Defining the Human Person

I want this to be the first in a four-part series of posts detailing my views on society at large. I initially wanted it to be two-parted, describing only governance and economics, however both are rooted in one’s philosophy of the human as an individual. For instance, one may seek to accept fascist totalitarianism because he does not see any intrinsic value to the human person as an individual. As such, no intrinsic value relates that there is no use for liberty and that such liberty has no place in society. I’d thus like this post to describe my rationality behind liberty and related concepts and to ground them in the inherent proclivities of the human person.

I often describe my view of metaphysics as thus: all that is makes itself manifest. That is to say, there exists certain facets of reality that are immaterial and are not themselves found in any sort of material means. Mathematics, for instance, is a philosophic discipline that wholly immaterial. Numbers, addition, subtraction, the pythagorean identities, et cetera, et cetera do no exist in any material manner. Of course if I have two apples and two peaches, then altogether I have a total of four fruits, however mathematics on paper seeks an immaterial representation of the action of summation that takes place in total counting of all fruits present. The number “2” in each case merely represents each group of fruits that is had. It is an immaterial symbol that is manifest in the fruits. The same may be said of humanity. It is an immaterial concept, one that is a mere representation of those things that are material. We can not define humanity in terms of anything that is material itself but may in some way seek to represent it via material means.  Likewise, this concept of humanity is manifest in those things that are, material or immaterial.

This being said, one must not fall into the trap of recognition of humanity based solely upon physical attributes. In my opinion, flesh must not be considered in recognition of humanity at all. In few million years, the body as it is known now will be wholly alien to those that we shall say have “humanity” at such a time. I believe no one would be as pompous to say that once Homo sapiens evolves beyond its present form that it no longer will have “humanity” nor will be a “human” person. One may say as such if they define “human” as merely a physical attribute, but that creates a whole other host of issues being that one would then have to say that a computer model of a human is identical to a real world human, in which case the word itself loses all philosophic meaning and doesn’t deserve application in this context. Anyway. “Humans” in one million years will have “humanity” in some way but will lack the physical features of “humans” at present moment. It’s odd, really, how we suffer from a sort of cognitive dissonance that displaces the human form upon a sort of pedestal. We are merely apes, and our form is of them. The human body is no different than that of any other mammal (save for key biological differences of course), yet we imagine ourselves as if a divinely perfected creature whose form shall never change. But as fossils tell, this is wholly not the case. Humanity, thus, must be represented by some means outside of the apparent flesh.

Therefore, because one cannot define the human person in terms of his physicality, how may one seek to qualify him? What is the distinguishing factor between a dog, lacking humanity, and a human person, who does have humanity? Many would be quick to say it is man’s rational faculties that separate him from the rest of the kingdom Animalia. But now this creates two key issues. The first deals with evolution in that around 100,000 years ago, humans lived, in many ways, similarly to those alive now. They had primitive hunter-gatherer societies, burial techniques, etc. However, what they lacked was rationality and by some accounts the faculties with which many seek to define what constitutes human. These people would be distinguishable from modern humans in that they suffered a slight mental retardation that would not allow them to function in modern society. Yet, they may easily not be regarded as animals in that they had societal function, at least on a basic level. The second issue comes in the form of mentally handicapped people in the present day. If rationality and intelligence are the qualifiers for the having of humanity, then what of these people? A man down syndrome is not identical to the CEO of GE, there are demonstrable difference between the two mentally. Yet I would still qualify both as human, as would most people. The same would be said of babies. In many ways, their brains are akin to fully grown, mentally handicapped men and women. We, therefore, cannot represent humanity in terms of mental faculty.

What remains left that separates man from animal yet unites the strongest and weakest of mind under a single umbrella is consciousness. That is, recognition of self in relation to the world around one’s self. This is something that animals lack, yet which the most mentally handicapped of the human species retain. Even as a baby, while consciousness may not be fully realized, there never is a definite point in which one snaps his fingers and says to himself “I am me.” There is a continued presence of consciousness in the human person, regardless of condition. This further solves the issue of human evolution, old and new, as it shifts the goal post away from those things that are inherently different among different groups of humans. Therefore, that which is conscious is human.

There is an issue with this position, however. The first comes into play when people discuss the evolution of other animals. Perhaps in a few million years another species should become conscious of itself, does this qualify them as human? In my eyes the answer would be yes, as there is no factor that may seek to distinguish between us as advanced apes unrecognizable from our ancient ancestors, and some other species that will be unrecognizable then from its present form. As said before, our form is merely of apes and it too will change. If we are to accept that the conscious descendent of Homo sapiens of a million years time will have humanity akin to our own, then we must accept the conscious descendent of some other species must as well.

Privilege, Prejudice, and Actualization

Nowadays, there’s a lot of garbage that goes down in the social spheres of thought. Privilege, for instance, represents in many ways a wholly baseless method of describing the human condition. The concept is primarily thus: certain biases exist, thus some benefit from such biases. Then comes the concept of intersectional privilege, which is understood as the confluence of bias benefit. Taken at this rather simplified level, the concept holds weight. I am not one to say that there does not exist on the whole certain positive societal stigmas surrounding myself, given that I am both white and male. To a degree, I’m also Christian (though I don’t believe) so I’ve got that going for me as well. I’m well off, adding in some class privilege too.

