Interestingly, I find the parallel with carbon interesting in this debate as arguably like humans carbon holds a fairly unique position in the periodic table that has lead to about half of chemistry being dedicated to that element. Yes, you can define carbon as the element with 6 protons, this is a simple and hardline definition that lets you know what carbon is but it does not explain why it has half of chemistry dedicated to it. For most elements, you can find an other element that can do similar chemistry with varying degree usually within their, the halogen can often be swapped out for an other halogens, oxygen can often be swapped out for sulfure, a lot of the metal can be swapped out for an other similar metal for chemistry. Yes they all have their unique reaction but nothing near to the degree that carbon has which is irreplaceable in organic chemistry.
This is doubly interesting because it does not hold any characteristic that is truly unique not even in degree, it electronegativity is similar to that of sulfure, selenium, iodine and interestingly gold, it has the same valency as a silicon and many other elements can have higher valency, it size is fairly close to that of boron, and nitrogen but its the combination of caracteristic that has made carbon so unique that life was able to form from it.
This probably mostly talks to me because of my background in chemistry.