Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some More Niebuhr on Human Nature

From the introduction to his book Nature & Destiny of Man:

"This study of human based upon the conviction that there are resources in the Christian faith for an understanding of human nature which have been lost in modern culture. However scientific various studies of human nature may claim to be, they are rooted in definite philosophical presuppositions. Broadly speaking these philosophies are either idealistic or naturalistic. If the former, they tend to understand man too much from the standpoint of his rational facuties only and therefore to misunderstand him. They do not understand the full dimension of his 'spirit' nor yet the intimate relation between the human spirit and teh human physical organism in its insecurity and weakness. The naturalists on the other hand seek to equate the stature of man as much as possible with the dimension of 'nature' in which his life is embedded but which he nevertheless transcends. The romantic naturalists who interpret man primarily from the standpoint of his sub-rational vitalities have undoubtedly added may valuable insights to the study of human nature. But they have confused their insights by seeking to explain aspects of human behavior in purely biological terms which can be understood only as aspects of that curious compound of 'nature' and 'spirit' which all human behavior manifests."


If the casual progressive leftist shouter of slogans cannot abide the idea of a human nature, do they also refute such a thing as human spirit? In favor of what...diversity of cultures? Narratives of power? Moral equivalancy? Blindnesses such as these indicate aspects of the very human nature their superior moralisms attempt to deny.
I hear in my mind's ear from Aaron Copeland's A Lincoln Portrait, "My fellow Americans, we cannot escape history". Equally, we cannot pretend we have no inherent nature. By denial to escape the worst of our nature, we also trash the best of our spirit. A paradox. It may 'suck'. Embrace the suck.

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