An Intriguing Discussion - What Exactly is a "Being"?
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ID:1   Posted (edited)

Hi Everyone, 

 

Brother Nnaemeka recently asked an interesting question on a topic he started about the term "Human Being".

And so I thought that maybe it would be fun if we started a topic that was just about the term "Being".

So what is the true meaning of a "Being"?  

 

Is a "being"defined by what the secular dictionaries say?  Or should the term "being" be defined by science?  Or is this term or idea of the term found in the Bible anywhere?  And if Jehovah hasn't defined it for us, then how should it be defined?

 

Could it be any living creature that exists on earth or in heaven?  Or does a "being" only mean the Creator himself?  Or could it include any self-sustaining/immortal creature such as Jesus and the 144,00?  Or could a "being" even include robots or an android? Are animals beings?   If so, what about an insect?  

What is the deciding factor or factors for something to truly be defined as a "being"?

 

A fun discussion but this would be just about the term and not about whether a person should use the term as that is what Brother Nnaemeka's topic is mostly about. Or unless Brother Nnaemeka or the Moderators feel that these topics should be merged?  Either way, sounds like an interesting discussion. Any thoughts?  

 :idea:

 
Edited by Beggar for the Spirit
Gregexplore likes this

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In our study of God's Name, we learned that the root "hawah" is related to the verb "to be". That is why the King James translators use the English expression "I am" because they fett that Jehovah IS or BE's (as the supreme existence).  However we know that "Yah-Hawah" indicates that he "Causes to be" which is slightly clearer.   We now say that Jehovah "causes to become" rather than a statement about his Person.  So in times before 1958 we discouraged the use of "Being" as applying to anyone but God.

Now, our dictionary definition expands the view to include all "who be" or exist.  Shakespeare asked "To be or not to be?"  and we know we "BE". or exist.  Our mathematical friends will remember Rene De Cartes' famous  statement the "I thnk, therefore I am (or BE).

 

Some beings (like people or animals) we can see.  We know of their existence or 'being'.  Others (like angels) are beyond our individual perception.  So we can't see their existence.  But we still believe that they are (or have being).  We trust the evidence provided in God's Word.

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I'm lost.... don't remember this one....

 

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Greg's imperfect  brain dictionary definition:

Being equals Self-Awareness and free will so that would include Jehovah, angels and humans but exclude robots  etc.

Animals would be excluded as well due to the lack of free will although some appear to show signs of self awareness.. but again no free will.

 

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Okay, it seems to me that there are 2 ways to look at this: Anything that is, is a being--since "IS", "BE" and "ARE" are just verb tenses.

On the other hand, I keep remembering the quote: "I think, therefore, I am"......and this would leave out the animal creation.

 

My 2 cents (if they are worth that, even, with today's inflation)

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To add to the discussion, notice how the modern dictionaries define "Being".

If these definitions were to be the deciding factor in determining what a being is, then a "Being" would include animals or even insects since these breath and exist, a "living thing".  Interesting, what are your thoughts? 

:idea:

 

(Merriam-Webster)

Definition of being

1a :  the quality or state of having existence

b (1) :  something conceivable as existing (2) :  something that actually exists (3) :  the totality of existing things

c :  conscious existence :  life

2:  the qualities that constitute an existent thing :  essence; especially :  personality

3:  a living thing; especially :  person

 

Dictionary.com

1.the fact of existing; existence (as opposed to nonexistence).

2.conscious, mortal existence; life:

Our being is as an instantaneous flash of light in the midst of eternalnight.

3.substance or nature:

of such a being as to arouse fear.

4.something that exists:

inanimate beings.

5.a living thing:

strange, exotic beings that live in the depths of the sea.

6.a human being; person:

the most beautiful being you could imagine.

7.

(initial capital letter) God.

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The word 'Being' or 'being' are very important terms in Philosophy for it could be argued that these terms are indeed the most important of all in the vocabulary of Philosophy both Western and Eastern. The meaning of his terms relates to the property of 'existence' which therefore as the First Cause of Existence or the basis of all existence is the Creator, Jehovah God. The very meaning of His name relates to these properties such as causation and existence. For these reasons it has been the traditional that such a term or description 'being' should properly belong to the Deity- God, Jehovah God. From this perspective, should properly be described as 'human creatures which removes the aspect of Deity which alone is the property of the gods to that of the Creation being an act of the Deity - God, Jehovah God.

 

scholar JW

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i took a philosophy class.....  owe man... they want to brain wash you.  wrote an essay as an assignment and the teacher/(or whatever you call college instructors) wouldn't accept my paper when i said the "particular philosopher believes this";  as they want you to believe the philosopher as opposed to Gods word.  I even quoted scriptures that were relevant;  but nooo;  they want people believing in immortality of the soul..... silly rabbits... i quit the class. B)

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Thanks Neil for sharing the perspective of "Philosophy".

But I wonder if those in Philosophy that believe that the term"Being" is just for the "Causation/Creator/God, if they are correct? They have been wrong about other ideas/concepts. So are the philosophers correct? Are they the ones who should determine what a "Being" is?

