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Thoughts on a New Image of Man
Imre von Soos
"What is badly needed is a timely image of man. Since the previous proud image derived from religion and philosophy does not serve modern needs efficiently, a new image should be synthesized....I would contend that this is a very important business indeed -- to find out what actually is human….But what we need are not some hypothetical mechanisms better to explain some aberrations of the behaviour of the laboratory rat; what we need is a new conception of man….The image of man is not only a theoretical question, it is a question of the preservation of man as human." Ludwig von Bertalanffy
"Is it not high time that we asked ourselves what constitutes a full human being, and through what modifications in our plan of life we can create him?" Lewis Mumford
These statements clearly imply, that – in the opinion of von Bertalanffy and Mumford, whom I join – not every member of the species Homo sapiens is a "human", and that a description taken from physical anthropology will hardly suffice in his definition, as an anthropomorphic organism is not necessarily one. That would be the kind of definition by which's strength the cancerous cells freely and 'legally' participate in the metabolism of an organism as exploiters but not as interacting constituents, as parasites, not as organismic symbionts. The true criterion must obviously lay in psychical qualities, which define the attitude, function and efficiency with which a human fills his role as subject, instrument and originator in Creation. Lewis Mumford even considers him so atypical, that he actually has to be created.
MAN: Shouldn't there be a grandeur behind this concept? Or any anthropomorphic rat is good enough?
SOCIETY: Shouldn't MEN's associations represent a harmonious, synergic, natural whole? Or any ignorance-, greed- and passion-driven multitude will do?
Man, as an individual and as a constituent of a collective, and the thus formed collective, all must fit into – be in harmony with – the Natural Order. This is a criterion, not an image. But I propose, that anybody fitting that criterion, will also produce the right concept, and reflect the right image. And I also propose, that through no kind of modifications in our plan of life can we create him, for each one has to create himself through self-motivated, self-generated and self-activated action. – A short relevant nature-study follows:
Evolution happens on individual level. All perpetuating life-forms manifest anamorphosis: an organism's exercise of its potentialities of evolution to create new forms of life, due to – or rather driven by – its own intellect-pressure, where survival – while a sine qua non – is not the prime mover, and where diversity and not multiplicity is the dominating tendency. The evolutionary criterion lies not in the comparison to the highest evolutionary life-forms, but in the efficiency with which each one fills its respective ecology-niche as subject, instrument and originator in Creation; a criterion that defines its universal life value.
No cell exists for another cell, but to express itself by surviving and evolving, motivated by its self-assertive tendency; and by cooperating with other cells in constituting an organ and contributing to its healthy function, motivated by its integrative, self-transcending tendency. In this role it submits itself to the ordering principle of the by it constituted organ, just as its own constituents submit themselves to its own ordering principle. Thus it works with fixed rules and flexible strategies, interacting with all its constituents and with all that it constitutes. Its exchange of matter and energy does not happen with its similars, but with the natural systems it is composed by and composes. Part of what it receives, it uses for its own sustenance and growth, the other part for executing its function. If it takes more than what it returns, then it exists at the expense of the organelles and the organ, and is regressive. If it returns more than what it receives, it promotes the evolution of the whole system: it is progressive. The evolution of the organ reflects on every of its constituent cells, and thus on their evolution. The same correlation works between organ and organ-system, organ-system and organism, organism and ecological community, ecological community and major ecological community, major ecological community and the planet. Of this chain the cell, the organism, the major ecological community and the planet are at the level of quasi-autonomous survival.
The perpetuation – not only the short term existence – of an individual organism depends on its self-assertive tendency within the trophic stratum, and on its integrative tendency towards the major community. Self-assertion means expression of superior ability, not aggression, while integration is the forming a constituting part through positive co-operation, and not subordination. In practice, this represents for the individual to fulfil well its function and keep its appetite, and for the species population to maintain its number within the limits defined by its position gained by ability in the respective trophic stratum. Ability refers to values of higher life-manifestations.
Primitive man – and primitive, in this context, does not mean undeveloped, stupid, simpleton, as these qualities have only in this soi-disant modern culture (or rather un-culture) survival value, but primary, original, unadulterated, of-the-nature man – was integral part of the living community of men, animals, plants and physical environment. To be integral part is the quality of the spirit, manifested not in the learning and believing, but in the knowing how to be. Acting not by instinct, but by intuition; by direct contact to the mind of the ecological community, that unified consciousness, in which the community exists; that certain In that makes the whole more than the sum of its parts, and in which every In-1 is rooted. In those organismic and harmonious communities, which lived, in fact, under ethical, ethological and ecological circumstances, the child was brought up to become an independent, self-sufficient, whole man. At the coming of age he had to prove being one, by departing and surviving on his own accord for a given period. He either perished, or returned as a man who proved his life-competence and consequently was initiated as a member of the tribe, thus taking his apposite place within the community. His individual worth and individual responsibility were beyond question, on the strength of which societies could be built and evolved; societies with synergy, that beautiful feeling of unity and harmony of the strong.
