Are there any experiences it is essential to have in order to understand what it means to be human?
I believe we derive meaning in our lives from a variety of places: a significant other, family, family history, friendship, culture, work, creative activities, spiritual activities, dealing with challenges. I believe that no matter who you are; no matter what station you have in life; life throws you challenges. No one really has a easy life. The idea of the “poor little rich kid” is not just a laughing matter.
So life is full of many kinds of experiences that provide meaning. Do people who don’t have certain kinds of experiences then not “get” what most of the rest of humanity gets? Like, if you don’t have children—it always struck me as odd that unmarried, childless Catholic priests, were giving couples advice on relationships and childrearing.
I know not everyone can experience all kinds of things. We can’t all be politicians, or mountain climbers, or chess players. Some of us never play in team sports. Some people can never carry a tune. Some don’t know what it means to feel graceful.
Are there some essential experiences that, lacking them, we can not truly understand humanity or humanness? If so, what are they? Are there any experiences, that, if you don’t have them, you can not understand what it’s like, and you can not empathize with or advise people in those situations?
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.