Talk:Human/Archive 9

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For any newcomers

This debate is about finding an appropriate introduction. The debate is essentially between those who want a more scientific introduction and those who want a stronger spiritual or religious component.

We are currently debating the merits of the March 1 introduction [1] (the less scientific one) as opposed to the current one, [2] (the more scientific one), with the following proposed as a compromise:

Human beings define themselves in biological, social, and spiritual terms. Biologically, humans are bipedal primates, classified as Homo sapiens (Latin for "knowing man") and distinguished, as the name suggests, by their unique development of language, culture, society, and technology. They belong to the family of great apes, along with chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans, but differ from their relatives in their ability to engage in abstract reasoning, their use of language and speech, and their erect body carriage, which frees the upper limbs for manipulating objects. As a consequence of these traits, human beings engage in extensive tool use, and have developed complex social structures comprised of many cooperating and competing groups, nation states, and institutions, distinguished from one another by their different aims and ritual practices. The self-consciousness of human beings, their resultant curious and introspective nature, and their dominance over other animals, have given rise to a series of narratives intended to explain the development and nature of the species. These include materialist perspectives promoting the view that human beings evolved from other life forms over millions of years and are, in essence, no different from their primate relatives; and spiritual perspectives that emphasize a spiritual dimension to life, and which may include the view that all life, including human life, was created by a supreme being. SlimVirgin 02:38, Mar 19, 2005 (UTC)

I understand that a great a debate has already taken place on this. But in reading the above as is, I can only say that it does not make me very proud a member of that species... What about consciousness, the ability of speech, to be compassionate, to love, cry, laugh, invent, sing, make music, enjoyment, etc. etc. Is that not part of being human as much as belonging to the family of great apes? --Zappaz 05:02, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Self-consciousness is included. For the rest, this is the summary of an encyclopædia article, not a poem. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:52, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Thanks... add also "humans are the only animals capable of writing poetry" ... :) --Zappaz 17:16, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This is certainly not NPOV. I can see where those who believe in a divine creation of human beings would be dissatisfied with this paragraph. The idea of a creation as described in Genesis is not even mentioned. The mention of a divine creation itself is not even given a full sentence. Perhaps a second paragraph explaining Judeo, Islamist, Christian version of the beginning of human kind? This one following the scientific view? --Wjbean 13:39, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But this is the summary of an article in an encyclop&aedia;; the article already has far more stuff about religion than you find in any other standard reference on 'Human' (and, frankly, far more than should be there). The summary should give the basic, central definition. It does (actually it's already bloated because editors have been trying to compromise with those who have been pushing for the inclusiuon of all sorts of stuff about 'spirituality'). Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:24, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
A summary, by definition, is a concise run through of the entire article. If I'm not mistaken the summary should contain some reference to the material in the entire article by Wikipedia standards. The entire article devotes considerable verbiage to religion and humankind, yet the summary does not. I'm simply saying that the summary should expound a bit more on the creationist viewpoint.

As an atheist I'm simply asking for fairness in this. The summary is entirely too one-sided. --Wjbean 19:42, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Is comparison to a "standard reference" considered a valid policy for decision-making on wikipedia? --Goethean 18:46, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Yes, it is. Unless you think that the meaning of 'encyclop&ae;dia' here is unconnected to any other use of the term, I assume that you do too. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:54, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I don't, really. You and FeloniousMonk have repeatedly said that this article cannot say this or that because that would take it out of line with other encyclopedias. But the wikipedia is not like other encyclopedias. The fact that it is an open, collaborative effort ensures that it will be quite different (out-of-step, if you prefer) from other works of reference. I personally think that its open nature makes it superior in some ways to other reference works. I reject the notion that the wikipedia must emulate traditionally edited, closed encyclopedias. Especially on the level of detail that you envision, which is that the very format, structure, and content of other encyclopedias has veto power over that of the wikipedia. --Goethean 19:06, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In looking for support for my view, I found the following, whch I would like to quote fully, as it bears on the entire debate: --Goethean 19:19, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Opinions: Encyclopedias (rightly, I think) try to avoid controversial opinions. I think a
headlining article on a topic should be as factual as possible, but I also think it should link to
opinions: Maybe we could have a standard "/Opinions" subpage (which differs from "/Talk" in being a
list of pointers to finished essays rather than an active discussion). Each page describing a poker
game, for example, could have a /Talk subpage where people describe their experiences with the game,
and an /Opinions subpage pointing to longer essays where various people express detailed opinions
about the game or how they would improve it.
I have a very strong disagreement with this one. Wikipedia IS an encyclopedia. The wikipedia
should write neutrally about opinions, but the wikipedia should not put forward opinions.
There is no need to shy away from controversial opinions -- but there is every reason to shy away
from asserting those opinions. --w:Jimbo Wales

I take this to bear out my point, that there's nothing wrong with the wikipedia noting what religions believe about human beings, as long as the wikipedia does not assert that those beliefs are true or false. --Goethean 19:21, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

(after multiple edit conflicts)
Being open-source doesn't mean that there are no limits; the fact that it's an open-source encyclopædia, rather than an open-source catechism, or an open-source recipe book, is why the usual meaning of 'encyclopædia' is crucial.
In any case, I've given a number of reasons for thinking that the view upon which you're insisting is wrong; this is only one of them, yet you write as though it's my only reason. Why? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 19:26, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The only view that I insist on is that the article acknowledge that other perspectives than the scientific one exist. Also these perspectives should be seen as seperate, rather than mere details or functions of the scientific perspective. --Goethean 19:35, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Goethean, you're lifting a single quote, which isn't helpful. Stating that we are bipedal primates does not count as putting forward an opinion. I have included a spiritual aspect in the proposed compromise. We also refer to culture, society, rituals, curiosity, self-consciousness; and religion, poetry, love, art all come under one of these categories. Remember: this is just the introduction we're talking about. We have to summarize. How about we add the second paragraph we had earlier, which referred to the views of the world's major religions? Would that work for you? SlimVirgin 19:41, Mar 19, 2005 (UTC)

The Jimbo Wales quotation is from this page: Wiki_is_not_paper --Goethean 22:02, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The only true way to write with total neutrality is to write nothing at all. Of course, this would be pointless. Better to present multiple points of view than one as “factual” and another as “myth.” With labels like this we once again cross into twilight zone of non-neutrality.

So why not this;

“Human beings are classified by biologists as the species Homo sapiens (Latin for knowing man): a bipedal primate mammal belonging to the family of great apes, along with chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. Humans have an erect body carriage that frees the upper limbs for manipulating objects, and by a more highly developed brain and a resultant capacity for abstract reasoning and articulate speech.

Behaviorally, human beings are defined by their use of language, their culture, with its organization in complex societies with groups and institutions for mutual support and assistance, and their development of complex technology. These behavioral differences have given rise to a myriad of cultures incorporating many forms of beliefs, myths, rituals, values, norms, and tools. Whether there is more to human beings than a body with a complex brain remains a matter of considerable controversy. See, for example, Evolution and Creationism.”

“Human beings are classified by theologians as spiritual beings created by and (often) in the image of a supreme entity. Many Judeo/Christian/Islamist practitioners believe that the supreme being (Jehovah, God, Allah) specifically created the earth and all of the plants and animals upon it for human’s free use in return for recognition of God and adherence to laws as defined by the Supreme Being.

Other religions believe that that humankind is another, yet higher form of animal Animism, was created and is ruled by multiple gods Polytheism, and one god (though not necessarily the Judeo/Christian/Islamist God) Monotheism.”

This does not add that much to the summary yet covers the religious aspects of "human." --Wjbean 20:01, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

That is an excellent summary. --Zappaz 20:59, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You'd probably have to say which theologians you were referring to, as not all theologians believe this. The sentence after that it is very POV, and would need references. This is not an article about religion and I'm finding it quite disturbing that some people can't separate these issues. It is as though I were to insist that art be elevated in the introduction, and proceeded to discuss the views of various (unnamed) artists. SlimVirgin 21:08, Mar 19, 2005 (UTC)
It downplays the Eastern religons a bit, but Wjbean's version is far better than any of the others so far offered. --Goethean 21:59, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The two added paragraphs are simply suggestions. Notice that they are not in the article itself. I know that the naming of some religions and excluding others is a problem. A Theologian, by definition, is a person who makes religion a subject of study so it's a relatively generic word. The definition does not include the name of any particular religion. Simply that a theologian is "One who is learned in theology."
I know that it's not an article about religion. The problem here is that quite a few people who inhabit this planet feel that human beings are of divine origin. My own opinion is that excluding a mention of these beliefs would violate NPOV. As I said before the only way to be truly neutral is to say nothing, which is pointless. The best compromise is to be inclusive.
I understand your dismay at religion being mentioned. I personally feel that religion has been at the root of many of the problems humans have endured over the millennia. But I also feel that not mentioning it at all would be harmful to the article since so many are believers.--Wjbean 15:06, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughtful response, Wjbean. This issue raises the question as to whether popular opinion ought to hold sway in articles. I take your point: millions of people do believe in literal interpretations of, for example, the Christian Bible. But the Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View policy has to be read in conjunction with Wikipedia:No Original Research, which states that we must refer to credible, published sources for our articles, and not to popular opinion. In this case, credible sources would be interpreted to mean scholars, and within this group, we need only refer to the majority and significant-minority views: tiny-minority views need not be included in articles according to the NPOV policy. If we agree that we need to cite the views of mainstream scholars for the introduction, that raises the question of which areas of scholarship we include, and how we determine what the majority within those areas believes. The views of the majority of biologists and anthropologists are probably easy enough to determine, and are basically the introduction as it now stands. But the views of theologians are trickier. I'm not convinced that the majority of theologians would agree that we are "spiritual beings created by and (often) in the image of a supreme entity." I don't know how we determine what the majority does believe, or even whether that question makes sense, as theologians work within different religious and academic traditions. I know that the theology lectures I attended at university were given by theologians who did not appear to believe in God (and one definitely did not, and said so quite clearly, even though he was an ordained minister), though they were perhaps not representative of the academic discipline as a whole. Perhaps Mel Etitis (who is a philosopher) could help out here: Mel, if we were to include a couple of sentences in the introduction about the views of most Judeo-Christian and Islamic theologians, regarding a description of "human," what would you say the best formulation would be, assuming the question makes any sense? SlimVirgin 15:58, Mar 20, 2005 (UTC)
But the Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View policy has to be read in conjunction with Wikipedia:No Original Research, which states that we must refer to credible, published sources for our articles, and not to popular opinion. In this case, credible sources would be interpreted to mean scholars, and within this group, we need only refer to the majority and significant-minority views: tiny-minority views need not be included in articles according to the NPOV policy. If we agree that we need to cite the views of mainstream scholars for the introduction, that raises the question of which areas of scholarship we include, and how we determine what the majority within those areas believes. The views of the majority of biologists and anthropologists are probably easy enough to determine, and are basically the introduction as it now stands. --SV
I have emphasized your assumption. I don't see any reason why the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita, for example, should be excluded from your group of credible, published sources which have theorized about what human beings are. I don't see any support on the Wikipedia:No Original Research page for your belief that we must limit our sources to academic texts, and for limiting those who have a relevant opinion on what human beings are to academics or scientists.
Given the multiplicity and popularity of religions and worldviews in the world today, I would say that there is no consensus that human beings are nothing but highly developed primates. Therefore, I recommend that we follow these principles:
How to deal with Wikipedia entries about theories
For theories:
  1. state the key concepts;
  2. state the known and popular ideas and identify general "consensus", making clear which is which, and bearing in mind that extreme-minority theories or views need not be included.
--Goethean 22:45, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think it's safe to say that Judeo/Christian/Islamist belief (all of which are centered on the Pentateuch) represent the majority of people who share religious belief on this planet. I'd be very interested to see what Mel Etitis has to say about this. But overall I think that if the summary can include spiritual belief right alongside scientific belief (and these are NOT mutually exclusive) we can put this particular contentious issue to bed.
Interesting! I looked up Pentateuch and found that Islam is not mentioned. It should be.--Wjbean 17:17, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • “I think it's safe to say that Judeo/Christian/Islamist belief (all of which are centered on the Pentateuch) represent the majority of people who share religious belief on this planet”. I'd say that that was a peciuliar view given the existence of Hinduism (“third largest religion with approximately 940 million followers worldwide”), Buddhism (“Estimates of the number of Buddhists vary between 230 and 500 million, with 350 million as the most commonly cited figure”), and countless smaller but still significant non-Abrahamic religions (see Major world religions). Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 17:27, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Well spotted. Sometimes people forget the true meaning of "majority". --Zappaz 02:52, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Not living in that part of the world it was not difficult for me to exclude the Eastern religions. That's my excuse anyway. Still, I'm simply suggesting that since so many people believe in a divine orign of humans it would be damaging to the article to leave that out. Religious beliefs are nicely covered in the body of the article. I simply think that due to that coverage the summary should contain a brief statement to that effect. --Wjbean 14:40, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think that saying that many people believe in a divine origin, is incorrect. A large majority of the population of Earth believes in some kind of supreme power, supreme energy, soul, love, God, whatever you want to call it. Not only today, but since humans had a way to put that in writing... --Zappaz 16:45, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz I was trying (hard) to word this in a palatable way. In truth more people on this planet believe in a divine origin than not. And though I'm not one of them, well the jury is still out on some aspects of my beliefs, I recognize the truth of your statement. This is why I feel reilgious belief should be included in the summary. It's only fair.
Mel Etitis As to Buddhism ("The teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct, wisdom, and meditation releases one from desire, suffering, and rebirth.") I'm not sure it really qualifies as a "religion." It's more a way of living or, as I see it, the first self administered pyschology for the masses. A belief system that helps us poor humans deal with each other and the world. Hinduism on the other hand, would be a religion.
Although I agree that the Buddha is more of a psychologist than a typical religious figure, most Buddhists seem to approach it similarly enough to religious followers that I think that its not terribly inaccurate to call Buddhism a religion. --Goethean 01:45, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Different versions of introduction

