Talk:Human/Archive 5

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cool, the article has just been translated into Indonesian! dab () 13:12, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Spirituality and religion

What's with the very long section on spirituality and religion? Shouldn't this go under articles such as spirituality or religion? - Montréalais 20:33, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Funny you should ask. If you look at the archived talk section, you will find a VERY long discussion of that very point. The final consensus was that, since the article aims to answer the question "What is a human being?", then it should include definitions that have spiritual elements or that arise in religious contexts. JHCC 20:55, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
That's fair enough, but I don't see why it needs to be an entire section with several long-winded paragraphs. - Montréalais 04:03, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Feel free to propose improvements. Tom - Talk 07:29, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

I took a recent look at the section in question, and I really like what you have done with it, JHCC. The whole article is really nice. And that picture of the little girls is great! Thanks and attaboy, JHCC. That said, the overall organization of the article hasn't quite been revised to be completely consistent. We have the Biology (really the Humans per Biology) section and the Spirituality and Religion (really Humans per Spirituality and Religion) section. But then we have the The Individual section, which is a little confusing once you get the purpose of the previous two sections. Finally society and self-reflection. It all is a little confusing. Maybe we can talk about it and play around with it a bit. Tom - Talk 21:34, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)

===Spirituality and religion===
===The individual===

A difficulty with organizing the article is that there are widely divergent views on what is quintessentially human, and yet there is broad agreement on much that is human. The top of the article tries to address what is quintessentially human from two distinct perspectives, but then without any segue, the last three sections go more broad and universal. I personally cannot see a way to improve the organization other than to rename the first two sections to make their purpose more clear to visitors like Montréalais. An attempt below. Tom - Talk 21:49, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)

===The biological human===
===The spiritual human===
===The individual===

How about these following. - UtherSRG 13:33, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

===Human biology===
===Human spirituality===
===Human individuality===
===Human society===
===Humans and self-reflection===

Or by reduction and restoration... - UtherSRG 13:33, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

===Sprituality and religion===

Nothing wrong with the above except that they don't reflect the direction of the intro. I am okay with leaving the article as it is, but there is a distinct difference of meaning between Human biology and The biological human, between Human spirituality and The spiritual human. Remember that there are whole areas of the encyclopedia dedicated to human biology and human spirituality; this article can only contribute by discussing the human in biology and in spirituality. I again re-iterate that it is not the spirituality and biology in human that are the organizing framework of this article, it is the human in biological and spiritual terms. Tom - Talk 15:09, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

Ok. Read my last suggestions as if they all ended with "of humans" (or something similar that works. Does that scan better and more in accordance with what we're working towards? - UtherSRG 15:18, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm. Now I am embarrassed for being difficult. Unfortunately, "Biology of humans" and "Spirituality and religion of humans" essentially mean "Human biology" and "Human spirituality and religion". Either of those incarnations of that meaning essentially say, "This section is about the biological (or spiritual) component of humans." But there are significant points of view that would take exception to the factual accuracy of either the biology section or the spirituality section except for the fact that both sections say, "This is what humans most importantly are from a certain perspective." Some religionists would take exception to the neutrality of saying "Humans are great apes." Some atheists would take exception to the neutrality of saying, "Humans are living spirits temporarily incarnated for transcendent purposes." It is false advertising and it invites disputes about the contenct of the sections when we label them Human biology and Human Spirituality. Should the religionist complain that the Human biology section says he is a great ape? No, he shouldn't; the section is about what the human is from a biological point of view. Should the atheist complain that the Human spirituality section says he is a child of God? No, he shouldn't; the section is about what humans are from a spiritual point of view. Tom - Talk 19:02, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
So the expanded titles would be:
===The essential human from a biological perspective===
===The essential human from a spiritual perspective===
===The essential human from an individualist perspective===
===The essential human from a cultural perspective===
===The essential human from other significant perspectives===
Tom - Talk 19:02, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

I think we're getting closer, but I think those headings are overly verbose. I also think we're picking nits. Some reductions follow. - UtherSRG 19:39, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

These could be pluralized (perspectives), or be explicitly labeled as PsOV.
===Biological perspective==
===Spiritual perspective===
===Individualist perspective===
===Cultural perspective===
===Other perspectives===
UtherSRG 19:39, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
Another possibility.
===Biological essense===
===Spiritual essense===
===Individualist essense===
===Cultural essense===
===Other essenses===
UtherSRG 19:39, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