Dehumanisation – or rather self-dehumanisation – started when the nomadic tribes settled into urban communities, and those elements, which could not have survived under the previous conditions, made their place 'outside the walls', living an unnatural existence as scavengers and beggars, establishing the social caste of the masses.
What prevails at present is the use of these mass-people because they are usable as resources (slaves, serfs, servants, lackeys, soldiers, workers, employees, and also researchers, experts and scholars) who are forced through their own life-incompetence to maintain the trends of the prevailing civilisation. But it is wrong is to blame a third party for it. Because force has no hold on freedom, only on negative qualities, only on weaknesses. The self-image of "an innocent sufferer of a cruel fate" must be removed. Only a chattel can be used as a chattel.
I have a favourite little anecdote since my youth, about thee stonemasons working on the building of a church, who are asked what they are doing. "Cutting stone" – answers the first. "Earning money" – so the second. And then the third replies: "I, sir, am building a cathedral". – Three men doing the same work, yet two of them are slaves, and one a creative individual, who loves what he is doing, is proud of his product, and sees the purpose and the finished article in it. Because "slavery, and the only slavery is service without love" – as e.e.cummings excellently formulated it.
There is no doubt, that the 'regressive intelligences' dominating politics and commerce have the intention of systematically stultifying all humans by a perverse system of education, and dehumanising him ever further by means of a sophisticated psychological technology, but I contend, that it depends on each individual if he lets himself being reduced to the lower aspects of his nature, and manipulated into a feeble-minded automaton of consumption and a marionette of political power; reduced into a conditioned-response robot and an incorrigible naked ape. An image is only valid if it fits.
The only protection against mental poisoning is creative intelligence. To withstand the pressure of indoctrination, the child and the man has to be well above the actual average (an unpardonable social crime), which puts him automatically between the smallest minority. "The more unconscious a man is, – writes C. G. Jung – the more he will conform to the general canon of psychic behaviour. But the more conscious he becomes of his individuality, the more pronounced will be his difference from other subjects and the less he will come up to common expectations. Further, his reactions are much less predictable. This is due to the fact that an individual consciousness is always more highly differentiated and more extensive. But the more extensive it becomes, the more differences it will perceive, and the more it will emancipate itself from the collective rules, for the empirical freedom of the will grows in proportion to the extension of consciousness." Follows that also the less he will be apt for exploitation by the 'regressive intelligences', commercial, clerical, political or military interests, and the more he will have to be bred out and indoctrinated against.
Quite obviously, the actual materialistic mainstream science is playing into the hands of the 'regressive intelligences' by prostituting itself, and by depicting man and all life-manifestations as merely physico-chemical machines, an attitude that man is widely and wildly practicing against each other and nature. On the other hand, were human attitudes and relationships any better when organized religions ruled the scene? Is the “homo homini lupus” a fabricated image? And why lupus? The family and social life of the wolfs can only serve as an example. Their leader is always the most equipped for that role. The weaker males do not gang up in any animal society to beat the strongest individual and share the privileges and the females between themselves. Isn’t this what we call ethics? Neither do they just copulate irresponsibly for the fun of it and then abandon the results, or send them begging, prostitute them, or make them work, but care for them and educate them until they reach a general life-efficiency. They have natural morals and live under ethical, ethological and ecological circumstances, in harmony with their environment. The concept of the “law of the jungle” is a human invention, not that of the jungle.
Consequently, to define the new concept of man, we have to go back to nature. But not back in time. Back to nature and forward in time. There is nothing wrong with modern living provided by new inventions and progressive technologies for those who are capable of providing them and using them sensibly. There is only wrong with the people who are abusing them. There is wrong with the equality virus, the self-image, that every member of this species is born equal – while every other life-manifestation is far inferior –, and consequently wants to solve everything after the same pattern, and wants to provide one blueprint involving each and every member of the most heterogeneous species, declaring each ipso facto "a real human being". Quite obviously, this kind of blueprint must be fashioned on the lowest common denominator, and forced onto the rest as a straitjacket. I refer here to my Cartesian parastatement: "No individual organism shall reach an evolutionary state, even if he possesses and enjoys all the material benefits characteristic to that state, that the others have conceived and elaborated, unless he has an intellectual talent that fits him to conceive and elaborate them, to resolve related difficulties and form solid judgements on these matters." Only after a complete knowledge and understanding of his actual milieau, his actual world, is an individual qualified to transcend it, proceeding to a higher one.
"The poor creature called man is beset with the shortcomings of animal physiology, aggravated by domestication, making his living in a continuous rat-race, under a thousand stresses, and chased around in a complex society", only because he lives at the level of his general incompetence, in an ecology/social niche beyond his mental and physical capacity, reached through elbowing, equilibrating his inferiority with aggression, and contributing to the schizophrenia of the society. Anyway, who wants to be in a rat-race, but a rat. The consequent despondent self-image is auto-produced, not planted on him from the outside. No manufactured “new image” will help him out of that, and he will keep on blaming the society, or whatever he can, for his miseries.