The different intro versions now have their own page for the purposes of clarity. See Talk:Human/draft SlimVirgin 22:14, Mar 19, 2005 (UTC)
Excellent! Placing the different drafts of the introduction in their own area makes the issue easier to address. Please note that I'm not a "supporter" of the last version. I was simply trying to put forth a compromise that is respectful to all readers.
I completely understand why this is a contentious issue. As an atheist I lean heavily toward the scientific explanation. As a lifelong mediator I can clearly see how excluding divine origin is a problem. As an older human I no longer have the driving need to absolutely right about anything :o) --Wjbean 15:17, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
LOL! I came to the conclusion some time ago that I'm rarely right about anything. In fact, it's one of the few things I'm fairly sure of. ;-) SlimVirgin 16:01, Mar 20, 2005 (UTC)
I am also working on a version here --Goethean 00:08, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
My vote is for Goetheans version not mine. It retains the original first paragraph (with slight modifiction) and includes (I really like this) "Either in opposition to, or complimentary to" and further expounds on various belief systems in a somewhat generic yet inclusive way. --Wjbean 21:00, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I have been modifying my proposal in some respects on my userpage, by the way. Mostly grammatical improvements and trying to make the religion summaries more accurate. --Goethean 01:19, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hang on. I will be voting. I like what is going on. :-) Tom Haws 18:35, Mar 22, 2005 (UTC)

Having just come across this article and the attendant debate on the intros, let me offer a bit of perspective from somebody that hasn't been thinking about this for more than about five minutes. The fact that these various intros are being designed by committee is blindingly obvious in the grammar and diction. They all contain lots of good info, but in long unwieldy tacked-together sentences to greater or lesser degrees. I'm going to be bold and write another version which will mainly be a copyedited distillation of the various versions. Ordinarily I'd hold off on adding to the fray but this is such an important article that it would bother me greatly to have a grammatical blunderbuss of an intro. Note that I'm not criticizing any one person with this comment -- pretty much any text designed by committee starts to sound like this after a while. As for me, my bias is toward the scientific view, but I believe things like spirituality and 'human nature' definitely have a place in the article and the intro. Neurophyre 20:39, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Human (scientific view) and Human (spiritual view)

The controversy about the introduction will never end. Some do want to treat the subject in a scientific way, like any other species, as an animal. Some do want to treat the subject in a spiritual way, like any other cultural artefact, as an non-animal - or better to say an an-animal, that is, an imal. To reiterate my point Human (scientific view) = Homo sapiens and of course Human (spiritual view) = Human being. Some already has written separate introductions for both of them. The compromise text might end up in Human (holistic view). Somebody might consider at this point to initiate a poll or a vote. Please do cast your ballots also on Talk:Bible. Gebruiker:Dedalus 20:30, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

:Hm? Is there a vote in progress? nevermind. --Goethean 22:05, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

That's a POV fork. We don't do that. grendel|khan 17:51, 2005 Mar 23 (UTC)
Separate articles on Homo sapiens and Human would not be inappropriate, but this idea was blocked by felonious monk & co. --Goethean 20:58, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Religious points of view

Popular opinion I

I'm starting a new heading, because the above ones are becoming unwieldy.

Goethean, if you believe that the widespread popularity of religion means that there should be a religious definition of humanity in the opening paragraph, why aren't you out arguing for changes in pages like universe to say that "many people believe that the Universe was created by an all-powerful, unknowable higher power", or age of the universe to say that "many people believe that the universe is less than ten thousand years old". Or woman to say that "many people believe that women were created as lesser beings, with rights and abilities far less than their male counterparts". Where does it end?

Why is this page special? Why should this page be different from all other pages? grendel|khan 17:57, 2005 Mar 23 (UTC)

grendel, your proposals are reasonable (though I am certain you meant them to be absurd). In general, as you know, the NPOV policy requires that we represent all significant points of view fairly, and that we characterize disputes rather than engaging in them. It would perfectly acceptable and good, and make Wikipedia all the more an extraordinary bias-free zone, if all articles presented all controversies fairly. But in practice we lack the time and attention to do anything but put the basic established traditional perspective in most articles. This article simply seems to be a fundamental fulcrum of concern, and so it is receiving the full NPOV microscopic care. I would like to start a heading called Word ownership where we can talk more about this. Perhaps I will later. But the short answer is that this article isn't special, it's just lucky. Tom Haws 19:46, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)
I pretty much agree with Tom. But I think that the number of young earth creationists is much, much smaller than the number of people who think that humans are spiritual beings (I'm not sure how many muslims are young earthers). Also, the term "universe" actually is a scientific concept (as mel etitis was contending last week regarding "human"). Earlier conceptions could easily go under cosmos. Also (in my opinion), the theory of evolution has more evidentiary support than does the idea that humans are nothing more than physical beings. But I don't expect anyone to agree with me. --Goethean 20:55, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But 'universe' and 'cosmos' are used interchangeably in science and philosophy (the science is cosmology, after all). Incidentally, I've still seen no adequate explanation of what's meant by 'spiritual'. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:19, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've still seen no adequate explanation of what's meant by 'spiritual'
What's your point? The word isn't used in my proposal. --Goethean 21:40, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
'Spiritual' is a weasel word for 'religious'. I did indeed intend for my suggestions to sound ridiculous, but perhaps we need to edit Jew to include "Some people consider Jews to be vicious parasites who manipulate world finance and eat Arab babies". I'm sure that a significant proportion of the world will agree with that statement, so what's your argument against including it? Point is, we have an article on anti-Semitism which describes that widespread opinion. We also have an article on religion which the general attitude that you want to put atop this page. (I've just realized that I've been assuming that you're a Christian, but I have no reason to. I wonder why I did that.) Just as the baby-eating perspective is not central to the meaning of Jew, the religious perspective is not central to the meaning of human. It's a cultural artifact, and a very important one. But it does not make us human. grendel|khan 21:47, 2005 Mar 23 (UTC)
I don't think that there are a billion anti-semites in the world, whereas religous people outnumber non-religious by over 6 to 1.
'Spiritual' is a weasel word for 'religious'. Apart from being untrue and offensive, that's irrelevant as I have been upfront that I want to add religious content to this article. --Goethean 22:23, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
“I don't think that there are a billion anti-semites in the world” If you mean the U.S. billion, then I'd say you're almost certainly wrong; if you mean the U.K. billion, then maybe — though I'm not sure.
“religous people outnumber non-religious by over 6 to 1.” Your evidence for this odd claim? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:28, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC) (You may want to read about their methodology before you dismiss it.) --Goethean 22:36, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
On the spiritual/religious question: You know, you're right. I've seen "spiritual" used as a synonym for "religious" before, and I made an assumption. It was wrong of me to do so, and I apologize for the cheap shot. grendel|khan 19:02, 2005 Mar 24 (UTC)

I've read through it quickly. It isn't, however, about 'religious people': “The adherent counts presented in the list above are estimates of the number of people who have at least a minimal level of self-identification as adherents of the religion.” The churches in this country are filled with people who count themselves CofE, but who have little or no religious belief — it's a social matter (in villages like mine, it's pretty well the only social centre of any sgnificance). Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:45, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But the perspective is important as Goethean points out. Doing the very best that any of us can, we come up with the following figures. If you can improve them, go ahead, but personally I did not find a reference that categorized the world's population according to "belief".

  • 1/6 (1 billion) of the world adhers to Catholicism
  • 1/3 (2 billion) of the world adheres to Christianity
  • The majority of the world (3.3 billion) adheres to monotheistic religion
  • 2/3 of the world adheres to either Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism

The above merely shows that the idea (or word ownership) that humans are definitively partly spiritual beings is the dominant perspective, and not a marginal one. And for this article, it is important to disclose to the reader that a major portion of the world believes there is a significant spiritual aspect to the definition of humans. After all, the readers are humans, and they all "know" what they are. FeloniousMonk "knows" he and I are an apes, and I "know" he and I are children of God. Why make the article offensive to either one? Tom Haws 19:35, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

You misrepresent the qualitative differences in the two statements and play fast and loose semantically with the word "know" here. What you're really saying is that I know we are apes, and that you believe that you and I are children of God. The difference being that the former belief enjoys a surfeit of evidence and support whereas the latter is a matter of belief and arbitrary. The fact that the first is a statement of fact whereas the latter is a statement of faith is what needs to be recognized in the article.--FeloniousMonk 08:32, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
And I still say that those billions you cite are irrelevant to this discussion. Appealing to popularity is a dangerous road to go down. Are you going to update same-sex marriage to point out that such unions are against the designs of nature and of your God? The vast majority of humanity agrees with that opinion. --FeloniousMonk 08:32, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
We should not be talking in this direction. Statements such as "the former belief enjoys a surfeit of evidence and support whereas the latter is a matter of belief and arbitrary" are patronizing. Imagine your sputtering if I had said the opposite. NPOV accounts for and explains how to deal with this. If we will all honestly read Wikipedia:Neutral point of view slowly and carefully, I think we will do better at the present discussion. Tom Haws 15:23, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)
It doesn't say anywhere that articles should reflect popular opinion, Tom. NPOV states that articles should reflect the majority and significant-minority positions of reputable, published sources; and furthermore that positions should be given space according to how widespread they are among those sources. Please read Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view together. They are the two core policies and they make sense only when read together. SlimVirgin 15:28, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Popular opinion II

The idea that women are subhuman is the dominant perspective, and not a marginal one. Are you going to update woman to reflect that? If we put it to a vote, all the Jews'd be tossed into the sea. Will you update Jew to reflect that? I'm trying to ask for some consistency here, and you keep appealing to popular opinion in an inconsistent way which I'm beginning to think is disingenuous. Wikipedia is not a democracy.
And you did just use "spiritual" as a way to say "religious" without invoking religion directly. grendel|khan 22:23, 2005 Mar 24 (UTC)
But it was I that denied using the term. I'm a Liberal Quaker and Tom's a Mormon, if it helps you us to keep us straight. --Goethean 00:33, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Tom, Grendel makes a very good point. Are you willing to edit the article on Woman, so that the introduction says many or most of the world's men believe women are inferior or dangerous and should be kept in some form of subjugation? Are you prepared to say in the introduction of Gay that most human beings believe gay marriage is absurd or wicked? If you believe there is a difference in kind between these examples and this one, the onus is on you to say what that difference is. SlimVirgin 22:51, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

