Friday, August 10, 2012

Elaboration: Part-Time Human

The phrase occurs in the last post—because it’s often on my mind. A straight-forward explanation of the phrase is that we call ourselves human when we aren’t quite there yet. The paradoxical aspects of this interest me. The context in which the phrase occurs to me is when I observe failure—to live up to the human standard, as in “you’re acting like an animal.” But that way of seeing it is paradoxical. The behaviors that I deplore (in others and in myself) are not really animal behaviors—which are in essence innocent. Our failures derive from the fact that we’re not fully human. Let me not, therefore, blame the animals. Our problems, personal and social, derive from the higher endowment that we possess but only manifest part of the time. The animals have it easier. The more we have the more is demanded in this relentlessly transitional realm.

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