Development Human Nature Knowledge

Relative Latency

Earlier in this blog, there was a post on the concept of latency.  This concept helps us further understand an approach to knowledge that transcends foundationalism and relativism.

If one considers the biological development of any organism – embryo to fetus to human, flowering of a plant, transformation of a caterpillar to butterfly, etc – one sees that the end condition was present in the beginning.  In fact, this process is teleological – meaning, that it has a purpose.  The purpose of a seed is to develop into a tree.  However, the tree itself is not within the seed; it is potentially present therein.

Using this analogy, one can understand that foundational truths were once latent within existence and have become manifest over time.  Some truths are latent relative to human agency, and some truths are latent independent of human agency.  For instance, the laws of physics manifest themselves in the universe (fairly quickly after its creation according to popular science) completely independent of human will.  On the other hand, the equality of women and men is a foundational truth of reality, though is still being developed and brought to fruition over time through human effort.

Thus, there is another layer to reconciling this tension.  Some objective truths are relatively latent, and they become manifest truths through time or through human agency.  In the latter case, they are indeed socially-constructed, but they are still foundational truths of reality – both relative and objective.

Human Nature Knowledge

Truth and Beauty

Developing our latent capacities requires self-knowledge about our nature and purpose – both individually and collectively.  Knowledge of self and of civilization cannot be separated, as each individual exits in a social context and influences their environment, while it is within society’s conventions and codes that an individual develops.  Thus, human beings have a socially-embedded nature and a two-fold purpose – personal development and contribution to civilization’s advance.

Our nature and purpose are shaped by many forces.  There are two forces in particular that strengthen and direct consciousness so as to prevent it from succumbing to society’s negative forces.  The first is attraction to beauty.  This is an innate spiritual perception that allows us to see the interconnectedness of a multifaceted reality and search with an eye of oneness.  This attraction can manifest in myriad ways – love for the majesty and diversity of nature; the impulse to create arts, music, crafts; the response to the elegance of a theory or idea; beholding the development of capacities in fellow human beings.   It underlies an individual’s search for order in reality – physical, social, and spiritual.  It acts as a standard for human behavior and language, and social practices and patterns.

What do you find beautiful in the world?  How does it direct you?

Investigation of truth is another innate quality of the soul that is a force impelling human purpose.  It motivates human beings to acquire understandings about reality and self, to weigh the opinions of others against one’s own investigation, and thus, to express justice.   If reality is viewed with a spiritual perspective, three truths reveal themselves, on which all other investigation is based.  1)  Human beings are created noble, with inherent capacities.  What leads a human being to loftiness or to lowliness?  Through what means can these latent capacities be manifest?  2)  Humanity is one.  What human capacities are brought out with an understanding of the oneness of humanity?  3)  Human existence extends beyond daily life.  What types of goals are set, and what type of vision is adopted, with this understanding?

Development Justice

Justice and Human Potential

Viewing justice as a latent potential of the human soul liberates us from the guilt which can so easily disempower the protagonists of social transformation.  In the same way that our physical capacities emerge over time, such as the ability to walk and talk, our spiritual capacities are in the process of development.  A child has to exert consistent effort to become literate, to overcome the inertia that would otherwise deprive her of this capacity.  Loving parents and a loving community spur the child forward to achieve her potential and at the same time recognize that the child will only be able to read literature over time and with encouragement.  Individually and collectively, our capacity for justice is emergent and attainable.

With these assumptions, what attitudes might we adopt towards injustice?  What qualities might we strive to cultivate in ourselves and encourage in others?

Human Nature Justice

Justice: a Spiritual Capacity

The roots of justice are in the human soul.  Justice is a faculty of the human soul, a spiritual capacity that, like others such as love, reason, and mercy, can be nurtured through education and training, or ignored and left to atrophy.  Thus, justice is an already-existing latent capacity that becomes manifest through an individual’s own efforts, as well as through a fostering environment.  What this particular faculty bestows upon a human being is the ability to distinguish truth from error, to judge fairly, and to independently investigate reality.  Otherwise, individuals blindly imitate others and adopt conceptions of reality imposed on them by media, society, and tradition.  Additionally, it empowers an individual to respond to the injustices one sees in the world, and motives one to strive to pursue one’s purpose of selfless service to others for the betterment of the entire social body – this, because one recognizes the truth of humanity’s oneness.

What is the relationship between justice and science?  Between justice and prejudice?

Justice Oneness

Justice in the Context of Oneness

Justice is the ruling principle of social organization, and the advancement of civilization depends upon its universal application.  Conceptions of justice have been explored for centuries, and today, are highly numerous and variable.  In our current crisis of civilization, confusion and contention is the norm regarding such central ideas as justice, power, and knowledge.  As is the case with history, freedom, and social relationships, justice – a core element of our conceptual framework – is re-conceptualized in the context of the principle of the oneness of humankind.

The foundation of understanding justice is to regard humanity as a single body, and oneself as a cell of that body.  All the talents and capacities latent and manifest within each individual member belongs to the whole; and, likewise, each problem afflicting an individual or group wounds the whole.  It is unjust to be concerned for the welfare of one group while ignoring – or worse, at the expense of – another group; conditions are never particular, but always global.  Through regarding all of humanity as one and considering the well-being of the whole, unity can be achieved.  Otherwise, how can unity exist?

The purpose of justice, therefore, is the appearance of unity.  Justice is the surest means by which oneness of humankind, which is a latent truth, can be made manifest.  For it ensures that progress for a segment of humanity is not achieved at the expense of systemic advancement; that limited resources are not diverted to projects at the periphery of humanity’s real needs; that the values, ideas, and knowledge of all are consulted upon, and not just one group.  Justice cements the interests of the individual with that of the entire body of humankind – a very practical manifestation of oneness.

- Human Body Development Human Nature Oneness


That certain evolutionary processes are teleological in nature, meaning they are driven by an intrinsic purpose, brings up to the concept of latency.  The characteristic of latent potential is common to all organic bodies – plants, the human body, and humanity included.  Latent truths or characteristics come to fruition (quite literally in the case of a tree) or are manifest visibly over time.  This does not mean, however, that they previously didn’t exist – they were simply in latent form.  Some latent potentials are manifest through physical processes that are independent of humans, such as the formation of planets.  Others only come about through human agency.  Let us look at individual and collective evolution as it manifests latent potential.

On the individual level, the soul is a latent capacity that is manifest or expressed through the human mind.  Prior to the physical development of an individual human, the soul was not manifest, but latent, and its powers become manifest when the human being assumes its physical form – particularly the brain.  And the soul itself has latent capacities – reason and understanding, justice, attraction to beauty and truth, nobility, desire to search for meaning and purpose – and these spiritual potentialities become manifest only through human agency and will, through conscious effort, through an individual’s life and behavior.

On a collective level, world civilization is the latent fruit of humanity’s collective social evolution, which comes about through human agency.  It is a social reality we construct.  In the same way that biological evolution provided for the expression of the soul, social evolution is providing for the expression of a divine civilization – the soul of the body of humankind.  As oneness is the operating principle of our collective life, its manifestation is also latent relative to human agency.  Over time, we progressively express higher and higher degrees of oneness.  This doesn’t mean that humanity was not always one.  Rather, the expression of oneness becomes more maturely translated into social reality over time.

Oneness of humankind, thus, is an ontological truth, a teleological truth, and a latent truth – latent relative to human agency.