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  • Foto del escritorJuan Almarza Anwandter

Back to things themselves #4: Humans

From all the things that populate our vital horizon on a daily basis, humans seem to be one of the most intriguing and fascinating. Just as animals, they move by their own will. But they also speak. A lot. Language has been regarded as the primary way of distinction of what being-human means. But the human figure predates this attribute. Erect position. A head on top of the shoulders, a torso, four limbs. Frontal symmetry ruled by laws of proportion. Forward motion. A physiologically determined set of bodily movements and actions: sitting, standing still, walking, running. Grabbing objects with their hands. And the possibility of expressing emotional states like joy, grief, anger, or fear, that can be understood without words. Phenomenologically speaking, this is the basic grammar of the conditio humana, and it has a universal character that transcends any culturally determined boundaries. From the elements of this grammar, emotional expressiveness constitutes a main factor of differentiation between humans and animals and is in direct proportion to their level of organic complexity. The lower forms in the zoological scale like amoebas or unicellular organisms have no expressive qualities, apart from movement. A snake or a frog, neither, but their index of expressiveness is comparatively higher. Closer to us, some pet dogs can eventually smile, or cry. Chimpanzees are at the verge of humanness; they resemble rustic humans, without the gift of intelligible language, and this is what makes them appear comical. At the top of the zoological scale, we are certainly the most expressive entities around. The conscious dominion of emotional expression constitutes one step further in the assertion of the human condition, and it means temperance.    

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