Anthropocentrisrn : The Epitome of Our Vanity

In the course of human history many
worthless things have crept upon this scene.
Perhaps the most worthless of all things having
questionable value is vanity. 'We cannot gaze
upon the human experience without witnessing
vanity in some form. Vanity creeps up in our self
image, in our success, power, beauty, cunning,
goodness, intelligence, virtue, religion, mores,
automobiles, families, life styles, heritage, homes,
neighborhoods, cities, states, countries etc.
There is possibly no end to our vanity, but the one
thing I want to address here is the polysyllabic
word that intellectuals banter about. It seems we
should all be aware of anthropocentrism. I have
become convinced that this very sinister force is
greatly responsible for many of the troubles in our
society.

By definition, anthropocentrism literally
means "regarding the human being as the central
fact of the universe. "(Webster) Most people
know a myriad of myths in the Greco-Roman era
in which an of their gods had human
characteristics with at least one supernatural
characteristic that made them. gods. The
Hebrews carried this vanity one step further and
reversed the order of creation and subsequently
created a god which created man in god's image.
Perhaps this is vanity at its zenith. Nevertheless,
history is riddled with examples of our vanity and
subsequently our anthropocentrism. Consider
most of the wars of history. Had humanity and
communication triurnphed over conceit and lack
of communication, most wars may never have
happened. The vanity war between chauvinistic
men and chauvinistic women might find less
vanity and more dialogue as the beginning of the
end of their disputes. War manifests itself in
many ways as does vanity.
If I may, I would like to use my freedoms and
paraphrase Wolfgang Rheinhart and John
Houston. Three times in the course of human
history the vail of our vanity has been rent. The
first was by Copernicus when he dared to claim
that the earth was not the center of the
universe. (Anthropocentrisrn required at that time
that the earth had to be the center of the universe
because this vanity creature called man was the
focal point of creation. Incidently, the Papacy did
get around to forgiving Copernicus, but not until
over 400 years later. Apparently, churches chose
to work slowly in acknowledging errors of their
vanity.) The second great blow to our vanity was
delivered by Charles Darwin who dared to state
that mankind was not a species separate and
apart, but rather possessing its own_branch on
this very unique tree of life .If' the Papacy has not
been as slow to acknowledge evolution as it was
to acknowledge Copernicus debunking of all
religious geocentristic attitudes. Perhaps
progress is being made even though evangelicals
seem to still be clinging to their anthropocentric
position.)
Last, it may take some study to understand
the great blow dealt to our vanity by Sigmund
Freud. Willing to question convention and also to
think new creative thoughts, Freud basically
assassinated all romance of free will and
postulated 'We are all subject to our physical
inheritance plus our environmental experience
equals us.' In a physical world, there is no way to
be anything more. Can we deal with that? Your
answer and mine, to that question, is totally
determined by our past. If ever there was a blow
dealt our vanity, surely this is the knock out
punch, Was it not the preacher of preachers who said
"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"? Personally, I
find it difficult to see hardly any of the Hebrew
scriptures of much value but that particular verse
may represent the single greatest insight into
human kind of all time.
Chief Seattle may have said it best. "The
world does not belong to us, we belong to it. "
Modern capitalism may be pushing our vanity and
us down the road of destruction. Narcissa was
no less vain than the modern capitalist or the
capitalist consumer, perhaps even the capitalist
politician.
I would like to end by saying that I can only
hope that I have not helped destroy the
magnificent romance of this life. However,
perhaps the greatest mystery is yet to come - to
help make this world as it should be. Vanity may
be worthless, but I find it of value only if it
produces good.
Was Ecclesiastes correct, "Vanity of Vanity, all is Vanity."?

Ross Sloan

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