University of San Carlos
“What makes man truly human? Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities.”
To be human is a task. Understanding of what is it to be truly human is difficult. One must believe that to be human, one must have a physical body, which he is living or he is alive, and that he is a sentient being with its senses, ultimately that he is rational with an active intellect called reflection.
That human being has a physical body, the instrument for satisfaction and survival, but being human is more than a mere material body. The term body is referred to as corporeity, however, the term body of a human being or any living being is composed of a body and soul, because body itself is lifeless just like a rock, a rock is considered a body but without life. Thus, this means that a corporeity of being a body in this sense is not only the physical structure and to be a living individual we cannot refer it yet to a living being as a whole. (Klima)
And through a physical being one can move, touch, see, hear, taste and smell. The array of sensations available also includes hunger, thirst, pain, tiredness, fear, apprehension and pleasure. In this way, one experiences himself, others and the world around him as a sentient being.
But man too is a rational being, as Aristotle held the belief that man is a rational animal. Rationality makes man different from being an animal, which made him a unique individual. His ability to reason made him separate of that from other animals. Man and animals both are born with the same natural condition; however, both end in different manner. Naturally, animals may vanish in the world accomplishing nothing however; in the case of man he discovers the reality that he is a being in the world. With his reason and intellect, he is capable to distinguish what is right or wrong, good or evil; he makes a choice based on his ability to think. He is responsible for his own actions because of his reason and not his instinct. And what makes man truly a rational being is his unique characteristics, his intelligence, that he is capable to understand and has the ability to achieve goals through planned action.
As how Rene Descartes emphasizes on his thesis called “mind-body dualism” that mind and body are really distinct. In his argument; the nature of mind is completely different from that of the body, thus, it is possible for one to exist without the other. Descartes responded this problem through fleeting remarks on this on how the mind is united with the body to form a human being. (René Descartes:The Mind Body Distinction)
As we hold to the term “rationality” that refers to the analytic ability of man, such an aspect of human ability. Action is performed, with the use of normative means from our mind.
It’s an undeniable fact that reason gives rise to “being rational”. With the human ability to make reason, it certainly leads to do an action and later creates a human character. Thus, rationality is in connection with analysis, systematic and logical functions of human reason. Therefore, rational action is basically processed by which one primarily makes decision, and bringing out from his motives, however, influenced by a lot of many external conditions that would usurp his desire to act freely. When choosing to act something, that action is always motivated by something, and there is always a reason for choosing such.
Freedom is only an illusion, that man is not actually free, according to BF Skinner. That man is not absolutely free because of his historicity. That for man to be absolutely free he needs to detach himself from nature, by which it is impossible because human being has to adhere the nature for both in man and outside him. But freedom in necessary of human nature and in order for man to attain freedom he should harmonize with nature to live harmoniously. Indeed, nature mediate freedom, it becomes freedom more meaningful. Thus, freedom and nature do not really oppose each other, rather they complement one another.
All being that are alive are bounded by some sort of natural law. The life span of every creature depends on how it conforms to the law of nature as incorporated in its system. He or it lives corresponds to being himself or itself, and when he or it violates the law of nature, he or it be held accountable of the cause and effect, what is prescribed by the nature for every living being.
Human society is one complicated organization, every individual must be freely granted with something. And this is known to be freedom. However, there should also be imposed upon for the betterment of the whole organization, because without free will man would not develop initiatives and there will no progress, with the absence of the law, there will no survival of the whole organization. (Kmiec)
The will of man has the potential to create a positive law that could either advance or undermine human nature. However, it would be a mistake to disregard the developed positive law of society without any consequences in return. Man can definitely construct social structures and governments, way over his human nature, however, these could work well if truth of nature be observed. We should keep in mind, that nature never cease to govern, if man aspire to govern, he must govern with the laws of nature.
In Paul Ricoeur’s thesis “The Unity of the Voluntary and the Involuntary as a Limited Idea” with the question if man is free or not free? Firstly, it upholds the reciprocity unity of the voluntary and the involuntary, “the only apprehensible between the voluntary and the involuntary is the living interrelationship”. Then, it express that the involuntary had no meaning as it is. Finally, it implies that the voluntary defines the meaning of the involuntary. “The involuntary is for the will and the will is by reason of the involuntary.” (Garcia, 1997)
Ricoeur distinguished three essential aspects of the voluntary, namely Decision, Action, and Consent. According to him, “to say I will” means first “I decide”, secondly, I move my body’ that means I do the action, thirdly, I consent. (Ricoeur, 1967)
In making decision, one makes up his mind to come up with a reflective decision. It is anticipation on what lies ahead in the future. So as a decision runs toward the future, and it is in this intentional aim, in the “willed” object that the discreet reference to the extent that I determine myself to. (Ricoeur, 1967) Therefore, as one decides, he is projecting himself as to make the action within his power, that there is a predicative consciousness of self that the intention of his project in readiness of refection. However, there is no decision without any motive, when one says I decide, that means there always a reason behind, “I decide this because”. Thus, for him to decide there should always be a motive that entails something good, to justify his reason. In the same reason which will lead him to act upon intentionally or unintentionally in some point due to hesitations.