No, the onus is on you to tell us why an accurate description of the state of the world is unacceptable, inappropriate, or impossible for wikipedia. --Goethean 23:03, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But that is precisely Grendel's point. Why is it only in this article's introduction that popular opinion must hold sway? Please do address his/her point rather than lobbying the question back. This has been the problem with this talk page for weeks: very few people come up with actual arguments, and when they do, the other side simply ignores them. SlimVirgin 23:08, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

Are you prepared to say in the introduction of Gay that most human beings believe gay marriage is absurd or wicked?
The gay article doesn't mention marriage at all, so I don't see why it should have to be changed. --Goethean 00:35, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This has been the problem with this talk page for weeks
The problem with this talk page is that the opponents of the religious perspective intend to stall indefinitely while an obviously POV article remains on the main page. This is wrong. Tom has already answered this argument above. If it can be documented that a large portion of the world's population believe that women are inferor, then that fact should be mentioned in the article on women. Reporting the existence of that opinion does not entail condoning or asserting that opinion, as my opponents repeatedly imply when they point out that "wikipedia is not a democracy" (a wholly irrelevant point), etc. --Goethean 00:31, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
(edit conflict)
No; SlimVirgin, I, and others are consistent in our approach to all these articles. The claim is that you're not (and it's a pretty strong claim). There's therefore nothing for us to explain; you, on the other hand, need to explain why you're not really inconsistent. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:11, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Then Goethean, please be consistent and go and add that information to the introduction of Woman: not to the article, but to the introduction. You can explain on the talk page there that you're not condoning the attitudes, but simply reporting them, then count the seconds until the screaming starts. And to the introduction of Same-sex marriage, please go and add the views of the majority of people around the world that same-sex marriage is either silly or sinful. You could add that Muslims are a bunch of terrorists; that Scottish people are mean with money; that the Irish drink too much; that Jews are trying to take over the world. But if you are not prepared to add popular opinion to the introductions of other articles, then you ought to admit your inconsistency and stop trying to do it here; or else you have to show how your position is not in fact internally inconsistent (argue it; not simply assert it). I repeat: whenever anyone has put forward an argument, as opposed to an assertion, you have been unwilling or unable to address it. SlimVirgin 00:46, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Arent' we missing the point completely? Let's face it, folks, a summary of a definition of "human" that does not include elements beyond the mere physical will be surely incomplete. The discussion should be focused on "what" to include, not "if" to include. I can understand the secular views, but even within secular views there are aspects of "human" that go beyond what phylus, class, order, family, genus, and species we found ourselve to belong.--Zappaz 05:37, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Good point. Tom Haws 18:45, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)
That's good to know that you understand the secular views. But what's there not to understand? What you call here "secular views" is but man's own attempt to identify himself within reality by using the methods of science. Science is limited to studying reality. From the successful application of it comes knowledge. Hence, knowledge is the mental grasp of the facts of reality. It is not just an awareness of reality, but an understanding of it. It is a successfully formed conclusion about some aspect of reality.
Wikipedia requires of us that article topic definitions/intros summarize the major points of the article and that they be factual. Since factual means in line with reality, let's look at the facts:
  • Scientists give humans a taxonomic hierarchical classification. -Fact.
  • That some people believe man is a spiritual being. -Fact.
  • That man is a spirituality being. -Not a fact.
  • That spirituality is anything other than a mental construct. -Not a Fact.
So, all we can in all fairness and with any intellectual honesty say in the definition/intro is that humans are behaviorally distinct from all other animals, that the natural sciences classify human beings as bipedal primates, and that some people chose to believe that man is a spiritual being.--FeloniousMonk 08:32, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  1. Wikipedia policy suggests that the leading section should summarize the points made in the article. See Wikipedia:Lead section.
  2. Within NPOV, the only "facts" are the recordings of what the proponents of the various POVs say. See NPOV#The_original_formulation_of_NPOV.
  3. Consequently, within NPOV factual never means "in line with reality" -- unless reality is identical to the totality of what the proponents of the various POVs say. See Wikipedia:Verifiability.
  4. So, all we can in all fairness and NPOV and with any intellectual honesty say in the definition/intro is that humans have been defined variously as biological, spiritual, and cultural creatures.
  5. That you think the scientists are right is only your personal research. See Wikipedia:Original research.
  6. People cannot choose what they are; people are what they are. And whoever believes what is merely a matter of reporting a poll--which should be cited if put into any legitimate Wikipedia page. ---Rednblu | Talk 09:37, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
So, taking your points above one-at-a-time:
  1. You're either mistaken or intentionally misstating nature of Wikipedia:Lead section- it's not a policy, but a style guide and a how to. Furthermore, I suggest you reread Wikipedia:Lead section again and take particular note of this passage: "The first sentence in the lead section should be a concise definition of the topic." Since not one other credible, neutral encyclopedia describes or defines 'human' in spiritual terms in its introductory definition what you propose then is a completely nonstandard definition of the topic. That in defiance of the very injunction of the "policy" you cite. Needless to say that is a double standard. Perhaps you've not read the other relevant sections of the style guide, especially the part that states: "If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the Neutral point of view." Nowhere does it say that particularly popular POVs get to be treated as fact.
  2. Here you're confusing POVs with facts. In epistemology a fact is something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed. That people have POVs is a fact, but not all POVs are founded on facts. Facts are easily corroborated, whereas opinion (POV) is much less so. Were that not the case, we wouldn't be having this debate, as we'd all be in agreement. Luckily for your POV once again the wikipedia How to write a great article guideline provides for it to be aired, as attributed POV: "If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the Neutral point of view." So POVs that do not enjoy the benefit of being easily corroborated as fact are to represented by attributing the POV's notions to those that hold it.
  3. Sorry, but your point here is a special pleading. Any meaningful, semantically precise definition of 'factual' will always mean of the nature of fact; real, or of or containing facts. Citing Wikipedia:Verifiability was a complete red herring- that particular 'semi-policy' is about fact checking not how to epistemologically identify facts.
  4. Hmm, OK, then cite your sources. Again, I challenge you or anyone else to cite one other credible, neutral encyclopedia that describes or defines 'human' in spiritual terms in its introductory definition. I've personally read the articles for 'human' in every encyclopedia in both libraries at UC Berkeley and there are no encyclopedias that do so. Additionally, in the social sciences spirituality is considered part of a person's cultural provenance, not separate from it. By insisting that it is separate, you wrongly imply that spirituality exists independently of those who hold those beliefs, something for which there is no proof.
  5. That's a straw man. I'm not saying, nor have I ever said, that scientists are right. What I have been saying is that we are required to write an objective and accurate article, and to that end all metaphysical notions of being human are not founded on fact, and as such must be attributed and must not presented as being independent entities. But it's no coincidence that scientists, being tied by their eponymous method to a rational epistemology, also insist on the same point. They have little trouble recognizing that A = A, but balk at A = A, and B, and C... just I have here. As would any editor who's goal is to present a valid representation of reality, which by definition requires identifying arbitrary ideas as such. See: Epistemology,justified true belief
  6. Um, that sounds a lot like determinism, another misbegotten metaphysical can of worms, though it does hide behind a grain of truth, which is that our brains and minds conform to the Law of Identity, meaning the results of our minds are consistent with their nature.
--FeloniousMonk 07:14, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

1. FM, note that because we have an honest "word ownership" problem here, a concise definition is quite elusive. That is not due to anybody's intransigence. It is simply "the way things are". Tom Haws 15:31, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

2. See my section on facts below. Perhaps that will help. Perhaps there are two kinds of facts. Tom Haws 15:31, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

3. Actually, Rednblu is correct here. A careful reading of WP:NPOV makes that clear. A fact is only something about which there is no known disputation by otherwise rational people. Your or my reality is not fact unless we all agree. And even then we humbly acknowledge it is human "knowledge" in scare quotes. Tom Haws 15:31, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Popular opinion III

SlimVirgin, I will quote myself. "It would perfectly acceptable and good, and make Wikipedia all the more an extraordinary bias-free zone, if all articles presented all controversies fairly. But in practice we lack the time and attention to do anything but put the basic established traditional perspective in most articles. This article simply seems to be a fundamental fulcrum of concern, and so it is receiving the full NPOV microscopic care." And I will point out that you are presenting a straw man with the following sentence: "You could add that Muslims are a bunch of terrorists; that Scottish people are mean with money; that the Irish drink too much; that Jews are trying to take over the world." What you should have said was that we might "add that P-ists say Muslims are a bunch of terrorists; that Q-ists say Scottish people are mean with money; that R-ists say the Irish drink too much; that T-ists say Jews are trying to take over the world." The only pertinent sifting question is, "Is it a significant point of view?" In other words, "does it make a difference in the world?" And for all the examples you cite, the answer is "Yes". The world is a different place because of those P-ists, Q-ists, R-ists, and T-ists, and only Wikipedia has the energy and peer review necessary to present the whole picture in a fully non-biased way. Until we catch this vision, we have not fully appreciated Wikipedia. When I come to Wikipedia as a reader (not an editor), I fully believe I will get here the fullest, most unbiased picture available in the whole world. Anything less is a failure to deliver on the promise. Tom Haws 18:42, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Amen. (pun not intended) --Zappaz 21:43, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I repeat: Tom, please go and add that information to the introduction of these articles. I take your point that time is limited (though not so limited, clearly, that you have no time to debate here for weeks), so choose one of these articles and insert popular opinion; for example, go and add to the introduction of Woman that a substantial number of people in the world believe women to be inferior to men, sexually dangerous, less intelligent, and irrational, and that therefore women need to be controlled in some way for their own safety and for the stability of society. Add it to the introduction, mind you, as you're trying to do here. When you have tested your introduction-must-reflect-popular-opinion theory elsewhere, then I'll have more respect for your position here. Until then, as I see it, you've chosen this article as a soft target. SlimVirgin 14:46, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)
Presenting controversies fairly? Of course, no one here is arguing against that. But spirituality should not be presented as equivalent to fact or as a fact that exists independently. A universal characteristic of all metaphysical notions is that they are arbitrary, meaning without any basis in reality. In other words they are not fact. Of course that people hold them is a fact, and without doubt should be presented in the article as such as part of airing the controversy fairly. That would be part of an attribution like "Theologists believe..." or "The faithful claim...".--FeloniousMonk 08:32, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
No, no... The claim about metaphysics is just wrong, I'm afraid; metaphysical notion aren't arbitrary, and don't lack a basis in reality (I assume that you've not read any philosophy — unless you're stuck in the early twentieth century with the logical positivists — and note that people like Ayer and Popper were dualists). Moreover, it's just as much a metaphysical claim that there's nothing bu the physical as it is that there's something more than the physical. The distinction is more complex and less back and white than that. I don't propose to rehearse the arguments fully (I've gone into detail above, and for the most part it's been wasted, as people like Rednblu keep pounding away at the same point regardless); suffice it to say that there are good grounds (experiential and rational) for holding that persons are more than just physical — but that has nothing to do with religion or 'spirituality' (whatever that means), or anything that Rednblu and others want to cram into the summary.
As a dualist, I hold that (as a natural fact about the universe) there are at least two sorts of thing: the mental and the physical. That doesn't even belong in the summary either, because it's at best peripheral to the biological notion of human, concerning the metaphysical notion of person (someone who lacks consciousness and is utterly reliant on life-support machines is still human).
It doesn't help, though, to oppose one extreme by presenting the other extreme. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:01, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Despite probably being the one here most often insisting on semantical precision in others, you've caught me using 'metaphysical notions' euphemistically here. I was using to in place of 'faith' or 'religion belief' in an effort to avoid using charged terms. The reason and justification for the use of euphemisms should be obvious- just last week I was accused of bashing other's POVs for merely identifying how they are quantified in the social sciences. On the subject of my education in philosophy, I had a few years studying it at university, though it was not my major. I strongly prefer rationality and reason over emotional or revealed knowledge, and so I generally self-identify as a rationalist.--FeloniousMonk 07:45, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I agree heartilly w Tom Haws, but I also think this discussion is a complete waste of time. A decent % of the participants seem like they'd enjoy debating atheism / secular humanism more than discussing an article on humanity. Religion/spirituality has always been an aspect of humanity, in case anyone is confused. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 10:11, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Simply repeating the claim that's disputed isn't terribly helpful; nor is the cheap debating trick of painting your opponents as avoiding the real issue, which not only ignores the fact that everyone in this debate is doing the same thing, but begs the question. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:27, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Where is anyone "debating atheism/secular humanism"? Please identify specifically where this is being done. I think you're off-base on this.--FeloniousMonk 07:45, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Study a cave painting, read a book, or take a walk sometime. I think you'll discover that religion is part of humanity. The real issue is writing an encyclopedia. The question begged is why your endlessly debating the obvious instead. The easy answer would be obstructionism, but their are others, of course. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 12:15, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  1. Cave paintings have to be interpreted, usually by people who take it for granted that humans have always had religious beliefs.
  2. I'll pass over the silliness about reading books and taking walks.
  3. Even if human beings had always and universally been religious, that wouldn't mean that it was a simple fact that the notion 'human' had any religious aspect. I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow; that doesn't mean that I should be defined as a sun-will-rise-tomorrow-believer.
  4. Again, the cheap debating trick of pretending that a person's arguments can't be the real reason for his position isn't worthy of a response. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 12:31, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Mel, if you can refer me to any texts you'd recommend about the form of dualism you support, I'd be very interested in reading them. SlimVirgin 15:00, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)
These represent views with which I'm more or less in sympathy, though neither is identical with what I hold myself:
  1. Foster, John. 1991: The Immaterial Self: A Defence of the Cartesian Dualist Conception of the Mind (London: Routledge)
  2. Hart, W.D. 1971: The Engines of the Soul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Descartes also comes close (and I know of no adequate response to his argument (in Meditations VI) for a real distinction between mind and body).
If I can think of anything else, I'll leave details on your Talk page. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 15:41, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, you speak as though any one of us could simply walk up to Woman and throw in a meaningful "popular" idea, and that I don't do so for disingenuous reasons. The truth is I don't fancy myself as having anything valuable to add to any of the articles you mentioned. I could study up and probably add something useful (and, yes, the notions about women you mentioned are significant for a cursory mention in an intro, "through much of history, women have been widely regarded as P, which is modernly distateful to Q."), but I really have not the interest. But I maintain it could and ideally eventually should be done. Wikipedia isn't your great-grandmother's encyclopedia. It is something new, different, and better. It aspires to be and has the potential to be truly unbiased. Tom Haws 19:34, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)