Finally, I think the biology and religion sections are of greater importance to maintaining a balanced NPOV. The importance or purpose or origination of the other sections relies significantly on the individuals beliefs about the first two. Perhaps their headings should be of one form, while the other three take a different form. - UtherSRG 19:39, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

Great! Further, I might suggest simply:
===Other perspectives===
Tom - Talk 23:05, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
Is it absolutely necessary to have parallel formation in each of these headings? The section on the Individual (which in my opinion should be scrapped and its material be divided between the other sections) is not a definition of Humanity from an "Individualist perspective" (whatever that might mean), but a description of certain aspects of the human individual.
I would suggest:
===Human self-reflection===
===Human biology===
===Spiritual and religious definitions of humanity===
===Human society and culture===
Moving "Self-reflection" first gives us a foundation for the descriptions which follow, although the material in the second to last paragraph could be moved to elsewhere.
A key part of this whole endevour is remembering that this article is not a catchall for every aspect of humanity; it is here to answer the question "What is a human being? or more particularly, "How is 'Human' defined?" Discourses on the origins of monotheism, while fascinating, are less important in this context than, say, comparing the idea that humans were created ex nihilo by an omnipotent and benevolent deity (as in your basic Judeo-Christian understanding) with the idea that one deity created the material world and another created humanity out of that matter (as in classical Greek and Roman mythology). JHCC 20:35, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I very strongly agree with this. Very well put. Tom - Talk 23:10, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
I've done a trial edit on the lines I laid out above. Feel free to edit or even revert, but I think it's a good first step in cutting out a lot of the dead wood. JHCC 22:18, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm okay with it. And with the vision you expressed above, I have full confidence in the direction you are headed. Tom - Talk 23:10, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

I'm not. What had started as primarily a biology-focused article became a well balanced article with biology and spirituality/religion both significantly high in the order (with biology just above spirituality/religion as they are the PsOV most opposed to each other). Now both biology and spirituality/religion have been reduced in primacy with the elevation of self-reflection. I prefer self-reflection to be below the other two. - UtherSRG 23:28, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)

Good points. Tom - Talk 15:42, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
UtherSRG, thank you for your bluntness; very good point you raise. I'm going to remove the entire "Self-Reflection" section, as it duplicates material from the "Human Self-Reflection" article without adding anything significant. That should restore the balance, as well as keep the article from getting too big. If there is anything that we want to keep from the "Self-Reflection" section, we can edit it back in somewhere. JHCC 02:56, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
OK. Tom - Talk 15:42, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
JHCC, please. The Human self-reflection article was exported from this article, as a concession that the topic should not take up too much space here. You cannot use that as an argument to remove the section completely. Also, regarding monotheism etc., I did try to keep the historical bits as short as possible. The reason they are present is that some people will insist on mentioning God as an answer to the question "what is human". Now I insist that this article is about entire human race, i.e. including all human lives from ca. 2M years ago. The monotheism part is meant to convey that for some time this was (and still is) a prevalent pov, but that the vast majority of historical humans probably thought along very different lines. I don't mind some pruning and editing at all, but keep in mind that the article content was balanced over months of discussion, and thes discussions are likely to be repeated, with the same arguments, and the same positions, if you start deciding that some parts are not needed. dab () 09:03, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Some of this bothers me. JHCC covers my concerns well below. Tom - Talk 15:42, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
Answering your two points:
  1. The SR section is good stuff, but it clogs the article. Logically, it should be just after the intro, as it provides a framework for the Biology/Spirituality/Culture sections that follow. Unfortunately, this throws off the balance of article, as UtherSRG pointed out above. Having it anywhere else makes it look like it's just been stuck in as filler. Personally, I think my solution was a good compromise, but I'm more than willing to consider other possibilities.
  2. Regarding historical development of religions, I maintain that this should only be included insofar as it relates to human self-definition. So, for example, to note in the section on animism that this is the world-view for which we have the earliest evidence or in the section on monotheism that the practice of monotheism appears to date back approximately three millennia, that's fine. If what we are looking for is historical perspective on the distribution of belief over human history, great. However, I do not think that it is as relevant that the earliest documentation of monotheism is "the heresy of Akhenaton" as it is that an anamist and a polytheist may have very different concepts of what it means to be a human. Even within monotheism, there may be huge differences of opinion: a Christian Scientist may believe that the entire physical world (including the human body) is just an illusion, while a Roman Catholic may believe that the body is real, but corrupted by sin. I maintain that we should concentrate on concisely expounding these different answers to "what is a human" rather than on tangential (if interesting) discourses on the development of religions. JHCC 14:51, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Ditto. Tom - Talk 15:42, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