Now on the converse lies the concept of prejudice: that some biases exist, and that some individuals are maligned by such biases. Again, taken at such a level you’d be hard pressed to find an individual that would not accept such a concept. It is most true that certain societal stigmas exist surround Africans in white society. It is true that certain stigmas exist surrounding being a female, being gay, or anything pertinent to any sort of subjugate or heterodox gender or sexual preference.

In many ways one can understand prejudice as the complement to privilege, as where privilege exists for one who is there exists prejudice against one who is not. Unfortunately, however, what the modern left likes to do with these concepts is warp them into a means of distraction. Let me elaborate. The concept of privilege has taken on something of a cult like status. The stigma behind “white male” is a fantastic example of this. The concept that an individual is white and male automatically gives this person some sort of overwhelming societal clout and, likewise, the prejudiced complement of the African female automatically suffers societal hatred. What the left ignores in this proposition is a key concept that I refer to as “actualization.” All this really means is the degree to which something is real, made manifest, etc. In describing privilege, one must take into account the degree to which such privilege is actualized on a day to day basis and weigh the importance of such privilege accordingly, as failing to do so leads to erroneous claims such as the following. Radical leftists will claim that a poor homeless man retains more privilege than a rich woman, and as such it remains more difficult for the woman to subsist. The issue lies directly in the degree to which this man’s privilege is made manifest. His quality of life is abhorrent, he has nothing to his name. He may be starving, mentally ill, ragged, diseased. Where may we find his privilege? Where is this privilege making itself known? It most certainly is not making itself known in any aforementioned quality, so how exactly must the retenance of such a privilege itself determine that his existence is somehow made easier via his experience of it?

The answer to these questions is simple: the privilege is not actualized. Given this, one must then question the reality of such a privilege in relation to others that may exist. The supremacy of male privilege in the context of modern leftist and feminist rhetoric must wholly be questioned on a fundamental level when an example such as this can undermine what it seeks to suppose. The same may be said of racial privilege, however some concessions must be made pertaining to how the institution of slavery shaped much of American culture and how, in many respects, there remain the vestiges of this system in modern currents of thought. There are degrees to which each prejudice sees actualization, whether in the form of some means of social stigma, or some inherent subtraction from the amenities of life that complement our human nature.

It is this quality of life, wholly, that must be discussed in regards to actualization, as there is no actualization outside of life itself. Quality should be defined with respect to the human person and it’s many wants and desires. Most fundamental is one’s living conditions: what one lives under, that which he clothes himself with, that which he eats, etc. Secondary  are qualities of mental stability: an understanding of security, of safety, etc. I define these as actualized psychological needs, as their establishment makes manifest ends outside of the person himself that impact his fundamental needs. Next are those psychological needs that see actualization most primarily within psychology itself, needs of love and relationship. Fourth come secondary non-actualized psychological needs, including self-acceptance, and accomplishment. Finally comes what Maslow, in his needs hierarchy from which these concepts have been drawn, terms self-actualization, or full autonomous action as the ego sees fit.

All prejudices may be classified in regards to the many needs that the self requires. Going forward, prejudice will be defined in terms of an external prejudice exerted upon a given individual who experiences qualities worthy of such prejudice in the eyes of the oppressor. Thus, beginning from the apex, there is no prejudice that may impede upon whole autonomy aside from those that are internal to the self. When the autonomous action of the whole self has been fully made to be a possibility in the realm of action, then there may be no other outside forces, by definition of immediate possibility, that may impede upon it. As such, because the self is the immediate actuator of the possibility, only some internal self prejudice must prevent whole autonomy. This may be understood to be prejudice defined more broadly than dislike of people, but rather prejudice against some “thing” that is for reasons it is not, or some “thing” that is not for the same reasons that it is.

For instance, suggest one does not wish to exercise physically. Such prejudice against physical activity impedes upon one’s ability to fully act in an autonomous manner, as failure to exercise makes someone beholden to certain other conditions and also impedes upon this individual’s full range of actions. It is at this apex of action that quality of life is not taken into account and, as such, such conditions at the point of self-actualization are nebulous and rather pseudo-philosophical.

Beneath this level, however, lie the primary and secondary non-actualized psychological needs, or needs of esteem and love. Herein lie the social prejudices that have a stranglehold on the modern left. These are the social prejudices of race, gender, sexual preference, etc; the reason being, these are most often prejudices that see only some sort of psychological impact and have no real world actualization. If a man simply calls a black woman a pejorative out of spite, there is no true actualized reality other than that of a wholly damaging and abusive psychological impact. The same may be said of some sort of small aggression levied towards a woman, such as a presumption that she may not be physically equipped to handle some certain action due to weakness, or perhaps catcalling while she may be walking into a city. While all examples provide for prejudice that itself is manifested as it is carried out, it is not actualized in the individual it is levied upon in any demonstrable manner outside of the self.

