Understanding Human Existence
Posted by Jerry on June 17, 2005
Merely having life and therefore existing should not be a cause for much awe and wonder. Though it definitely is a valuable thing – to have life, there is something immensely more valuable than living: Being radiantly aware of your life.
What is having life? Animals have it. Even plants have life. Animals and plants live. We are a kind of animal. And as such, we can exist as mere animals, living our life away, simply waiting for life to pass because that is what animals do. Or we can live life like humans ought to. As Ayn Rand said: “Living life is not the same thing as avoiding death.”
Just the mere act of breathing and living is not worthy of much praise. Dogs do that, and the trees do that. The scientific definition of death is not just the stopping of the heart, but also the ceasing of the brain waves. Technically, a human being could survive with just a beating heart and no brain activity. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there are millions on this earth who are doing just that: living as creatures that breath and have beating hearts.
The difference worthy of all awe, wonder, and praise is the witness of that human being who not only demonstrates a clear evidence of life, but also a celebration of that awareness of his life — manifested in his actions, movements, reflections, pursuits, and achievements. The awareness of life by the faculty of self-consciousness is only possible to humans, not to any other creature on this earth, and therefore it differentiates a self-aware and thinking human from any other creature (human or animal).
It is only proper for humans to think. To use his faculty of thinking and intelligence to realize his experience of living. Anything less is not good enough.