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moses (2)

What Is The Ideal Human?

The ideal human
What makes an ideal human being? Does the ideal human have a rightly proportioned athletic body and a disciplined mind? Or are they compassionate and kind, good and decent, showing unconditional love for others?

Do we know someone who we consider to represent the human ideal?

Friends call young mother “Ideal Human”
A small town community in Michigan mourned the tragic death of a 21-year-old college student and mother of a young child. “She’d hang out with everyone. She brought groups of kids together,” said a friend. “There wasn’t anyone that she didn’t make feel wonderful, said a former teacher. “She’s the 'ideal' of a what a human being should be.”

Super heroes

Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have striven to perfect themselves, emulating those who have achieved greatness. Every culture has their celebrities and super heroes of people everyone wishes to be like.

There are historical superhumans such as the enlightened Buddha looked to as an ideal human being. The prophet Moses possessed supernatural powers to part the Red Sea. Islamic tradition is full of written descriptions of Mohammed and his qualities — describing him as the ideal human being. Ayn Rand's modern hero is a self-serving individualist, in contrast to the superhuman Christian ideal of the gospels Jesus. Jesus Christ, according to legend, lives to use his super powers to selflessly serve others.

We learn from our heroes only up to a point where we must then continue on the journey without them.

To be human is to be free

An ideal is an idea of something in its perfect form or essence. The essence of being human is found without the “need to discard our human nature” and become superhuman. Inner development removes the barriers that prevent our human nature from expressing its essence. The purest expression of human nature is freedom. We are only fully human when we are free.

“Our life is made up of free and unfree actions. We cannot, however, form a final and adequate concept of human nature without coming upon the free spirit as its purest expression. After all, we are human in the fullest sense only in so far as we are free.” POF 9.11

What is human freedom?

Philosophers have debated the question of freedom for over two millennia, and just about every great thinker has a different opinion. This is a problem as we can only strive for freedom if we know what it is. POF 9.11  In science everyone is not entitled to their own opinion. Science is based on facts, not opinion or preferences. What is needed is a science of freedom.

Science of freedom

Rudolf Steiner understood the need for a science of freedom. The Philosophy Of Freedom is the "result of introspective observation following the methods of science".

“What I was really trying to do in The Philosophy of Freedom, was to locate freedom empirically, and thus put it on a solidly scientific basis.”

The evolution of the free ethical human
Nature makes us merely natural creatures, social community develops us further, but only the human individual can finish the process and make themselves free ethical human beings. The human evolves from his ancestors into an ethical individual without the need of some sort of supernatural intervention. Rudolf Steiner's ethical human follows directly from the theory of evolution.

“The same ethical individualism that I have developed on the basis of the preceding principles could also be derived from the theory of evolution.” POF 12.7

A science of freedom informs our ethical decisions concerned with human well-being

A science of freedom contributes to human evolution by providing a map to freedom. Having knowledge of what freedom is will inform our ethical decisions concerned with human well-being. The more this science is clarified and presented to the world the greater influence it will have throughout social and political life.

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Time To Shelve The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Earlier this month, with the support of many others, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced her intention to defy her state Supreme Court's decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds.

Have you read the ten commandments?
In the fervor to impose their religious beliefs on others, it's as if they forgot what the Ten Commandments actually say. They may want to re-read it. Four demand love and respect for a jealous God of a single religion, if you do not comply, that God will harm you. Three more deal with coveting other people's stuff (the wife is included among your stuff after the house and before the servants/slaves and ox), and the others are obvious like forbidding murder and theft.

Few, if any, of the Ten Commandments would make it on any modern person's own top ten list of rules for living. I'm sure most people can do a better job writing such a list than the biblical version. It wouldn't be hard to pick ten better, more universal, more relevant principles to live by.

Your top 10?
What would your top 10 life principles be? For example, one might include useful recommendations like being a critical thinker, caring for the environment, acting on our concern for others, or seeking peace and social justice.

I decided to look for some principles that are relevant for today and worth striving for in my favorite part of The Philosophy Of Freedom, the original preface. Here is what I came up with for my list.

  My Top 10

  1. Shake off every kind of authority.
  2. Accept nothing as valid, unless it springs from within yourself.
  3. The saying that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” no longer holds for you.
  4. Probe deep into the heart of your being, where dwells something noble and worthy of development. 
  5. Allow no ideals to be forced upon you.
  6. No longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which you must all strive to conform. 
  7. Assert your right to express what is unique in you.
  8. No longer be satisfied merely to believe; instead want to know.
  9. Find in the separate sciences those principles that lead to a wholistic science.
 10. Value science only when it shows its results are important for human development.
  POF preface

Source of morality is human beings
Just as Monism has no use for supernatural creative ideas in explaining living organisms, so it is equally impossible for it to derive the moral world-order from causes which do not lie within the world. Monism cannot admit any continuous supernatural influence upon moral life (divine government of the world from the outside), or to a particular revelation at a moment in history (giving of the ten commandments), or to the appearance of God on the earth (divinity of Christ). For monism moral processes are products of the world like everything else that exists, and their causes must be sought in the world—that is to say, in human beings, because humans are the bearers of morality.
 POF 12.8

Adaptation of a Roy Speckhardt article

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© Tom Last 2017