9 Ultimate Questions; 2
The following program was originally released in 1969. Nine Old Women questions a series of explorative talks adding contemporary perspective to the vast legacy of world philosophies with Dr. John Theobald. In this the second of nine ultimate questions Dr. Theobald investigates the nature of man in subsequent programs Dr. Theobald will explore the natures of the self love death beauty God and peace. The ninth ultimate question will project into the future. Dr. Theobald was born in India educated in England and the United States and now teaches at San Diego State College as he has worked 20 years. He took his B.A. and M.A. at Oxford is MSP master of sacred theology degree at New York's Union Seminary and his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. Articles by Dr Thea ball have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and Saturday Review among other periodicals an expert in poetry. He has compiled an anthology which serves as a text in college poetry
courses and he has published two volumes of his own poetry with the second of nine ultimate questions here now is Dr. John Theobald. What is man. Everything has a past present future. It is was and will be. And other things besides man will be about as they are on him then and so may be understood according to their past and present. But man's being is in what he might and will be. That's one thing that makes this question so big and strange and Woody at least a little silent pause. Last time it could be said we attempted an instant review of man's religious history or rather his Christian history not in order to be in a better position to look at his religious discontent today and at his typical aspiration. But one can speak about is typical of man without asking what man is this terrific
question we try to make a little easier for ourselves by ignoring the first of the seven working principles or guidelines for these talks. These principles were read just before we got off the air. And I don't want to wear you and steal our time by repeating them on every occasion but I think that the first and good especially pertinent to today's question also the last of course which will apply to everything one can say. The first reads Take nothing for granted. Everything is special. All that lives is holy. The third principle has to do with method of inquiry assigning to the logic of course in effect a lower rank than intuition which is expressed in symbol and myth. The last principle states the ground of all of this. Name the inclusion of all being in a single self. Take nothing for granted. Even the ideas of man kind that have been most taken for granted by man have
not always been the same sort of commonplace assumption that you know that we men and wherever we have a record of man they seem to have taken themselves very seriously. Possibly having the records and taking themselves seriously are the same thing. Animals leave no animals behind. No drawings on the walls of caves no documentary vestiges. I suppose you could say that animals conferred in a sense as we are doing now although it's not likely that they confer about what an animal is. They are more tribal than individual. Some animal tribes seem more effective better behaved within their limits than human beings especially salmon whose return to their spawning grounds is so heroic and foolproof. And the birds was perfect migrations battle all conjecture and BS. Who is complex polity has no waste motion at all that we can observe. Man is for man the measure of all things.
So it's men who puts the animals in their place and governs their ecology carouse them traps them Saltus them and eats them breeds domesticate and extend them as between men and animals. It's hard to say who will amp out a game whose rules are all written up by men. Remember the story about a low down Seine. It's about a human visitor to another planet where a huge ghastly anthropoids reach into wide up pins for beautiful humanoids who gaze and yearning anguish towards our planet shining in their skies very much as here men reach into the chicken run for a fowl for dinner. Not a very pleasant story but one that tends to redress a little a balance between man and his victims here on Earth. You could compare it with Walt Whitman's verse in one of his poems Oh I could tune in live with animals. They're so passive and self contained in a lie awake all night weeping for their sins. But this
capacity to detach ourselves from our assumed superiority is pretty rare and in fact it would seem distinctly eccentric to assign to animals anything but a subordinate position on this planet. On the other hand to weep over one sends a moderately at least signify some sense of deficiency which one might expect to see as a prerequisite off progress. A contemporary poet defines man as the only animal aware of lack of finish. Which says the same thing in rather colder words as Shelley as we looked before and after pine for what is not our constant sense of insufficiency may be broken down into the dominant in a needs. I mean aside from the need for food and drink and air and human company I should like to suggest what some of these further deeper needs are. They may turn out to be mainly for which the last three you could be variants of the
first which I shall call the need to understand this need to understand is closely related to what the German-American psychologist and practicing psycho therapist Viktor Frankl designates in the title of his book as Man's Search for Meaning. Franco's practice of psychiatry led him to the conclusion that many a psychopathic conditions which resisted the methods of Freud and his liberation of repressed libido or of young and the operation of the racial unconscious all of the Adlerian resolution of the will to power would yield to the simple inquiry concerning what meaning the patient's life had. FRANKEL I arrived at the application of this theory by an extremely an academic POV. Namely by means of the Auschwitz internment camp where he was one of the few in tourney's to survive that he had observed that the prisoners who succumbed soonest to their gods critters were those who gave
