C. The Imperative of the Homo Rationalis:
Let us turn the direction of this important element of politics in the life of man toward the necessity for recognizing the moral imperative intrinsic in each human being and inclusive of every civilization, religion and culture. Therefore let us introduce the homo rationalis.
The emergence of religious consciousness is fundamentally rooted in the experience of peoples of every time. Cross-cultural intrapersonal awareness, evident in all peoples via external expressiveness, indicates the essential rational nature of man, a nature crystallized in a unitary rational and free being:
Who the human being essentially is derives primarily from within that being. All externalizations – activity and creativity, works and products – have here their origin and their cause.[i]
Conscious human activity occurs as a derivative of the rational nature of being human. One cannot deny the contributions of paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall. His contributions are as remarkable as they are significant. Let us bring attention to his understanding of the role of ‘consciousness’ in this area. He states: “We can agree that we have consciousness, but by its very nature, we can’t define it in any universal sense…this capacity is our most conspicuous human characteristic, and it’s impossible to ignore it in any account of ourselves.”[ii] Consciousness cannot be defined in and of itself, since it is more properly understood as emerging from the rational nature of man. Understood in this sense, consciousness finds its proper place and activity in human capacity.
Therefore, consciousness is necessarily connected with freedom, and becomes actualized in the activity of will, choice and personal responsibleness, since it finds its proper place in the rational nature of man and not as a biproduct of environmental conditioning. I agree with Ian Tattersall that consciousness is a human characteristic indeed, but that its real depth is found in the essential nature of man. In this sense, the human being is not solely an environmentally conditioned animal, but the director of his or her actions, for consciousness emanates forth from man’s essential rational nature. As Karol Wojtyla wrote: “The person acts [my emphasis] consciously because the person is rational.”[iii]
It is morally imperative that the plurality of religions, cultures and forms of political systems converge at the intersection of the rational nature of man, in an attempt to recognize universal principals. Without such a foundation one will see the relativistic perversion of any possibility of principals, the justification of killing in God’s name, the violation of freedom, the intolerance of religious plurality, science opposed to ethics, violation of human rights in all its forms. It is necessary that the convergence of religion, culture and the political milieu function on a principal of responsibility and tolerance. By recognizing a common origin of the person, natural law serves as the fundamental basis for enabling “different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights.”[iv]
The intrinsic dignity of being human, its transcendent nature, rests on recognizing the innate qualities of the person, glimpses of which have taken on empirical expression, as in the case of Paleolithic cave art, ritualistic burial of the dead, etc. Such empirical glimpses of being human speaks to the intrinsic dignity of the person and serve to establish the point that being human, a person, is rationalis naturae individua substantia. Based on this premise the activity of the homo rationalis serves the “ordinance of reason” established in the rational nature of being human since he/she is directed toward the “common good, promulgated by one who has care of the community.”[v] Natural law is a participatio legis aeternae in rationali creatura and intrinsically corresponds to the human being as a person; it is undeniably proper to the person and hence the fruition of the human community.
[i]Wojtyła, Karol, “Person and Community.” Trans. Theresa Sandok, OSM, in Catholic Thought From Lublin. Ed. Andrew N. Woznicki. Vol. 4. New York: Peter Lang, (1993), 178.
[iv]Benedict XVI, Pope, “Address to the United Nations General Assembly.”