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Telecommunications maximum read Genes and human self knowledge: historical and philosophical reflections on modern genetics clients, 26, 34, 66, 81, Shahidullah, Muhammad, 7, 48, 50, 61, 70, 89, 92, , , , complete years, 8, 15, 19, 20, 21, 42, 44, 45, 47, 50, Childhood malnutrition is also common and contributes to the global burden of disease Murray and Lopez However global food distribution is not even, and obesity among some human populations has increased to almost epidemic proportions, leading to health complications and increased mortality in some developed, and a few developing countries.
Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than are expended, with many attributing excessive weight gain to a combination of overeating and insufficient exercise. At least ten thousand years ago, humans developed agriculture see rise of civilization below , which has substantially altered the kind of food people eat.
This has led to increased populations, the development of cities, and because of increased population density, the wider spread of infectious diseases. The types of food consumed, and the way in which they are prepared, has varied widely by time, location, and culture. The scientific study of human evolution concerns the emergence of humans as a distinct species.
It encompasses the development of the genus Homo , as well as studying extinct human ancestors, such as the australopithecines , and even chimpanzees genus Pan , which are usually classified together with genus Homo in the tribe Hominini. There is substantial evidence for a primate origin of humans Mayr :. The closest living relatives of Homo sapiens are two distinct species of the genus Pan : the bonobo Pan paniscus and the common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes. Well-known members of the Homo genus include Homo habilis about 2. Between , years ago and the second interglacial period in the Middle Pleistocene , around , years ago, the trend in cranial expansion and the elaboration of stone tool technologies developed, providing evidence for a transition from H.
Based on molecular evidence, the calculation of the time of divergence of all modern human populations from a common ancestor typically yields dates around , years Disotell Notably, however, about 50, to 40, years ago, human beings appeared to have taken a Great Leap Forward, when human culture apparently changed at a much greater speed. Humans started to bury their dead carefully, made clothing out of hides, developed sophisticated hunting techniques such as pitfall traps, or driving animals to fall off cliffs , and made cave paintings.
Additionally, human culture began to become more technologically advanced, in that different populations of humans begin to create novelty in existing technologies. Artifacts such as fish hooks, buttons, and bone needles begin to show signs of variation among different population of humans, something what had not been seen in human cultures prior to 50, BP. This "Great Leap Forward" seems connected to the arrival of modern humans beings: Homo sapiens sapiens.
See modern man and the great leap forward. The Cro-Magnons form the earliest known European examples of Homo sapiens sapiens. The term falls outside the usual naming conventions for early humans and is used in a general sense to describe the oldest modern people in Europe. Cro-Magnons lived from about 40, to 10, years ago in the Upper Paleolithic period of the Pleistocene epoch. For all intents and purposes these people were anatomically modern, only differing from their modern day descendants in Europe by their slightly more robust physiology and larger brain capacity than that of modern humans.
When they arrived in Europe about 40, years ago, they brought with them sculpture, engraving, painting, body ornamentation, music, and the painstaking decoration of utilitarian objects. Current research establishes that human beings are highly genetically homogeneous, meaning that the DNA of individual Homo sapiens is more alike than usual for most species. Geneticists Lynn Jorde and Henry Harpending of the University of Utah, noting that the variation in human DNA is minute compared to that of other species, propose that during the Late Pleistocene, the human population was reduced to a small number of breeding pairs—no more than 10, and possibly as few as 1,—resulting in a very small residual gene pool.
Various reasons for this hypothetical bottleneck have been postulated, one of those is the Toba catastrophe theory. There are two major scientific challenges in deducing the pattern of human evolution. For one, the fossil record remains fragmentary. Mayr notes that no fossils of hominids have been found for the period between 6 and 13 million years ago mya , the time when branching between the chimpanzee and human lineages is expected to have taken place.
