Human Condition Essays
An essay by Peter Retzinger
Advances in man's understanding and knowledge of the universe in which we live and, in fact, our understanding of the workings of human mind and psyche itself, have been the result of the scientific reasoning and intellectual efforts of a comparatively small number of individuals. These individuals have broken the tethers and status quo which hold man in bondage to ancient -- and not so ancient -- superstitious, mythological and paranormal beliefs, propagated from generation to generation by a form of herd psychology; sheep following sheep, followers following followers, victims following victims. Without the free creative work of philosophers and physical, social, and medical scientists, man would still be living in the fear-filled, superstitious primitive world when supernatural spirit beings, both good and evil, were first created in the human imagination to explain that which was unexplainable in the natural world.
Around 10,000 years ago, at the dawn of "civilization" on the fertile alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia, when humans began to abandon the hunting and gathering lifestyle of subsistence and survival for the beginnings of the sedimentary farming and community lifestyles, small human communities began to organize god/spirit world beliefs somewhat unique to each community. These spirit world constructions often had common themes to explain the non-explainable in nature; the beginning of all, spirit forces behind storms, birth and death, crop success or failure and other natural events, and life beyond death. The "Play of Mystery and Myth" for each primitive community remained much the same but only the cast of characters changed. 1
Five thousand years ago, at the dawn of recorded history, the early Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, and other ancient empires/nations of the Near East and Middle East also adopted god/spirit mythologies unique to each nation, with each attempting to answer the Mysteries of their natural world. These early organized "religions" provided comfort in a world of mystery and fear, and, at the same time helped to bind the peoples of each nation together against all "enemy" nations, thereby re-enforcing and expanding the human "us" and "them" psyche from the tribe and community level to the national level. Spirit Myth based nations exist to this day.
Most, but not all, spirit "beings" have been traditionally created "in the image of man" with varying degrees of human characteristics and emotions; characteristics such as male, female, warlike, cunning, wise, threatening, ignorant, tolerant, stupid, tricky, judgmental, understanding, intolerant and arbitrary; and with emotions of anger, contentment, pleasure, displeasure, love, hate, joy, sorrow, jealousy, indifference, wrath, forgiveness, obsession, fear, and compulsion. An almost universal trait of "good" spirits is their bias in favor of "us", the chosen people, over "them." Even today, the end of the twentieth century, the world of spirit beings remains large in number in the human imagination, considering the vast array of angels and demons in addition to the principal supernatural anthropomorphic deities.
Bewildering as it may seem, authoritative fundamentalist religious sects are still promoting belief in evil spirit "beings" who inhabit the earth and interact with humans and the physical world. To quote a religious pamphlet recently handed to me by a very nice woman: "Demons have also caused noises and other physical phenomena in houses that they make their territory....In addition wicked spirits capitalize on the sinful bent of humans by promoting literature, movies, and television programs that feature immoral and
unnatural behavior. The demons know that wrong thoughts, if not expelled from the mind, will cause indelible impressions and lead humans to behave immorally, like the demons themselves." To quote Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), an anti-slavery and woman's rights advocate who pioneered endlessly to free men's minds enslaved by authoritarian religions: "Let them cover their eyeless sockets with their fleshless hands and fade forever from the imagination of men." 2
Philosophic thought and the elementary use of scientific reason began during the Golden Age of ancient Greece and Rome (450 BCE - 200 BCE) by pioneers of reason including Socrates, Theodoras, Aristotle and Epicurus. One of the tragedies of human history was the temporary overthrow of the rational naturalistic ethical philosophies of the Golden Age by supernatural spirit based beliefs dictated by Christian-Islamic power centers during the Dark Ages (450 CE - 1000 CE).
By the end of the Dark Ages most of the ancient polytheistic mythologies of Greece, Rome, the Near East and the Middle East were disposed of and were increasingly replaced through the missionary zeal of authoritarian nation/state hierarchy enforced Christian and Islamic Yahweh/Al-Lah based pseudo-monotheistic belief systems, limiting the freedom of thought of millions of people. 3
After the dark ages and during the Age of Reason, free and independent thought and scientific reason could no longer be completely suppressed by authoritarian church and state regimes and philosophers Spinoza, Voltaire, Hume, Gibbon and others inspired subsequent generations to begin to think freely and rationally and to separate truth from illusion. Man became more aware that "to develop a religion or world view that is realistic-that is, conforms to the reality of the cosmos and our role in it, as best we can know that reality-we must constantly revise and extend our understanding to include new knowledge of the larger world. We must enlarge our frame of reference." 4
A major milestone of scientific reason was achieved in the seventeenth century by Copernicus and Galileo when the widely held belief was dispelled that the earth was the center of the universe, with the egotistical implication that humans living on the earth were somehow central to the unfolding cosmic drama of existence; humans are but one life form on the third planet from a minor star in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one galaxy in a galaxy cluster, with perhaps millions of galaxy clusters yet to be discovered. Without humans there will still be rain on the plain in Spain, the earth will spin without any help, and the universe will continue its evolutionary course to whatever eventualities, with or without the human
During the past two hundred years, man's knowledge of the truth concerning himself and the universe has expanded exponentially because of the work of free thinking philosophers and physical, social and medical scientists including Charles Darwin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas James, Sigmond Freud, Thomas Edison, Bertrand Russell, Marie Curie, the Lewis Leakey family, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Jonas Salk, James Watson and Francis Crick. I believe this exponential expansion of knowledge of the truth of existence will continue during the next century and beyond provided man gains the wisdom to live in love and peace with one another and avoids illusionary paranormal beliefs which foster alienation, hatred and self-destruction.
Although mans search for truth and reality has greatly advanced since the time of the Cro-Magnon (35,000 BCE - 15,000 BCE) humans are but infants recently exposed to the world outside the womb. The universe has been around some 15 billion years and humans are relatively recent participants in the cosmic drama.
Fear of the unknown, The Mystery, remains in the psyche of man. Like a long caged animal, man fears venturing into new mysterious and untested territory and relinquishes his freedom by holding onto ancient comforting, but illusionary, beliefs. The attainment of knowledge and truth will continue to be suppressed in the majority of people clinging to ancient pre-science mythological beliefs when faced with the unknown, the unexplainable, and "short circuit" their thinking (usually motivated by fear) with the human cop-out, "god caused it", be it:
|Zeus, the weather god and king of the gods of Greek mythology whose home was believed to be on Olympus, (heaven);|
|Marduk, the creation god and national god of the Babylonian Empire;|
|Venus, the Roman goddess of fertility, beauty, and erotic love. Also identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess, and Asherah, the Canaanite goddess and consort to El.|
|Re, the sun god and giver of life of the ancient Egyptian dynasties;|
|Elohim - El - YHWH/Yahweh (JHVH/Jehovah) - Al-Lah - God, the jealous warrior god and creator of all things, chosen by the Jews from a pantheon of Canaanite gods to become the national god of the Israelite Monarchy, 1010 BCE - 586 BCE. Elohim, the plural for the Hebrew word "eloah", means "the gods" and is used by some religious sects); El, Al-Lah and God, mean "god" and when used by a Christian or Muslim, refer to the proper name of the god of the ancient Israelites---the unpronounceable Hebrew Tetragrammaton, transliterated to YHWH or JHVH and when translated becomes pronounceable as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah"; In ancient times El's home was believed to be on Mount Sinai, (Heaven);|
|Satan - Baalzebub - Lucifer, also known as the Prince of Darkness, was inherited by the Israelites, Christians and Muslims from ancient Persian (Zoroastrian) and Canaanite pantheons. Followers of Satan are typically "those" who do not subscribe to "our" beliefs. "They" are "our" scapegoats. Many followers of Satan called "pagans", "apostates", "witches" and "infidels" have been shunned, tortured, or killed by the believers in the spirit world who are in a position of authoritative power. In ancient days (and even now), Satan's home was said to be in an underworld, Hell.|
The Human Condition Essay
605 Words3 Pages
The Human Condition
Does life ever seem pointless and discouraging? In Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus describes the correlation between Sisyphus’s fate and the human condition. In the selection, everyday is the same for Sisyphus. Sisyphus is condemned to rolling a rock up a mountain for eternity. Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus” forces one to contemplate Sisyphus’s fate, how it relates to the human condition, and how it makes the writer feel about her part in life.
Camus states “if this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious” (Camus). Condemned by the gods, Sisyphus does not acknowledge his fate until after the rock rolls back down the mountain and he…show more content…
Instead, he starts to find meaning in his fate, starts to enjoy what he does, almost to take pride in his work, like a true laborer. Thus, Sisyphus is the “absurd hero,” because, like people he has a goal he believes that he can ultimately accomplish (Camus). He, in his own small way spites the gods by taking delight in pushing this rock over and over again.
How might one feel about this essay and her position in life? The writer feels as though life in essence is “futile and hopeless” (Camus). For example, day after day the writer continually gets up and goes to school. Many will feel disheartened by another day of doing things he or she may not want to do. Nevertheless, one would rather go to school and endure the “torture” of being in school than sitting at home for hours on end doing absolutely nothing or at a job she may not enjoy. Hence, why students welcome the summer, but after a few weeks they yearn to be in school again or why the depressed are depressed. The writer is no different. One is happiest when there are responsibilities to fill one’s day rather than a day without promise.
Life can seem futile and hopeless. However, it only seems that way to people who don’t take pleasure in what they do. Sisyphus realizes that if he just sat around all day instead of pushing that rock, he would never