3 Theory of the Original Human Nature

The theory of the Original Human Nature is a study concerning the image of what the original human beings would have been like, if the human fall had not happened. As stated in the Theory of the Original Image and in Ontology, throughout the long period of history human beings have struggled to solve the fundamental problems in human life and the universe. Especially today, after the collapse of Communism, new confusion has appeared worldwide. Faced with such problems as the north-south problem, racism, religious conflicts, injustice, corruption, the spread of various kinds of crime due to the collapse of traditional values, and the subsequent struggles and wars, the world is in the midst of a whirlpool of confusion. These problems all can be classified into “problems of existence” and “problems of relationship.” How can these problems be solved?

Throughout human history there have been people who questioned the reality of human beings, and looked for answers about the original state of human beings, which they believed, even if vaguely, to exist. They were religionists and philosophers. They seriously grappled with the question, “What is the human being?” and looked for the way to recover the original way of life.

Gautama Buddha, who was born in the middle of the fifth century BC in the Kapilavastu castle, now in Nepal, spent several years of his life practicing strict asceticism, and finally immersed himself in deep meditation. As a result, he came to realize that human beings originally possessed Buddhahood, but that through ignorance, came to be bound by worldly desires, and fell into suffering. Buddha taught that the way to recover one’s original nature is through a life of spiritual discipline.

Jesus inquired deeply into the problems of human life prior to starting his public ministry at the age of thirty, and he taught that human beings are sinners and that everyone must be born again by believing in the Son of God, that is, in Jesus himself. He proclaimed to the Jewish people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). He traveled around Palestine, spreading his teachings, but he was unable to move the hearts of the politicians and religionists who were in power and, in the end, he was crucified.

Socrates observed the decadent chaos of the polis (city-state) and taught that the true way of human life is to love true knowledge. He encouraged people to “know thyself,” to make an effort to bring one’s inner self into the light. For Plato, the supreme ideal of human life is to recognize the idea of the Good. For Aristotle, reason is what makes a person human. He said that virtue is best realized in the communal life of the polis, and that the human being is a social animal (or polis-animal). Greek philosophers, generally speaking, held the view that reason is the essence of human nature, and that if a person’s reason is allowed to operate fully, that person will become an ideal human being.

During the Middle Ages of Western society, Christianity reigned over the human spirit. The Christian view of human nature at the time was that human beings are sinful and can be saved only by believing in Jesus. In this view, reason was regarded as ineffective. In the modern period, however, currents of philosophy that emphasize human reason have again come to appear.

Descartes considered human beings to be rational beings, and said that correct knowledge can be obtained only by reason. He coined the well-known proposition “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).

Kant claimed that human beings are persons of character who obey the inner voice of moral obligation, ordered by practical reason, and he argued that human beings should live according to their reason, without succumbing to any temptations or desires.

Hegel, too, regarded human beings as rational beings. According to him, history is the process of the self-realization of reason in the world. Freedom, the essence of reason, was to be realized along with the development of history. According to Hegel’s theory, human beings and the world should have become rational with the establishment of the modern state (i.e., the rational state). In reality, however, people still remain deprived of their human nature just as they always had been, and the world has continued to be as irrational as it was before.

Kierkegaard opposed extreme types of rationalism such as that offered by Hegel. Kierkegaard did not agree that humankind would become increasingly rational as the world progresses, as Hegel had claimed. In actual society, he said, human beings are no more than average people, whose true nature had been lost. Accordingly, only when a person carves out life independently as an individual, apart from the public, can that person’s true human nature be regained. Thus, the conceptual framework for dealing with people in actual society, who have lost their original nature, and for seeking to restore human nature independently, was subsequently developed as the thought of existentialism. This will be further explained later in this chapter.

