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.

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.

- Human Body Development Human Nature Oneness

History of the World, Part 3

The next point regarding our perspective of history is that there is purpose in creation; in other words, evolution is understood as a teleological process.  Characterizing evolutionary processes with this word – meaning that it is directed by an intrinsic purpose – might conjure up controversial thoughts and connotations.  It is true that teleological “grand narratives” in the past have been used to oppress peoples and impose ideologies.  Yet, we can’t ignore a truth based on its abuses in the past.  Let us place society’s notions aside and simply think clearly.  Isn’t it the case that the purpose of the seed is to develop into a tree?  Isn’t it the case that the purpose of an embryo is to develop into a human being, and the purpose of a child to develop into an adult?  The seed does not randomly or haphazardly become a tree – it is its purpose.

Similarly, the biological evolution of a human being has a purpose; and the social evolution of humanity has a purpose.  The human body’s purpose is to provide the vehicle for the expression of the soul, through the human mind – and the purpose of an individual’s life is to develop spiritual qualities.  This purpose is realized through selfless service to humanity.  And the purpose of humanity’s collective life is to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization – eventually a world civilization that has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and the spiritual dimensions of life.

The oneness of humankind is a teleological truth (as well as an ontological truth, which we discussed a number of posts ago).  It provides the purpose and direction for humanity’s social and spiritual evolution.