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date: 08 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

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