THE THIRD VERSION OF MAN
(Nietzsche in Anglo Scientific Language)
By Daniel Gurpide
Jul 31, 2017 8:27pm
–“My humanity is a constant self-overcoming.”–Friedrich Nietzsche
THE THIRD VERSION
Nietzsche’s message was one of evolutionary change, of man’s progress toward full consciousness. He taught that the whole value and meaning of a man’s life lies in his participation in this progress – in his contribution to it.
Man should not be merely himself and conform to his own ‘nature’. He should still seek to give himself a ‘super-nature,’ to acquire a superhumanity: that superhumanity that Judeo-Christian monotheism’s vocation is to prevent him acquiring.
The idea of attaining superior consciousness is one of breeding upwards to the superman. It is furthermore the idea of the self-determined being: self-ordained to take integral charge both of the world and of himself, and to give them a new meaning, a new destiny. The discipline of philosophical anthropology has coined the term Third Man to denote this concept.
[CD: the aristocracy: a search for agency: transcendence. To leave the animal man behind. Yet, this is the feminine and abrahamic strategy: “Do not leave us behind, we will drag you down.”]
Seen in this light, the First Man would be identified with the evolutionary process leading to the development of the characteristics that distinguish hominids from other primates: hominisation. His appearance would coincide with the invention of language, the development of hunter-gatherer bands and the use of magical shamanism, which would allow him to mimic the evolutionary strategies at work in the surrounding environment – and in this way to compensate for the instinctual deficiencies caused by his ethological plasticity.
Several hundred thousand years on, sometime after the last glaciation, there would emerge for the first time what can be described as the Second Man. He is the inventor of the Neolithic Revolution, of agriculture, and consequently of sedentariness and the first human demographic explosion; the founder of cities and urban life, of politics, religion, the division of labour, and the development of so-called ‘pyric technology’ (implying energy production technologies based on combustion: wood, coal, oil, etc). It is the world of the Spenglerian Hochkulturen – ‘High Cultures’ or civilisations.
Depending on the way the Second Man reacted to the challenges of that time, one might then distinguish between:
1. Societies that refused or ignored any sort of historical transformation, thus heading more or less deliberately towards irrelevance and extinction. Examples might include the Australian aborigines and the non-Negroid native populations of sub-Sahara Africa (Pygmies, Khoisan).
2. Cold societies that tried to petrify early achievements in the form of endless repetition. As with the famous Aranda of Levi-Strauss, ‘faithful to their tradition’, such cold societies have become fossils of their ancestors’ history. They no longer evolve except as result of external and contingent ‘events,’ under the pressure of external factors. They are at the mercy of any environmental variation that is not previewed in their programme. In brief, they cannot survive except under the condition of not meeting again the train of history from which they alighted. This is the case of most sub-Saharan and Amazonian cultures: they became the ‘object of history’ – of other cultures’ history – once they came into contact with them.
3. Tepid societies that were active but unwilling ‘preys of history,’ such as the Far Eastern, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and pre-Columbian civilisations (*). The classic example is Japan, with a history marked by external influences which were simultaneously welcomed, rejected, and originally transfigures into what finally became Japanese culture – from the introduction of Buddhism in classical times to the Meiji Restoration after the end of the Shogunate.
4. Hot societies: these became ‘subjects’ or ‘agents’ of history. Generated by the Indo-European Revolution, they took full charge of the historical dimension of man and have come to express its heroic and tragic character with a project of collective destiny that was consciously assumed.
In this broad picture, a final point should be made regarding the particular role played by the birth in the Middle East of an historical tendency – represented mythically by the separation of Abraham and the founding of Israel, and prolonged in a complex way by the other monotheistic religions. Jewish-Christian monotheism introduces a split within post-Neolithic society: while remaining immersed in history, it rejects the effects of the Neolithic Revolution, not this time from a practical standpoint – like cold societies – but from a moral standpoint. It finds driving force in the promise of an eschatological ‘end of history,’ and in constant ‘demystification’ of history’s creations – in particular through reversal of the concept of the divine. From instrument and projection of human creativity, and pride in the process through which the Second Man becomes master of himself and of the world, the divine turns into a ‘transcendent’ condemnation and relativisation of human adventure.
The religion of the Bible’s essential effect – if not its express intention – amounted to obstructing man’s capability to fully realise the powers of freedom and creative autonomy arising from humanisation itself, powers that were historically reinforced by the Neolithic Revolution and the development of great cultures.
Precisely at the time the Indo-European revolution attained its maximum power and expansion, this messianic tendency – based on the moral rejection of history and civilisation – infiltrated the Roman world and reached a point of synthesis through the so-called ‘Constantinian compromise’, giving birth to ‘the West’. Step by step, it repressed the original European colective unconscious and corrupted the European culture of the time, transforming it into something hybrid. From the two souls living in Europe’s chest since that moment, the Jewish-Christian is evidently that which today, in its secular and more radical form, celebrates global hegemony.
(*) It is difficult to disentangle the twisted skein of contacts, exchanges, and influences that tepid cultures originally received from without. Some have hypothesised a role of primer for Indo-European influences and groups by way of imitation, competition, or re-elaboration. For example, Indo-Aryan influences on Chinese culture, and through the latter on Japan; or the complex pattern of contacts between Egypt and Mesopotamia on the one hand and, on the other, the different waves of invaders that from Central Europe on several occasions spilled into over the Near East. More uncertain are those hypotheses that suggest a connection of this type with the pre-Columbian empires. There are also hypotheses, more scientific in this case, about the existence of a ‘hyperborean’ Indo-European civilisation which had influences on an almost planetary scale.