What is human nature?

What differentiates us humans from animals? What motivates or what is the driving force for us as human beings? Are humans essentially thinking or intellectual beings? Is a sense of self what makes us human?

In our Focus Inquiry, we tended towards the idea that human beings are naturally desiring- they desire to create buildings, and they desire to transcend the material life.

At first, it seemed to me that what is common to all human beings must be something even more basic than being naturally desiring or aspiring. It must be something like breathing, or perceiving. Yet it seems to be more than simply breathing which makes us human.

So, after a while, I came up with the following questions:

Is being human the ability to be introspective and to reflect on our own natures? Is it the ability to laugh when bad things happen to us, to cry when good things happen, to work hard in order to sustain ourselves, to be lazy, just because, and generally, to be a multitude of opposites?

Is it the ability to be stoic in the face of difficult times, and courageous in the face of danger? Is it the ability to imagine and to be hopeful about the fantastic possibilities of how things might be? Is it the ability to see life as a meaningless and pointless struggle, and yet to be brave about this?

Human nature must be a set of contradictions that we are unable to rationalize.

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