Philosophical stories-The Urgency Of The Anthropological Question (5)

Deductions from the basic characteristics of human actions

From the above characteristics of human beings, we come up with two important conclusions:

  1. a) Man is an incarnate spirit: this is because it is only man that can perform actions that are at the same time somatic and spiritual.
  2. b) Man is an open and unfulfilled project tending towards the infinite; this is because it is only and unfinished project that can incessantly transcend itself as man does.

All human actions involve the body, but the body could still be present and an action does not take place. This is an indication that human actions are not exhaustibly explained only in terms of his material component.

Thus it is not unwise to assume that there is an agent intellect that moves the body. Therefore, the above material aspects earlier mentioned informs the necessity of the study of the immaterial aspect of man. This leads us to the metaphysics of man.


The metaphysics of man is studied only when something which is not matter or beyond matter has been discovered about man. if this is not observed then it is not necessary to study the metaphysics of man., since everything discovered about it lie within the phenomenological aspects(dimension) of man’s action. Therefore, having gone through the phenomenological analysis of man’s actions, this second part of the study of man from “phenomenon” to foundation, titled “the metaphysics of the human being” by Mondin, philosophical anthropology in the light of pure reason occupies itself with the being of man quatale and with the supreme causes (material, formal, efficient and final cause) in other words with the nature, prime origin and the ultimate cause of man.  It does so with two objectives

  1. c) To obtain an adequate and exhaustive explanation for those singular phenomenal characteristics of the phenomenon of the human being
  2. d) To discover the truth and the sense of the whole of man’s being, covering the physical and the spiritual as well.


Anthropologically, “transcendence’ is a word that is derived from Latin: from trans-cendere, meaning to ascend, to go beyond or to elevate. It is an unquenchable desire (in man) by anything material or finite – the property of man by which he incessantly tends to go beyond any point of his arrival with regards to material or finite things.  It is the characteristic and exclusive movement in man with which he continually surpasses himself, all that he is, all that he wishes, and all that he has.

Types of transcendence

The expression of self-transcendence has become one of the fundamental expressions of philosophical anthropology. Transcendence with reference to man is subdivided into two primary types- the horizontal and vertical transcendence.

  1. a) Horizontal or historical transcendence-this is the transcendence geared towards the future, but it is limited within space and time. This movement is observed in man and animals.
  2. b) Vertical or self -transcendence- this is a continuous yearning in man to better the current self, to improve. Here, there is no platform in which one is satisfied with what he is, the way he is, or where he is. It is an indication that man has a different destiny from animals. Animals do not have self-transcendence but horizontal transcendence.

The Problem Self -Transcendence

Transcendence is a movement, and every movement has a goal or direction it moves towards, syllogistically, it follows that self –transcendence has a destination. The question now is –what is this destination? This is the problem of self -transcendence.

Solution to the Problem of Self Transcendence

Egocentric solution- Nietzsche and Heidegger hold that the goal of self -transcendence is the betterment of self, being at ones best (ego-centric). Hence, this continuous movement in man is limited within world (space and time) and not towards a transcendence. The problem with their solution is that it focuses on individual so much, thereby leading to the neglect of the society.

Philanthropic solution: according to this solution self-transcendence is geared only towards the improvement and the full well-being of the society, but this is at the expense of the individual

Theocentric solution:  It says that God is the goal of this infinite yearning in man, for he is the one thing believed to be infinite. So the only infinite that can feel this infinite yearning is God. Thus Augustine opined in his confessions that our hearts are made for you O lord and are restless until they rest in you.

However, we run into a contradiction here, if God is infinite and this yearning in man is infinite, then it follows that the infinite cannot satisfy the infinite.

Philosphical Series-The Urgency Of The Anthropological Question (1)

Follow us