up lost hope. This hopelessness being the absence of any this with the possibility of a purpose for the future. It is own case the chief enemy of despair was the persistent sounds that he had something to say to the world. He had to live to save it so he did live. Certainly we can't say that to have no purpose is not to be a man. There are too many intensely human Drifters infect if purpose is interpreted as go getting. There might well be circumstances where it would be better to have no purpose at all. Especially if in order to achieve a goal one had to subordinate other people's interest to one's own motive in this since it could work against meaning. So it's motive that is self advancement is likely to be at the expense of the other three primary needs of the human spirit which I take to be love. Freedom and creativity. Because without these it's hard to see how there can be meaning that would not lead to destruction. First for the
individual and then for those he comes in contact with. And finally as it is now threatened for the entire world. Look at the incessant bloodletting age outrage that has been very far from unmotivated. That is quite often in fact been motivated by high idealism isn't it. This would just cause us to wonder sometimes what a man may not be a hopeless killer. A question which now almost certainly involves his survival. If when you look back at the career of a middle aged individual you observe an unbroken history of quarrels and then you have a right to expect a continuation of the same history short of a drastic psychological crisis and turn over at the same time. If you have known this person well and he's shown how good and kind you can be you say his difficulties are a neurotic phase which must be soluble he'll be OK. And this is just about what we say the race of man. True there's never been any considerable area of the earth where 20
years have gone by without people killing people. But this can go on we say especially now we're bound to be cured more or less immediately or else. And so saying we turn to the sports page much as the Romans did to their estimates of the Reds chances against the Greens in the next chariot race. Now the man is an individual a man is a race of creatures maybe two totally different propositions you know. And the comfort that maybe you derive for example from the fact that as you drive along the road at 65 miles an hour although you are perpetually at one flick of the wrist away from suicide or the oncoming driver from murder and suicide yet it's a reasonable assumption that this imminent danger is actually as far removed as insanity. And you and I of course never go insane. The solace derived from this analogy may be quite elusive when applied to the race. But there are two difficulties with this comforting analogy. First
the preponderance of individuals among us who even pass by saying is not so very comfortably wide and second the analogy between the behavior of the individual and that of the group is a precarious analogy. Nice lemmings that of Ray's letter after letter with thoughtless solicitude. We don't hesitate to join the suicidal trek towards the Baltic. The commander of the bomber group who is making himself responsible for the burning of 50 babies and their mothers in one mission nevertheless would not hurt a fly is looked up to by a little brother would not raise his hand against his wife even if she were unfaithful to him in circumstances. They are the hardest to take. And if his commanding officer were to hand down the order to drop an intelligent anticipated bomb on the Chinese nuclear installations even if this act this action or I think I should say operation they always contrive to a nice the title by this abstract terminology. Even if this operation were to ensure the general Holocaust
boy would feel no greater departure from the line of duty then did the Carthaginian foot soldier. Also a gentle husband and father no doubt who tossed the first spear to Roman galley in the days just before. Not one stone was left on another. In the vast city of Carthage. Not going to be any doubt that if a public speaker in those distant times what you have drawn attention to such a discrepancy between the public and private conduct of citizens his protest however loci it might have been would have been denounced as one unconvincing two unnecessary three unpatriotic for out of line five liberal and six peacenik. That is to say incendiary because giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There are older women. And yet we continue to cut off the nose to spite the face. Partly because old as we are we're still frightfully young homo
sapiens we call ourselves and few men. Just a few have been wise lived harmoniously. What other men's welfare about their own made beautiful things. There haven't been many. We are young. You too expect of seeing those diagrams which point up our late arrival on the scene. The 12 hour clock with Akio is a period of 800 million years depicted as lasting from noon to help us for the Proterozoic which is the next six hundred fifty million years taking to help our state. The 350 million years are there pal is only gauged to ten twenty hundred forty million of the Mesozoic that is the beginning and end of the entire giant reptiles and birds period lasting an hour and a half from ten to hit all of us to the center Zoe. Just sixty million years corresponding to just 12 minutes of mammals and man of which the total existence of man himself is taking less than two million years which is to say he arrived on the scene twenty two and a half seconds before the present point of midnight which is to say
he's been what we are pleased to call civilized for about one fifteenth of a second. Personally I don't believe that a man just seems and tatted too complex to be quite that reason. I myself I would greatly prefer the proof less the genealogy of the Theosophists the hu man man the spirit that he knew was and evolves the physical vehicle is older than the planet Oh much older. Descending from other chains of planets and other levels of manifestation all of which of course can be of little interest to St Justs who do not make the real man the measure but who subject this real man to the subhuman scales of measurement which are his own Johnny-Come-Lately contrivances is not science fiction we're dealing with. But the reality which is formative manifested being and which is discovered within as the universe in a condition in fact does. We're going to have to speak up again more carefully and we'll.
