Friday, December 12, 2008

To be human and more

Imagine a man born in the wilderness, away from all members of his species. Will he be closer to a wild animal or a human being? Can a man realize his potential in isolation, away from all human society? Those who answer in the negative would agree that it is this quality that separates us from other animals which develop more by instinct than by society. This means that a human being is only human in the presence of other human beings. It is this idea which is succinctly encapsulated in the ancient African philosophy called Ubuntu which says 'To be human is to affirm one's humanity by recognizing the humanity of others'.

Nietzsche believed that our species is a bridge between the beast and the Übermann. He like most of us do sometimes felt the presence of two distinct beings within. One, the primitive creature which is characterised by greed. Greed for more food, more sex, more life... The other is that which is aware within us. It is characterised by curiosity, a desire to reach out and connect to others and most importantly a yearning for freedom. It is this which is dormant in other animals and awake in us. All human history has been a struggle between these two and today more than ever we see the extension of the bridge towards the Übermensch being threatened by the beast within.

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