My great-grandmother's encyclopedia probably contained frequent reference to some of the ideas that might still be labeled popular opinion, and which I'd hope Wikipedia could rise above. Tom, I can only urge you to read Wikipedia's policies as a whole. If you concentrate on NPOV in isolation, you'll get a false impression. Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources, and you should probably also read some arbcom cases where precedents are being established e.g. that advocacy is not allowed. As I see it here, you are not defending NPOV; you are acting as an advocate for a very particular POV. Sticking to policy is always the best way to solve disputes, so if any religious perspective is to be included in the intro, we need an authoritative, scholarly reference from you, giving a view of "human" that would meet your requirement for including a spiritual component, while satisfying the rest of us that the introduction will reflect majority and significant-minority views of scholars, and not popular opinion in general, which leads to the absurdities we've discussed above.
Regarding Woman, you wouldn't have to read up. You probably have an excellent idea of what popular opinion worldwide is regarding equal rights for women, and I'm sure you would describe it well. If you really are arguing that this view would be appropriate for the introduction, even if attributed, then I suggest you're working at odds with the views of the vast majority of Wikipedians.
I'd also like to add that these talk pages are not intended for endless discussion, but for discussion directed toward content. Some editors here seem happy for this talk to go on forever, and I feel that is a misuse of this page. SlimVirgin 22:07, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)
<<Tom, I can only urge you to read Wikipedia's policies as a whole. If you concentrate on NPOV in isolation, you'll get a false impression. Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources, and you should probably also read some arbcom cases where precedents are being established e.g. that advocacy is not allowed.>>
  • The above comment manifests two noxious elements that recur in Wikipedia: 1) veiled threats and 2) misunderstanding of Wikipedia policy. Possibly, :)) I am wrong. So momentarily I give you the benefit of the doubt and ask, "What specific three arbcom cases are you talking about?" If you can give us three actual arbcom cases that even come close to implying what you hope us to conclude from your inserting the phrase "arbcom cases" into this discussion, then we can talk about whether you know anything whereof you speak. ---Rednblu | Talk 00:07, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'd appreciate if you wouldn't try to patronize me. I've left an example of a relevant ruling on Zappaz's talk page. I don't know which three cases you're talking about; I didn't mention three cases. I also don't know what veiled threat you're talking about. I don't make veiled threats. SlimVirgin 00:25, Mar 27, 2005 (UTC)
I knew my Jesuit education would one day pay off and today is that day. Luke 6:42 seems to be the right response to this sort of nonsense. John 8:7 resonates well here too. Even if what you allege here is true, it's no more noxious than the well-documented history of some here. The ice is too thin on the high road to allow you to pass.--FeloniousMonk 08:09, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, I accept your suggestion, and will honestly work at doing the things you suggested: "Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources" "we need an authoritative, scholarly reference from you, giving a view of "human" that would meet your requirement for including a spiritual component". Thank you. Tom Haws 15:37, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, Tom. See below. SlimVirgin 15:48, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

This is not about a "religious" POV

The premise of this discussion is a bit off, IMO. We are not talking about a religious POV, but the fact that the summary of an article on Human beings, cannot include biological information only. Is it not that a summary of an article requires, well, a summary of the article, with the main points as developed further down? If we move away from a contentious religious vs. secular debate, I am sure we can have a summary that we can all be proud of both as editors, and as human beings. In pursuing NPOV, a would second SlimVirgin proposal to refrain from opinion and provide a couple of good citations of "human beings more than just animals with complex brains", that we could place on the summary alongside the biological definitions. --Zappaz 01:36, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Also, note that the last sentence in the summary ...

  • Whether there is more to human beings than a body with a complex brain remains a matter of considerable controversy.

... is a statement that does neither honor history, nor reality. Considerable controversy is simple a very poor choice of words. It would be more appropriate to say:

--Zappaz 01:53, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I don't see this at all, largely because it strikes me as being very vague. First, Why does the sentence fail to 'honour' history & reality? Secondly, in what way is the existing choice of words poor? thirdly, your proposed alternative, aside from its slightly purple use of 'ponder', has nothing to do with what a human being is, and instead talks in a portentous way about what some of them have thought about. In fact, of course, precious few human beings have 'pondered' about most of those things, at least not in any sustained way. They've either swallowed what religions have told them, or have simply got on with everyday life with no thought for all that stuff. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:03, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It fails to honor history and reality, becuse the search for meaning is an integral part of being human as reflected in narratives from every culture and civilization. Maybe my choice of words was "purple". I wanted to make a point of the difference on tone, between "considerably controversial" to something that addresses the issue more widely. --Zappaz 16:58, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Your sentence above is very poetic, Zappaz. Tom Haws 15:39, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Problem in the Archives to Talk:Human

I may be wrong in the following. :)) I took care of it, but someone reverted my fix. So I bring the following to your attention. Petty edit wars are not my style.

  1. On March 18, 2005, at 12:23, probably during an edit conflict, the system blanked the Talk:Human page, as you can see at this link.
  2. In recovering from the system blank, the system dropped the top half of the Talk:Human page, as you can see at this link which is a comparison between the page 1) before the system blank and the page 2) after the system blank.
  3. As a consequence of the system dropping the top half of the Talk:Human page, the archive of the Talk:Human page done on March 27, 2005, at this link lacked the top half of the Talk:Human page that was dropped when the system recovered from the system blank on March 18, 2005.
  4. I copied in the missing half of the Talk:Human archive into the top of Archive 8 in this edit as explained in the Edit summary to that edit.
  5. But someone reverted my fix with no explanation in this edit.

Someone still retaining edit privileges on this page and on its archives may want to ensure that the archives are complete. If my reasoning above is correct, then the simple fix is to revert this reversion. ---Rednblu | Talk 04:43, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I would appreciate it if you would consider not editing this page again, because of the material here Talk:Human/Rednblu; if you can explain it, perhaps you would do so on that page. Please note that Wikipedia is not to be used for advocacy. I will check tomorrow that the archive has been properly updated. SlimVirgin 06:19, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Justifications for intro compromise 6

I'm putting these here because I'm not sure where else they should go. Please comment below "nitpicks", I think that'll make for the cleanest discussion. Neurophyre 20:44, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Paragraph 1

  • split first sentence because 'as the name suggests ...' is a separate thought from 'biologically, humans are...'
  • drop the list of great apes. I appreciate the desire to give context, but it is too much distracting density for a summary, and belongs elsewhere in the article -- said context is only a scroll or click away in that case, where it belongs, and the hook is given in the intro, where IT belongs.
  • drop ability to engage in abstract reasoning from the 'differ from their relatives', since the jury is still out on just how well other apes can reason. remember, Koko displayed an ability to tell lies and invent stories.
  • drop language and speech from 'differ from their relatives', as it is mentioned immediately adjacent. even if it weren't, the phrase 'language and speech' is itself redundant and should be reduced to one of the two words.
  • reorder first sentences and clauses so that biology goes with biology, and culture/behavior goes with culture/behavior.

Paragraph 2

  • condense basic traits leading to tools leading to culture into one paragraph, along with its effect on the species.
  • put in a word about agriculture, probably the second most basic human development after language. our societies support the success of the species (where 'success' is defined purely as 'number of living humans') -- see also many successful hunter-gatherer societies. agriculture supports it to an even greater degree.

Paragraph 3

  • condense the who are we/why are we here stuff to one paragraph
  • split 'materialistic' views on evolution and 'no different than other primates' into 'scientific' view on evolution, and 'materialistic' view that consciousness is solely a product of the brain (ie, no mind/body duality, soul, etc). I believe this is justified and important, because lumping evolution and lack of spirituality together is a subtle but pervasive error -- one can easily accept that we evolved from primate ancestors, and still believe in spiritual aspects of humans. it's also a smoother transition, if you like, from a 'how did we get here' answer (evolution) to a 'why are we here' answer (spirituality).
  • did not include information on any specific spiritual systems of thought beyond the generic 'supreme being' statement. justification: this is an article summary, and there is extensive information in the article body about these explanations. again, the hook is here, and the context and full information is just a click or a scroll away, as it should be.
  • considered and rejected including a statement on humans having a soul, as this differs from religion to religion and is best dealt with in the sections below and in individual articles on said religions.


  • repetition of 'spiritual' and 'spiritual' in paragraph 3. I'm tempted to change it to 'mystical dimension to life', but for connotation as well as the specific meaning of mysticism. please advise.

Philosophy/theology encyclopedias

(copied from above): SlimVirgin, I accept your suggestion, and will honestly work at doing the things you suggested: "Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources" "we need an authoritative, scholarly reference from you, giving a view of "human" that would meet your requirement for including a spiritual component". Thank you. Tom Haws 15:37, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

As we seem to have reached agreement that, if religion/spirituality is to be mentioned in the intro, it should be with reference to a scholarly/reputable published source, the question now becomes: which scholarly source? The two obvious ones are theologians and philosophers. To pick out any one scholar would be POV because for every scholar that says X, another will say not-X. Therefore, I suggest either (a) we pick two scholars with opposing views and quote or cite them both; or (b) we try to find an elegant summary of the spirituality issue from a philosophy or theology encyclopedia. I have a few of the former here and will report what they say as I go through them. SlimVirgin 15:48, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

1) Oxford Companion to Philosophy df. "human beings": "animals, doubt about when we first appeared, sorted into subgroups or races; mentions God only to say that traditionally we have always been placed with animals in the same "Chain of Being": humans coming at the head of the organic world but below God and the angels. Then came evolutionism at the end of the 18th century. Darwin moved discussion to the modern phase, and only recently have some of the questions been answered. We now know that our ancestors are extinct and that our biological relationship with the great apes is very close: indeed, we may be more closely related to the chimpanzee, than the chimpanzee is to the gorilla. We also know from the fossil record that of the two distinctive human characteristics, the large brain and the upright walk, the large brain came first. There are clearly some biological differences between the races, and between the sexes. What they are and what their relevance is remains unanswered. One biological finding of major philosophical interest is the extent to which humans have been successful as a species because of their ability to interact socially and to cooperate; notwithstanding horrendous wars, violence between humans is significantly below what is found in the average pride of lions. We should be wary of arguments that we alone are the killer apes. We should not draw moral conclusions from our evolved nature," (Prof. Michael Ruse, University of Guelph).

