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Unclear EARTH terms detected. Alternate translations provided at the bottom of the page.
Hello again, Student and Traveler! Your inquiry:
“What does the term being translated as “Being” mean, I wonder?”
has prompted our database to display the follow entry:
As you will see in this and other entries concerning civilizations and the studies thereof, the distinction of Being is a very important term. Legally, you are a Being by virtue of reading and understanding this entry, thus receiving formal education. The philosophical and scientific definitions of a Being are a bit more complex, however.
To qualify as a Being, a species must possess all of the following traits:
- Metacognition: Any sufficiently mature Being will be able to think about thinking, processing their own thoughts critically. Some schools of biology even theorize that one can predict whether an animal will evolve into a Being by whether that animal can lie, thus purposefully masking its own thoughts. As the philosopher Rond-Al-Zekias mused, “I have asked myself why I think, and so answered my own question.”
- Empathy: As a metacognitive animal, Beings are able to emulate the thoughts of others. This is a controversial requirement of Beinghood, however, as demonstrated by the Traveler Paradox. The paradox is as follows: without empathy, Beings do not become social enough to form lasting civilizations. Without a lasting civilization, Beings cannot develop the means to contact Beings on other planets, such as the Intergalactic Commission. Therefore, Beings without empathy may exist beyond the scope of our knowledge.
- Complex memory: Beings keep records, whether cognitive or written. All Beings must have the ability to know about the past beyond their lifespan. A sub-trait of this is the ability to imagine and conceive of the future. Although it is not a necessary requisite for Beinghood, all known Beings are future-cognitive.
- Self-Identity: Beings identify as Beings. Although this qualification seems strange, it is important in at least two cases. The Thirona of system Kertar rejected the label of Being, thus excluding themselves from the Intergalactic Commission. Kertar was mined for resources, but because of the Thirona’s refusal, they relinquished all Being rights of habitat. A breeding population of Thirona was kept, but as of the most recent quarter, the species has failed to breed in captivity and therefore become extinct. The second important case will be revealed at the end of this article.
This brings us to the important question of this article: how do we know that humans are Beings? Because the only remaining signs of human existence are their translated records, we must extrapolate from what humans have said about themselves. Fortunately, humans were obsessed with record-keeping, especially in their later years, leaving information printed on TREES, carved out of metals or stored electronically. Even if this was not the case, humans left PLASTIC remnants which lasted longer than even TREE and metal records.
Based on the huge amount of human stories, both historical and fictional, it is easy to determine that they were metacognitive. One human philosopher, RENE OF CARDS*, explained human cognition thus: “I think, therefore I am.” The difficult part of determining human Beinghood, however, is the question of empathy.
It is clear from human records that they felt empathy for other humans, to a degree. Although human civilizations would fight each other, this can be explained by the Opposition Principle, further explained by Rond-Al-Zekias thusly: “If a Being cannot find an enemy without, they must find one within.” In addition, humans clearly valued empathy. One disease among humans was SOCIOPATHY, defined as an inability to empathize.
Despite all of this, it is impossible to tell whether humans had empathy for non-human Beings, since they never contacted any. The Traveler Paradox does not necessarily apply to humans because humans were capable of communicative technologies and limited interplanetary travel; the main reason humans never contacted other Beings is their extinction prior to our discovery of EARTH. Therefore, exo-anthropologists fell into two schools.
The argument for Being pointed to human fiction as being full of imagined Beings. Humans invented creatures like ELVES, OOMPA-LOOMPAS, and VULCANS among others, all of whom were treated in stories like alien Beings should be under Intergalactic Code. Some humans even tried to create Beings with their technology, although there is little to no evidence that these ROBOTS ever achieved Beinghood.
On the other hand, arguments against Being used human fiction as evidence that humans could not empathize even with imagined Beings. In the majority of human stories with fictional Beings, non-humans are treated as lesser creatures. Species like ORCS, OOMPA-LOOMPAS, and DEMONS were regularly used as examples of expendable slaves or evil monsters. Even in stories were humans do meet non-EARTH life, the foreign Beings are presented as mindless conquerors. Humans even feared that their ROBOTS would kill their creators for some reason. Lastly, the anti-Being faction rejected the Opposition Principle and pointed to human beliefs like RACISM and NATIONALISM as evidence against intra-human empathy.
This argument was made moot, however, with the implementation of the Self-Identity classification. The human term for their own species was HUMAN BEINGS*, a phrase which, roughly translated, means roughly the same thing as our term for a Being. It was thus decided that humans should, for all intents and purposes, be classified as honorary Beings.
Before you continue in this guide, please answer the following questions about relevant terms in this chapter. An exo-anthropologist is you!
- What was Thirona’s Mistake? What does this teach you about how the Intergalactic Commission treats its valued members?
- Do you think humans would treat you with empathy? Why or why not?
- Studies of human fiction have shown that humans sometimes used fictional Beings as stand-ins for classes of humans considered significantly different from the author(s). How does this reflect the Opposition Principle?
- If you met a previously undiscovered species, how would you identify it as a Being or non-Being?
- EARTH animals with one or more traits of Beinghood have been described in human records. Why do you think they are not considered full Beings?
*This untranslated term may have read RENE DESCARTES, KIDNEY DESCARTES, or RENE OF CARDS.
*This untranslated term may have read HUMAN BEINGS, HOMO SAPIENS, or GAY THOUGHTS.
Thank you for reading On Beings. What topic would you like to explore next?