Feuerbach, in opposition to Hegel’s rationalism, regarded the human being as a sensuous being. According to Feuerbach, humans are species-beings possessing reason, will and heart (love), which is their species-essence, but they have alienated themselves from their species-essence, objectified it, and have come to revere it as God. Therein, he argued, lay the loss of human nature. Thus, Feuerbach asserted that human beings must recover their original human nature, and that this can only be done through denying religion.

Departing from Hegel’s idea of actualizing freedom, Karl Marx called for the true liberation of human beings. In the early capitalist society of Marx’s time, the lives of laborers were indeed miserable. They were forced to endure long hours of labor, and were given wages that could barely sustain their lives. Disease and crime were rampant among laborers, who were deprived of their human nature. In contrast, Marx said capitalists were living in great affluence gained from their merciless exploitation and oppression of laborers. In his view, the capitalists themselves were also deprived of their own original human nature.

Determined to liberate humankind, Marx first adopted Feuerbach’s humanism as the way to restore human nature; later, however, he came to realize that human beings were not only species-beings but also social, material, and historical beings engaged in productive activity. This led him to the view that the essence of humankind is the freedom of labor; however, in capitalist society, laborers were deprived of all the products of their labor, and they labored not by their own will, but by the will of the capitalists. Therein, precisely, lay the laborers’ loss of human nature, according to Marx.

Thus, Marx concluded that in order to liberate laborers, what must be done is to overthrow capitalist society, wherein laborers are exploited. When such liberation occurred, capitalists could also regain their own human nature, Marx thought. Furthermore, based on the materialist view, Marx concluded that human consciousness is determined by the relations of production, which are the basis of society, and that the capitalistic economic system must be changed violently by force. Nevertheless, the Communist countries, in which revolutions took place in accordance with Marx’s theory, have become dictatorial societies wherein freedom is suppressed, and human nature is violated and neglected. Those are the societies in which people have increasingly been losing their original nature. This implies that Marx made a great error in his understanding of the cause of, and in his method for solving the problem of, human alienation.

Human alienation, however, is not the problem of Communist society alone. In capitalist society as well, individualism and materialism are rampant, and a self-centered way of thinking―whereby people think they are permitted to do anything they please―has become pervasive. As a result, in capitalist society, too, human nature is increasingly being lost.

Max Scheler (1874-1928), who considered anthropology to be the foundation of all studies, classified human beings into three categories in his Philosophical Perspective: the intellectual person (Homo sapiens), the worker who uses symbols and tools (Homo faber), and the religious person (Homo religiosus). There were other views, also, about the human being advocated by other thinkers: the economic man (Homo economicus), the liberal man (Homo liberalis), the national man (Homo nationalis), and so on. None of these views of the human being, however, has touched on the essence of being human.

In this way, throughout human history numerous religious people and philosophers have attempted to find answers to the questions of what the human being is, and what human life is. Yet, their efforts have never been completely successful. Therefore, many people, who strive diligently to live correctly, but still can not find the meaning of human life, become pessimistic. In the Orient, for example, sincere young persons like Yoon Shim-dok of Korea and Misao Fujimura of Japan are among those persons and tragically, they became so desperate as to commit suicide.

One person who has devoted his entire life to providing fundamental solutions to such unresolved questions in human history is Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose thought is contained in this book. He has proclaimed, as is revealed in the Divine Principle, that originally human beings are children of God, even though, having lost their original nature, they have become miserable.

Human beings were created in the image of God, but due to the fall of the first human ancestors they have become separated from God. They can restore their original nature, however, by living in accordance with God’s Word, thus coming to receive God’s love. In this chapter, the problems of the human fall and the way to restore the original human nature will not be discussed (these topics are dealt with in the Human Fall and in the Principle of Restoration of the Divine Principle); our focus here will be on describing the original human nature itself. From the original standpoint, each human being exists as a being with Divine Image, which means we resemble the Image of God, and as a being with Divine Character, which means we embody the character of God. We are also beings occupying a certain position, which means we assume positions taking after the subject-object relationship in the Original Image. Each of these characteristics will be discussed below.