Rafed English

The Relation of Man with Himself

Adopted from the book: "History and Human Evolution" by: "Martyr Murtadha Mutahhari"

Another question is the relation of man with himself, which is termed ''ethics''. If we do not say that all the happiness of man lies in the establishment of a good relationship with oneself-and we do not say so because it would be an exaggeration-yet we may say that if the means of man''s happiness are compared with one another to find a percentage of role of every factor, a greater part of human happiness would be found to lie in the relation of man with himself, or with his "self": the relationship of man with his animal aspect. For, man, in spite of his humanness and the human values inherent in his nature, is also an animal; that is, he is an animal on which humanity has been imposed. In other words, he is an animal, which, by the side of his animality, also possesses humanity.

The question arises here whether the humanity of man is subordinate to his animal side, or if his animality is subservient to his humanity. The Quran says:

He who purifies the soul indeed attains deliverance, and one who corrupts it certainly fails. (91:9-10)

The problem here is of self-purification, which means not being captivated by greed and concupiscence of the self, and not being in the clutches of one''s base animal characteristics. As long as man has not evolved ethically and has not attained internal emancipation from his own animality, it is not possible for him to establish good relations with other human beings. Good human relations can come into existence when man liberates himself from the captivity of other human beings, and is also able to abstain from subjugating other human beings to himself.

So far we have discussed four points:

1. The relation of man with nature, in which he has made progress.

2. The relation of man with his society, which has progressed from the viewpoint of social structure and organization.

3. The relation of man with other human beings, and the quality of his relations with other members of his kind, which depends again on his spirituality and is linked with the substance of his humanity. In this matter there is doubt as to whether he has made progress or not: that his progress in this sphere has not been on a par with other aspects is beyond doubt; the real question is whether he has made any progress at all.

4. The relation of man with himself, which is the subject of ethics.

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