by Tammy Tillotson
“The Answer to Human Life
Is not to be found within the Limits
Of Human Life.”— C. G. Jung
To be human is to exist, within the limits of present human knowledge, as the apogee of the food chain, while simultaneously epitomizing and encompassing all aspects of the duality of nature in all its vast forms.
Comprehending Human Nature
Comprehension of human nature is solely limited to the understanding of manifestations that have been created and defined throughout history in order to achieve or rather establish a sense of order within an otherwise chaotic environment.
Humans assign meaning to understand, define, explain, name, or differentiate between a thing, idea, abstraction, or concept, yet are only truly able to understand meaning when the limitations that are imposed through that assigned meaning are recognized. Through these assigned meanings and manifestations knowledge is claimed to be found, though this is merely acknowledging a vague understanding of comparisons between the differentiation of understanding a thing in relation to the understanding of another thing.
Humans comprehend that an orange is an orange and an apple is an apple because that is the assigned name, meaning, or differentiation that has been assigned to those items through utilizing the tool of language. Understanding manifestations and understanding knowledge are also limited to the extent of one’s ability to utilize language as a manifestation of the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and understandings.
Language, as a construct, represents a manifestation of communication using a system of symbols, sounds and gestures, in a patterned, organized, and conventional way. Language is common to a specific group of humans, in which it is assumed that the members of the group reason and rationalize, as well as express that, through the basis of language as a common denominator. In essence, this allows the members of the group to understand one another within the limitations of the manifestations of their understanding and utilization of language.
Thoughts are manifestations of the ability to demonstrate the capacity of thinking, which consists of the notion that humans are able to utilize their minds to achieve purpose or intent. Humans have the ability to assimilate parts into cause and effect relationships and interrelationships, by gaining knowledge through acquired experience and remembering this. Thoughts can be assimilated and manipulated through direct and indirect experience by encounters that the human lives through or witnesses by other tools of communication. Thoughts can also be instilled from the general understanding of what is perceived to be the correct or incorrect way of doing something in accordance to the majority of social constructs, beliefs, or inherent values within a specific group of humans. Thoughts, as humans understand them, primarily represent the ability of the mind to function as an intellectual faculty and invaluable resource for survival.
If thoughts function as an intellectual faculty, feelings serve as an equal and opposite faculty associated with sensory perceptions. Feelings function as another tool of communication, through which humans gain knowledge about their environment and themselves by organizing their responses to opposite and similar dualities of nature based on a comparison of these responses within their experience and understanding of these dualities as manifestations. Sensory perceptions may communicate to an individual that something smells bad, but it only smells bad in comparison to what the individual perceives to smell good, or to what the individual’s experience of the comparative values of smelling bad encompasses.
A unique characteristic of humans is that they also communicate thoughts and feelings through constructing and attaching symbolism to manifestations, ideas, things, items, or other people, in order to evoke sensory perceptions from other humans, or express emotion and sentiment. This expression of emotion and sentiment can be conveyed in a positive or negative fashion depending on the initial intent of the communication. Emotion and sentiment are also valuable manifestations that yield meaning to the existence and importance of life itself, and they largely dictate our interactions and relationships with other humans in whether or not we like or dislike being stigmatized with certain individuals, groups, or associations.
To be human is to naturally embody duality with or without conscious or unconscious intent. Humans can create or destroy through both decision and indecision. Humans can choose to be passive or aggressive, and choosing neither or choosing indecision is still a valid decision.
Humans are clever chameleons or shape-shifters that teeter fearlessly and fearfully on the boundaries between conformity and nonconformity, conventionality and unconventionality, traditional and untraditional. Humans are able to alter an appearance into a perfectly fitting piece of either one or the other when deemed necessary, appropriate, or beneficial to the self to settle into one or the other categories of duality.
To be human is to understand and live in conflict within the environment, while simultaneously trying to find or attain harmony, peace, contentment, or some evasive yet universal concept of human morality that for some reason ought to encompass a part of every human.
In gaining understanding or knowledge, humans both consciously and unconsciously share their affirmations with others who might not otherwise have been so illuminated, or overshadowed, by the nonexistence of that concept in their previous understandings.
This is the sheer nature of the human and the nature of communication.
In understanding individual thoughts and feelings humans seek to explain that to others in an effort to rationalize or justify themselves for thinking and feeling a particular way for a valid reason, when in fact no reason, validation, or justification is warranted beyond the self’s knowledge of itself. To understand and to share understanding is on some levels to pass judgment despite trying not to be judgmental.
Work and Leisure
Humans have natural social tendencies toward work, or producing, accomplishing, and pursuing tasks through exertion of energy, intellect, and other available tools and resources. A structured hierarchy of natural selection results from human tendency to segment and separate the understanding of the self into classification and associations of other humans of like and similar capabilities, talents, or work.
Work is perceived as a means through which the basic necessities on Maslow’s pyramid of needs are provided for within a consumerism society. There is a certain connotation to the perception of work that this is a required action that can be enjoyable, but is primarily the means to provide for material existence within an environment. What humans do for work to successfully maintain their existence further acts as another form of classification or differentiation between other individuals within the perception of collective society as a singular entity.
As work has an essence of being a somewhat arduous task, not necessarily dependent on the whims of the individual, the opposite of work is exemplified through leisure activities. As much as it is a necessity to work, it is also a necessity to have time to pursue activities that bring pleasure, recreation, community, fellowship, or simply time to be idle or less industrious than one would normally be expected to illustrate at work.
Many aspects of humans as social creatures are displayed during leisure time. This period of relaxation yields less expectations and demands on the self, and allows time for the self to contemplate and reflect upon what it has learned or understood thus far in its experience in relation to the rest of its environment. It might also allow time for the self to consciously ignore contemplating this entirely and think about anything else that might be of interest or entertainment.
Leisure provides a channel through which humans pursue social activities with the same and opposite gender, reproduce, raise families, or simply enjoy congregating with others that they find enjoyable to be associated with. Many humans find studying literature and history to be a leisure activity, while others do not enjoy this.
The duality between the differences and similarities of the nature of humans yields an endless assortment of leisure and work activities that is largely a product of individual taste. This is based on the perceptions of the manifestations of understanding and definitions of what an individual believes to exhibit characteristics of either work or leisure.
The Independent and Interdependent Self
The primary duality of humans is exemplified through the struggle to act as an independent, individual, autonomous self, while simultaneously acknowledging that our survival as a species and as an individual is interdependent on relationships with other humans.
Through the division of work and assignment of certain tasks to specific individuals, goals can be accomplished toward achieving overall positive effects for the betterment of the individual and the betterment for humans as a collective entity. Humans consciously understand how to use or utilize other humans as resources to improve circumstances for themselves. There is much intellect employed to demonstrate feelings of loyalty, cooperation, belonging, and shared importance within constructed manifestations so as to ensure continued success of the manifestation.
To a large extent, survival as a species is directly related to the adaptability to exist within and maintain the appearance of harmony in symbiotic parasitic relationships with other humans.
The living cells that constitute “me” contain twenty-two pairs of autosomes and one pair of X chromosomes, of which all my genetic DNA material therein stemmed from one of 8,388,608 possible combinations (or 223) of the halves of the chromosomes attributed from each of my parents.
That is my one true claim to fame, and the one unique characteristic that is only evident in the human “me.” Yet, even that is limited to the extent of my present knowledge, and that in itself is a contradiction.