But though men men I repeat is still young no matter what you look at it. I still just couldn't swallow this twenty two and a half second man without confessing in passing that he sticks in my craw. It's not without interest you know that every significant find that the Orthodox diggers make forces them to place the origins of man a little further back than before the last such find by Dr LSP leaky and East Africa consisting of relics estimated at one million seven hundred thousand years old. Neither while I am confessing to incredulity is do I believe that man will find it quite so easy to destroy himself finally as is now being suppose depending a good deal on what you mean by destroy it to be the only animal away out of lack of finish. And then to be irretrievably destroyed absolutely to finish is run almost at the beginning of this demonstrated lack that would scarcely make sense. I mean it wouldn't even correspond to what has happened to the other creatures in
just a logical time. Besides there arises here the bigger question of what is and is not destructible the spirit of man is not something that is destructible but we're getting a little ahead of ourselves now we have not yet decided what man is and we are looking at this since our lack of finish as it is displayed in man's basic needs. And the first Need we said is to is to understand and this is what we have seen that man does so poorly. We just saw in fact that the need for meaning can lead straight to destruction. A tribal nation or alliance of nations will want to establish what means most to them at the expense of what means most of their neighbors God to quote unquote of course is fighting on both sides since both sides have drafted him which is unlucky for that half of him that loses happen to believe in altogether. There would seem to be something self-defeating about this devoted need for meaning.
When men forget the other three needs of love freedom and creativity what use could any of these be any three of them without the for understanding increases with love. But if you love for example be limited to those who share your passionate conviction. Then in the words of all worlds and extinguish it will slogan. All men are equal but some more equal than others. Nothing will do but you must seek to remake other societies or other parts of your own society in the image of your own conviction. Or you may love them with that same conviction. And if you are not about to deprive them of their freedom altogether converting them to your own way of thought by force or persuasion will turn the trick since after all you do have this solemn obligation to force your freedom on them and thus save their immortal souls if you do destroy their homes in the process. Such for example was the practice of the Prophet Mohammed and his followers in the Arabian territories such that of Cortez and pearl of Hitler's Germany and
then and Poland of the USSR in Hungary is what the powerful USA in its brief history to date shunned and was made glorious by shunning until the last few years. In the rare brief intervals when not just shining individuals are fastened their eyes on the right beautiful true and follow that vision faithfully to their death. Plato Confucius Joan of Arc Abraham Lincoln Gandhi of Ramana Maharshi and such were not just these heroes of the spirit but a whole society it was patterned on this radiance. We then were given dim fragmentary previews of the external externalization of what Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Such a society perhaps may have been seen in what surrounded and followed Tom a border or for about 30 years in the great kingdom ruled by a show about 200 tended to 40 B.C. after that monarchs conversion to build and what isn't. When swords in Hindustan.
But perhaps the first and until now last time in history really were beaten into plowshares and the land really did lie down with a lamb. Such no doubt temporal power would seem to a possessed the Christians in the catacombs and something like it again marked the reign of Marcus a religious one twenty one to one eighty eighty with all its disappointments. That's so sweet and firm and hard working. A philosopher king as this Emperor should have failed to establish such a set it during his long reign is a pretty discouraging comment on the stubborn resistance offered by human material. Not that all his intentions were frustrated. Without a doubt he succeeded in elevating the moral tone of Roman society he appointed by magistrates legislated the care of miners restore the nation's finances even instituted the first traffic regulations. All this and much more. By working all day and far into the night also as rain. So that about the only opportunity I had to get these beautiful meditations written was whilst pretending to watch the
public games. Yet Savage Wars went on. The Christians were more severely persecuted if anything than by his predecessors. And after this emperor's death. Row that is slipped back into the same or corrupt and eventually unstable practices that it Klein in full was able to keep right on going. Is this then the blight that man was born for that having sustained a possible check to the forces of evil. Every such rest but from oppression injustice man's inhumanity to man must be paid for by a compensator in misery is that all progress must be too brief and fallible to be anything but illusory. Any answer from here to a question like that will be of less interest to you than your own ounces. But I will say that the founder conception of man's nature exclusively on the apparent tidings of history is rather like trying to take a time exposure of a rapidly moving figure of Shakespeare whose portrait of man is more didit and complex and drawn upon a larger
canvas than any other present his subject as an infinite contradictory figure. Remember the moment when Hannah cries out with astonishment What a piece of work is man how noble in reason how infinite in faculties in firm and moving how Express and admirable in action how like an angel in apprehension how like a god and the next breath he says Man delights not me nor woman either. Moreover this angelic role is precisely reversed in Measure for Measure. When Angelo an appalling symbol for man's abuse of power is himself the one who is made to say a man proud man dressed in a little brief authority and most ignorant of what he is supposed to shore plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels we. Now what is all this about angels. If you were so much as to use the word to one who has had a thought a grounding as they say in any other physical or life sciences he wouldn't even stoop to point out that your terminology was unscientific he would merely give you a certain look which I