Furthermore, as Mayr notes, "most hominid fossils are extremely incomplete. They may consist of part of a mandible, or the upper part of a skull without face and teeth, or only part of the extremities. Fossil evidence often allows a variety of interpretations, since the individual specimens may be reconstructed in a variety of ways Wells There are two dominant, and one might say polarizing, general views on the issue of human origins, the Out of Africa position and the multiregional position. Later, approximately , years ago, there was a second migration of hominids out of Africa, and this was modern H.
This view maintains a specific speciation event that led to H. The multiregional or continuity camp hold that since the origin of H. According to this view, hominids in China and Indonesia are the most direct ancestors of modern East Asians, those in Africa are the most direct ancestors of modern Africans, and the European populations either gave rise to modern Europeans or contributed significant genetic material to them, while their origins were in Africa or West Asia Kreger There is genetic flow to allow for the maintenance of one species , but not enough to prevent racial differentiation.
Overall, human evolution theory comprises two principal theories: Those related to the pattern of evolution and those related to the process of evolution. The theory of descent with modification addresses the pattern of evolution, and as applied to humans the theory is strongly supported by the fossil record, which provides evidence of skeletons that through time become more and more like the modern human skeleton.
In contrast, the theory of natural selection , which relates to the process of evolution is intrinsically more speculative as it relates to presumed causes. Substantial evidence has been marshaled for the fact that humans have descended from common ancestors by a process of branching descent with modification and for a primate origin of humans. However, proposals for the specific ancestral-descendant relationships and for the process leading to humans tend to be speculative.
And, while the theory of natural selection typically is central to scientific explanations for the process, evidence for natural selection being the directive or creative force is limited to extrapolation from the microevolutionary level changes within the level of species. Historically, a major source of controversy has been the process by which humans have developed, whether by physical forces with an exclusively random component natural selection or by the creative force of a Creator God. Abrahamic religions believe that modern humans derive from an original couple Adam and Eve into whose material bodies God breathed spiritual life added a spirit or soul to complete the creation of a being uniquely different from animals.
Up until only around 10, years ago, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers with some communities persisting until this day. They generally lived in small, nomadic groups. The advent of agriculture prompted the Neolithic Revolution. Developed independently by geographically distant populations, evidence suggests that agriculture first appeared in Southwest Asia, in the Fertile Crescent.
Around B. Though there is evidence of earlier use of wild cereals , it was not until after B.
Bernard Lonergan (1904—1984)
By B. About this time, agriculture was developed independently in the Far East, with rice, rather than wheat, the primary crop. Access to food surplus led to the formation of permanent human settlements, the domestication of animals, and the use of metal tools. Agriculture also encouraged trade and cooperation, leading to complex societies. Villages developed into thriving civilizations in regions such as the Middle East's Fertile Crescent. Around 6, years ago, the first proto- states developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt , and the Indus Valley.
Military forces were formed for protection and government bureaucracies for administration.
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States cooperated and competed for resources, in some cases waging wars. Around 2,—3, years ago, some states, such as Persia, China , and Rome , developed through conquest into the first expansive empires. Influential religions, such as Judaism , originating in the Middle East, and Hinduism , a religious tradition that originated in South Asia, also rose to prominence at this time.
The late Middle Ages saw the rise of revolutionary ideas and technologies. In China, an advanced and urbanized economy promoted innovations such as printing and the compass , while the Islamic Golden Age saw major scientific advancements in Muslim empires. In Europe, the rediscovery of classical learning and inventions such as the printing press led to the Renaissance in the fourteenth century.
Over the next years, exploration and imperialistic conquest brought much of the Americas, Asia, and Africa under European control, leading to later struggles for independence. The Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth century and the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries promoted major innovations in transport , such as the railway and automobile ; energy development, such as coal and electricity ; and government, such as representative democracy and Communism.
As a result of such changes, modern humans live in a world that has become increasingly globalized and interconnected. Although this has encouraged the growth of science, art, and technology, it has also led to culture clashes, the development and use of weapons of mass destruction, and increased environmental destruction and pollution.
