The human being for himself
With the emergence of intellectual consciousness, there comes the possibility of truth--and error--of goodness--and evil--of beauty--and ugliness. None of these existed before human beings existed, because they all involve conceptual thinking and God, who thinks, does not think in concepts.
If we look at the original human being, as I described him in Chapter 5 of Section 4 of the third part 3.4.5, we find, as I said, the embodied spirit who was to decide the basic genetics of the human body. God, who had been playing with the genes of his creatures, as it were, gave the game over in this one case to his new creature who could think for himself. He was to use his imagination and choose the kind of mammal he was to be.
But, as I said there, he somehow used his imagination to create for himself an image of what in some way was outside the range of his material possibilities; and he chose not to submit to the limitations God had imposed on him--because God imposed on him the restrictions implicit in what his ancestors and the possible modifications of their genes would allow. God, following his respect for all his creatures, would not simply fashion for the human being a totally new body to his liking (because after all, this large-brained descendant of the apes couldn't make the choice without already being a body).
At this point I have a query. Is it possible that Adam was the first human being in our sense of the term, and the ancestor of all of us, but that Adam had a number of ancestors that were also embodied spirits, developing their self-consciousness to the point where they could make a rational choice about their bodies? That is, it is possible that Neanderthal Man was the common ancestor of human beings, and our homo sapiens, apparently so different from Neanderthal Man, was the result of Adam's being a Neanderthal who was given the power to alter his genes? After this choice, the Neanderthal race would then gradually become extinct, and the human race as we know it take over. I am not offering this as something that could be established, but as a possibility that might be worth thinking about.
If something like this is the case, of course, it would follow that Eve would have had to be brought out of Adam, because the new genetic structure would have to have the ability to be transmitted sexually. I do not necessarily want to say that the Bible was reporting things literally (among other things, that Adam was directly fashioned out of the slime of the earth, or Eve from a rib); but it might very well be that the knowledge of the real event of original sin was necessary for human beings, and so the legend was more accurate than we might think, just as the psalm of David about having his hands and feet pierced and so on was more literally accurate as prophesy than even he himself could have imagined.(1)
But it must have happened that Adam sinned, and that this infected all human beings with the anomalies of death and lack of control over the emotions by the spirit. He wished "to be like gods, knowing good and evil," not realizing that God knows no evil; and by so doing, he brought evil into the universe (though it presumably was there in the spiritual realm eternally, because of analogous sins of angels).
In any case, human development started from this initial disaster. On the one hand, there is a development in a positive direction; but because of the crippling of our nature, this is a struggle, involving pain and suffering and a tendency toward evil which presents itself as good; and there is no guarantee of success. And on the other hand, there is the will to power and the illusion that the human being can be whatever he wants to be, and that he is the only one in control of his life: the refusal to submit; and this impotent kicking against the bars of the cage of reality dresses itself up as nobility and virtue, scorning the poor fool who yields to what cannot be avoided.
But, since this self-corruption of human nature not only affected Adam who sinned, but all of his progeny, who carried with them the weakness of body and mind attendant upon the genes we inherited, God "cheated" once again, and offered the promise of redemption, and a restoration to a position similar to what the human being could have been in had he not chosen to fulfill himself by destroying himself. But in order to take advantage of the restoration, a long, long development was necessary.
The first step the human being takes leading himself outside himself is that of seeking a mate for himself, and having offspring. Here, as in other animals, human relates himself to human; and so humanity also is for itself while being for the other.
But human sexuality is different. A human being can have sex either for the sake of the partner, or for the sake of offspring, or simply to gratify his own feelings; and so sex, which in itself is neutral and only abstractly for another, becomes explicitly (in the first two cases) for the other and an act of love, or explicitly for the self and an act of selfishness, depending on the choice of each partner. If each is willing to recognize the selfhood of the other, the act is an act of love and an act of self-fulfillment. Here, the self becomes a person: a self related to the other self, with the goal of his life involving the other's goal for her life, producing an eternal togetherness of the persons.
But if one partner uses the other purely and simply for his own gratification against the other's wishes, the act is evil, and an act of hate. The act not only isolates the self from the other person, but violates the self that it is trying to fulfill. If one's submission to the other is so complete as to be willing to be violated for the other's satisfaction, the act is an act of self-hatred and is also evil. One not only violates one's own self, but cooperates with the other's violation of his own reality; and so the act cannot even be called an act of love.
There is a sophisticated variation on this: the second case above. If a person has sex with another simply for the sake of having a child, this is also, of course, rape and a violation of the personhood of the partner; but it looks like an altruistic act, because it is ostensibly for the child. But in these case, the person does not want the child for the child's own sake, but for the adult's gratification at having an extension of himself. The reason for this is that love is the acceptance of another, not really the desire for another; desire in this sense involves using the other for one's own gratification.
