Sample Anthropology Essay Paper on What It Means To Be a Human Being

Simply defined, human beings are warm-blooded mammals whose females give birth to live young ones. Additionally, human beings have hair that covers parts of their body. Moreover, human beings are primates; therefore, they are mammals who are part of an order within nature that is characterized by increasing manual dexterity, intelligence, and the probability of some social organization (Charon 24). Moreover, a human is a being who is cultural, interprets the world according to what he or she learns in society, and therefore, a being whose nature is not fixed by biology but who is tremendously diverse (Charon 24). To be human is to balance between hundreds of extremes (Ventegodt 1).

The unique qualities of human beings are socializing and cultural values. Social in the sense that their lives are linked to others and to the society in many complex ways and cultural, in that, what we become is not a result of instinct but of the ideas, values, and rules developed in our society (Charon 24). Moreover, human beings spend most their lifetime interacting with one another in the society. According to Rochat (2), “all social animals have to share resources, but humans have evolved unique ways of sharing based on reciprocity, agreement, contracts, or handshakes.”

We are constantly social actors; we impress others, communicate to others, escape others, con others, try to influence others, watch others entertain, display affection to others, play music or create art for others, and so on (Charon 24).  Scientists typically attempt to identify certain attributes that make human beings human: intelligence, problem-solving ability, language use, or culture, for example, sociologists typically focus on three interrelated qualities; the use of symbols, the development of self, and thinking (Charon 24). Only when the above qualities are exhibited is one proven human. Rather than being somehow self-enclosed and separate, human being has to be understood in terms of his/her particular topos; in terms of the place in which he/she finds himself/herself (Malpas 21).

The uncertainty of knowing what it is to be human has a knock on effect. Quite clearly, human beings have superior intellect and power to all other organisms (Moore 12). While a case can be made for the ant as an example of complex order, or beehives as communities where altruism play a prominent role in behavior, nothing comes close to the complex structure of a city, supplied with sewers and power, libraries and art galleries, factories, and offices (Moore 12). What is unquestionably unique to humans is, for better or for worse, our unique impact on the environment, which we transform, process, and alter, in addition to destroying (Rochat 3). Compared to human beings, no other living species has had such a lasting impact on the environment.

In conclusion, the bottom line of what it means to be human is the unique way by which we share resources to survive collectively. For instance, we use the brain and our mental capacities for language and solving complex issues. Moreover, human beings are able to self-conceptualize. To be human is primarily to adapt to a niche that is unlike the niche of any other animal. Therefore, in order to capture the essence of what it means to be a human being, one must not only focus on what makes the being tick, but rather on the way human persons manage and share resources among themselves and how these resources are collectively represented in comparison to other primate species.

Works Cited

Moore, Pete. Being Me: What It Means to Be Human. Chichester: Wiley, 2003. Retrieved from:

Charon, Joel M. “What Does It Mean to Be Human? Human Nature, Society, and Culture.” The Intersections Collection (2011): 1-20. Retrieved from:

Rochat, Philippe. “What Does It Mean to Be Human?” Anthropological Psychology 17.3 (2006). Retrieved from:

Ventegodt, Søren, et al. “Quality of life philosophy II: what is a human being?.” The Scientific World Journal 3 (2003): 1176-1185. Retrieved from:

Malpas, Jeff, and Norelle Lickiss. “Human dignity and human being.” Perspectives on human dignity: a conversation. Springer, Dordrecht, 2007. 19-25. Retrieved from: