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Looking for the origin

Reflection is necessary to find the truth and the good

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08th-Apr-2019       
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José Arnal :
Who is? What is the human being?
All dimensions of human nature, together with the activity that belongs to them, are strictly personal. Thus, for example, the human body functions are not animals, but are truly and properly humans. In part Aristotle and his disciples were wrong when they do not realize that the so-called lower levels of the rational animal are different from their counterparts in the irrational animals. This happens not only because they are organized and integrated under the direction of reason, but mainly because they are aspects of the person... (Grisez-Rusell, G. Being a Person.)
 Human experience:
The existence has the force of the obvious. I am living from a consistency with a degree of being that has been given to me. And I could not have existed.
I am with my bones and muscles, but I am more, I'm someone, I'm a personal being, I'm unique among the millions of human beings that have existed, exist and will exist. And this being that I am in the beginning was a human, and not an amoeba, or monkey.
From my childhood I was discovering the reality and I was wondering about it. And, in that reality was my interiority, the experience of freedom, the relationship with others like me, and others like you.
Yes, I am with my bones and muscles, with all the inherited and acquired over time. I am someone that feels and looks for the origin of such wonder.
Some voices tell us about the human being as a synthesis of elements, chemistry and chance. Sweet talk! I could not have existed, however I still exist, and I am still asking: why the beings? Why do I exist? Why that order into reality? The Big Bang Theory is neither the answer to the origin, nor the cause. It is, if we want to give an attempt of explanation which requires going beyond: self-organization of matter, intelligibility of reality, purpose ... And with this realism we find radical questions: why does the being exist? For whom exist?  What is the purpose?
The explanations of how I am made are insufficient; I need to wonder the reason. And in the intent I will resort to the sensitivity, the human understanding, the authority of others, and the faith that illuminates the intelligence. And I find that I think why I exist, I could not have existed, I can know some wonders of the universe, and every human being experiences with lights and shadows, with chiaroscuros of a life that is constructed at every moment.
Historical sketch of the concepts of the human being:
Taking as starting point three circles of ideas expressed by Max Scheler, we would have three answers (about the historical conceptions of the human being): The conception in Greek thought, in Christianity and in modern science. Let's see these characterizations to the same time we put them in their context.
* Conception of the human being in ancient Greek thought (Logos, Reason):
In Socrates and Plato the man is his soul (an incarnated soul, enclosed in a body), a soul that aspires to its release and the contemplation of the eternal ideas. A conception that tries to save the universality of ideas and knowledge.
From a realism-intellectualism, Aristotle thinks that the man is the "logos", reason, being with intelligence and morality that develops in the "polis".  Superior being in the scale of living beings; differentiation that comes from its operations.
These interpretations, which have their roots in the respective conceptions of the nature and the beings, will come into conflict with schools like Epicureanism and stoicism, which since its atomism; the human being would be a living being whose reality and purpose are reduced to naturalism.
* Conception of the human being in Christianity (Nature and Grace):
For Christianity, the human being has been created and redeemed and is destined for the happiness in the contemplation of God.
Since the early patristic writings, the platonic and Aristotelian terms used in attempts to explain the truths of revelation and faith are frequent.
Saint Augustine will ask for the human being, for the soul (its origin, nature and purpose) and will response that the man is his soul "locked in the prison of the body" (Platonism) and that the superior knowledge is contemplation of ideas  (he places them in the divine mind).
Saint Thomas, taking elements from Saint Augustine (participation) and overcoming Aristotle, will tell us that the human being is unity of the co principles "essence and act of being". The human being receives its being as its essence by the form that is the soul.
* In the Renaissance, in Modern and Contemporary age (anthropocentrism, rationalism, skepticism, materialism):
With the return to the classical ideals and the findings of science, we begin to become aware of the centrality of the human being (anthropocentrism) and autonomy of reason. The infiniteness of the space and the universe will take him to seek refuge in the subjectivity that will express in the modern age in philosophers like Descartes, Kant, and Hegel.
Hegel is the culmination of the absolute spirit (the Idea) that externalizes it originates the extramental world. Other flows as the positivism and Marxism will identify the Absolute with the matter.
The return to the "things", to the singular and the existence, with the attempt of phenomenology and Existentialism, will attempt to republish a humanism often without horizon, and therefore, marked by the anguish.
Since the alleged safety of the physical - mathematics sciences and biology, it will seek to reduce the human being to processes and phenomena, new atomism that frequently lead to materialism, with draperies of exaltation of freedom interpreted as an indeterminism.
* At the present time, contemplating the harmony of the universe and the nature of beings, it is expressed the need to return to a metaphysical anthropology capable of addressing the issue of human being from its unity and interdisciplinarity, without exclusion or encroachments. Together with this, the technical reason tries to set itself up as the absolute, with the pretense of a despotic and unstoppable progress, whose repercussions have triggered alarmed sings for life, nature and human being.
We need to reflect:
Reflection is a human activity necessary to look for the truth and the good, for self-knowledge and action. Reflect, before the action and events, makes possible clarify the purposes, means and consequences, as well as rectify from the experience.
Life often brings us from one activity to another, from one place to another; without we stop to reflect and think about what, how and with what sense we do things.
Juan was aware of his priorities; father of a family, his profession, his friends, and used to reflect on them from the experience. However, lately the circumstances were altering his achieved balances. The reduction of economic resources together with other family changes helped him to realize that he needed to "reflect" "before the events". If we reflect "before" - he said - we will be able to choose what we consider the best and put the means to achieve it.
From his situation, from feeling trapped by the activism, family and professionals tensions, he decided to take the initiative: analyze, clarify his current situation of dissatisfaction. First he would talk to his wife expressing her with sincerity his state of fatigue, the difficulties in the family Business and his mood. By mutual agreement, they decided to prepare things in a way that they would be able to rest a few days in a quiet place. They talked, walked, analyzed situations and established some priorities and the way how to face up to them.
When he returned expressed the need for some changes in the family business. It needed a conversion of construction supplies, this would transform in a few months in a "company of rehabilitation projects."
Juan was a technician construction engineer and the other two employees could take responsibility for specific tasks. Also, they would be in contact with other professionals and with small companies in the industry. These issues demanded him to think, consult and make decisions.
In the following months, the results began to be evident: optimism, relaxed atmosphere in the treatment with people, work environment (...). And with this, knowledge of the situations, understanding, commitment, without forgetting the relationship with people, hobbies and the ability to rectify; knowing that, at the end, our successes and mistakes are responsibility of each one.
Today he feels appreciation of the supports that made him reflect, sometimes, with brief expressions of a friend, such as "Juan, you should reflect" or the security and the help of his family.
After having taken as an object of reflection the previous situation motivated by "professional and family tensions, it is required to consider that need in areas more personal, more interior, such as the education, the character and everything that promotes the development of personal potentialities.
The education in its different aspects (human, intellectual, cultural, professional, religious, and so on) is a source of renewal. Thanks to it we can know, understand, reflect, evaluate, judge and apply.
The professional training can suggest us multiple decisive changes: object and purpose of our work, motivation, competence, enhancements, justice, personal relationships (...)
If it is about character, we can consider significant changes in the personal development as of the own knowledge (behaviors, preferences, motivations, actions, omissions, reactions, (...), including in this analysis, how people around us see us: family, work, friends). In this sense, for example, it will be a good help to write with concise expressions, in two columns, the answers to these two questions: 1: how am I? (Manifestations in various situations), how people think I am? 2: Changes that I want to achieve ... (What? how? when? where?)
This personal development of taking seriously our lives, of looking for an "accomplished life with a sense", can find an obstacle when we decided to leave it for later, when we have more time, when current problems are over. In this issue of betting on personal improvement, the opportune time is as soon as possible and continuously, periodically reviewing its achievement (day, week, month, etc.) It is a matter of unite what is important with urgency.
In this sense, it can help us the simile of the construction of a building, made with bricks, which starts and puts up by placing, technically and in its place, one by one and with the record of days, months and sometimes years of work.

(José Arnal, Doctor en Filosofía, Catedrático de Instituto jubilado, writes from Barcelona, Spain)

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