2) The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy df. "human nature" (they have no "human" entry): "two-footed, featherless biped. We are both animals and rational beings. The belief that human nature can be defined is part of the idea that all natural kinds have essences. Apart from rationality, philosophers have said that what it is to be human includes: being wholly self-interested, benevolent, envious, sociable, fearful of others, able to speak and to laugh, and desirous of immortality. Philosophers disagree about how we are to discover our essential natures. Some think metaphysical insight into eternal forms or truth is required; others say we can learn it from observation of behavior or from biology. Most have assumed that only males display human nature fully [note from ed.: SV is typing this under protest], and that females, even at their best, are imperfect or incomplete exemplars. Philosophers also disagree on whether human nature determines morality. Some think that by noting our distinctive features, we can infer what God wants us to do. Others think that our nature shows the limits of what morality can require since we cannot be required to do what we are unable to do. Others again believe that human nature is plastic and can be shaped in different ways: that although we share features as members of a biological species, our other qualities are social constructs," (Jerome B. Schneewind, John Hopkins University).

NB: I see something in the above that might ease us into the spirituality issue: that humans are "desirous of immortality." SlimVirgin 16:22, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, that would be to simplistic of an approach. A summary of what the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy would be a much better option that trying to capture these essence of "humans more than an animal with a complex brain" in a sound bite. --Zappaz 17:24, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I didn't mean to stop there, but simply that we could use it as a way to move from the cultural, storytelling aspect of humans into the theological via the desire for immortality. It explains the interest in the theological. SlimVirgin(talk) 19:57, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

3) Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (df. "human nature"): Slim pickings. Benevolence, perception of self-interest, capacity for acquiescing in just institutions.

4) Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (df. "human nature"). Slimmer still. In fact, nothing we could use.

As we have an Oxford philosopher editing this page, and as he's a dualist, we should perhaps ask him to write a short paragraph, to come after the biological/anthropological paragraph, outlining the scholarly view that humans might be something more (or other) than a body with a complex brain. Perhaps we should fall back on Déscartes, though I don't have any here but probably have some secondary texts. SlimVirgin(talk) 19:57, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

I don't see what postulated academics, much less dualism have to do with much of anything. I myself am a monist, which in no way conflicts with my emergence, sentience, spirituality, reverence etc... (quite the opposite actually). (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 21:04, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Sam, let us give him a chance. Dualist or monist, we need some kind of simple statement about "more than just an animal with a complex brain", backed up with a scholarly ref or two. That would get us started. Otherwise we could quote Descartes or Plato. --Zappaz 21:25, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
OK, I will admit that I am grumpy w the postulated academic, and that he should be given a chance to defend dualism (if not here than maybe on dualism, or some such). But why quote Descartes or Plato and not Dayananda Saraswati or Adi Shankaracharya? Seems a bit eurocentric, doesn't it? (only half in jest ;) (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 21:35, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I strenuously oppose the idea that the second paragraph of this article should be written by an editor who considers dismissable fantasy the views of the other editors on this page (not to mention several billion of the world's inhabitants). --Goethean 16:27, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
May I quote you on a creationist page sometime? Ungtss 16:38, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You bet. But I don't think that young earth creationism has billions of followers. (I could be wrong.) --Goethean 16:45, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
1 billion at the very least. Consider Islam. Ungtss 17:11, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I would hate to see Wikipedia definitions limited to the POVs published as definitions in encyclopedias. For example in my opinion, the Wikipedia definition for scientific method will not be found in any encyclopedia. That is, the Wikipedia definition for scientific method derives from the Wikipedia editors' appropriate understanding of how "scientific method" has been used in the primary sources--not in encyclopedias. Nevertheless, I am adding to the encyclopedia entries being considered below, selected entries related to "human." What encyclopedia entry would capture in a fairly NPOV manner the essence of what it means to be "human"? How about the encyclopedia entry for "Perfectibility of Man"? ---Rednblu | Talk 19:54, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Dictionary of the History of Ideas entry for "Perfectibility of Man"; no entry for "human." "Pelagius thought that man could perfect himself by the exercise of his own free will; Augustine that only God could perfect him. But the Enlightenment assumption is that men can be perfected by other human beings, or by forms of social action." (JOHN PASSMORE. Professor of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.)

Conceptual Bias and NPOV

Hi everyone :-) Hope I'm not recapitulating old ground, but I just wanted to make a point and the previous threads have become rather bloated with argument and counter-argument.

My understanding of NPOV is that it is just that, neutral. But here is the conundrum, is there any point of view that truely is neutral??? (objective, unbiased, whatever).

For someone brought up in the secular-Judeo-Christian West, neutrality might, if they are an agnostic or atheist, mean adherance to a reductionistic-materialistic paradigm (usually justified by misreading science and scientific method as scientism) which means anything spiritual or metaphysical is dismissed as "New Age" and hence (by their reasoning) false, pseudoscience, etc, apart from religion which they say belongs to an earlier and more deluded age. Conversely, if they belong to a monotheistic religion like modern Christianity neutrality means giving "equal time" to both the religious (whether liberal or fundamentalist, depending on the person's own belief-structure) and the scientific perspective. We see this attitude attain farcical proportions with the current (very American, I am Australian and from this side of the Pacific it all looks eccentric to me) evolution-creation debate, but that is only because Creationists don't understand science and how science works.

While if you are a Hindu (perhaps a Vedantin) or a Buddhist, or a Shaman or a Neopagan or an occultist (perhaps a practioner of the Golden Dawn system of ceremonial magic), or a Theosophist or influenced by someone like, say, Ken Wilber or Carl Jung, or a Neoplatonist or a student of Sri Aurobindo, or if you consider Charles T. Tart's concept of State Specfic Sciences is a methodology that has merit, or if you practice lucid dreaming or Buddhist or Patanjali meditation or Sufism or Tantra or Christian mysticism you will have a different version of neutrality again. And so on.

Therefore our task is - I am sure every person here will agree - not to impose our own particular bias, whether reductionist-materialistic or metaphysical-esoteric or monotheistic-religionist. It is to describe the topic at hand in a way that does not give undue bias to any one framework or orientation. In other words (regarding the current article under discussion), give a coverage of the scientific view, the views of various philosophers (Eastern and Western - everyone from Plato to Shankara to Sartre and whoever else might be applicable), of different religions, of esoteric systems of theought like Theosophy or Sri Aurobindo, and even of, yes, even the hated and despised (by reductionist-physicalists ;-)) New Age view(s). Each of these different views can be succinctly presented in a few sentences or less, with links to more detailed pages. Let's not impose our own biases (and I'm as biased as the rest of you). Let's just present all conceptual points of view, all of them!, without preference or bias, without cynicism or favouritism for any one, and leave it at that. M Alan Kazlev 00:16, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well that would be NPOV, wouldn't it? ;) A version all sides can accept? Is anyone else going to stand for this?!? Seriously tho, thats all I'm asking for. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 06:31, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
We can't represent all views in the introduction, which is what we're currently discussing, and NPOV says that views must be represented to the extent those views are held by reputable, published sources. So a view that's held by the majority of published, reputable sources is given the majority of the article, and so on. Significant-minority views should be represented. Tiny-minority views should not be represented. See Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:55, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)
Please stop deliberately setting up straw men. The major world religions are all that anyone is asking to be included, and they are not tiny minority views. --Goethean 15:34, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Stop misrepresenting what people say. I have at no point said that the major world religions are tiny-minority views. On the contrary, I've argued against the danger of concentrating on majority public opinion. Read more carefully. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:38, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)

M Alan Kazlev: Much of what you say is what I've been trying to defend (neutrality aginst both vague mysticism and vague scientism), but SlimVirgin's point is surely central here. We can't (and shouldn't) provide an article that gives every point of view an equal say, and equal weight, any more than an article on the Moon should give equal weight to the view that it's made of green cheese (and if that's too frivolous, there are millions of people in the world who refuse to accept that human beings have landed on the Moon; should we give equal wight to them?).

Sorry, I should have clarified my argument. I mean every widely-held interpretation.
There is also the problem of what is known to be a correct understanding, what is known (by the advance of knowledge) to be incorrect, and what cannot be determined either way.
Whereas conspiracy revisionism memes like saying the moon landings were filmed in a Hollywood Back Lot, or 9/11 was a Zionist plot and no Jews were killed in the twin towers, are both easily refuted (and hence should be considered as modern myths rather than facts), as can be Young Earth Creationism, it is not so easy to prove or disprove the validity of, say, Advaitin monism over naturalism or epiphenomenalism. Therefore, to adopt a position that says (or even simply assumes, without outwardly stating it) that the naturalist or the physicalist perspective is the correct one (or even simply "the most plausible" one) and that anything else is incorrect, reflects a biased point of view, because there is no way you can prove naive physicalism to be true, or, conversely, Kabbalistic emanationism or the Kashmir Shaivite theory of Consciousness and Reality to be false. You can explain known facts according to one or the other - e.g. you can equally explain out of body experience as hallucination or proof of the existence of a "subtle body", but you cannot prove these things one way or the other. Whereas we do know from Apollo lunar samples brought back (which are still kept in labs or whereever, and so can be sampled and their composition confirmed, also one can consult the relevant scientific literature) that no trace of dairy products were found among the regolith ;-)
That's point one.
Point two, even if we do know that something is false - e.g. we know that humanity evolved from hominid australopithecine ancestors, and wasn't created from a lump of clay (and Adam's Rib) by a supernatural anthropomorphic deity; even though we know this (and it has been proved by the fossil record, human DNA similarity to the great apes etc etc), we should still mention those other views, not because they are correct, but because they represent an understanding and opinion of a large part of humanity. They can be described in neutral non-confrontational language without saying they are true, just "According to such and such". This has nothing to do with the objective origin of the human species of course, but it does pertain to how some human beings see themselves.
I do however feel that those facts that are known to be objectively true should be presented as such. We shouldn't be on tenterhooks about Darwinism say, just because Creationists don't like the concept of evolution.
So I suggest:
  • things known to be objectively true are presented as facts
  • things (or opinions) known to be incorrect are presented in a neutral but not condescending manner (as a sociological phenomenon or widely-held (by some cultures, religions, ideologies, etc) belief regarding this topic)
  • those things regarding which we don't if they are true or false are presented in a neutral language, and no biased point of view (whether pro-physicalism or pro-spiritualism) is taken M Alan Kazlev 22:53, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  1. I agree with almost everything you say (though naive physicalism, for example, can easily be shown to be untenable).
  2. As a (more-or-less Cartesian) dualist I'm not wedded to scientism (though dualism is a perfectly naturalist position, of course). However, there's a separate article (not a very good one, to be honest, but that's not the point) on dualism, as well as one on the supposed mind-body problem, the nature of a person, etc. What many people here want is for the discussion in those articles, though with a heavily religious slant, to be shoe-horned into this one. Most of what you characterise as “those things regarding which we don't [know] if they are true or false” fall into this category. A 'see also' section should deal adequately with almost all of them. If there's anything that's distinctively concerned with the nature of a human, and that demands to be covered here rather than in another article, OK — but we should be strict about the criteria, otherwise we'll have a vast article, even more burdened than it is now with religious and quasi-religious and sub-religious views. there are, after all, few competing scientific theories concerning what it is to be human; to the extent religions actually talk about humans (rather than about persons, or souls, or creatures, or whatever), there are potentially thousands of different views. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:08, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Mel I completely agree that the article should be kept concise and too the point, with longer and more detailed discussion on separate pages/entries. My only concern was that there isn't a subtle and unspoken bias to physicalism or naturalism (or for that matter to subjective idealism or anything else). Since we all (I hope) agree on this, there isn't (and shouldn't be) a problem :-) M Alan Kazlev 01:08, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The main way of deciding which views should be represented, and how much weight is accorded them, is the literature. the problem here has been that some users have been insisting on the inclusion of views on the basis of vague claims about what unspecified theologians and philosophers

I agree these things should be referenced, not left unspecified. So instead of "some philosophers and religions believe that humans possess an immortal soul" there might be "according to Plato" yada yada yada, and so on

have written (claims which, incidentlaly, have been largely false).

