The Metaphysics of the Human Being

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

The Notion Of Self-Transcendence

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 term expression 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 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:  Itsays 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. Therefore, for God to be the end of this yearning, it is necessary to assert that the infinite yearning in man is only particularized to this world, so that God who is beyond space and time can be the satisfaction of this yearning in man.

The Soul -The Metaphysical Component Of The Human Being

The human soul – the principle of self-transcendence in man.

The human soul is the metaphysical principle in man responsible for self -transcendence in man. it is that immaterial principle that causes man continuous yearning, which cannot be satisfied by anything material, thus the continuous self-projection of man.

The human soul – the spiritual substance in man

The soul (of man) is the spiritual substance in man without which there cannot be man or his actions. As a substance, the soul is an entity that has autonomy of being and can be conceived in its self without another substance. The soul is spiritual because, as the principle of life which itself is immaterial and metaphysical, as such, cannot be physical or material nor satisfied by the material.

The human soul – the principle of life

The human soul is the vital principle in man. our previous discourse lays credence to this assertion, since the body can be completely present without life, as in the case of a dead person.

Therefore, since matter alone cannot give life, there is a metaphysical component in man that accounts for life in man. thus in this discourse we chose to call this life giving principle soul or spirit. The immaterial or metaphysical component of man.


Going by all we have studied in this essay as regards the phenomenology of the human being and the metaphysics of the human being, a very important fact is revealed, and that is- All human actions involve the body, but the soma could still be present and 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 led us to the metaphysics of man. However, the mechanists opined that life owes its reality solely to the specific and special arrangement of matter in living organisms and it is the quality of arrangement of matter that differentiates living and non-living thing. Thus, for them life is material, reducible to matter, and is neither spiritual nor immaterial, by so doing they deny the existence of the human soul. In response to the above, the vitalists posited that, regardless of any special or specific arrangement of the material components of man, it cannot have life, as in the case of a dead person who with all the body complete, still, remains lifeless. Thus for them matter is extraneous, something that is introduced into matter. It is an originary phenomenom that is irreducible to matter or explainable in the term of life alone. Man transcends-tend to go beyond- all points of his arrival in all that he those whithin the horizon of space and time. He transcends himself in that he is not satisfied with any level of self –achievement (egocentric solution) or social achievement (philanthropic solution) he attains. For if satisfied by the material things of this world there would be no need to suppose that that he has a metaphysical component. Therefore, since man has this unquenchable and insatiable desire, which is unsatisfied and unfulfilled by anything material or finite, it is a clear indication that man has a soul, an immaterial, spiritual and metaphysical component of man which constantly yearns, longs for and desires the infinite.

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