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    What Makes Us Human? 10.10.10

    by earwicga
    7th October, 2010 at 11:37 am    

    Via One Day On Earth & Human Rights Watch:

    On October 10th, Human Rights Watch asks you to help us put a face to the human rights issue that confront us. Take the day to reflect on what human rights mean to you, and to society in general, and make a video that expresses your vision. Footage that you create will potentially be used in a feature film, as well as a short film created for Human Rights Watch and will live in perpetuity on One Day in Earth’s global archive.

    1. Consider the question: what makes us human? Is it your ability to express yourself? To make decisions? To love? To vote? To go to school? To ask officials for help without paying a bribe, regardless of your ethnic group or religion? To express your gender or sexual orientation freely? What’s most important to you?

    2. Answer this question to camera. Consider placing yourself in a location relevant to your answer.

    3. Feel free to go further. Visually document the basic human rights that you enjoy, or the human rights that are being denied to you, or to others. Seek out images or interviews related to the topic of human rights.

    Might be a fun thing to do with the kids on a rainy Sunday.  Unicef UK has a range of resources about human rights on it’s website as part of their Rights Respecting Schools Award initiative.

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    Filed in: Current affairs

    15 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : What Makes Us Human? 10.10.10 http://bit.ly/c31YUe

    1. MaidMarian — on 7th October, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

      Although he was better know for ‘The End of History’ and later being a neo-con, Francis Fukuyama wrote a magnificant book on this very topic.

      A reading of ‘Our Posthuman Future’ sets this out well.

    2. earwicga — on 7th October, 2010 at 5:19 pm  

      Thanks MM. I’ve found a review of ‘Our Posthuman Future’ by Kenan Malik which seems to set out the main themes. Interesting that Malik should mention Gataca (a film which I can’t get to the end of as it makes me angry) as I’d got a sense of it from the book’s description elsewhere. It looks to me that neurosexism forms part of the basis of Fukuyama’s starting point - is that the case MM?

    3. Don — on 7th October, 2010 at 5:38 pm  

      Very interesting review, earwicca. But then Kenan is always worth reading.

      I might see what I can get out of a couple of classes in terms of this debate. We’ve been doing a fair amount of Philosophy for Children over the last couple of years and this could well fit in.

    4. Jeeaw — on 7th October, 2010 at 6:23 pm  

      To join debate irrespective of ethnicity, orientation, disability or religion without being ground into the dirt by habitual criminals, who seemingly nobody cares to tackle:


    5. halima — on 7th October, 2010 at 6:51 pm  


      What makes you angry about Gattaca?

    6. halima — on 7th October, 2010 at 7:02 pm  

      Interesting review of Our Posthuman Future, I never had much time for Fukuyama when he wrote the End of History as I distrust people who think of the world in such binary narratives. Once again, here he is constructing some kind of post human future where aging women/North and youthful male/South dominate human relations. Is that really the case? Where does North and South begin? Does it include Japan and China? Indonesia? As I said, the world of binaries never made sense to me, usually constructed by people to build the world in their preferred political image, rather than the natural order of things.

      Have I mis-understood? Is this a much better book? I remember people saying the End of History was a seminal piece of work.

    7. cjcjc — on 8th October, 2010 at 8:30 am  

      This sounds like a nice idea.

      Though I’m not sure that “To ask officials for help without paying a bribe, regardless of your ethnic group or religion?” is amongst those things that *make us human*, important though that is!

    8. Sarah AB — on 8th October, 2010 at 9:06 am  

      I’ve written something for a forthcoming essay collection on metamorphosis/humanity. I found myself concluding that humanity seems driven by an urge to develop and improve (which seems to be one element of human nature) but that that (human) instinct towards development may lead us (slightly paradoxically) to develop away from the human.

      I saw this development in terms of a parabola with humans at the summit - to move forwards is also to move downwards - to be posthuman is also in as sense to be prehuman. I was particularly looking at the way in which representations of posthumans often bore resemblance to insects, such as ants, in their greater uniformity and cooperation.

      Sounds like I need to check out that Fukuyama book before I revise the chapter as I’m very much a literary critic straying into rather more philosophical/sociological territory.

    9. Sarah AB — on 8th October, 2010 at 9:08 am  

      This also ties in with something (?)Macaulay said about poetry getting worse when civilisation improves.

    10. Sarah AB — on 8th October, 2010 at 9:09 am  

      I really liked Gattaca - possibly because it had Ethan Hawke in it! (Right, must definitely get back to work now.)

    11. MaidMarian — on 8th October, 2010 at 9:32 am  

      earwicga - One of the reasons I always take Fukuyama carefully is that he is not exactly what one would call a feminist! I don’t really think that gender issues are a big part of Our Post Human Future. That review you put up catches it pretty well.

      What Fukuyama says is that humanity and human nature have been a facet of thought from Aristotle and Plato through to the tyrants of the last century. It is only now however that we can ‘change’ humanity with science. Gene technology in particular throws up questions like where the human in human rights begins and ends. Science will, likely, allow humans to change what constitutes life and that politics will need to be rethought.

    12. earwicga — on 8th October, 2010 at 10:33 am  

      Of course MM :) Thing is though, if you start off with a false premise it usually leads to a false conclusion.

    13. earwicga — on 8th October, 2010 at 4:12 pm  

      This may be of interest from the LSE:

      ‘Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, seeks collaborators to assist with new book on human rights, to be serialised on the web.

      At the start of each week I will post an essay on http://www.therightsfuture.com and invite students and the general public to comment and respond to the piece. I will respond to your comments and re-write an essay at the end of each week. Together we will write twenty essays over the next three months. We will address the history and politics of human rights, their present state in the world and map out some of the possible futures that await this morally important but highly contested phrase.

      To kick off discussion I propose the following ten propositions as a manifesto for this project:

      1. Human rights are social democratic politics for our post-political age.

      2. Human rights need to be true even if we have to make them so.

      3. Realising human rights must always be emancipatory, and securing them might sometimes be revolutionary.

      4. Labour rights are essential to human rights.

      5. The great religions are more friend than foe to human rights.

      6. In taming counter-terrorism law human rights has the chance to renew its soul.

      7. Rights are for more than humans.

      8. The powerful should be made to need human rights, but they should never like them,

      9. Human rights are for people not peoples.

      10. Lawyers are wonderful for human rights – but as supporting actors, not the main act.’

    14. earwicga — on 8th October, 2010 at 4:13 pm  

      halima - the premise that people are invalid because of their dna.

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