By Ekenedirichukwu Anselm Alita
“From the time of Aristotle it had been said that man is a social animal: that human beings naturally form communities. I couldn’t accept it. The whole of history and prehistory is against it. The two dreadful world wars we have recently been through and the gearing of our entire economy today for defensive war belie it. Mans loathsome cruelty to man is his most outstanding characteristics; it is explicable only in terms of his carnivorous and cannibalistic origin. Robert Hartmann pointed out that both rude and civilized peoples show unspeakable cruelty to one another. We call it inhuman cruelty; but these dreadful things are unhappily truly human, because there is nothing like them in the animal world. A lion or tiger kills to eat, but the indiscriminate slaughter and calculated cruelty of human beings is quite unexampled in nature, especially among the apes. They display no hostility to man or other animals unless attacked. Even then their first reaction is to run away”
The above begs the question, how come the obvious cruelty that has saturated the world presently, the hate, the seething unbridled virulence that man met out to fellow man? The answer lies in the false humanism that has pervaded the modern world which had led to the grave diminutions and enormous exaggerations of the being of man. However, before we highlight on these grave diminutions and enormous exaggerations of the being of man, we need to first have a grasp of the term “humanism” for It’s from there that the erroneous concepts about man began to sprout.
WHAT IS HUMANISM
The term humanism takes its root from the latin word “humanitas” which means –human nature, civilization and kindness. The term saw its way into English in the 19 century. It is a renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought. Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively. It emphasizes on human dignity and the love of nature. This philosophy sees human solving problems with rational thought and without the influence of secular or religious institutions. It supports individual liberty, as well as human rights and responsibility for humankind and the planet. It attaches prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. An example of humanism is thebelieve that the person creates their own set of ethics. A humanist therefore believes that human experience and rational thinking provide the only source of both knowledge and a moral code to live by. They reject the idea of knowledge revealed to human beings by gods or in special books. The main goal of humanism is to guide people to a more enlightened way of life and create a better world for future generations.
THE PROBLEM WITH MODERN HUMANISMS
In modern times, humanisms refer to a non-theistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world. Humanists movement are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism. The problem is not that they have evolved so much as to look up to science for answers, the problem is that they discard religious entirely and with a mistaken believe that everything could be easily explained by science. The major undertone of modern humanism is “we do not need God”. Another problem is that, modern humanism is reduced to philanthropy rather than humaneness. In the second century, a Latin grammarian, Aulus Gellus, pointed out that this common usage of “humanitas” which was present in his time was synonymous with Greek philanthropy which expresses a kindness and benevolence toward fellow man. He maintains that this common usage is wrong and that the model writers of Latin like Cicero and others, used the word only to mean what we can call “humane” or “polite” learning or the Greek equivalent Paidea.
In summary the modern humanism has nothing to do with religion, it considers it unnecessary and so it sets man as the standard and science as the tool that gives all the answers. The problem of this humanism is that man is so much exaggerated to the point that he has become full of himself and erroneously has come to believe that he has all the answers and that he is IPSUM SUBSISTENS (that is a being the can sustain itself and does not depend on other being for it existence) he forgets too soon that he is a mere contingent being. It is the above erroneous conceptions and in the unmitigated effort to enthrone man as a god, that has led to the gross diminutions and enormous exaggeration of man. All these stem from the wrong concept of humanism.
GRAVE DIMINUTIONS AND ENORMOUS EXAGGERATIONS OF THE BEING OF MAN
The grave diminutions of man are evident in the philosophies of Hume, Freud, and Watson. Hume reduced man to a bundle of sensations put together by the associative power of fantasy. Freud reduced man to a seething cauldron of combustible sexual instincts. He identifies the person, the true “I” with the subconscious, a mighty centre of libidinous pulsations. While Watson reduced a person to a mere product of influences birth by the socio-cultural environment encircling him. A person is thus resolved in behavior, the way he reacts to these influences.
The exasperating exaggerations of man are seen in the philosophy of German idealists Hegel and Fichte. They did this by assigning to reason, not only the power to understand things but to equally put them in being, of which such powers belongs to God alone. Thus reason is no longer a constitutive element that makes up a person, rather it becomes synonymous with the person, and this is the absolute spirit. Individuals now become deprived of ontological consistency; they are reduced to moments, the transitory phenomena of reason, absolute Spirit, pure “I”. Nietzsche also delved into these exasperating exaggerations with the idea of the superman, who creates his own values without recourse to anything outside himself, by setting himself as a standard in other words a god. Thus he bestows on the Will the same dose of power idealists bestowed on reason.
WHERE DOES THE ABOVE POSITIONS LEAD US
An overview of the world today bares clearly the pulsating effects of man, who has made himself God, of man that thinks he is enough and does not need anything outside himself, armed with the plus and minuses of science and technology he thinks he can erase God, religion and see himself as an absolute. What we see in the world today is a world filled with the most venomous form of cruelty that is easily bashed on the face of other men; little wonder the despicable evils that have gutted our world. This is because modern humanism crowned man God. We see a world where man has set himself as standard, thus as Satre would say- with the death of God everything becomes permissive. Thus man in a bid to run away from everything that does not deal with the physical world, in his illusory search for freedom, ends up shackling himself in the dark doldrums of gross inhumanity. But they that sow the wind must get ready to reap the whirlwind. The above positions lead to a dead end, because everything about us show us that man does not have all the answers, that science and technologies are not saviours. The event of corona virus is a pretty example to show that man is not God and does not wield the exaggerated power he claims. Man is simply not enough. The only solution to the evils of the world is to place God at the centre of modern humanism, and for man to humbly admit that he does not know it all, and wake up from the hangover that makes him confuse being an absolute as a value and being an absolute as a person.