Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Talking about a human essence is a challenge because it needs to clear two hurdles of answering the first question, what it means to say something is a human essence, and then the second question, what a human essence may be. Accordingly, the chapter first evaluates the human implications of human essence talk (i.e., whether posing a question, “What is a human essence?” and providing an answer is a desirable thing to do) and then evaluate the proposition that human essence talk is a human essence. It argues that human essence talk is wanting because it constrains human potential and forecloses future possibilities of what humans can become. In conclusion, the chapter suggests that “What does it mean to be human?” may be a better question than “What is a human essence?” and the continuous effort to answer this question and to act on tentative answers at a given point in history may be what it means to be human.

Keywords: culture, language, human essence talk, human essence, non-humans, humans, self-awareness

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.