[A month later] This section is confused again. I am going to try to retrieve an acceptable old wording. I am also going to be bold and try changing some headings to clarify what is going on in this article to try to head off entropic edits. Tom Haws 16:27, Feb 2, 2005 (UTC)

Position of the Taxobox

In my opinion, the Taxobox is in the wrong place; it should not be at the top of the Human page. It should be in the Biology section--because Biology and the Taxobox are not the defining qualities of "Human." The defining quality of human is the intergenerational transmission of technology and culture part.

Suffice it to say, this is a case of beating a long-dead horse. →Raul654 07:53, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
Sado-necro-bestiality? - UtherSRG 13:02, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
the current solution is not graven in stone, but I think we would want at least like a dozen signatures to re-open the topic. dab () 08:56, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't know if I should comment on this or not. Ah why not. I think that if random fols coming to this page expect to see the taxobox up at the top, then it should be there. Obviously Sam Spade did. If we move it back down to the biology section, that may suffice as long as the biology section stays near the top of the article. - UtherSRG 13:02, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
is fols a typo for folks or for fools? :p You know, some random folks will expect it here, and some other random folks will expect it there. We will have people commenting on it no matter where we put it. This was discussed in extenso, and I don't think there is any 'perfect' solution to it, and I also think the present compromise is probably the optimal solution. dab () 13:08, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'll let folks foolishly choose at random what my meaning was. *grins* But otherwise, I suppose I agree with you. - UtherSRG 13:26, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with dab, keep it where it was. Not perfect, maybe, but a workable compromise. JHCC 14:51, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Whoa! I guess I missed something. Raul654 said the taxobox was at the top, but it isn't. I guess Sam Spade moved it to the top for a moment before it got returned to it's consensus location in the biology section, right? It sounds like we are all in agreement then; it is where it has to be, in the Biological (see section titles discussion above) section. Did I follow correctly? Tom - Talk 15:47, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

'major editing'

well, why is the 'Individual' section gone? Can we have it back please? this was 'major editing' indeed. I argue we need both a 'Society' and an 'Individual' section, as these are complementary concepts. dab () 15:21, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

  • I agree. A proper description of "human" requires both a description of the 1) individual and the 2) society--because many different societies are possible from the same collection of individuals. Similarly, in a proper description of "water," it is necessary to describe both the characteristics of the water 1) molecule and 2) mole of water--because many different collective phenomena in the mole of water are possible from the same collection of water molecules. Different collective phenomena in the mole of water from the same collection of water molecules would include: solid, liquid, gas, supercooling, superheating, triple point, and meniscus. Furthermore, the "individual" section of the Human page should be separate from the "biology" section--because different "individual" phenomena are possible from the same "biological" unit. Similarly, a proper description of "computer" requires a distinction between "hardware" and "software"--because entirely different behavior manifests in the same "computer" unit with different "software." That is, the "individual" section of the Human page describes phenomena that are not determined by the "biology" but by the vast cultural evolution that is programmed into the individual's "software" by learning. We have all been through this before, 8))) I know, but it is buried in the Archives to this page. And the editor that made the "major edit" was careless in not thinking through what "human" really is and did not consult the archives of this TalkPage. For all of the above reasons, the "individual" section should be restored with the content pulled back to its proper place. For example, the section "Psyche and consciousness" should be pulled back into the "individual" section--because "Psyche and consciousness" are products of cultural evolution--not biological evolution. ---Rednblu | Talk 19:18, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
well, can we first restore it as it was, and then argue about how to change it? I agree it should represent the individual's pov, as opposed to biology's 'bird's eye'. JHCC was involved in the archived discussions, though, so he was aware of the considerations that went into it. dab () 19:44, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

so, will anybody object if I resurrect the 'Individual' section? dab () 11:50, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Wikiproject Tree of Life specification must be changed

