Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Being Human

The deceptively simple question, "what is a human being?", has occupied the time and attention of many thinkers over the centuries. Although we are aware of the dangers of materialism, and careful to avoid viewing humans as merely structures of flesh operating under the control of instincts and various biological processes, it is equally important to avoid the opposite extreme, and deny any importance to the material aspects of human life. The philosopher Mark Levin writes that an essential part of being human is a person's

ability to adapt his behavior to overcome his weaknesses and better master his circumstances. One of the fundamental ways man adapts is to acquire and possess property. It is how he makes his home, finds or grows food, makes clothing, and generally improves his life. Private property is not an artificial construct. It is endemic to human nature and survival.

Levin is telling us that the right to own private property is more than a political luxury. It is a necessary ingredient to a truly human civilization.