Home > Malta > The post-rational man (and woman)

In our categorising of human political, economic and philosophical thought we often tend to use terms such as analytical and then post-analytical thought, modern and then post-modern thought. Now I believe we have arrived at a new category of man: we have had rational man but now we are entering the new period of post-rational man!

It is becoming increasingly obvious that, initially, man started to waive the concept of God because he believed that God was restrictive to his will and freedom. Therefore man fell on the next best thing to God, which is God’s gift to man – human reason. Mankind is the only biological species that is able to be self-reflective, reasonable. We are able to overcome our instinct – even our emotions – to be ultimately a rational species. We pride ourselves on turning to science and philosophy to be able to explain what goes on in the natural world around us and what goes on in our reasonable thoughts. If man cannot explain why something happened from the divine perspective he can turn to the rational perspective. Those who, like Nietzsche, sought to declare that God is dead were able to add that they had science to carry them through! Science could give them the bedrock on which they could build their belief and their actions would ensue from the cathedrals of science.

Now, alas, this is no longer enough! Man is aspiring to go beyond the scientific, the rational. Rationality is no longer enough to appease the disquiet of the human individual. Rational thought and behaviour is no longer sufficient to show someone what the truth of a matter is. Today, you show people the scientific truth and they will just say that it is not true because, based on their ‘perceptions’, the truth lies elsewhere.

This behaviour is, I think, developing as an extension of the development of the social media, where – in an android world – it is often difficult to discern between what is true and what is a concoction of the vivid human imagination! We are losing our capacity to discern what is true and what is false. Any scientific truth one presents is not judged in the peer-reviewed scientific magazines and accepted as sufficient, but considered as ‘fake news’ on a whim and then discarded by the individual!

Nowhere is this more true than when deciding where the beginning of an individual life starts! The science responsible for determining where the beginning of an new individual human being – a member of the species Homo sapiens – is, falls on the science of anatomy, specifically the section of anatomy that deals with the inception of developing human life, in a womb or outside it, specifically termed ‘human embryology’. Now, human embryology makes it very, very clear that the first cell of the human new individual is the human zygote formed by the fusion of the human sperm cell from the father and the ovum from the mother. The academic ‘dean’ of human embryology is the publication by O’Rahilly and Mueller whose authors sit on the international Nomenclatura Embryologica.This important academic publication makes it clear that the beginning of human life begins at conception or fertilisation.

This scientific rational truth obviously presents an obstacle to those who would like to do things to a human embryo which they would not do their other biological peers. Things such as experimentation or direct removal, destruction or killing – call it what you like! This is the point at which people usually relieve themselves of their rational faculties and turn on their perceptive emotional faculties, faculties known to be wrong and often grosslywrong.

We then start to describe this scientific fact as fake news and begin to bring in categories that are nothing but the fruit of our fancies: terms such as ‘pre-embryo’ or concepts that aim at divesting the developing human being of any human faculties. We say that it does not think, we say that it is not a person, we say that it is a pre-embryo, conveniently not stating where the embryo is; we say that it is not moving, we say that it is not feeling, we say that it interferes with our freedom of choice and – the best recent one of all – is that we say categorically that it is fake news! Facts show that, once the human embryo is formed, it never stops developing through its active, self-moving potential. At eight weeks it is fully formed, and it only grows in size until term, at 40 weeks. Facts show that it develops continually, from one early cell to the several trillion cells of which the adult body is composed.

However, after rejecting divinity, man now also seeks to reject rationality, which does not surprise me at all because faith and reason are intimately linked. The rejection of God is followed by the rejection of reason, because those who sincerely seek reason can never reject God outright. They seek God through reason, in the hope that – ultimately – reason, if not revelation, will lead them to God. Now, however, objective reason is no longer being sought as we look to our emotions and perceptions to establish our foundations and, as we all know, subjective emotions vary widely, especially when we want to do what we like and the subject of discussion is a human being who cannot be seen or vote. Emotions are the new god!

This leads us into a narrow lane, because if man has rejected God – so evidently manifest and immanent in nature, and if man now rejects reason, he will eventually also find fault with his emotional god and God only knows what follows that: maybe we can revert to our animal nature so that we can then literally start to eat each other.

When man destroys God, then the nature around him, then rationality, then man is well on the road to destroying himself. It is a culture of death. The reality is that problems of our existent nature are not only physical ones but also metaphysical ones. Man cannot find the answers to his problems in pure emotions, nor ultimately in pure reason. However reason can point to a truth which lies beyond our senses as shown by the philosophers of old.

The fact remains that the first cell – or zygote – of the human species is the first founding cell of the new human being which cell has a totipotent, self-actuating potency to develop to adulthood through childhood. Tinker with this principle and you tinker with human life and innocent human life has an absolute right to our respect and to life. Those who negate this will be killing human beings in the process and will be responsible for the genocide of individual human beings, even if their emotions or intentions seek to tell them that this is ‘fake’ news.

Dr. Michael Asciak MD, M.Phil, PhD.

Senior Lecturer II in Applied Science at MCAST.

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