order (earlier developments mentioned first). We could in principle order religions by number of adherents today, but this would obscure the historical connections and would give rise to endless disputes which is the largest religion. You changed the sentence humans are the viceregents of God and the only beings capable of free will, or acting contrary to their nature. to apply to Islam only, while in the monotheism section it remains as characteristic of judeo-christian religions as well. In Hinduism, humans are divine is afaik incorrect, and In Buddhism, humans are free will beings with the strength and ability to control their Karma is afaik not an attribute of humans exclusively. The crucial difference in religions with reincarnation is that animals may become humans and gods, and vice versa (a concept unknown to monotheistic religions, arguably with the exception of christianity). I think it's unhappy to just duplicate material, and for the moment, the section is muddled. I understand you want the other subsections to go, but for this I would prefer if you first proposed a new toc arrangement. dab 12:20, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Since the purpose of the section is to describe what humans are from the Spiritual/Religious point of view, I thought it made sense to put the most dominant and current points of view first. Maybe it should go in reverse significance/chronological order, with small minority or nearly obsolete perspectives last. "N years ago, in Xism, humans were said to be Q." I think I left it in a bit of a state of disarray, but what I added was a shorter and more relevant answer to the "what is said about in spirituality and religion" question. Tom - Talk 15:36, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

I had another thought about the Spirituality section. In thinking about Human biology and how some of the material in that section is accepted by most points of view, I asked myself what the religion section should be doing by parallel. The thought occured to me that the section should ideally describe Human spirituality, as in "Spiritually, humans are ...." as opposed to "Biologically, humans are" I think we are doing that, with explanations of how different POVs answer that statement. I just thought I would jot down the thought. Tom - Talk 07:09, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think the main sections should reflect the different POV slants hinted in the intro if possible. This article could say a lot. But it probably needs to stay focused on the question "What is a human?" Details about humans are answered all over the encyclopedia (engineering, movies, eyes, ears, greeks, universities, and so forth). Tom - Talk 15:29, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

I agree. Concerning religion, as I said, I think the organization by number of adherents is unhappy. I much prefer the 'structural' organization. In any case, we would need to rebuild the entire section in order to avoid just piling one arrangement on top of the other. I don't want to censor you, and I think I am keeping what you have added concerning the position of humans in Christianity and Judaism. Only, I believe it applies to Islam just as well, and for this reason I am replacing Christianity+Judaism by "Abrahamic religions":
In all Abrahamic religions, humans are lord , or steward, over the Earth and all creatures, a little lower than the angels (see Great Chain of Being), and uniquely have a moral conscience.
Maybe I misunderstood your intent. You seemed to want to rework the Religion-ToC, but somehow you added a section with duplicate material without explaining where you wanted to go from there. dab 16:14, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It just occurred to me that maybe you are objecting to putting the Abrahamic religions, with the majority of adherents, at the end of the section. The reason for this at the moment is the historical arrangement (i.e. we mention things in the sequence they happened, which is the most NPOV arrangement I can think of). But to counter this drawback (of mentioning the largest group last), we might add something like
The Abrahamic monotheistic religions, which include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, comprise the majority of the world's religious adherents.
to the section intro (copied from Abrahamic religion)? dab 16:20, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
btw, I really like your list, "Details about humans: engineering, movies, eyes, ears, greeks, universities". It's a nice example of spontaneous association, and the Greeks will be pleased to have made the list ;-) dab 16:26, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Excellent thoughts. I mainly just think that the view of animists (just as an example) is a relatively marginal POV. I am trying to keep in mind for the section to try to describe Humans as religionists or spiritualists would do it. I am not sure yet what is the most elegant and informative way to do that (though I like the thorough approach of including historic and marginal views). And I feel personally badly for defacing the article with my addition. But at this time I don't know what else to do unless we make an "in progress" version of the section somewhere or possibly put an "Under Construction" or "Stub" notice on the section. Tom - Talk 17:47, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

of course; I didn't mean to scold you or anything, I'm sorry if it sounded that way. You would of course agree that animism qualifies as a particular kind of spirituality? I admit that it's a rather marginal POV today, especially among the projected readers of WP. But I assure you that if you consider humanity as a whole, i.e. without 'temporal bias', animism becomes far from marginal, if not dominant. If you take into account Religion in China, including the widespread more modern forms of animism, it is not all that marginal even today (considering China's huge population)! dab 17:58, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

That is right. We need to state what current "knowledge" is regarding what humans "are". If we have access to the definition of humanity from an animist spiritual perspective, we of course need to represent that perspective without bias. I suppose that means we should represent fairly its dominance as a point of view on what humans are. What we shouldn't fall into doing is making the section into a section on religion or spirituality. It is a section on humans in religion and spirituality, or on humans from religion or spirituality. Let's organize things in terms of current knowledge. Tom - Talk 05:02, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Added comment: "Humans that lack the ability to speak, usually communicate through Sign Language.". This is rather short for now, and not very investigating... Maybe could be improved.

Home for the curvey lady

Female Homo sapiens sapiens, showing a potential source of inspiration for images of fertility goddesses

Here she is in all of her glory! I cut her her from this edit. Can someone find the citation to the scholar who says that this curvey lady is the source of the "fertility godesses" as the caption claims? 8)) ---Rednblu | Talk 05:34, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

come on. this must have been a joke. if not to breast, maybe venus figurine, or else scrap the image. dab (T) 07:47, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)