See my suggestion above regarding how to treat ideas that are true, false, or indeterminate. M Alan Kazlev 22:53, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

SlimVirgin's attempt to give the debate some solid foundation is thus unique and valuable. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:06, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Just to avoid misunderstandings, Mel Etitis: are you comparing the major religons and other belief systems like New Age to believing that the moon is made of green cheese? --Goethean 15:29, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It was an analogy. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 15:33, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Obviously—thus my use of the term "compare." But—correct me if I'm wrong—in your analogy, you compared the followers of the major world religions to those who believe that the moon is made of green cheese. --Goethean 15:53, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I think that you need to do a little more investigation of the notion and uses of analogy. You also need to watch your soapbox; it's a bit rickety, and I'd not want you to do yourself an injury. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:03, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's always hard to pin down a sophist. --Goethean 16:07, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The problem with concentrating on majority and significant-minority opinion as expressed by scholars is that it involves doing some research, and may even involve visiting a library. Perhaps Goethean could assist with that effort. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:38, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)

That's uncalled for, Goethean. Over the last month you've demonstrated a bad habit of making oblique personal digs directed SV, Mel and me. It needs to stop.--FeloniousMonk 21:45, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'm tired of the digs too. Either Goethean doesn't understand what Mel says, or he doesn't know what a sophist is; possibly both. Regardless, these comments don't advance the discussion. We have decided by consensus to write a paragraph for the introduction that focuses on mainstream scholarly opinion regarding the non-physical, and as this is the English Wikipedia, that's likely to mean mainstream Western scholarly opinion. The question now is to decide which scholar(s) to focus on. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:40, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

Mel has suggested outlining Descartes's dualistic-interactionist hypothesis. Karl Popper and Nobel Prize-Winning neurophysiologist Sir John Carew Eccles made a modern update of Descartes's dualistic-interactionist hypothesis in their 1984 The Self and Its Brain. John Eccles says the following. "I think that science has gone too far in breaking down man's belief in his spiritual greatness and in giving him the idea that he is merely an insignificant material being in the frigid cosmic immensity. Now this strong dualistic-interactionist hypothesis we are here putting forward certainly implies that man is much more than is given by this purely materialistic explanation. I think there is mystery in man, and I am sure that at least it is wonderful for man to get the feeling that he isn't just a hastily made-over ape, and that there is something much more wonderful in his nature and in his destiny." p. 558 (emphasis added). ---Rednblu | Talk 08:23, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well, no, I haven't suggested that. There are various philosophical theories about the nature of consciousness, and by extension of the person (and my own view is dualist). However, that doesn't mean that those theories should be discussed in this article; all that's needed is a reference to the debate, and links to relevant Wikipedia articles. The same goes for religious views. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:30, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Would you agree that the Popper and Eccles update of Descartes's dualistic-interactionist hypothesis provides one scholarly basis for the following claim? Some modern scholars (Popper and Eccles 1984) have defined "human" as having an essential non-physical component which they call "spiritual" that is not decomposable into biological and cultural parts. ---Rednblu | Talk 16:13, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

On my most recent trip to the library, I found a German dictionary of religion with a 30-page essay on "Man." It is entitled Religion in Gegenwart und Geschichte, (Religion in History and the Present). The essay has no introduction, and is divided into the following sections:
I. Scientific and psychological
1. The evolutionary perspective
2. Human genetics
3. The human physiology
4. Perspectives of evolutionary psychology
5. Perspectives of cognitive psychology
6. Psychology and Human Ecology
II. Religious Studies
III. Philosophical
IV. Old Testament
1. Destiny of Man
2. Anthropological basic ideas
3. Anthropological concepts
V. New Testament
1. Jesus and the syoptic gospels
2. Paul and the Pauline school
3. The Johannine School
VI. Church-Historical
1. To the Reformation
2. Modern
VII. Dogmatic and ethical
1. History of the problem and systematic
2. Orthodox Church
VIII. Judaism
1. Ancient
2. Medieval and Modern
IX. Islam

And what is your point? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:37, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)

Merely that one scholarly viable option is to avoid an introduction altogether, and to present the various perspectives on humanity without commenting on or evaluating them. --Goethean 19:56, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
That's a great idea for an article from a theological POV. Unfortunately that's not we're writing here.--FeloniousMonk 21:50, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
are you writing:
A) an article that describes a number of relevent povs without excluding or evaluating?
B) an article that takes the minority secular point of view to the exclusion of the majority religious view? Ungtss 21:57, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
We are writing an encyclopedic entry on the topic of 'human' per the wp guidelines. That being the case, facts and concepts will be identified as independant entities while particular POVs such as theism, spirituality, etc. will be attributed to those that hold them.--FeloniousMonk 07:00, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Nope. We are writing an encyclopedic entry on the topic of "human" under the Wikipedia NPOV guidelines. That being the case, the only facts that exist independent of proponents are those facts to which all reasonable editors agree. And by the NPOV guidelines, the opinions on materialism, theism, and spirituality are converted into facts by attributing the opinions to those who hold them. See NPOV: "Where we might want to state an opinion, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to someone." ---Rednblu | Talk 07:37, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've been away...

I haven't been attending this article deliberatively enough, and I would like to become more involved again. What is the current status, vis-a-vis controversies being resolved etc.? Is it OK to be bold again? I must saw I was disturbed to see this at the top:

This article is about humans of the last 30,000 years. For other uses, see Human (disambiguation).

Is 70% of the history of Homo sapiens off-limits now?--Pharos 09:25, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

That is shameful. Perhaps Homo sapiens should be spun off to deal with prehistorical humans? grendel|khan 22:37, 2005 Mar 29 (UTC)

I believe that in discussing the view of Humans in Christianity at least some mention should be made of the concept of soul, and "in the image of God". However I don't know how this fits with the other Monotheistic religions, which we seem to have lumped together. Any objections if I just edit it in? DJ Clayworth 16:10, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Facts about humans

The purpose of this section is to clarify some points that may have been troublesome as underlying confusion here between common knowledge facts and facts of attribution. For the purpose of this section, a fact is an assertion that is not known to be disputed by any otherwise reasonable/rational (?) person.

Feel free to edit this section without signing your edits. (Started by Tom.)

Common knowledge facts

  • Humans are living beings.
  • Humans are inhabitants of earth.
  • Humans are the only beings on earth that build fires.
  • Humans are the only beings on earth that produce clothing.
  • Humans are the only beings on earth that are capable of learning to read and write. [But the vast majority of humans who have lived have not done so.Pharos]
  • Humans are the only known beings who practice religion
  • Humans are the only known beings who practice philosophy
  • Humans are the only known beings who compose music.
  • Humans are the only known beings who practice science.
  • Humans are the only known beings who practice medicine.
  • Humans are the only known beings who practice law.
  • Humans are the only beings on earth that cook and spice their food.
  • Humans are the only beings on earth that devise machines [is this a fact?].
  • Human DNA is 98.4 percent identical to the DNA of chimpanzees and bonobos, which means that humans are genetically more similar to chimpanzees than chimpanzees are to gorillas.
    • Just a short commentary here. Human and mice are 80% similar to each other genetically, however 99% of the genes we share are very similar. [3] Read e.g. the article Mouse clues to human genetics, published by BBC News. The original report was published in Nature.
      • But this is disputed by some who argue that chimpanzees and gorillas may share a more recent common ancestor, with the gorilla line simply experiencing more rapid genetic change since then.Pharos
    • Perhaps, but this says nothing about the degree of similarity, only about its origin. --Eleassar777 17:15, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Humans are not the only beings to exhibit signs of self-consciousness; that is, awareness of "I". [is this a common-knowledge fact or an opinion? This can be regarded as a fact and has been demonstrated fairly conclusively in chimpanzees. We know they have minds in the same way that we know humans have minds. See The problem of other minds.
  • Humans are not the only beings to exhibit signs of an emotional life.
  • Humans are not the only beings capable of abstract reasoning.
  • Humans are not the only beings capable of language use.
  • Humans are not the only beings who live in complex societies.
  • Humans are not the only beings who engage in tool use.
  • Humans are not the only beings who engage in non-reproductive sex.
  • Humans are not the only beings who are territorial and who engage in wars.
  • Humans are not the only beings who may form lifelong, monogamous relationships.
  • Humans are not the only beings who carefully tend to their young. [but they do so extremelyPharos]
  • Humans are not the only beings who play or pretend.
  • Humans are not the only beings who tell lies and have secrets.
  • Humans are not the only beings who engage in pain behavior i.e. who appear to feel pain.

Attribution facts

  • Biologists classify humans (the human body?) as the bipedal mammal Homo sapiens, a species of great ape. [Humans are not really classified as great apes, they are classified with great apes as Hominids; the "great apes" is a polyphyletic group, and not really useful for classification]
  • Some individuals and groups define humans using concepts such as soul or spirit, free will, and divinity.
Careful, free will and even the vernacular 'spirit' are not solely the province of religious people. Neurophyre 18:52, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
also many belief systems - e.g. Shamanism, Hinduism, etc - attribute souls and so on to animals M Alan Kazlev 22:53, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  • Humans are the only beings known to have wiped out other species.
    • Challenged for three reasons:
      • This is extremely demonstrably false; many extinctions have been caused by interspecies competition or predation not involving humans.
Even better:).
      • Is this a fact? Someone suggested viruses, but we don't know that, so it's true to say that we're the only species known to have done so.
      • Humanity can't single-handedly wipe out anything unless they line every single individual up and shoot them. viruses, predators, and climate all play a role in extinction, but we don't say they "wipe out species." this should be attributed.

(Moved back from SlimVirgin's talk page):With your indulgence, I cut this from the Talk:Human editable section. Ungtss answered my question. I was saying that whether or not the statement was true (what I called the assertion) before he added "some people believe", it is most certaintly fact after being move down to the attribution facts and having "some people believe" added to it (what I called the attribution). There was no reason to keep his "This is not true" once the "Some people believe" was added. Tom Haws 14:58, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

    • This is not true. Gorillas perform fellatio regularly, particularly in captivity. chimps also masturbate. Ungtss 20:42, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • Are you confusing the assertion with the attribution? The attribution is probably true. No reason to dispute it. (posted by User:Hawstom
      • How are you using the terms assertion and attribution? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:00, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
      • The statement in question was originally in "common knowledge facts." I noted that it was false, and moved it down here and changed it to "some people believe" so that it may be attributed, if possible. That's all. Ungtss 14:24, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Tom, a "fact" is an "actual state of affairs." It is a fact that animals other than humans have sex for fun, or more accurately, they engage in non-reproductive sexual behavior: whether anyone does it for fun is conjecture. I've removed all the "some believe that" from the demonstrably true statements. Just because uneducated people dispute something doesn't mean it isn't a fact. Please stop this silliness. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:02, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