And as evolution goes on, there is the difficult path of true sexuality, which involves pleasure and joy, but through submission and even sacrifice. But this is increasingly denounced from two directions: from those who claim that "natural" sex is its biological dimension, not realizing that succumbing to emotion puts human beings below animals, because instinct does not function in humans as it does in animals, but seeks its own gratification at the expense of both the individual and the species. Secondly, it is denounced from the side of the sentimentalists, who would have sexuality involve total giving, total submission, total openness and the disappearance of the two in some third unit which is supposedly greater than both.
This sane path denounced from both extremes also operates with all the other emotions, since every emotion can go to opposite extremes. Hence, concern for others will have to contend against hard-heartedness and compassionate altruism, both of which masquerade as "true concern for others," and each of which is gratification of one's own feelings, not a rational assessment of the true situation. Bravery will be scorned as cowardice by the rash and as rashness by the cowardly. Gluttons will look down on the temperate as "worshipers of the body," while the worshipers of the body will consider the temperate gluttons; and so on. Each aberration prides itself on its virtue, and poor virtue creeps about in guilt. But nowhere is the sophistry more evident than with sex.
In human sexuality, the union of the two partners reaches its fruition in the child, who of course combines the genes of both and has traits of both, and so is the interaction embodied. The child is also completely selfish: is selfishness in and for itself, and must be taught that he is not the center of the universe. But the parents, of course, must submit themselves to the needs and the reality of the child as they educate him; and this further need to go beyond themselves unites them spiritually to each other in many more profound ways than the sexual love could.
Nor are children alone; and it is not really best for a child to be an only child, because it is more difficult for him to see that he is not simply the master and the receiver of everything. When children are thrown together, they compete for what they need, and at the same time, in a healthy family, each receives all he needs, though not the undivided attention that he craves. They learn, thus, to accept the fact that they are not the be-all and end-all of existence, and share with their siblings less and less grudgingly as time goes on, and develop that very profound brotherly affection and acceptance which is so edifying to see, basically because it comes at such a price. But it is the normal training in human development; and human development is safest and surest in the presence of brothers and sisters, because the individual becomes most fully himself when he is open to others in true love.
Parental love and submission to the true reality of the children while not denying their own reality has, of course, several aberrations: First, there is the tendency to regard the offspring as an unwelcome by-product of the act of sex, not its culmination and pinnacle; and the "unwanted" child is then tossed aside and made to feel guilty at existing at all. Second, there is the "wanted" child who is wanted as another helping hand around the house or the farm, and who is brought up as a slave to the parents instead of as a person in his own right. Third, on the other side, there is the total submission of the parents to the child, and his spoiling, encouraging, out of a notion of "love," his development into a monster who can never be satisfied and who can satisfy no one else. Fourth, there is the "loving" direction of the child "for his own good" which never allows him to take a step for himself and which turns him into a pusillanimous mass of phobias when he finally must venture out on his own.
No one, of course, ever commits these atrocities to his own children; everyone always raises them the "right" way. Even the incestuous parent is (in his own mind) trying to introduce his child to sex rather than violating his reality. Every one of these horrors, even when they go to extremes, believes itself to be proper and virtuous, and denounces everything else as the opposite extreme. This is the difficulty that fallen human nature has to contend with. From outside we can see the evil clearly; we can even see it when it isn't there. From inside, the evil is promoted as the good. But we very rarely try to study the facts.
Still, it is true that the human being's most powerful and selfish drive takes him out of himself into others, and unites the others round him in a community that does not have self-interest as its goal. Each parent is interested more in the other parent and in the children than himself; and the children are forced out of self-interest by having to do what the parents tell them--the more so because they do not recognize or really believe when told that what they are ordered to do is for their sake rather than anyone else's. This is the way sexuality and its effects are constructed; but of course, since with the human being came evil, it is the most fertile ground for perversions into selfishness.Next
1. One can read Genesis, by the way, as implying that the original intent was to have Adam the sole embodied spirit, the ruler of all the rest of material creation; but that Adam himself, seeing the other animals in pairs, felt lonely and in need of a companion, and so God created Eve for this purpose, and humans then could reproduce sexually. On another note, consistently with what I said previously, it is interesting that originally in Genesis God did not give animals to man or to other animals for food; the original food was seed-bearing plants. Presumably, it was due to the fall that animals ate each other; and Hebrew tradition, if I am not mistaken, reflects this in justifying animal sacrifice on the grounds that it is a recognition that the animals belong to God, really, and God is letting us use them as we do; and we should not kill them lightly. This would fit with the notion that if the universe had been restored by the acceptance of Jesus as king, no one would be carnivorous.