In Action, as “I move my body”, is to realize what is decided. When one makes his action, it carries out the intention of the decision made. Action and decision remarks an intimate bond. These two inseparable functions of will can only be separated through its distinction on the level of meaning. These two are integrally linked together, action is not just a mere addition to decision but they are connected form within. If he did nothing, it just shows that he did not truly will. The will decides for itself only when it moves its body. Action was already prefigured in the act of motivation. In this essence, motivation is considered a form of action. Nevertheless, as one moved his body and his thought, there is always resistance that one may encounter. In the same reason, why a definite description of the will should take into account. The movement of the body and the movement of the thought must be mastered for one to truly will.
Consent. To complete the three aspects of voluntary; is consenting; with its pure description is the reintegration of consciousness in the body. There are principal directions to which “I must consent”; Personality, Character, Life- situation and Unconscious. It is difficult to define the essence of consent. But Ricoeur delineates it gradually by initially equating it first, with a theoretical judgement, secondly, with the pragmatism indicated in voluntary motion, and thirdly, with some kind of possession. Consent is closely related to a practical judgement as of that with decision. To consent means the necessity to take upon oneself, it expresses as an imperative just like “to decide”, however, what makes it different from decision, is that it does not anticipate what lies ahead in the future, but from what is already determined and agreed upon. Hence, consent is considered to be another type of action that embraces the reality with his whole body for him to find his expression. (Garcia, 1997) The best term to describe consent is the word patience with respect.
No human being is perfect, so to speak, because man is naturally a fallible being. When we speak about human condition, we can relate this as human being, being fallible, that man is capable to make mistakes, in the language of the people, the possibility of moral evil is inscribe.
Man is fallible, but fallibility is implied in the disproportion which makes man a fragile being. The fallibility of man unfolds the gradual concentration and interiorizing of this triad through feeling, acting and knowing. However, when proven to be that there is something wrong with the human being then we can say that fallibility can be clearly presented. But, how do man figure out that something is wrong, considering that human being has been characterized by fallibility as embedded within himself? Man would know that something is wrong and fallibility can be felt if he himself is affected with the problem or he is the victim of the problem. Furthermore, fallibility shows that the existence of man is characterized by disproportion which is the utmost reason of fallibility of man and thus, ultimately an ontological composition of the natural state of man. For a man as a complex being, it follows that man exist in such a way that he at the same time in a position of display vastness but also fundamental nothingness.
The phenomenology of the existential human condition of Ricoeurs made us appreciate and realize the clearer picture of human existence and the human freedom, in the aspects of choosing freely and responsibly, willing, and acting. Human freedom therefore is an act and it is nit predetermined in the instance of a natural order. And so, it is not a notion that manipulated by the power of the mind. The will of human is in view of his environment, his action; it’s he who willed, he who does the action, unlike him being the one who is thinking.
Moreover, Ricoeur’s recourse to existentialism gives light to the concept of man in his faulted condition. Certainly, it can be understood that the negation of man as a willing being, with its capability of man to will and that he manage his limitations as he will. With his finitude, he will within his bounded limitation but yet tension is always present. Though, with all this paradoxes, it still possible for man to live with it, for man lives in harmony with contradictions.
With this, Ricoeur’s interpretation of man would have not seemed a lot of contradictions and would never be clear about it. Initially he interpreted man eidetically. With man complex nature, he was able to get a picture as to man’s capabilities, and he continues his quest, with all his ideas of man’s organization through empirical approach on man’s actual existence in transcendental and its fallible nature. It was disclose the man’s faulted nature, his capability to make evil things possible, and that make himself unfree through his freedom, and, his ability to contradict himself. Ricoeur progresses his inquiry not just focusing at the negative side of man but also emphasizing the positive side. A man in his utmost wayward inclination brings him though transcendence. Man’s will power of himself makes him surpass the limits of his finitude. It can clearly be manifested that the transcendence is through our mortal bodies. Truly, its Transcendence that gives hope to the man’s condition before any Evil that brings despair may come along.
Even though with the faulted nature of man that made man unfree, not something to control, nor to overcome easily, because it is engrained in his condition, however, man can still let go of the willing activity bounded by his finite kind of being. With his circumstance being a faulted being does not precisely define the destiny of man being truly human because man can make his own decision. Furthermore, for us man to will, it is not what the capabilities of our human but we as human being we can be in control in our being as a human.
Accordingly, it takes ample time and a lot of effort for a human being to be truly human. And for him to grow, to a certain degree where ones nature has reach to its full potential, it simply means that he needs to mature and develop his body and so as his mind, as well as his social being and in every aspects of man in this sense. We can conclude that the truths of being man and becoming human are fundamental and vital assimilating different aspects in the understanding the human nature and the human existence. Becoming human is a process, along the way it may be hard, uncomfortable and painful. But, we need to grow, not only in our daily lives also in our consciousness. We cannot just say to stop growing, never growing is not an option, whether we like it or not. We cannot simply live in the language of mediocrity. And because we exist, our aim of our existence should always be a step higher; one must have a life that strives to illuminate the development of our talents and gifts, capabilities and potentialities of man as human beings.