Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

At the outset, I like to say this—as much as I feel a profound pain reflecting on the terse but poignant take by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, I find a refugee and consolation in philosophy and hence the modest attempt to put it in a philosophical perspective. Again, the intent is not to trivialize the pain we all share but to find a transcendent meaning in it instead.

“Homo homini lupus est”, Sigmund Freud described human nature as such. English version—“Man is a wolf to another man.” Certainly, it could as well be a matter of perspective so much so, if the bottle is half-full or half-empty when present day high-priests in Psychology—Evolutionary Psychology—insist on the “better angels of our nature” where the Harvard Professor Steven Pinker comes to mind. The latter argues that we never had it any better particularly in this young century when we are living longer and better where the “Hobessian state of nature” is defeated into oblivion. Is it? 

Before getting into that though, the evolutionary thread that is woven onto psychology traverses not only into the behavioral adaptation to the changing environment in a bid to be selected for but into the evolution of the human brain [physical] as well. The evolutionary psychologists go on to argue that, as much as we evolved from a “Reptilian” world, a world replete with abject cruelty and dark where the winner takes all, they [Reptilian] were endowed with only one brain as well. A brain devoid of emotions, sympathies and empathies. A cortical brain.

We have become who we are through a multi-millennia long evolution—a species of three brains instead. The third brain in particular defined who we are as species—where the neuro-anatomists call it the “Limbic System.” It comprises rather mouthful and fancy names but of interest, they are, Amygdala, Hippocampus and Hypothalamus. The first is responsible for fear, anger and the like and the last two are a relay of sorts and responsible for sympathies and empathies among other things—sexual derive.

Certainly the above description has limitations where the “Reptilian” brain in us still dominates when we had gone, particularly, Europe through bloody wars—Thirty Years Religious War, One Hundred Years’ War including the two World Wars. What gives? Well, that is where meta-physics comes-in to rescue the contradiction so to speak, German Idealism in particular. 

In that respect, the giant two are—Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Hegel. Hegel in particular of a philosophy with a messianic touch described human existence not as a fluke or random but a design with a specific purpose where history is guided by providence or a cosmic justice. Certainly, his philosophy is heavily influenced by Christian theology where the clash of ideas as the forces behind history—thesis and antithesis results in synthesis—and the process is repeated in a linear fashion when in the end Absolute Idealism is manifested or in a religious lingua—God is manifested or Divine Justice. 

Kant as well before Hegel paved  the way for Hegelian philosophical threads when he said, we are moral beings not so much driven by reciprocal altruism but the ethics ingrained in our “genes” are “categorical imperatives” as he put it where we remain good to one another not so much driven by ulterior motives or to receive a reward but because we are naturally good. And it also means that, in the end, the dark side of our existence is always defeated by the light in all of us. If darkness seems relentless and stubborn, it is transient and ephemeral where light always wins over darkness. History has never failed humanity and it won’t let us [Tegaru] down either. Darkness can never triumph over light. The sun will always rise for its own sake. ትግራይ ዓደይ ኣጆኺ!