Animal Man vs Elevated Man
December 12, 2007
What follows is a continuation of our discussion that began with Freud, Trees And A Well Hidden Id.
This is the second of a four part series.
If we are indeed no more than descendants of cosmic bacteria, what really distinguishes us from other animals? If the Darwinian model is really applicable in toto then there are no differences. In our fight for survival, our primary concerns are pretty basic. Only the present moment exists, only our immediate needs, wants and instincts need to be sated, even if those needs and wants are sated at the expense of others.
While Freud never directly ‘connected the dots’ between his theories and Darwinism, the implications are clear and to this day, there is a decidedly Darwinian bend to Freud’s beliefs.
Nevertheless, there remains a obvious conundrum to the Freud-Darwin model, because the human species functions very differently. The behavior of human beings, their thoughts, emotions and feelings are anything but animal like. They are the result of a complex interaction between the primal Id, the pragmatic Ego and the elevated Superego. Often, when the balance of interactions are out of kilter, anxiety and/or various pathologies emerge. The more ‘animal-like’ we are, the less human we become.
That is a reality that is hard to discount. If we are no more than ‘bricks on the evolutionary path,’ we are first and foremost guided by our own narcissistic tendencies to survive and sate wants and desires. If that is truly what defines our species, then we ought not have any expectations of ‘humanness’ from any one. We ought not be disappointed or let down if and when we get hurt by others in their pursuit of their selfish desires- nor should anyone be disappointed in us if we hurt others in our own pursuit of narcissistic desires.
Lets’ take this a step further. Do we exist solely to avoid self destruction or do we exist to elevate and better ourselves?
It is true our cultures and societies have imposed laws and rules of conduct on us, but why? Do those imposed laws and rules of conduct simply assure our survival, or are they the foundation of something else? Traffic lights keep us safe. They are equally applicable to all. In a free society, that equal applicability also extends to democratic rights, those rights that elevate and better man. In a society that is not free, those traffic lights exist only to prevent accidents. The ‘equal applicability’ applies to nothing else. It is only the imposed laws
In an elevated society, one not encumbered by Darwinian laws, those who break the law are punished after a free and fair trial. In a not so elevated society where ‘survival of the fittest,’ is the order of the day, those who break the imposed laws and anyone else the top dogs want out of the way can be punished at will, no matter how pretty their constitutions read. The former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations as well as Communist China are grim reminders of that truth.
An elevated society expects us to be law abiding citizens and to keep our narcissistic desires in check when they might negatively impact others or society. We are expected to maintain decidedly non narcissistic behaviors. In a not so elevated society, the expectation is that given the chance, most people would resort to crime, against each other or the state. That view is not hard to understand. In societies and cultures that are dominated by Darwinian strong men, clashes for dominance are inevitable. The top dog will do what he has to do to maintain his position.
It is ironic that that schools are ‘dumbing down’ and negating the secular Darwinian laws they so fervently espouse. Even the best of teachers (like Mamacita) are discouraged from challenging the brightest students to excel because of the ‘self esteem’ issues of other kids. So much for Darwin.
It seems the schools want it both ways- Man as animal and human as elevated. No wonder kids are so confused- and left feeling hollow. ‘Who am I?’ has become much harder to answer.
When a child is taught that his primary existence is defined by his animal self, it is inevitable that the child will respond only to fear and threat. He learns that fear and threat of punishment are what keeps him or her in check. That is not an exaggeration. Ask any teacher on the front lines what keeps kids from having their narcissism explode. Ironically, the ‘educators’ that have promoted the narcissism have scrambled to put the genie back in the drawer. In the process they have limited punishment and hogtied teachers from succeeding in their mandate to teach and prepare children for the real world and life.
In the world where people believe humans are something other than yet another species of animal, they believe their lives have real meaning and value. Healthy adults live lives defined by reflection, preparation and actions. There is a sequence to the balance of Id, Ego and Superego.
In the very broken broken world where the ferocious belief of man as animal is so firmly rooted, it is the self serving and narcissistic Id that dominates. To understand what that means, one only has to look at individuals, nations, cultures and societies that are dominated by those for whom control (Darwinism) is paramount. There is no such thing as a benevolent despot- just an disengaged tyrant who managed to find another way to insure his supremacy.
People who believe that man is elevated over other species fear the animal man for good reason, because the animal man has always authored darkness and death, as is his way. For the animal man, the elevation that empowers man is a threat. In it, he sees his own demise. The animal man sees no selflessness, heroism or bravery. He sees no nobility in those willing to stand up and fight for others or to protect them. He sees only those who come for him.
The animal man cannot integrate humanness, human values, ethics or virtues into the Darwinian model.The animal man cannot integrate righteousness into that model. The animal man cannot hear the cries of those unjustly oppressed or suffering because in his world, those things matter little. It is all about who’s on top, right?
Tomorrow, we will discuss the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we are best defined by the elevated self and not the animal self.