Education

Essay: Man, the misfit species

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“Man, The Misfit Species…Man the so-called rational and social animal is actually man the neurotic (foolish) animal, because his rationality is completely misapplied, and his societies are distressed and crumbling”-Sampradaya Dasa, “Intellectual Animalism”: 1983, p5.

Evolutionists, archaeologists and anthropologists trace the origin of humans from the Miocene epoch, a time when fossils (the physical evidence of a prehistoric organism, often comprising a shell, bone, or other durable skeletal part, which in the majority of cases belongs to an extinct species; Richard Fortey, 2005) were transformed into ape-like creatures out of which human beings evolved.

Human evolution: the biological and cultural development of humans and related species, is mainly evidenced by a large number of fossil bones and teeth that have been found at various places throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia (Chris Stringer, 2005).

These theorists seem to suggest that all humans have similar origins despite the separation of present day continents. The differences in body colour, language and behaviour can be attributed to the varying climates.

Multi-lingualism can also be closely traced from the Tower of Babel (Christian perspective) where it is believed that God hurled at the architects various strange languages to confuse and prevent them from building a tower that threatened to reach his palace, up there in heaven and “possibly spy on him”. That is how humans were scattered all over the face of earth.

Considering the biblical version of human evolution, a super being called God created one man Adam and later crafted a woman, Eve, out of Adam’s rib. The two pro-created and filled the world.

Likewise, according to Greek myths and legends; plants, animals and gods are all inventions of the supreme god Zeus. It was Prometheus, one of the Titans and son to the Titan Iapetus by the sea nymph Clymene who created humans. All these versions of creation share a similar ideal; that is, the fact that all creations sprung from one source and that all humans sprung from one being.

From this obscure exposition, the implication is clear. That we are the same: a similar structure; two legs, arms, eyes, ears, nostrils, lips and one head. The ethnicities in which we belong (ed) mean (t) that we are/were of the same race, custom, language and religion living in a particular area.

The actual question is: what are we? And how did we get involved in aggressive rivalries?

What Is Man?

“What a piece of art is man!” wondered Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet (1601). Philosophers, writers and other wise men have for centuries tried to demystify the complexity of this creature called man, but to no avail. God himself must be scratching his grey haired-head and caressing his long white beard while reflecting and wondering about what exactly he created in this thing, man!

From his essay, “What Is Man?”, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) puzzles with the question of man through a dialogue between an Old Man and a Young Man.

“The Old Man had asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objected, and asked him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position.”

Then the old man of course suggested the various instances in which man behaves more like a machine rather than a human. Agreeably, man can be cold, cruel and capricious as I shall soon expose in detail.

George Orwell, in his novel “Animal Farm” (1945), through Old Major’s speech, suggests that man is simply a parasite, an accident in nature. You can understand man only by equating or likening him to jiggers, fleas, lice, bedbugs, leeches, ticks and other sorts of pests.

Major (the prize boar) clearly explains man’s parasitical nature stressing the fact that man only consumes yet he produces nothing. Man cannot lay eggs or produce milk or meat. He does not contribute anything to nature. Should we, therefore, conclude that man is a tick, flea or bedbug, etc.?

According to Albert Einstein (1954), a human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.

He writes: “We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”

To Einstein, this creature called man thinks it is intellectually above other creations but thinks only and only about self or self-desires!

Sampradaya Dasa in his book, “Intellectual Animalism” (1983) clearly suggests that man is an animal. He supports this suggestion by explaining man’s impulsive nature driven towards fulfilment of the survival instincts, generally considered to be animal instincts.

“Everywhere in the world, human beings have four basic requirements. We all must have food to eat, a place to sleep, opportunity for sexual intercourse, and an adequate means of defence.” (Dasa: 1).

He clarifies that the basic principles which govern animal existence are eating, sleeping, mating and defending, and concludes that the human social body can’t claim greater achievement than that automatically achieved by lower species.

“The bird will make his home high in the tree; man will make his home high in a skyscraper. Man will wage war from inside tanks; the rhinoceros will use its own armour. Although the technology and degree of sophistication are different, the basic activities are the same.” (Dasa: 3).

Dasa argues that all our efforts, brainwork, science and invention are driven towards achieving the four animal needs. Man is thought to have an advantage over other animals i.e, his ability to reason and yet this reasoning is useless.

Dasa develops his argument thus: unfortunately, our human milestones are frustration, dissatisfaction, and anxiety, which culminate in arguments, violence, disturbed social systems, and ultimately international war.

Herbert Marcuse, in his text, “One Dimensional Man” (1964), suggests that modern man is a robot, a product of automation. This concurs with Mark Twain’s assertion that man is a machine because modern man is devoid of all feeling and humanness.

Modern man is manufactured and scientifically generated. He can appear in a fluid or metallic form or a computer generated organism. He is a futuristic creature; a cyborg, a predator, a terminator, a clone, an avatar or a green alien, controlled by a one-dimensional technological thought. His existence has been ‘pacified’ and conditioned to respond to survival needs.

“Man today can do more than the culture heroes and half-gods…” (Marcuse p59), but he has, in the process, “lost his humanism, autonomous personality and the possibility of romantic love”.

Under what Marcuse terms as “The Happy Consciousness”, what new forms of control like radios, televisions and newspapers present and determine as freedom, truth, happiness, fulfilment and humanism is what modern man accepts as reality.

Marcuse argues that, “if man has learned to see and know what really is, he will act in accordance with truth” (p106).

Is this plausible in our new world where automated modern man has been manipulated into believing that ‘the negative is positive, the inhuman is human and that enslavement is liberation’?

Therefore, man, the social animal, is actually a misfit specie. Man is truly a neurotic or stupid organism!

Adapted from “Multi-Continental Affair” by Rogers Atukunda, 3rd year student in the Department of Literature Makerere University, Kampala-Uganda (2010). Rogers is now the Editor at www.theinsider.ug.

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