EXPLICATION OF TERMS
Man by his very nature is an inquisitive
being. The innate desire, says Aristotle, is both for pragmatic motives and for
the sake of knowing. Man wants to know and conquer the realities around him and
beyond him. But has not been able, even to unveil the mysteries of his own
being “existence.” These various obscurities of man to himself, varied concepts
and images of man have been presented according to various ages as below.
1.1.1 The Ancient Notion of Man
Greek philosophers, interpreted man from ontological perspectives Democritus
and other atomists conceived man as wholly composed of atoms and matter. Man is
a material reality and possesses characteristics such as singularity,
individuality, and concreteness in its being. It is universal and abstract in
the scribe of Socrates on the other hand laid more emphasis on the spiritual
aspect of the being man. For him, the soul pre-existed the body before its
union with the body. According to him, the soul pre-existed in the world of
forms before it came into the world where it got imprisoned in the body, a
vessel and from within this prison exercises its activity.
Aristotle, however, man is the only being that has rationality: he reasons,
deliberates, imagines etc and so is the only being, animal that possesses the
soul, which is in the form of the body. He writes:
Man is a soul.
The soul has two parts: the rational and the irrational. The rational soul has
the power of scientific thought. The reason is capable not only of
distinguishing between different kinds’s of things, which is the power of
analysis. It is able also to understand the relationships of things to each
other, able to deliberate and discover as well the guides for human behaviour.1
of the fact that, no universal concept has been accepted, even the notion of
science that man is a machine. Moreover, that man is a composite of cells
predetermined by genes. This Aristotelian solution proves most satisfactory.
1.1.2 The Medieval Notion of Man
is the period of the confluence of philosophy, and theology but more
theologically dominated. The Christians, interpreted man as coming from God.
For Augustine, because man is unique and unrepeated, he sees him as single
specie. Boethius helped him by completing that concept to differentiate man
from other animals such as rats, goats etc. For Him, man is not only an
individual person but also a rational being. He said; The person is an
individual substance of rational nature.2
Aquinas, man is a rational subsistent. He is composed of body and soul in his
capacity as a “physical substance.”3 He has
his highest capacity in the intellect and this makes him a rational animal or a
“subsistent rationale” (a rational subsistent).
in his elegant thought saw man as an autonomous being that decides for him. His
notion about man is:
Person means that
I, in my being definitively cannot be in habited by any other, but that in
relation to me, I am only with myself, I cannot be represented by another, but
I am guaranteed to myself.4
1.1.3 The Modern Notion of Man
rules this period. Here man is seen as man and later on, as a Supreme Being. He
is the measure of all things. It is based on the gnoseological phase since it
is all about psychological perspectives.
the rationalist posited that there are two separated substances: the res
cogitans et res extenza – The mind and body or the spiritual and corporeal. He
says man cannot be composed of mind and body as in the scholastic sense but
rather that the mind makes use of the body, as a pilot, would the Plane. He
concluded, therefore, that man is the mind. His idea should not be accepted
since the mind needs the body to actualize its activities hence function well.
thought man, the true “I” to be the subconscious. For in the subconscious, the
requirements of the society and the subconscious meet.
1.1.4 The Contemporary Notion of Man
is the period of dialogical concepts. It attacks vehemently the Psychological
and ontological theories of man. Mounier, in his essay “le personalisme”
(personalism) condemned the psychoanalysts, idealists and the Empiricists, who
maintained either the concreteness or the spiritual substance of man alone.
Rather, he embraced incorporate existence or incarnate existence of thought and
concepts are analyzed thus: economic man (Marx), existent man (Heideggar),
symbolic man (Cassirer), Utopic man (Block), Problematic man (Marcel), Cultural
man (Gehlem), A thinking reed (Pascal), An image of God (Origin), Will of Power
(Nietzsche), Anguished man (Kierkegaard)5
say then, that whether Psychological or ontological, all human beings whether,
he or she, white or black, Christian or Moslem, is globally a person made up of
four indubitable fundamental elements: autonomy in being, self-consciousness,
communication, and self-transcendence. He is free and social. In communication,
he intersubjectivises with others in correspondence to love, friendship etc. In
self-transcendence, he climbs the ladder of God. He meets the real absolute and
Man as man, as Higgins formulates, means nothing less than the fact that man is
also a moral being. He summarized man by the means of Aristotle’s four causes:
the material, formal, efficient, and final causes. These four causes make the
boldest attempt at satisfying every branch of study that claim to have the
concept man. Higgins sees man, in Aristotle’s sense, as a unified whole, a
complete substance formed by infusion of two widely differing constituents. One
of this is the material element, the undetermined and determined part of
…by union with a
formal or determined cause, this material element put life into a human body,
of which its end is a rational animal. This formal cause or soul is a life
principle, the absolute, internal reason where man performs his vital action.6
for theologians, the efficient and final causes may be regarded as
indispensable aspects of man. Augustine (St.),
for instance believed that our souls will never rest until, they find rest in
Him from whom they come.
1.1.5 Igbo Notion of Man
every age, every culture around the world has a certain picture of man,
vis-à-vis his essential nature.
the Igbo equivalent meaning for “man” is “mmadu.” Dr. E. M.P. Edeh gives an
analysis of the concept mmadu (mma-di), meaning “good that is.”7 Implying that he shares in the being of
his maker, the highest good (God).
school of thought gives the analysis of “mmadu” as “mma-ndu,” “the goodness of
life.” Here, the concept “the good” is a quality associated with man. He is
considered the highest good of all creatures. This concept has a profound
implication for the Igbo. If “man” (mma-ndu) is the greatest good,” it follows
that for the Igbo, the being of man is an indubitable fact since His life (ndu)
is an issue for him (man)8
there is one indubitable truth about man:
There is man. He
is there, I am here. Man is a man in the world as J.F. Douceel, noted of the
trend of contemporary philosophy. Man does not simply live in the world. He
also made us live in it.9
Thus he writes:
lives in the world that is made up of complex sets of horizons. Man lives in a
certain situation in which he can generally not change. It is up to him to
assume this situation and make the most use of it.10
Platonic-Aristotelian notion of man is therefore crucial with regards to the
human existential understanding and our discussion that will be made clear as
1.2 Body and Soul
body is one of the elements of man that is naturally sensible and clear in
existence. It is the concrete part of man, yet it does not constitute the human
reality absolutely. It exists with the soul to make the actual human being.
With this fickle nature of the body and soul, we shall look into, the body and
soul as a problem; it’s relationship and functions.
1.2.1 The Soul And Body Problem
and anthropology have problem on the usage of the term that designates the
psychological faculty in man. Anthropology speaks of mind, philosophers and
theologians refer to it as “spirit.” For the scientists, it is operational
(i.e. the both terms). It is then left to the philosophers, theologians, and
scientists to choose the best, concerning the nature and origin of man.
issue of body and soul, at one extreme is the attempt to separate the human
body and soul by the Platonic idealism, using the dualism of Descartes. At the
other end is the attempt to reduce the mind and body relationship to animal
psychology and behavior giving no acknowledgement to man’s soul as truly
spiritual entity. “Neither pure spirit nor brute animal, man is an organic
spirit and spiritual organism.11
Soul and Body Functions
body performs both external function as walking, talking, hearing, seeing,
taste, smell etc and internal activities as biochemistry and the metrics of
genetical informations etc. The somaticity of man transcends and develops into
nuclear operations. Mondin. B writes; “Man is able to manage his body, train
it, and render it capable of performing movement of admirable perfections”.12
is a symbolic being, which is a sign of life health, vigilance, and command.
However, man has some characteristics in common with the animals such as
growth, reproduction, movement etc.
the body is a vital instrument of acquiring knowledge to Aristotle and Hume, it
is through the body that the world manifests itself to me and I project myself
on the world (Phenomenology).
the body is the source of evil and likewise a curse to the soul according to
the Platonists and Manicheans doctrines.
1.2.3 The Relationship between the Soul and
union of the soul and the body originates as a single being-man. For Aristotle,
being soul alone is not man, nor to be body alone but the blend of these two
elements. Other supporters of this opinion include; Cajetan, Albert the great,
Aquinas and Rosmini. For Hume, their relationship is that of subjective and reflection.
himself says that the soul is identified with the true essence of man. Freeing
the soul is a necessary condition to eliminating the body. Other proponents of
this opinion include: Spinoza, Augustine, and Descartes etc.
in his agnosticism rejected all attempts and regarded all soul-body reports as
nothing but fallacious. At this point, we say that the soul-body relationship
is substantial because the body and the soul cannot operate in isolation. The
soul and the body is not a substance because neither the soul nor the body has
atoms of autonomous existence or self-initiation. Both of them participate
together at the moment of generation. Therefore cannot be identified as a
simple accident or a complete substance.
1.3 The Origin of Man
search for the origin of man dates back to at least the written history of man.
This gave rise to some evolutionary theories under Psychological cum
biological, scientific, theological, and philosophic thought.
1.3.1 Psychological Cum Biological
this approach, man (Homo erectus, Homo vivens, Homosapiens, Homo volens etc) is
regarded as a unique composite of man and spirit, of body and soul.
Traducianism, the parents generated both body and soul through the instrumental
fission of the ovum and sperm alone. According to it, man originated from a
complex structure of molecules called DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).
another note, the soul of man has a proximate spiritual source, the soul of the
offspring, must be the soul, which must be an emanation of the souls of the
1.3.2 The Theological Thought
to the theological thought, it is believed the supreme being (God) from whom
all things were made and who holds the entire universe in his hands also made
Let us make man
in our image and likeness; let them have dominion over all other creatures… So
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and
female he created them.13
down the history, man is an indubitable being that exists in the world otherwise,
there would be no history for there would be no man to talk about the past, the
present or even predict the future.
1.3.3 Philosophical Thought
According to the emanation theory, human
race emanated from some live forces in the world and some great men fashioned
by the gods of Pantheon (The Early Greek pyramid text record). Also, the
creationists, pictured man to be descendants or rather, products of Gods so
that all things come from divine architecture and genealogy – Theory of
the 19th century, man was believed to have originated from animals
not from gods. An instance is the Darwin’s. “The Descent of man” Here Darwin
treated man’s origin and history in the context of animal origins or
evaluation. In the evolutionist, theory man is believed to have descended from
common ancestors among the primates by natural evolutionary process like
isolation, adaptation, natural selection, and mutation.
1 Stumpf, S.E. Philosophy: History
and Problems [London: McGraw-Hill Book. CO., 1989], p.96.
2 Mondin B, Philosophical
Anthropology,[ Rome: Urbanian Univ. Press, 1985], P.247.
6 Higgins. T.J.S., Man as Man:
The Science and arts of Ethics [Milwaukee: Bruce Pub., Co., 1968],
7 Edeh E.M.P., Towards an Igbo
Metaphysics,[ Chicago, Loyola University, press, 1985], p.100.
8 Ekei. J.C., Justice in
Communalism [Lagos, Realm Comm. Ltd., 2001], p.92.
9 Donceel. J.F., Philosophical
Anthropology,[ New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967], p.454.
11 New Catholic Encyclopedia,[
New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Vol V, 1966], p.671