Early human settlements were dependent on proximity to water and, depending on the lifestyle, other natural resources, such as fertile land for growing crops and grazing livestock , or populations of prey for hunting. However, humans have a great capacity for altering their habitats by various methods, such as through irrigation , urban planning , construction , transport , and manufacturing goods. With the advent of large-scale trade and transport infrastructure, proximity to these resources has become unnecessary, and in many places these factors are no longer a driving force behind the growth and decline of a population.
Nonetheless, the manner in which a habitat is altered is often a major determinant in population change. Technology has allowed humans to colonize all of the continents and adapt to all climates. Within the last few decades, humans have explored Antarctica , the ocean depths, and space , although long-term habitation of these environments is not yet possible.
With a population of over seven billion, humans are among the most numerous of the large mammals. Most humans 61 percent live in Asia. The vast majority of the remainder live in the Americas 14 percent , Africa 13 percent , and Europe 12 percent , with 0.
The Human Genome Project (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Human habitation within closed ecological systems in hostile environments, such as Antarctica and outer space, is expensive, typically limited in duration, and restricted to scientific, military, or industrial expeditions. Life in space has been very sporadic, with no more than thirteen humans in space at any given time. Between and , two humans at a time spent brief intervals on the Moon. As of , no other celestial body has been visited by human beings, although there has been a continuous human presence in outer space since the launch of the initial crew to inhabit the International Space Station on October 31, ; however, humans have made robots that have visited other celestial bodies.
From to C. In , around 2. Problems for humans living in cities include various forms of pollution and crime , especially in inner city and suburban slums. Benefits of urban living include increased literacy, access to the global canon of human knowledge, and decreased susceptibility to rural famines. Humans have had a dramatic effect on the environment. The extinction of a number of species has been attributed to anthropogenic factors, such as human predation and habitat loss, and other negative impacts include pollution, widespread loss of wetlands and other ecosystems , alteration of rivers, and introduction of invasive species.
On the other hand, humans in the past century have made considerable efforts to reduce negative impacts and provide greater protection for the environment and other living organisms, through such means as environmental law, environmental education, and economic incentives. The brain is a centralized mass of nerve tissue enclosed within the cranium skull of vertebrates. The human brain is the center of the central nervous system in humans, as well as the primary control center for the peripheral nervous system.
The brain controls "lower," or involuntary, autonomic activities such as the respiration, and digestion. The brain also is critical to "higher" order, conscious activities, such as thought, reasoning , and abstraction PBS Mayr states that the human brain "seems not to have changed one single bit since the first appearance of Homo sapiens some , years ago.
A central issue in philosophy and religion is how the brain relates to the mind. The brain is defined as the physical and biological matter contained within the skull, responsible for all electrochemical neuronal processes. The mind, however, is seen in terms of mental attributes, such as beliefs or desires. Mind is a concept developed by self-conscious humans trying to understand what is the self that is conscious and how does that self relate to its perceived world.
Most broadly, mind is the organized totality of the mental processes of an organism and the structural and functional components on which they depend. Taken more narrowly, as it often is in scientific studies, mind denotes only cognitive activities and functions, such as perceiving, attending, thinking, problem solving, language, learning, and memory VandenBos Philosophers have long sought to understand what is mind and its relationship to matter and the body.
There is a concept, tracing back at least to Plato , Aristotle , and the Sankhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy, that "mental" phenomena are, in some respects, "non-physical" distinct from the body. For example, Saint Thomas Aquinas identified a person as being the composite substance of body and soul or mind , with soul giving form to body. Christian views after Aquinas have diverged to cover a wide spectrum, but generally they tend to focus on soul instead of mind, with soul referring to an immaterial essence and core of human identity and to the seat of reason , will, conscience , and higher emotions.
Rene Descartes established the clear mind-body dualism that has dominated the thought of the modern West. He introduced two assertions: First, that mind and soul are the same and that henceforth he would use the term mind and dispense with the term soul; Second, that mind and body were two distinct substances, one immaterial and one material, and the two existed independent of each other except for one point of interaction in the human brain. As psychology became a science starting in the late nineteenth century and blossomed into a major scientific discipline in the twentieth century, the prevailing view in the scientific community came to be variants of physicalism with the assumption that all the functions attributed to mind are in one way or another derivative from activities of the brain.
Countering this mainstream view, a small group of neuroscientists has persisted in searching for evidence suggesting the possibility of a human mind existing and operating apart from the brain. In the late twentieth century, as diverse technologies related to studying the mind and body have been steadily improved, evidence has emerged suggesting such radical concepts as: The mind should be associated not only with the brain but with the whole body; and the heart may be a center of consciousness complementing the brain.
Some envision a physical mind that mirrors the physical body, guiding its instinctual activities and development, while adding the concept for humans of a spiritual mind that mirrors a spiritual body and including aspects like philosophical and religious thought. The human brain is generally regarded as more capable of the various higher order activities, and more "intelligent" in general, than that of any other species.
While other animals are capable of creating structures and using simple tools—mostly as a result of instinct and learning through mimicry—human technology is vastly more complex, constantly evolving and improving with time. Even the most ancient human tools and structures are far more advanced than any structure or tool created by any other animal Sagan The human ability to think abstractly may be unparalleled in the animal kingdom.
Humans are one of only six groups of animals to pass the mirror test—which tests whether an animal recognizes its reflection as an image of itself—along with chimpanzees , orangutans , dolphins , and possibly pigeons. In October , three elephants at the Bronx Zoo also passed this test Plotnik et al. Humans under the age of 2 typically fail this test Palmer However, this may be a matter of degree rather than a sharp divide.
Monkeys have been trained to apply abstract rules in tasks Coveney The brain perceives the external world through the senses , and each individual human is influenced greatly by his or her experiences, leading to subjective views of existence and the passage of time. Humans are variously said to possess consciousness, self-awareness, and a mind, which correspond roughly to the mental processes of thought. These are said to possess qualities such as self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. The extent to which the mind constructs or experiences the outer world is a matter of debate, as are the definitions and validity of many of the terms used above.
The philosopher of cognitive science Daniel Dennett, for example, argues that there is no such thing as a narrative center called the "mind," but that instead there is simply a collection of sensory inputs and outputs: Different kinds of "software" running in parallel Dennett Humans study the more physical aspects of the mind and brain, and by extension of the nervous system , in the field of neurology , the more behavioral in the field of psychology , and a sometimes loosely-defined area between in the field of psychiatry , which treats mental illness and behavioral disorders.
Psychology does not necessarily refer to the brain or nervous system, and can be framed purely in terms of phenomenological or information processing theories of the mind. Increasingly, however, an understanding of brain functions is being included in psychological theory and practice, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence , neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience.
The nature of thought is central to psychology and related fields. Cognitive psychology studies cognition, the mental processes underlying behavior. It uses information processing as a framework for understanding the mind. Perception , learning, problem solving, memory, attention , language, and emotion are all well-researched areas as well. Cognitive psychology is associated with a school of thought known as cognitivism, whose adherents argue for an information processing model of mental function, informed by positivism and experimental psychology. Techniques and models from cognitive psychology are widely applied and form the mainstay of psychological theories in many areas of both research and applied psychology.
Largely focusing on the development of the human mind through the life span, developmental psychology seeks to understand how people come to perceive, understand, and act within the world and how these processes change as they age. This may focus on intellectual, cognitive, neural, social, or moral development. Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is experience itself, and access consciousness, which is the processing of the things in experience Block Phenomenal consciousness is the state of being conscious, such as when they say "I am conscious.
The concept of phenomenal consciousness, in modern history, according to some, is closely related to the concept of qualia. Social psychology links sociology with psychology in their shared study of the nature and causes of human social interaction, with an emphasis on how people think towards each other and how they relate to each other.
The behavior and mental processes, both human and non-human, can be described through animal cognition, ethology , evolutionary psychology, and comparative psychology as well. Human ecology is an academic discipline that investigates how humans and human societies interact with both their natural environment and the human social environment. Theories in psychology , like the construction of the ego as suggested in the mirror stage by Jacques Lacan , reminds us about the possibility that self-consciouness and self-reflection may be at least in part a human construction.
Various attempts have been made to identify a single behavioral characteristic that distinguishes humans from all other animals. Some anthropologists think that readily observable characteristics tool -making and language are based on less easily observable mental processes that might be unique among humans: The ability to think symbolically, in the abstract or logically , although several species have demonstrated some abilities in these areas. Nor is it clear at what point exactly in human evolution these traits became prevalent. They may not be restricted to the species Homo sapiens, as the extinct species of the Homo genus for example, Homo neanderthalensis , Homo erectus are believed to also have been adept tool makers and may also have had linguistic skills.
Motivation is the driving force of desire behind all deliberate actions of human beings. Motivation is based on emotion, such as the search for satisfaction positive emotional experiences , and the avoidance of conflict. Positive and negative is defined by the individual brain state, which may be influenced by social norms: a person may be driven to self-injury or violence because their brain is conditioned to create a positive response to these actions.
Motivation is important because it is involved in the performance of all learned responses. Within psychology, conflict avoidance and the libido are seen to be primary motivators. Within economics, motivation is often seen to be based on financial incentives, moral incentives, or coercive incentives.
Religions generally posit divine or demonic influences.
Happiness , or being happy, is a human emotional condition. The definition of happiness is a common philosophical topic. Some people might define it as the best condition that a human can have—a condition of mental and physical health. Others may define it as freedom from want and distress; consciousness of the good order of things; assurance of one's place in the universe or society , inner peace, and so forth.
Human emotion has a significant influence on, or can even be said to control, human behavior, though historically many cultures and philosophers have for various reasons discouraged allowing this influence to go unchecked. Emotional experiences perceived as pleasant, like love , admiration, or joy , contrast with those perceived as unpleasant, like hate, envy, or sorrow. There is often a distinction seen between refined emotions, which are socially learned, and survival oriented emotions, which are thought to be innate.
Human exploration of emotions as separate from other neurological phenomena is worthy of note, particularly in those cultures where emotion is considered separate from physiological state. In some cultural medical theories, to provide an example, emotion is considered so synonymous with certain forms of physical health that no difference is thought to exist. In modern scientific thought, certain refined emotions are considered to be a complex neural trait of many domesticated and a few non-domesticated mammals.
These were commonly developed in reaction to superior survival mechanisms and intelligent interaction with each other and the environment; as such, refined emotion is not in all cases as discrete and separate from natural neural function as was once assumed. Still, when humans function in civilized tandem, it has been noted that uninhibited acting on extreme emotion can lead to social disorder and crime.
Humans are known for forming monogamous pair bonds and for extensive parental care, establishing families of parents and children. They also are known for relationships based on "love. Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection or profound oneness. Depending on context, love can have a wide variety of intended meanings, including sexual attraction. Psychologists and religious teachings, however, define love more precisely, as living for the sake of another, motivated by heart-felt feelings of caring, affection, and responsibility for the other's well-being.
Perhaps the best context in which to develop such love is the family , where the love that is given and received is of various kinds. Love can involve the sacrifice and investment that parents willingly give on behalf of their children , and children, in turn, can offer their parents filial devotion and respect. Siblings can care for and help one another in various ways. The love between spouses is a world in itself. Grandparents typically bear a profound regard for their grandchildren. All of these types of love have their distinctive features.
Although love is universally desired, it can be fraught with infidelity, deceit, possessiveness, unrealistic expectations, jealousy, and hate. Love, in fact, is at the root of much pain and conflict in the world. Marriages break down when the passion of romance cools. Human sexuality refers to the expression of sexual sensation and related intimacy between human beings. Biologically , it is the means through which a child is conceived and the lineage is passed on to the next generation. However, besides ensuring biological reproduction , human sexuality has important social functions: It creates physical intimacy, bonds, and hierarchies among individuals; may be directed to spiritual transcendence according to some traditions ; and in a hedonistic sense to the enjoyment of activity involving sexual gratification.
Psychologically , sexuality is the means to express the fullness of love between a man and a woman. There are a great many forms of human sexuality, comprising a broad range of behaviors, and sexual expression varies across cultures and historical periods. Yet the basic principles of human sexuality are universal and integral to what it means to be human.
Sex is related to the very purposes of human existence: love, procreation, and family. Sexuality has social ramifications; therefore most societies set limits, through social norms and taboos , moral and religious guidelines, and legal constraints on what is permissible sexual behavior. As with other human self-descriptions, humans propose that it is high intelligence and complex societies of humans that have produced the most complex sexual behaviors of any animal, including a great many behaviors that are not directly connected with reproduction.
Some scientists and layman hold that human sexuality is not innately monogamous nor by nature exclusively heterosexual between a man and a woman. For example, Alfred Kinsey , a sex researcher, speculates that people can fall anywhere along a continuous scale of sexual orientation, with only small minorities fully heterosexual or homosexual , while other scientists speculate based on neurology and genetics that people may be born with one sexual orientation or another Buss ; Thornhill and Palmer Social Darwinism has been used in speculating that it is the natural state of human beings for males to be promiscuous in order to try to widely spread their genes , while females are naturally monogamous, seeking a stable male presence to help during pregnancy and in rearing children given the extensive parental care involved—a concern about reproduction from which women have been freed recently by various forms of contraception.
However, there are a wide body of authorities likewise who maintain that humans are by nature monogamous and heterosexual, as seen in the tradition of pair bonding and families throughout history. For example, the world's major religions concur in viewing sexual intimacy as proper only within marriage ; otherwise, it can be destructive to human flourishing. A common religious perspective is to view promiscuous and non-heterosexual behavior as deviating from the original human nature, and in Christianity such behaviors traditionally are seen as sin that are tied to separation from God—a separation epitomized in the Fall of Man.
In psychology, homosexuality was listed for some time as a psychological disorder, although this has fallen into disfavor, and marriage counselors strive to find ways to strengthen marriage and love rather than promote promiscuity.
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From a more medical point of view, promiscuity is linked to various sexually transmitted diseases and even greater incidents of some forms of cancer , leading to the speculation that it is not an advantageous state for humans. The rationale for traditional moral strictures on sexuality, in general, is that a sexual activity can express committed love or be a meaningless casual event for recreational purposes. Yet sexual encounters are not merely a physical activity like enjoying good food. Sex involves the partners in their totality, touching their minds and hearts as well as their bodies.
Therefore, sexual relations have lasting impact on the psyche. Sexuality is a powerful force that can do tremendous good or terrible harm; therefore it carries with it moral responsibility. Culture is defined here as a set of distinctive material, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual features of a social group, including art, literature, value systems, traditions, rituals, lifestyles, and beliefs.
The link between human biology and human behavior and culture is often very close, making it difficult to clearly divide topics into one area or the other; as such, the placement of some subjects may be based primarily on convention. Culture consists of values, social norms, and artifacts. A culture's values define what it holds to be important or ethical.
Closely linked are norms, expectations of how people ought to behave, bound by tradition. Artifacts, or "material culture," are objects derived from the culture's values, norms, and understanding of the world. The mainstream anthropological view of " culture " implies that most people experience a strong resistance when reminded that there is an animal as well as a spiritual aspect to human nature Benthall The capacity humans have to transfer concepts, ideas, and notions through speech and writing is unrivaled in known species.
The faculty of speech is a defining feature of humanity, possibly predating phylogenetic separation of the modern population. Language is central to the communication between humans, as well as being central to the sense of identity that unites nations , cultures , and ethnic groups. The invention of writing systems about years ago allowed the preservation of language on material objects, and was a major step in cultural evolution. Language is closely tied to ritual and religion cf.
The science of linguistics describes the structure of language and the relationship between languages.
There are approximately 6, different languages currently in use, including sign languages, and many thousands more that are considered extinct. Prehistoric notions about the status of humanity may be guessed by the etymology of ancient words for man. Ancient Orient. From the third millennium B. Old Kingdom of Egypt , belief in the eternal afterlife of the human Ka Egyptian soul is documented. From the earliest times, people made a claim of dominance of humanity alongside radical pessimism because of the frailty and brevity of human life In the Hebrew Bible , for example, dominion of man is promised in Genesis , but the author of Ecclesiastes bewails the vanity of all human effort.
Classical antiquity. Protagoras made the famous claim that, "Man is the measure of all things; of what is, that it is; of what is not, that it is not. Middle Ages. The dominant worldview of medieval Europe, as guided by the Catholic Church , was that human existence is characterized by sin , and that its aim should be to prepare for divine judgment after death.
The thirteenth century pope Innocent III wrote about the essential misery of earthly existence in his "On the misery of the human condition"—a view that was disputed by, for example, Gianozzo Manetti in his treatise, "On human dignity. A famous quote of Shakespeare 's Hamlet II, ii, , expressing the contrast of human physical beauty, intellectual faculty, and ephemeral nature: "What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Modern era. The Enlightenment was driven by a renewed conviction, that, in the words of Immanuel Kant , "Man is distinguished above all animals by his self-consciousness, by which he is a 'rational animal'.
In the early twentieth century, Sigmund Freud countered positivism by postulating that human behavior is to a large part controlled by the unconscious mind. Some feel that the modern culture of materialism leaves little room for reflection; the tendency to focus on worldly goods naturally denies the opportunity to ponder one's life and its place in the universe. The idea of philosophy being discarded as it runs counter to the pursuit of pleasure is a common theme in certain works of dystopian science fiction , such as Brave New World or Fahrenheit However, it could be argued that a culture of self obsession leads to more self-reflection, since, in the quest for the ideal life, individuals will constantly analyze their characters, faults, and ambitions.
This can be shown in the trend to seek psychotherapy as the panacea to one's emotional woes. The current popularity of the Humanities among the academic disciplines also shows an increased public interest in humanity and its place in the cosmos. Spiritual movements that encourage the reflective arts of prayer and meditation as a practice are on the rise, both as branches of existing religions and as part of more eclectic movements like the New Age.
Artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind, from early pre-historic art to contemporary art. Art is one of the most unusual aspects of human behavior and a key distinguishing feature of humans from other species. As a form of cultural expression by humans, art may be defined by the pursuit of diversity and the usage of narratives of liberation and exploration that is, art history, art criticism, and art theory to mediate its boundaries.
This distinction may be applied to objects or performances, current or historical, and its prestige extends to those who made, found, exhibit, or own them. In the modern use of the word, art is commonly understood to be the process or result of making material works which, from concept to creation, adhere to the "creative impulse" of human beings.
Art is distinguished from other works by being in large part unprompted by necessity, by biological drive, or by any undisciplined pursuit of recreation. Music is a natural intuitive phenomenon based on the three distinct and interrelated organization structures of rhythm , harmony , and melody. Listening to music is perhaps the most common and universal form of entertainment for humans, while learning and understanding it are popular disciplines.
There are a wide variety of music genres and ethnic musics.
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