I reverted the position of the taxobox according to the extended discussion and voting on this TalkPage. Apparently, the Wikiproject Tree of Life specification is wrong and should be corrected. I will get around to initiating that discussion on the "Tree of Life" TalkPage--eventually. ---Rednblu | Talk 21:06, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

What do you mean, the ToL specification is "wrong"? Reverting the movement of the taxobox is fine, but could you not be so oblique here? Is it really so much effort to make a little bit of sense, especially since there's no readily apparent consensus that the taxobox specification is wrong over on WP:TOL. grendel|khan 22:26, 2005 Jan 15 (UTC)
Sorry. I was in a hurry and did not explain myself clearly. I already made the correction to the Table of Life specification in this edit. ---Rednblu | Talk 00:52, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Why would the taxobox style have to change specially for humans? The information about biological classification that the taxobox provides is still just as valid as it is for any other species. I don't see where the 'extended discussion and voting' you refer to has anything to say about the ToL spec being 'wrong'---which is, so far as I can tell, an opinion held by you and just you, from what I can see on the ToL page. grendel|khan 01:12, 2005 Jan 16 (UTC)

If this discussion is about the taxobox position, yes, that was decided very slowly and deliberately with a lot of input from a lot of people. There would certainly have to be a large group assembled again to discuss the matter if we were to consider having it preside over the article again. The taxobox is indeed just as valid for Homo sapiens as it it for any other species. I only beg that those who were not here for the previous discussion to consider the NPOV principle of ownership of words. No single group owns the term Human, and if significant and major points of view hold that biology is not primarily definitive of humans, then it is probably appropriate to keep the taxobox out of the intro. At least this is how I understand the outcome of the previous discussion and its interpretation in light of the established policies. In case you were not here for that discussion, I recall for you that one weakly favored proposal was to have a separate article Homo sapiens or such about the biological human with the taxobox at the top. Tom H. 15:49, Jan 17, 2005 (UTC)

comp sci definition

the comp-sci definition is missing from the page. T

he comp-sci definition is: A man is a computer that can pass the turing test

wrong. this is a definition of intelligence, not of humanity. dab () 13:03, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Why is this article so weird? Why is there a picture of 2 girls at the top instead of a txobox? And why is

Philosophers define human beings straightforwardly as bipeds without feathers, for humans are standing on their two feet, but, unlike most birds, they don't possess feathers. Hence a human being is not a chicken.

in the intro? I think my version was way better. Comments? (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 21:40, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Probably you will get general agreement about the oddness of the "philosopher's view" "a human is not a chicken". The article does seem to be getting untidy. And I apologize because I may have regretfully reverted when I should have carefully reconstructed the consensus form from your edit. What would need to be discussed would be the image and taxobox. In general, the article is at a point now that I think it could benefit from a little rewording and editing to keep it focused on answering the question "what is a human?" I just edited the Birth and death section in a way that I think kept the content. Tom Haws 21:49, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)

Sounds good. So why don't you want the taxobox at the top, like it is on pretty much every other article about an animal? I don't like the anthrocentric and "little girl-centric" feel it gives. Cheers, (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 21:55, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Me again. Here is how I understand the standing agreement on the focus of the article: Tom Haws

  • What is a Human? Depends whom you ask. (Little girls are the best we found as a nice illustration of humans.) Tom Haws
  • Some hold a biological answer pre-eminent, and this is what they say about humans. (Taxobox here) Tom Haws
  • Some hold a spiritual answer pre-eminent, and they say this. Tom Haws
  • Some answer primarily in cultural terms, and here is how. Tom Haws

See above and in archives too. Note that most articles have a nice, flattering mug shot at the top. The little girls was voted best of proposals. But of course the whole thing can be discussed again. Tom Haws 21:58, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)

HM. I'm a bit confused. Lots of people say lots of things, and that which can be verified as coming from an expert source can be mentioned in the article, but Homo sapiens links here. You seem to be suggesting it shouldn't. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 22:17, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

the article has really been deteriorating. I moved back to the carefully balanced, consensus approved intro. If people want to tweak the intro, they should discuss. The birth and death section should be part of "individual". dab () 22:24, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Right, dab. Thumbs up. Tom Haws 23:31, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)