should like to call the look how well we know it. Polite course of call patient to cover some impatience sometimes breaking into a broad good humored smile. And if a character in a modern play were to compare mankind to enjoy alls the audience would be torn between Funny Ha Ha and funny ridiculous. Sometimes I wonder if it ever occurs to the apostles of these so-called scientific method that this quizzical bafflement which events in the face of something so untested as they would say is Angels has an answering bafflement in a blade on a rock or in any of those who have experienced angels. When these visionaries are confronted by the gentlemen of the camera the microscope and the ranch and Ray Sands has made immense strides in the century it was the recognition that more things take place between heaven and earth than the dreamt of an old jazz philosophy. But Earth only this inquiring spirit could be the first to realize in the minutes
that Mihm is a spirit is the spirit. Think what is it that sees the vision hears the audition thinks the thought what thinks it. Man is the hardest portion of creation to be Divine because he is the definer of all. However you define man and in many ways you must at least include what does the defining in your definition. For example his freedom his love his creativity are wrong three needs only as he man can see is freedom conceived love conceives creativity conceived meaning itself concedes needed self all else is mirrored his thoughts that wander through it energy itself. You look down at your hand. You may cut it off. Analyze it down to the last cell. What directs that hand a million minute in so you can even count them. What directs them the frontal lobe of the brain you say and you can weigh and analyze that what
directs this. That's something else. Now you've taken the leap into the great mystery and science doesn't care if a mistress. Yes 70 years ago sans announced this readiness to foreclose on all mysteries all things sooner or later were about to be explained according to physical laws. Perhaps they were right but not according to the notions that prevailed then it was physical. Now the don't quite know what matter is except that it's energy and watch that wherever it had been brought to confess that right is used to measure I didn't mention can and does change the dimension by that act of measuring. This is distinct encouraging it suggests that we may be only moments away from the recognition that man is not a physiological man nor a genetical man nor a historical man or even an anthropological man as anthropology now is. Man is not only the object of these explanatory strategy is
but also the source of them. If he does contain consciousness it is in an infinitely narrower since then consciousness contains him a more or less dim awareness of this distinction obtains recognition in our use of three now. First a man second men and third man. And as concerning this last that we're enquiring now. Is because man is spirit. And that it's possible to speak without nonsense of God becoming man a man becoming God. It's because man thinks of himself less as he is then as he might be that his conception of perfection and the process of perfect in have to be included in the present situation. It is we repeat the lack of finish the blurs the picture of man as no other creature is
blurred. So if you as a savage animal in process of becoming a god he's not a savage animal how another guy asked Lady the things that he does because it does not appear that animals are consciously engaged in any such divine process or indeed in becoming anything different from what they are. And if you say how do you know that man is engaged in anything of the sort. The impertinence is to point to his sublime works because the filth need to remember is to create to have power over the hour by tuning elements crass and unstable into lines and shapes and colors and words and music of change this beauty this need to create. Being without a doubt yet another variant of his need to know to understand to find meaning. Thou silent form says Keats to the little broken piece of pottery dug up out of the earth from 500 B.C.
just tease this out of thought and started to Nitty pastoral. When old age of this generation ways remain in midst of other world than ours a friend a man to whom thou sayest beauty is true to beauty that is all you know on Earth and all you need to know. But at the risk of disappointing our Objectivists the final answer to why man is Divine can only be given as each man looks for than himself and asks the question that we have to ask next time what is the self. All things are written there. Nothing in the animal's depths of space or the furthest reaches of time can come to pass. Accept as knowledge and knowledge is meaningless. However far away is here the longer it's now. I rather mean in significant it's not separate from the love that moves the sun and the other stars and because that movement is not one thing and out adoring wonder as we gaze at it another but because both are part of the same
it. We know that the final human death and suicide is not possible that one other person is the consciousness of what is going on is itself imperishable in the desperation must be pretty typical. That strange phenomenon that we are is to realize the ground of all realisation in the self is this self the least credible thought yet the one best able to make sense out of everything else. This is the very eyes of God is that without which God cannot come to consciousness. That's how important man in all his meanness truly is. You've heard the second of nine ultimate questions with Dr. John Theobald continuing his explorative talks into contemporary application of a vast legacy of the philosophies of man. The third of nine ultimate questions is what is the self. Nine ultimate questions was produced in the studios of telecommunications and
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