Earlier in this blog, I've discussed the philosophical question, "What is man?" Today on Three Things Thursday, I'm going to discuss three answers to the question, in chronological order.
1. Man is the center of the creation. The ancients thought humans were the most important part of creation, except maybe the gods. They had a very high view of human beings and an overinflated view of our importance. That's part of the reason why they built such huge monuments that endure to this day.
2. Man is just an animal. This view was popularized by in the late 1800's, due to advances in biology, psychology and sociology. If the ancients had an overly high view of the importance of human beings, this would be an overly low view. It reduces the role of human intelligence to almost nothing, and the moral consequences were horrendous.
3. Man is a machine. This view has been popularized today, by advances in computer technology and robotics. As machines get more complex, it seems more and more possible to make a machine that is near identical to a human. It seems to me that it can be dangerous when people take this view too far, and they start thinking of people in terms of their functions or the actions they can perform. For example, people will let their lives and the entire self-identity be defined by their job or "what they do". It's fine to talk about machines like that; it's not fine to reduce humans to that level. It especially unnerves me when companies talk about their employees as "human resources", with an emphasis on the "resources" part, while ignoring the "human" part.