The Essence of Man

Language can sometimes be a source of great confusion. In the second half of 19th century a heated debate began in Europe with the publication of Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’. It concerned the origin and nature of man. Unfortunately there was no agreement on what exactly is ‘man’. Those who took side with science saw man as complex machine. All of man’s functions were explainable in terms of mechanical causes and effects. There were some doubts about the nature of mind, but a ‘ghost-in-the-machine’ model was favoured with the assurance that the ghost would eventually be explained away. Opposing camp was lead by the christian church which saw immaterial soul as the essence of man. Physical body was a cage, and soul was in constant battle against bodily temptations. Church combatted the evil of materialism using this ‘bird-in-a-cage’ model. Theologians using the word ‘man’ meant bird/ghost, while scientists using the same word meant machine/cage. Great confusion and disagreement followed.
Let us come back to this crucial question. What is man? What does a scientist mean when he states ‘man is a product of evolution’? He is referring to a complex organism with all its functions, of which he himself is a sample. Going back home from his laboratory or lecture hall, does he mean the same thing whenever he uses the term ‘I’ ? What is the correlation between objective ‘man’ which is a subject of scientific study and subjective ‘I’ which is outside the realm of science?
Let us make an attempt to recognize ourselves. I can perceive myself as something separate from surroundings. There is obviously a ‘me’ and a ‘non-me’. I have my body, thoughts and feelings. I use my reason and logic to a great extent in interacting with external world. I frequently experience joy and frustrations. Most of the time my faculties are under control, but there are times when I lose control. I am not a unified whole, but a conglomeration of many entities, both physical and non-physical, with the rational component leading the pack.
I perceive great divisions in the living world. Plants are living, but something differentiate them from animals. I call it consciousness. Animals are conscious, but plants are not. Comparing humans and other animals, I see that humans are ‘self-aware’ but animals are not. Self-awareness separates man from all other life forms. It is not exactly right to qualify humans as self-aware. Our sense of identity is clouded in a state of partial awareness. We are in fact at an intermediate stage in the transformation from consciousness to self-awareness, yet to reach the state of full-blown awareness. We see the world and ourselves through a tiny window on the boundary wall of consciousness.
How do we solve an algebraic problem involving many unknowns? We begin with a simple statement such as ‘let x be the first variable.’ This is not a Greek invention, but the default method of problem solving in the universe. Primitive humans, at the infancy of self-awareness, used the same method to differentiate themselves from their sorroundings. ‘Let I be myself!’ Problem solver had to have a name – the concept of self was essential before outside objects could be named.
We had earlier named our instrument of knowing as the ‘demystifier’. It is the measuring rod scaling the universe. It makes objective knowledge possible through de-mystification. It is a non-physical organ that evolved recently (on evolutionary time scale) to help matter reach newer levels of creative existence. This is the ‘I’ we speak of, the name we have given to the rational, self-aware part of ourselves. We often forget that this rational component is only a part of the conglomeration that we truly are, confusing our real nature with the demystifier and its picture of itself. In the blur of partial awareness, I limit myself to the recently evolved expressive fragment, howling infant of my totality. True, this part is extremely powerful because it has its words and reason. But there are other unknown, far away regions of myself, alien to the demystifier.
Why is the fundamental property of creativity different from other properties such as mass or electric charge? Why should we classify it as irrational? Why can’t the demystifier deal with it by fitting a model as done with other properties? Creativity inherent in the primary substance has evolved into self-awareness in our species. This creative awareness is what we identified as the demystifier. That makes quantifying creativity an impossible task, like measuring the length of a meter rod. One can think of such a measurement only if there is another standard to measure with. If the universe has only one standard of length, it would be absurd to consider measuring this standard. Precisely that is the case with creativity. We know other fundamental properties through creativity. This is the only possible instrument of knowing. There exists nothing to know creativity with, consequence being the immesurability of creativity itself. Universe appears comprehensible to human rationality because creativity is its moving force. Comprehensibility of nature is trivial, like the fact that all numbers are divisible be one.
Key to a deeper understanding of human condition is the demystifier’s relationship with its mysterious source. This powerful organ evolved to meet the latest challenges of creative becoming, out of primary substance’s drive to know itself. How is it related to the unknowable whole from which it originated? Demystifier was born with the mission of conquering the unknown and thus being a valuable aid to survival. It has accomplished this task well enough, as proven by the success human species. But this powerful conqueror is seated on enemy shoulders. It is waging this all important war against the unknown from an unenviable resting place. This is the tragedy of human condition.Our destiny is to fight with the mysterious whole that is our source.
One cannot think of a way in which this turn of evolution could have been averted. Knowledge had to be acquired, even though it meant fragmentation and suffering to human beings. We were not left alone in the dark to suffer, there were curative inventions to alleviate our misery.
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