Saturday, June 28, 2008

What is it to be Human?

One might ask for a biological definition. I propose a spiritual one.

To be human is to orient oneself - to take an attitude towards - the infinite. One might reject its existence. One might embrace it. One might align oneself with it. One might rebel. But no matter what one does, one does something, and this something serves to fix what at bottom one is. Those who are good align with it; those who are evil rebel. But no matter if it is a pole from which we flee or a pole to which we flee, it is the pole around with our lives revolve.

This gets to the root of my objection to materialism. It makes us out to be much smaller than we in fact are. It would seek to reduce us to just a bit of matter. It would seek to say that our existence is circumscribed by a tiny little bit of space-time.

But we are more than this. We can know - indeed we can some into fundamental accord with - the infinite, and this shows that there's something of the infinite in us. (For as the Greeks knew, only like can know like.)

Yes, we are embodied. Yes, we carve out a path through space-time (both the individual and the species). But our boundaries are greater than that. We can reach out in thought and in emotion to the infinite source of our being, and there we can find rest.

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