Uniqueness of Man in Nature and Some Examples of Its Questioning

  • Marek Słomka The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Faculty of Philosophy
Keywords: man; nature; culture; altruism


There are often mentioned specific features of human consciousness and culture: metaphysical reflection, ability of self-consciousness, moral sensitivity, aesthetical and religious experience. One can express the role of the similar contents, stressing the role of modern sciences in the human development or the worth of altruism in the acts of man, who—existing for others—transcends the biological struggle for existence revealing in such a way the rich world of culture that gives right to assert his unique role in the nature. On the other hand, man still remains the element of nature, by the corporeality subordinated to its physical and biological rules. Taking this fact into account, we are not permitted to speak about the absolute transcendence of man over nature but only about relative one. The latter consists in the biological bond of man with the rest of nature and his cultural openness toward supernatural values.

There is also methodologically accepted confirmation for the thesis concerning the coexistence of physical continuity with ontological discontinuity in the evolutionary interpretation of nature. The ontological thesis surely can’t be definitively justified. Therefore, the opposite thesis will be also able to enlist new sympathisers. On the one hand, they would come from the groups that don’t acknowledge the difference between ontological and scientific form of evolutionism; on the other, they would occur among the thinkers capable of the future formulation of a new version of monism making the contemporary opposition between materialism and spiritualism totally pointless.

Apart from above mentioned aspects of the debate, the statement emphasizing that man transcends nature is still being criticized by some intellectual circles depending on methodological presuppositions or ontological declarations. Nevertheless, the basic problem of these explanations consists in the lack of an interpretation of features of the human psyche, adequate to the actual data, that express the relative autonomy of the contents of the human psyche in reference to biological determinants.


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