The symbolic realm is the ground of culture, the human empire within which to create and recreate ourselves in our own image, even before creating external gods to do it symbolically on our behalf; and long before creating literal machines and empires to transform the natural world. This realm is made by decree, by fiat, and not dictated by nature; it is governed by human rather than natural law. And herein lies its great appeal to the human spirit, which longs more than anything to be self-creating, and thereby free. The innermost and sacred (if masculine) dream is to be pure subject and agent, to be no object bound by the rules of an alien universe. To be a person—the object of love and respect, yes—but not some beast’s or germ’s dinner, not a mere tool of biology, an effect of some cause, a thing. By definition, our creations express our intentions, whereas the found world of nature does not, but in many ways appears to oppose them, while asserting its deterministic power over our being and even over our intentions. This may be merely another way to state the obvious: that we do not live in harmony with nature. Those who argue that Man cannot escape being part of nature implicitly embrace a materialist stance. They are thinking of the body, and they are right. But Man long ago took up residence in the mind, the spirit, finding ways to have in eternity the cake that can be eaten only briefly in the flesh.
RELATED TAGS: [symbolic realm, ground/intentionality of culture, human empire, external god, creation by fiat, spiritual freedom, pure/disembodied subjectivity, alien universe, essence of person(hood), genetic determinism, war with/against nature, materialist stance, harmony with/in nature]
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