Wait a minute (we should move this talk out of this section). Last time I heard, a fact wasn't something that you and the people who share your education believe in. A fact is something that no reasonable person is known to dispute. I am not allowed to say that it is a fact that there is a spirit in man, and that only the uneducated dispute that fact, even though if you experienced everything I have, you would agree with me. And you aren't allowed to say that "only uneducated people dispute this fact", even though if they experienced everything you have, they would agree with you. You can say it in closed company, but not at Wikipedia. By the way, we agree about the initiating statement. To you and me, it is an obvious fact. But apparently sombody disputes it. Is it so hard to simply back off and say, "OK. You dispute it. Then we will say that most people believe it"? Tom Haws 17:12, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
A fact is not "something that no reasonable person is known to dispute." That's your own definition. A fact is "an actual state of affairs." The statement "Chimpanzees exhibit signs of self-consciousness i.e. awareness of 'I'" can be said to be true because these signs have been witnessed, filmed, and written about by people who work with chimpanzees; and the signs are interpreted in the same way that the signs you are self-conscious are interpreted by people who observe you, so if you're going to cast doubt on the chimps' self-consciousness, you'll have to cast doubt on human self-consciousness too. (There are philosophers who do this, but they do it consistently.) If you're going to dispute the demonstrable truth of entire bodies of scholarly work by insisting we insert "some/many people believe" before each statement, simply because you personally have no knowledge of the research, then (if you care about consistency) you'll have to argue that only "some people" believe the Holocaust happened, solely on the grounds that a few uneducated or malicious individuals dispute it. You're POV-pushing, Tom. This kind of discussion might be appropriate on a page about religion but this is not a page about religion. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:37, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps this particular "fact" would be more effectively communicated if it were backed with a particular study which both defines "self-consciousness" and gives tangible evidence that chimps have it. then the "uneducated masses" would have some facts to chew on, rather than merely a conclusion that doesn't define its terms. Ungtss 17:43, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I don't know what a "conclusion that doesn't define its terms" is, so I can't address that point. I will certainly find a scholarly reference if that information is to go into the article but I'm not going to look for one for a talk page. The studies are very well-known. If you're not familiar with them, the safest thing would be for you not to discuss them, for or against. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:01, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
There are several definitions for self-consciousness. The mirror test (when you pass it in front of a mirror does it scratch the dot on its face?), the language test, the theory of mind test, and other more abstract tests such as "ability to contemplate one's own characteristics." In what sense do you mean self-consciousness in this case? It is a very vague term. If you define your term better, there will be less argument. Perhaps there will even be none. Ungtss 18:13, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The tests you describe are not definitions of self-consciousness, and I did define my term: I said "awareness of I". Chimpanzees pass the mirror test. They learn human sign language and teach it to their young. They signal emotion to themselves when they're alone and being observed by video. They lie, they cheat, they steal, they play, they pretend, they invent new words. There are many tests called the "theory of mind" test, so you'll have to say which one you're referring to. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:21, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
- :) -- i just think that a little precision might end this debate. "awareness of I." In what sense? In the sense of being aware of how others perceive the I? In the sense of being aware that "I am hungry?" In the sense of "that thing in the mirror is me?" You mentioned "signalling emotion to themselves" -- well -- what exactly does that mean? If you tell us exactly what you mean, there will be no argument. the "sense of I" is disputed because chimps don't have a sense of I in the same way i do -- in the sense of being able to write long, sappy poems about how deep and complex a person i am. some have even challenged the mirror tests, saying it was just mimickry. So in what sense do the have a "sense of I?" In what sense don't they? In what senses do we know the I that they don't? Answer that = problem solved. Ungtss 18:40, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
"Answer that = problem solved." LOL! Philosophers have been trying to "solve" this problem for a couple of thousand years, so we're not likely to succeed here. By self-consciousness, I meant "awareness of I." By awareness of I, I mean: "that I am." To elaborate further is to get bogged down immediately. You can't say that chimps don't have a sense of 'I' in the way you do: you yourself don't know what sense of 'I' you have. What I wrote above was accurate: chimpanzees have exhibited signs of self-consciousness i.e. awareness of I. If you like, they have been seen to engage in I-behavior, in just the same way that you are often seen to. If you're serious about wanting to know more, I'd recommend Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. If you'd prefer a secondary text to start with, Mel can probably recommend an undergraduate philosophy of mind book. You'll find you know less about your 'I' that you thought you did. It's fascinating stuff, but it's too complex for this talk page. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:06, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
Yikes. Most animals have a sense of "I" in the most stripped down senses you're referring to. Certainly dogs are aware that "I am bigger than you" when they establish dominance. Many humans (particularly the autistic) lack a high degree of self-awareness. If you're content with the vague and meaningless statement above, that's fine with me. But I would suggest that you don't know as much about what I know as you seem to think you do. Ungtss 19:15, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
People with autism do not lack a "high degree of self-awareness." If you're referring to Baron-Cohen's so-called theory of mind test, you've misunderstood it. Please stick to the subject at hand, because you're delving into areas you're not familiar with, which are highly complex and not relevant to this article. And yes, I am happy with the phrase "that I am" which is neither vague nor meaningless. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:55, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
your preference for vagueries instead of precision causes me to question your evaluation of my familiarity with the topics at hand. "That I am" is ill-defined, because it fails to explain in what sense one knows onesself to exist, and there is a VAST spectrum of such knowledge, leaving the statement open to unnecessary argument about attribution because you are unwilling to be more precise. The statement as it is is not "common knowledge" -- as it stands, it must be attributed, because it is open to interpretation and debate. Ungtss 20:21, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
First, please understand and believe that I do not oppose you at all in any of the examples at hand. We share much common ground of perspective and experience. I also am not proposing that I have the perfect understanding of what a fact is for the purposes of Wikipedia. What I am proposing is that a global, open, universal encyclopedia must be extremely careful and deliberate. Whether we like it or not, we are treading new ground. We can't be elitist. We can't despise the unwashed masses of humanity who see things differently than we do; is their "knowledge" less human than ours? It is good that we explore these things, not for fun or to obfuscate, but because there are serious issues at hand. So now we add to the questions at hand, "What is a fact?" This isn't quickly getting any easier. Tom Haws 17:49, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
I'm not going to have this discussion with you, because it's a pointless waste of time. If you want to know what a fact is, go and read some philosophy, and if I want to know how to build a bridge, I will go and read about civil engineering, but in the meantime, we're trying to find a second paragraph for the introduction because you insist there should be a non-physical introductory paragraph. Fine, that was agreed, and you agreed above that we should search for scholarly references for that non-physical paragraph. Yet still you've done nothing to help with that. You and your friend have tried to keep this discussion going for its own sake for months, but it's time to wrap it up, because this isn't Usenet. Please help to find scholarly sources for a second introductory paragraph that will satisfy you. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:01, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
I am sorry if I am more lazy than you, but I don't want to write articles that have to be baby-sat because they offend the sensibilities of a significant portion of readers. This discussion has gone on for about 3 weeks, not for months. There are serious issues here regarding the insistence of certain editors to exalt one POV above others. There are several indisputed and important facts about humans that could go into an introduction along with widely agreed upon attributions. If you don't want to discuss this anymore, that is okay, but those of us who are willing will continue until a solution is reached. Tom Haws 18:51, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

No, you've been at this for months, Tom, on this talk page and on others. Endless discussion that seems to lead nowhere; questions never answered; issues avoided but never addressed. You wrote above:

SlimVirgin, I accept your suggestion, and will honestly work at doing the things you suggested: "Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources" "we need an authoritative, scholarly reference from you, giving a view of "human" that would meet your requirement for including a spiritual component". Thank you. Tom Haws 15:37, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Mel, FM, and I do not require a paragraph for the introduction that deals with the non-physical. You do. We have agreed (you too) that, if there is one, it should refer only to scholarly sources. So why won't you find those sources and write it if you want it so badly? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:55, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)


There ought to be a section on metaphysics and philosophy in an article on humanity. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 10:07, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Metaphysics being a part of philosophy, the section would be on philosophy with a subsection on metaphysics. Both would likely fall in the existing Culture section.--FeloniousMonk 07:50, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Sure, whichever. Do you dispute that religious would be a necessary componant as well? (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 08:43, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The philosophy of religion would be a subsection of philosophy alongside metaphysics. Religious philosophy used to be a topic within metaphysics but has somewhat recently moved into its own separate subheading of philosophy, the philosophy of religion.--FeloniousMonk 09:56, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Off the cuff, I see no objection to that. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 10:11, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

But we don't include a section on philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, or whatever) in every article on a subject discussed by philosophy; there are separate articles on those subjects. A link to a relevant article would be enough, surely. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:30, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Obviously not. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 18:28, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
No, it isn't obvious. You've made no case for it, and you're playing your usual little trick of ignoring my arguments and questions (despite your frequent reminders to others of Wikipedia:Wikiquette). Why, then, should there be a separate section on metaphysics in this article when there isn't one in other articles? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:38, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It is obvious, isn't it?: This is an article about humans. --Zappaz 22:48, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Go ahead and try, but I havn't found it real handy trying to explain things to him. Have a look at how long this has gone on. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 23:26, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It depends what you mean by metaphysics, Sam. The discussion on this talk page is a discussion about metaphysics, so if you mean it in that sense, then it will be in the article in some form. But if you mean a technical discussion, then it's harder to see how we'd fit it in or why it would be relevant. SlimVirgin 15:31, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)
I ment that religion, metaphysicis and philosophy are related, and all need mention on this page. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 16:55, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure what either SS or Zappa mean by 'metaphysics' (or, indeed, 'philosophy'), but while any account of what it is to be human will be in part metaphysical (that can't be avoided), I don't see the need for a section of metaphysics. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:59, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Yes, you've said that. (Sam Spade | talk | contributions) 18:47, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Sam, when the article talks about how some groups believe we have souls (or whatever: it's been weeks since I've read the actual article), that is a metaphysical discussion. A section about metaphysics would examine what scholars say about what exists (ontology), the mind/body distinction, what a cause is, and so on, which probably wouldn't be appropriate. We could have a section on the mind/body distinction: there is already an article on it, Dualism (philosophy of mind). SlimVirgin (talk) 16:53, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)
In other words, he is saying that this article should silently assume the metaphysics of Philosophical naturalism. --Goethean 17:00, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
How is he saying that? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:16, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)
What I meant is that you, SlimVirgin, are saying that this article should silently assume the metaphysics of philosophical naturalism. Your stance is that there does not need to be any discussion of metaphysics in this article. Yet as even Mel Etitis acknowledges: any account of what it is to be human will be in part metaphysical (that can't be avoided). Presenting the scientific perspective as unattributed fact silently assumes the materialistic metaphysics of the natural sciences. This can easily be avoided by attributing to the natural sciences those beliefs that are generated by the natural sciences. --Goethean 18:18, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'm not a man, Goethean, and don't attribute views to me unless I've expressed them myself. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:32, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)

The problems of philosophy

There's an attempt on this page by a couple of editors to introduce philosophical discussions, most of them irrelevant to the article, and to engage in them on this talk page as though these are issues everyone can make a meaningful contribution to. When other editors try to point this out, they're accused of being elitist and of not wanting to listen to the "great unwashed masses."

You would all be surprised if I were to turn to the engineering pages and insert: "Building a bridge isn't so hard; lots of people do it; it's just a question of making sure it doesn't fall down." This would be an ignorant and stupid thing to write. The problem with philosophy is that, because we all believe we have minds (for example), we all think we can discuss what it means to believe that we have minds. But we can't. This is an infinitely more complex discussion that how to build a bridge. We know how to build bridges. We still don't know what it means to say of a human or non-human animal that it has a mind, or is conscious, or self-conscious, or even whether it makes sense to say any of those things. (I'm not talking about souls, by the way.) No one knows this, not just the people here on this page. The people who study this (philosophers, some psychologists, people interested in artifical intellgence) have developed a vocabulary that is used to discuss these issues. Without a detailed knowledge of that vocabulary, discussion is almost pointless.