Second to last come the psychological needs of safety, however any impediment of a need of safety levied by means of a certain prejudice is truly the result of those things that are most fundamental to the human condition, physiological needs. Impediments upon physiological needs come about through one prejudice and one prejudice alone, and that is the prejudice of class. These basic requirements necessary for any individual to function properly in society may only be impeded upon when there exists a certain system wherein such requirements are not controlled by the self, as is wholly true in the capitalist system.

This is as a result of the fact that capitalism allows for private propriety of real property and its usage as the proprietor sees fit. Being as such, a proprietor may wish to rent out such estate to another at a fixed rate, providing that the renter abdicates from his own right to the property. On this fundamental level, the necessity of some means of shelter has immediately been compromised, as the individual and his home are no longer his own. The individual now finds himself beholden to his proprietor, subsisting on land that is not in effect owned by himself. Now this is not to say that the fundamental needs are not met. Provided that the individual has some means of shelter, they may be. The use of “compromise” with respect to such needs is wholly deliberate, as the reality that a proprietor may draw a contract regarding land rental denotes that there immediately comes into play any single prejudice. As such, there, nature of the contract itself, exists a limitation upon the total end of need reception, whether such a contract seeks to limit perhaps the duration this individual may rent (and thus acquire shelter) or the amount of land he may rent (and thus how much shelter he may have).

The emphasis upon shelter with respect to the fundamental needs is twofold. First, shelter is the most fundamental of all needs as it is from whence all other of such fundamental needs, food, drink, rest, etc, may derive. Now, yes, a man or woman may be homeless and may find food or drink or rest. However, each is limited to that which may be found and there is no permenance to which each may exist in relation to the self. In comparison, an individual with shelter retains with permenance the most intrinsic of human needs, rest or warmth for instance, and thus must not look for them. With these in place he is free to look for a means to continually sustain some intake of food and drink, as he already has some intrinsic needs taken care of. This ability to permenantly secure bodily needs is thus contingent upon shelter and, as a result, with these needs in place, an individual may seek higher levels of the needs higherarchy. For how may an individual in pursuit of that which is basic attain that which is not? Even a homeless man must find some impermanent place of residence before he can read Shakespeare. This, thus, is the second reason for which shelter is emphasized: shelter provides for an inherently better quality of life which cannot be achieved without it.

Thus, it is shelter that provides for the acquisition of other needs and it is the institution of private land ownership that seeks to undermine shelter itself. Such undermining is inherently the result of any all social prejudice that may exist; however, what is at the root of all such prejudices is the initially described apex internal prejudice against total self-actualization. This may be related as the facet of this prejudice ultimately impedes upon one’s fundamental action autonomy; the reason being, in the vast majority of individuals, there still remains a prejudice in man against pain and towards pleasure. Thus, even when a proprietor may have the totality of his lower needs met, the prejudice against the whole self keeps him from acting in a manner that is conducive to ends outside of himself. That is to say, he will remain greedy and corpulent and (most often) will not seek those things that do not produce some means of personal actualization. Now, yes, there have been many an exception (Andrew Carnegie, for example). But, buy and large, given the total disenfranchisement of the working class now and always before, it may be posited that enough wealth proprietors subscribe to such a personal prejudice.

It is from this prejudice against the fruition of the self in favor of personal slavery to irrational desire that mitigates all other prejudices. It is for this reason that such an initial prejudice may be understood to act against self-actualization. In experiencing it, man is not fully autonomous and able to exercise reason fully. Rather, he remains bound slave to desire which he cannot rational and thus may not fully act autonomously of such desire as a result. The prejudice works in tandem against other individuals as well, as the self is placed in a position of paramount privilege. Such desire mitigates acceptance of any and all social prejudices previously and, as a result, denotes that one may use such self-privilege to rationalize some means of social prejudice to further his own enslaved mind and seek irrational ends.

It is thus that all actualized social prejudice, ie. the alleged systemic racism of the left, comes about truly as a means of expressed prejudice against self-actualization through the means of the institution of private property. The institution itself thus makes possible the coming to fruition of initial prejudices that are, to a certain degree, inherent to the humans mind and, therefore, begets some means of social prejudice to sustain it. It is therefore that one may wholly posit that any actualized racism, gender inequality, or any other social prejudice of the like is inherently the result of private property, itself a manifestation of certain qualities of the human mind.

It is for these reasons that I reject the leftist narrative of the supremacy of the social prejudice against the social privilege. When one cannot demonstrate any actualized privilege that one may hope to experience in the midst of such “privilege” but may, on the contrary, express a lack thereof, the actualized reality of such privilege must be called into question. Further, when one understands that certain prejudiced are internalized and made manifest through certain institutions, the case for the supremacy of the social privilege truly falls flat. The concept of inherent prejudice and economic systems will be discussed in my next post, as will some discussion on the nature of the human consciousness and how it experiences some inherent differences from its counterparts throughout Animalia.