 

If we could ask the Creator what He considers a "Being", would He say that only He himself is a Being?

OR

Might Jehovah say that anything that He has created that is "living" and has "existence" is a Being?

 

While the Creator is the ultimate Being and "causation", are not other life forms Beings? Such as His own son Jesus. It is hard to imagine Jehovah saying, "No my son Jesus is not a Being"

His son also is immortal and self-sustaining, just as 144,000 other sons are. All of this is very intriguing to consider as to what a Being is, since we can't directly ask Jehovah, we as humans might look to science or philosophy, but I am curious as to what Jehovah's view on this matter is? 

 

Now some would choose "Creature" instead of a "Being" for anything else living but God. Why though?  Why does the act of creating or being the initial cause only make God a Being?  If a person accepts that a Being has "existence" and must be "living", thinking, then this would include all sorts of things as Beings, from Angels to humans to even animals.

So couldn't Jehovah view something He created as also a "Being"(a living thing that has existence)?

 
Edited by Beggar for the Spirit

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Beggar for the Spirit

You raise some interesting issues. Your questions are in the fields of Theology and Philosophy (Metaphysics) with the latter underpinning Theology. The Bible as God's Word even though it contains books on Philosophy known as the Wisdom genre does not deal specifically with the subject of 'Being'  as a Concept. The word relates to existence so anything that exists would properly 'be' thus would be a 'being' in that formal sense so in this way we can refer to spirit beings which were created and human beings which also were created. However, it is only God that can properly described as Absolute Being so in using such terms, discrimination is essential. Philosophy also concerns itself with words, grammar and trying to explain the world or reality in meaningful language and that is why the term 'Being' is so profound perhaps the most awesome word in human language. There are many good reference works on Philosophy so time spent in pursuing this subject would be most productive.

 

How Jehovah views the matter I cannot say for I do not the Mind of God but what I do know that the subject of 'Being' has fascinated Philosophers since the time of Parmenides but what I think is important is that we understand that words have great power and meaning no more so then this beautiful and abstract word 'Being' or 'to be'.

 

scholar JW

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vern

 

Sadly, Philosophy has and continues to alienate people and has always suffered 'bad press' particularly in religious circles. I studied Philosophy in my older years and as a active Witness and found the subject fascinating, exhilarating and faith/spiritually up building. I was fascinated by the many 'proof's for God's existence and their relative histories which one could use to good effect in the field when dealing with atheists. For me Philosophy along with His written Word draws me closer to my Heavenly Father because philosophy provides the grammar in understanding God and the world and using the Bible to understand His purposes so I do not have a common, negative of this subject for after the Bible itself contains much that could be considered Philosophy in its purest sense.

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i took the class thinking maby it could add to some understanding to the way the world has developed their thinking.... but if they are gonna be unreasonable...I'd rather focus on Jehovah's word.  I found in my efforts to understand mental illness with the world thoughts on it that it hurt me spiritually;  so i stopped trying to understand in thier words and found spiritual ways to understand somethings that helped.

 

the only thing i got out of the class was a picture that had me think that the universe is made out of some unseen DNA direction and control on the energy that's used to make the universe.  shrug....

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3 hours ago, vern said:

i took the class thinking maby it could add to some understanding to the way the world has developed their thinking.... but if they are gonna be unreasonable...I'd rather focus on Jehovah's word.  I found in my efforts to understand mental illness with the world thoughts on it that it hurt me spiritually;  so i stopped trying to understand in thier words and found spiritual ways to understand somethings that helped.

 

the only thing i got out of the class was a picture that had me think that the universe is made out of some unseen DNA direction and control on the energy that's used to make the universe.  shrug....

It's a bit hard to take a class with the intention of changing it, when it was developed with the intent of changing you, and presume to accomplish this. 

 

I side (believe, understand ) with Beggar for the Spirit,  I think the line is drawn at life.

A rock exists, but doesn't know it...kind of the 'dungy idols' in Deut thing..

 

A  white tail buck may not be a Mensa candidate but they make a lot of people look stupid so they definitely interact with their environment and learn from experience. They think, therefore. ..they are. I feel that qualifies them as intelligent beings..

 

 

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It is a quality of the English language that just about every word has more than one meaning, or at least several flavours of meanings. That is why when we read the dictionary, there is more than one definition shown. Generally we use one meaning or definition at a time and we determine the appropriate meaning by the context it is written in. Many people try to apply all definitions from a dictionary at the same time and thus confuse themselves. This causes some interesting answers at the Watchtower study when someone looks up a word in the dictionary.

9 hours ago, Beggar for the Spirit said:

To add to the discussion, notice how the modern dictionaries define "Being".

If these definitions were to be the deciding factor in determining what a being is, then a "Being" would include animals or even insects since these breath and exist, a "living thing".  Interesting, what are your thoughts?

So while the dictionary does include insects and stones as beings, Is this the definition that applies to the context of the discussion. Yes insects can be beings, but not in the context of this thread

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