I am therefore requesting that the anti-scholarship attitude cease, because it is disrespectful. I suggest that we concentrate on finding the second introductory paragraph that Tom and a couple of others want (and those who want it should really be the ones doing the work here); find appropriate scholars to attribute the views to; and stop going off on tangents in areas very few of us have studied. SlimVirgin (talk)

Second paragraph? I beg your pardon. It was the first paragraph that FeloniousMonk unilaterally changed on March 2 after months of status. Let's keep history straight. Tom Haws 23:47, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
So add a second paragraph with your non-physical views, citing appropriate scholars. Why not write it instead of wasting time arguing? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:44, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
I suggest that there is a very important distinction between "anti-scholarship" and "anti-elitism." Ungtss 20:38, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Doubtless there is, but you haven't shown that SlimVirgin is wrong (and to my eye she's right). Unless, of course, you're defining the set of respected scholars as an elite, in which case there isn't a difference between anti-scholarship and anti-elitism in this case. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 20:43, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In my eyes, the distinction between scholarship and elitism is that scholarship proves with facts and evidence, while elitism proves by assertion and authority. saying things like "humans are not the only beings with a sense of I" is not scholarship. "Chimps and humans both demonstrate the following senses of self-identity, but these senses are unique to humans" is scholarship. Ungtss 20:50, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

How did your examples illustrate the distinction that you claimed tobe making? neither example involved either an appeal to evidence or to authority. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 20:58, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The first example is not scholarship, because it contains no facts or evidence. it contains simply a bald conclusion, based on assumptions inherent to the vocabulary (what does a sense of I MEAN?). The second is scholarship, because it lists factual, evidencable ways of identifying a sense of "I," which speak for themselves, rather than relying solely on the credibility of the claimant. Ungtss 21:02, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
For instance: "Humans and chimps both experience emotion, can identify themselves in the mirror, and use language. However, only humans express their identity in the form of poetry and art ... I'm not claiming expertise here. I'm just after article quality." Ungtss 21:05, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

You're not making much sense, I'm afraid. You seem to be saying that, because you don't understand the notion of 'a sense of I' (or a sense of self), and don't know how that could be determined, it's elitist not scholarly... yet biologists have done considerable work on different creatures' sense of self-identity, of their having a sense of self or of 'I-ness'. One of my colleagues, Alexander Kacelnik, has done some important work on birds, for example, and much has been done with the higher mammals, such as primates, canines, and elephants. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:17, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

<<biologists have done considerable work on different creatures' sense of self-identity, of their having a sense of self or of 'I-ness'. One of my colleagues, Alexander Kacelnik, has done some important work on birds, for example, and much has been done with the higher mammals, such as primates, canines, and elephants. >>
This does not qualify as scholarly, i'm afraid. This is just information about "biologists doing research." what facts, experiments, observations, and philosophical assumptions are their research based on?
<<You seem to be saying that, because you don't understand the notion of 'a sense of I' (or a sense of self), and don't know how that could be determined, it's elitist not scholarly>>
I'm saying that there are a variety of notions of a "sense of I" and if you do not explain what you mean, you are not saying much of anything at all. Ungtss 21:24, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Ah, I see; you're not actually interested in scholarship at all. Professional biologists doing award-winning, widely published and influential work aren't scholarly, because, because... you don't know about them, or understand them. And there are many sense of 'a sense of I' — but you're not saying what any of them is. I think we've reached the end of useful discussion on this. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:34, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

this, i'm afraid, is the elitism i'm talking about. you still haven't defined exactly what you mean by "sense of i." you've just told me about all these award-winning biologists doing award-winning things, but you haven't told me what they've said or done. just because award-winning people say things doesn't make them true. award-winning people need to provide evidence to support their claims if they wish to be scholarly. since you steadfastly refuse to identify a meaningful definition of "sense of I" and instead have simply insulted me, i'm afraid this discussion really is at an end. Ungtss 21:38, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Ungtss, you're precisely demonstrating what I was talking about. Any discussion of these areas requires extensive research and scholarship, and above all, clear thinking, and a razor-sharp understanding of the scholarly vocabuluary and the distinctions that vocabulary seeks to highlight. It's not for the faint-hearted. Mel has some understanding of what he means by a "sense of I" because he has studied and taught in this area for many, many years. That isn't elitism; it's just a fact. In the same way that Tom (a civil engineer) might know how to build a bridge, Mel is someone able to articulate scholarly views about what it means to have a sense of self, though it's unfair to expect him to do it on this page, just as it would be unfair to ask Tom to build a bridge before we'd trust that he knows something about bridge-building. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:47, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps we should all submit resumes in order to be allowed to discuss this article. --Goethean 21:59, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
i must have left mine at my hovel with the unwashed and ignorant masses:). Ungtss 22:01, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Please let me insert here that I don't believe philosophical discussions of this kind are useful here, and that I pretty much agree with SV's statements in this section. I am not sure she has represented properly my historic positions. But I agree with what she is saying now. Our sole job is to find out what the world believes and has said (about what humans are) and write about it in a way that gives due prominence to the ideas that are most significant, and fair prominence to all ideas (for some insignificant ideas, that means no mention). Tom Haws 23:54, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
Tom, I agree 100% with that last sentence, and this is also what I have been arguing for all along M Alan Kazlev 01:08, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Trying to tar Mel with brush of elitism is a non-starter. There already exists a consensus on the standard of evaluation for self awareness (styled "sense of i" here), just because you're either unaware of it or choosing to remain wifully obtuse on the topic does not mean that progress on writing the intro should be suspended while you get around to accepting that consensus. Both Mel and SV are right on this point, and we've reached the end of useful discussion on the topic.--FeloniousMonk 21:51, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'm afraid that this is just more elitism and proof by consensus. "research and scholarship" are only as good as their evidence. consensus is only as good as the reasoning behind it. you are saying that "chimps have a sense of I" but you're not telling us what that means. You're not saying anything, except telling me how many qualifications everybody has, and how if i was more educated, then i'd agree with you too. I can think of a dozen "senses of I." Which one are you referring to? If you are willing to tell us exactly what you mean and exactly why you mean it, there will be no dispute. That's scholarship. If you say, "Joe says this and Joe has a PhD and years of teaching behind him," that's mere elitism. Please. What do you mean by "sense of I?" What are the parameters? What are the tests? Anyways. It's obvious that if the argument has gone this far without a meaningful definition being presented that none is going to be presented. Carry on:). Ungtss 21:55, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
There is no description of what "sense of self" means that you would understand, because you lack the vocabulary. Here's a definition of 'I' from Kant: the "transcendental unity of apperception," (Critique of Pure Reason). That's scholarship; and Mel knows what it means and which definition of 'I' it refers to, or at least what Kant argued that it refers to. Does it help you? Please don't be so obtuse and disrespectful. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:14, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)
i've read kant. i know what his transcendental unity of apperception was: an "identity" which lies behind all my changing experience as something which remains the "same". i'd like to see the falsifiable experiment giving evidence that apes have such a sense of I. I don't think the mirror test qualifies. As such, your statement that they have a sense of I is metaphysical, and must be attributed. Ungtss 13:35, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
That's not quite what Kant says, and I didn't say that definition of I would apply to apes (or to humans). SlimVirgin (talk) 18:44, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
Then i suggest again, simply, that your statement that chimps have a sense of I would benefit from a definition of what degree of "sense of I" you are referring to. Ungtss 19:10, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I've given it more than once: "that I am". Perhaps you could list all the senses of I that you're aware of, and I could tell you which ones I'm saying chimpanzees have. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:50, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
Emotion (sense of "I am hunry"), mirror test, use of I in language, transcendental unity of apperception, self-awareness (ability to perceive onesself as others perceive you), or self-understanding (a primary object of many human philosophies). Ungtss 13:29, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Sigh. Why all this peripheral talk? Can't we just either omit the statement from consideration or attribute both views? Why do we have to argue every point? It is hard enough to come up with a solution without beating each other up. As I understand it, we are merely at this point trying to come up with an unbiased intro for this article. If something is disputed, simply note the fact, and stop disrespecting each other's POV. Tom Haws 00:09, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)

I don't know which statement you're talking about. You have once again failed to answer my question above, so I'll paste it here below. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:41, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)

[Y]ou've been at this for months, Tom, on this talk page and on others. Endless discussion that seems to lead nowhere; questions never answered; issues avoided but never addressed. You wrote above:

SlimVirgin, I accept your suggestion, and will honestly work at doing the things you suggested: "Read it in conjunction with Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources" "we need an authoritative, scholarly reference from you, giving a view of "human" that would meet your requirement for including a spiritual component". Thank you. Tom Haws 15:37, Mar 28, 2005 (UTC)

Mel, FM, and I do not require a paragraph for the introduction that deals with the non-physical. You do. We have agreed (you too) that, if there is one, it should refer only to scholarly sources. So why won't you find those sources and write it if you want it so badly? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:55, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

Endless discussion

SlimVirgin, I'm sure you were just indulging in a little hyperbolic grumbling, but please be careful. The casual observer might think you are accusing me of misbehavior with the following statement: "[Y]ou've been at this for months, Tom, on this talk page and on others." For the record, I have certainly been a Wikipedian since Fall 2003, and I have certainly participated in many areas and activities. And I participated in the Fall 2004 discussion on this page as is stated at User:Hawstom. Tom Haws
SlimVirgin, I have personally accepted your invitation to read Wikipedia:No original research, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:Cite sources. That is a personal assignment I have accepted. Perhaps my time moves much slower than yours, for which I sincerely apologize. I only ask that you refrain from teasing me meanwhile. The mere fact that I sincerely listened and accepted your suggestion is, I think, a more than typical demonstration of sincerity. A break will help me finish that assignment. Tom Haws
SlimVirgin, I have not personally accepted at this time your request for a reference giving a spiritual view of humans. I will need to finish my reading assignment before properly evaluating that request. Meanwhile, if you have already studied those assignments, perhaps you can continue to work on the problem as a form of writing for the enemy. Tom Haws 05:40, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
No, Tom, I wasn't engaging in hyperbolic grumbling, and I see that your previous post, which you edited, accused me of making "nothing but a cheap, personal attack" (which is itself a personal attack), so I'll say it again to make it even clearer. You've been arguing the same point on this talk page since August 2004. Numerous editors have tried to explain to you what NPOV means. Back in September, you asked three or four editors whether they had read the NPOV policy, suggesting they had misunderstood it, and indicated you had not yet finished reading it properly: I believe you called it at that time your "tutorial"; now you call it your "assignment." You've backed up Rednblu throughout, so you can't blame me for associating you with him. (That was something else you deleted: that "for you Tom/Rednblu (wrapped into one) has become the great troll.") At least one other editor said in September (of you or Rednblu; it's not clear from the context): "I'm starting to feel like I am feeding a troll." On October 2, 2004, you say you're signing off in order to read up on NPOV (though you say above you still haven't done it). Also in October, you start to introduce the list above: only humans make fire, only humans wear clothes; and on it goes until today. I'm sorry that you take this description as a personal attack because it isn't intended as one. My point is simply that Wikipedia is not Usenet. My further point is that you're trying to misuse the NPOV policy to introduce your POV; or rather, to tie up editors for months discussing your POV in a way that's neither constructive nor productive. The NPOV policy is not there to be used as a Trojan horse, and the talk pages don't exist to provide editors with platforms. If you want a second paragraph about the non-physical for the introduction, please write one with reference to scholarly sources so it doesn't violate Wikipedia:No original research, then we'll have something to talk about: if it's scholarly enough, and the scholars are mainstream, we're not likely to object, then we'll all be able to move on. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:44, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
I am grateful that I edited my previous post, because it was indeed a personal attack, and I forgot for a moment to assume good faith. I will have to talk to you in private about some mistakes I think you are making. Tom Haws 19:38, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)

  • Evidently, the unresolved question is this. What scholars' opinions will not be allowed to influence the definition of "human?" How about Karl Popper who showed scientists that the distinction between science and pseudoscience is falsifiability? Will Karl Popper's definition of "human" be allowed to influence the definition that starts the Human page? ---Rednblu | Talk 00:26, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Wouldn't a summary of Human_nature#Influential_views_of_human_nature be sufficient as a second paragraph to the introduction? Some Plato, some Descartes and a bit from Kant could do the trick. Wouldn't it? ≈ jossi ≈ 04:50, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
  • Good comment. ---Rednblu | Talk 14:41, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Rednblu: Popper didn't “[show] scientists that the distinction between science and pseudoscience is falsifiability”; he argued for this thesis, and much work has been done on the issue in the half a century since then; few (actually, I'd say no) philosophers of science accept Popper's account of science now, though that's not to say that his views are without interest or value. As for his view of what it is to be human, it's not particularly distinctive, being more or less Kantian.

≈ jossi ≈: why not just link to Human nature? Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 08:42, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

<<As for his view of what it is to be human, it's not particularly distinctive, being more or less Kantian.>>

Perhaps. But if "his view" is that "human" is defined by a "spiritual" component that cannot be decomposed into either "biological" or "cultural," then "his view" should be represented in the definition that begins the Human page, should it not? --particularly if there are centuries of scholars going back even to "Kantian" that agree with "his view." ---Rednblu | Talk 14:41, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)