Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
- Genesis 1:26
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
- Psalm 57:2-4
May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
- Psalm 69:25-28
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Revelation 20:11-15
“For Foucault, it is simply wrong to assume that our current ideas can be usefully applied to any previous point in history. The ways in which we use the words ‘man’, ‘mankind’, and ‘human nature’, Foucault believes, are examples of this.
“The roots of this idea lie ﬁrmly in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who turned philosophy on its head by abandoning the old question ‘Why is the world the way it is?’ and asking ‘Why do we see the world the way we do?’ We take our idea of what it is to be human as fundamental and unchanging, but it is in fact only a recent invention. Foucault locates the beginning of our particular idea of ‘man’ at the beginning of the 19th century, around the time of the birth of the natural sciences. This idea of ‘man’ is, Foucault considers, paradoxical: we see ourselves both as objects in the world, and so as objects of study, and as subjects who experience and study the world—strange creatures that look in two directions at once.
“Foucault suggests that not only is this idea of ‘man’ an invention of recent date, it is also an invention that may be close to coming to its end—one that may soon be erased ‘like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea.’
“ls Foucault right? In a time of rapid advances in computing and human—machine interfaces, and when philosophers informed by cognitive science, such as Daniel Dennett and Dan Wegner, are questioning the very nature of subjectivity, it is hard not to feel that, even if the face in the sand is not about to be erased, the tide is lapping alarmingly at its edges.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
Michel-Foucault (1926-1984) seems to have a unique idea, but in writing these Philosophy “lessons” or essays for a couple of years, it is a blend of a variety of ideas. The quoted book acknowledges that he started with a Immanuel Kant premise, but I see Foucault expanding upon Simone de Beauvoir’s question of whether feminism is existential? Foucault expands the question to humanity itself, but he applies it to humanity instead of what might be a better concept of what is meant by a civilized member of the human race. That indeed changes definition over time and is existential in that it is not innate and many of the behaviors and rules must be learned, thus created, as time goes on.
His concept of how we cannot define man in the present age by any other age’s set of circumstances and values is similar to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophy.
Yet, in a recent book that I have read, Glen Scrivener starts with a chapter of The Air We Breathe on the life, by Roman terms, in the first century, when Jesus had His ministry and died on the cross. Rev. Scrivener’s point is that the teachings of Jesus and the followers of Jesus made a profound impact on the values of the Western world. As such, to bring in his book title, Christianity is like the air that we breathe when we consider our moral values.
Foucault, from his viewpoint of history, looks at the birth of the natural sciences leading to the industrial age. The shift from an agricultural society to a mechanized industrial society redefined what it meant to live as a man in this world. From that myopic view, he makes good observations.
But the western world’s moral compass was shifted by the teachings of Jesus. Man himself was created in the image of God not that many millennia before Jesus came to earth. Soon after mankind was created, the first man and woman sinned against God and the curse of Man’s Fall definitely made the most profound change in what it meant to be a man – the sin nature, pain, suffering, and death.
And Foucault died in 1984. In the nearly 40 years since his death, “man” has changed to a uncivilized creature that Foucault might have a hard time recognizing. We might indeed be eating our own children within the next century, if the End Times do not come first. There is little love and anger rules the day. No one can express an opinion in a wide public forum without being shouted down, until those shouting realize that they disagree with the other shouters.
While God’s essence of mankind is that all mankind was created in His image and we each have an ever-living soul, what it means to be a man in the present age is different than in other ages. Our moral man may easily be patterned by the life and teaching of Jesus, but the present secular movement is trying to create a new paradigm that eliminates those things that civilized society held dear for nearly 2000 years. Yet, in some cases, those principles of civility are being changed only by the motivation. We will still have do-gooders in the secular world but they will not glorify God, only themselves and the endorphins they get as a result of their deeds.
But regardless of how we define what it means to be a human in each historical age, we will each present ourselves before God’s judgment. Will our names be in the Book of Life? Will our rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ be many or few? No earthly definition of what it means to be a member of mankind in this historical age changes that judgment.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.