"The 'common man' – writes C. G. Jung in the Spirit of Psychology – who is preponderantly a mass man, acts on the principle of realizing nothing, nor does he need to, because for him the only thing that commits mistakes is that vast anonymity conventionally known as the "State" or "Society". But once a man knows that he is, or should be, responsible, he feels responsible also for his psychic constitution, the more so the more clearly he sees what he would have to be in order to become healthier, more stable, and more efficient. Once he is on the way to assimilating the unconscious he can be certain that he will escape no difficulty that is an integral part of his nature. The mass man, on the other hand, has the privilege of being at all times "not guilty" of his social and political catastrophes in which the whole world is engulfed."
This is why the "mass-state" is preferred by most people. This is why changes can transpire only through the individual. A "mass-state" could be altered on "mass-level" only into another "mass-state", in which the mass-man would not loose his privilege of being at all times "not guilty" of his social and political catastrophes in which through him the whole world is engulfed. They themselves are the "State" they are blaming for committing mistakes; to them referred Nietzsche in his Also Sprach Zarathustra when saying, that "far too many are born; for the superfluous was the State invented." For a change to happen on individual level, not "favourable conditions" have to be created for the mass-man, because, as Lewis Mumford has put it, "The events that most upset the balance of the personality in actual life, illness, misfortune, error, sin, grief . . . have the effect of furthering spiritual growth and transcendence far more positively than any condition of effortless ease and freedom from sin would produce." And what is needed for a man of a new concept, are exactly spiritual growth and transcendence: the self-motivated and self-generated liberation from jealousy, greed, lust, anger, arrogance, ignorance and inertia – the seven poisons. There is but one thing the society can do for him: not trying to prevent the development of individuals and individual thinking with all its might, and let each man – if he is one – get out of the mass-state by himself, and prove – like the tribal man had to prove it – that he is an independent and competent individual.
Being does not mean existing: it has in this context the intrinsic value expressing the quality as such of the individual who utters the confirmation: Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am. It is an affirmation of a being both that he thinks and that he is conscious of being at the level of his thoughts. The fulfilling of this meaning is to be alive. Non-thinking is the negation of being. Life has a different general meaning for an oak-tree, a lion or a man. A person who lives a "vegetable existence" or a "pigs life" is not a living human being, regardless of superficial appearances.
Only a vegetable has the right to survive as a vegetable, a man has to survive as a man. Follows that the "cogito ergo sum" is the statement of the man "who dares to call himself a man", and is qualified as such by the spirit that animates him. Otherwise it is a bovine, corrupted non-entity, a pseudo-holon, a Tom-Dick-and-Harry, one of the "dreamless knaves on shadows fed", one of the heel-kicking slaves (or slave-kicking heels), boobs or illustrious punks, who, not fitting basic human standards but being of overwhelming majority, have – by popular decree – declared that it is sufficient to be copulated into this world (and copulate others into it in turn) to vindicate the right (birthright they call it) to parasitic, exploitive existence on the expense of the material resources of this planet, and the incarnate intellectual and spiritual riches of its natural inhabitants, and, based on their infernal needs, stake their claim on both.
"Leave this hypocritical prating about the masses. – wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson – Masses are rude, lame, unmade, pernicious in their demands and influence, and need not to be flattered but to be schooled. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to tame, drill, divide and break them up, and draw individuals out of them. The worst of charity is that the lives you are asked to preserve are not worth preserving. Masses! the calamity is the masses. I do not wish any mass at all, but honest men only, lovely, sweet, accomplished women only, and no shovel-handed, narrow-brained, gin-drinking millions at all. If government knew how, I should like to see it check, not multiply the population. When it reaches its true law of action, every man that is born will be hailed as essential. Away with this hurrah of masses, and let us have the considerate vote of single men spoken on their honour and their conscience. In old Egypt it was established law that the vote of a prophet be reckoned equal to a hundred hands. I think it was much underestimated."
Not a new image of man has to be created, but a new concept has to be fulfilled of what is, or should be a natural human being of balanced personality, allowing for all the varieties that would fit that definition, together with just as great a variety of new social orders befitting them all. While their cooperation as a natural human planetary community as integral part of all planetary life should be global, all their social and cultural activities, administration and economy should be decentralized into various self-governing, organismic and independent levels of cooperation of responsible individuals, where the negative qualities of a man would effect directly the first level community he lives in, and can be counteracted there, disallowing domination, abuses and dependence, but allowing for the greatest possible diversity, individual freedom and privacy, where equality exists only in the measures applied to define the differences, and where the individual worth depends on individual creativity, intelligence, wisdom, capacity, responsibility and general life-efficiency, according to which the individual is benefited and is participating in the decisions within the society. (cf. my essay: The Integrarchic Society)
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