Saturday, August 4, 2007

On being human

This is a nit-picky point, but one I have to make. I originally posted it as a response to a post over on Deep Furrows critiquing a quotation from Mark Shea. So, rather than taking this out on Fred, who is a careful writer and lover of language, I'll work it out here on my own blog.

My point is that the word human is an adjective, not a noun. I am not a human. I am a human being, or, more precisely, a human person. I also loathe the term human resources! Human resources is a dehumanizing term despite the fact that human is used as an adjective. Just I am not merely a human, I am not a resource! Please spare me the dictionary quotations, the MLA citations, etc. I am making what is properly a philosophical point, not a lexicographical one. I will grant that language and philosophy are married to each other, which is why this point is worth making.

One of the most descriptive and horrifying pieces of philosophy I have read is Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology. Perhaps the most perplexing question posed in this lecture is "But suppose now that technology were no mere means: how would it stand with the will to master it?"

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