Accepting the Human Condition

Every human culture on the planet has developed a cosmology.  Is this a cultural need for any society to function?  Or is it a response to man’s need for answers to his questions.  Or is it an intrinsic need of human nature?  A need for answers about the origin of life and the state of human nature are reflected in the Creation and Garden of Eden stories in Genesis, the first book of the Torah.  The Torah is more about man’s reality and his relation to God, than it is about God and God’s relation to man.

The Garden of Eden explains how man came to fall, but what is important is the fact that man’s nature is fallen, not how it came to be fallen.  Culturally this concept has been expressed in poetry, art, music, and philosophy.  Whether it was the fault of the serpent or Eve seems to matter little.  What is important is the recognition and acceptance of man’s intrinsic, innate, or natural state, and that is a state of brokenness.

From Plato’s Timaeus to the colorful Hindu creation myths, man has always needed an explanation of his origin.  These same sources also tell the story of man’s fallen nature.  Plato has the elaborate Charioteer Myth to not only explain how man came to fall, but how man can be reborn.  These and other cosmologies offer not only theories of origin and human intrinsic brokenness, but mechanisms, paths or strategies to heal that brokenness.

The purpose of this project is to show the universality of the Creation and the Garden of Eden stories in other cosmologies, and the importance of the recognition of man’s fallen state as exhibited in art, music, and philosophy.  Man’s fall in the Garden of Eden has allowed for the compassonate understanding for man’s broken nature, sometimes apart from any religious context.  The poetry of Robert Blake and Arthur Rimbaud will be examined for those qualities that help us to understand and live with ourselves.

Mark E. Smith, a punk rocker from Manchester, England, recognized the universal condition of the broken man.  He formed the band, The Fall.  Although band performances do not exude biblical reference, a deeper reading of some of Smith’s lyrics and his other writings show a sophisticated understanding of the human condition.  If you dare, have a listen here


About Pam

I'm a senior at UK, majoring in Philosophy.
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8 Responses to Accepting the Human Condition

  1. joe9brown says:

    Comparing the Judeo-Christian creation account to that of other cosmologies of antiquity is something I find to be very worthy of an essay. There are so many connections to be made regarding the postlapsarian state of humankind and the obscurities behind what has become known as “original sin”. Bringing in Plato and perhaps the myth of Pandora’s Box along with other comparative mythologies will make for an exceptionally intersting essay. Best of luck to you on this! Sounds like a great prospectus!

  2. Sean Gillespie says:

    This is a very interesting and highly debatable topic to write about, and i believe your strongest point should surround this “fallen” nature of man. I wonder how you could use this to elaborate on how our world today seems to have created its own nature that we all inately follow. If you are going to use any philisophical texts to support your argument i would recomend “Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen master Dogen”. It gives a unique perspective and would help you in analyzing how our nature has developed over the last few thousand years.

    • Pam says:

      “Our world today seems to have created its own nature that we call innately follow,” is fascinating and broad. Does this come from Dogen? I would love to delve into Buddhist human nature but am afraid that would be opening Pandora’s Box. But I really love this concept. Is it our natural world our cultural world that is creating nature? Thank you for the response.

  3. cmweid2 says:

    I think this is a great topic to write about. Something else I think you could look at is the psychological reasoning as to why man has a ‘need’ to know his origin. Also, being an art major, I am intrigued by your incorporation of artworks for this topic. Other than Michaelangelo’s depictions of the creation story (in the Sistine Chapel), I can’t think right off the top of my head of artists who depicted this story (although there are many many many who did). Do you know which artists you will incorporate? And may I suggest you research the time period, motive, and reasoning behind the genesis story in art to help support your idea.

    Clearly the churches (more often the Cathedrals) would incorporate illustrations of these stories because they are biblical, but something to think about is why they would depict this specifc story. Hopefully that will help! 🙂
    Good Luck!

  4. suzimills says:

    You are correct in saying that mankind has always needed an explanation for his origin. Throughout history more legends have been written and more art dedicated to the creation and fall of man than any other topic. The next topic would probally be philisophical talks on the meaning of life. Egyptian and Mesopotamia culture have some of the neatest creation accounts that also date around the same time, according to oral history, as the account found in Genesis. You should be able to find great information for your argument.

    • Pam says:

      To be perfectly honest, my prospectus went in two heavy directions. I’ll focus on The Fall and human nature. But if you’re interested in creation stories, you might enjoy Plato’s creation myth in the Timeaus. I’m sure you can google it or find it on JStor. It addresses processes as well as physical components to the earth. It’s pretty bold. I know the Egyptians have great stories, and it’s no surprise that the Mesopotamians would too, I’ll have to check them both out. Thanks!

  5. I really like Cassie’s idea of investigating the question of whether or not there is a psychological need for humans to know their origin. That is, does the question of knowing where we came from relate to some process that is adaptive in the context of evolutionary processes? There’s a lot to think about here–this is just one suggestion.

    I would also throw out a major caveat on the concept of “human nature.” This is a vague, all-too convenient concept sometimes, and it’s always good to complicate it.

    • Pam says:

      “and it’s always good to ‘complicate’ it,” that’s funny. Yes, leave it to man to complicate human nature. But excellent point well taken, I will confer with Harvard’s School of Divinity and see what they say. TY.

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