The Relational philosophy part I, about the human

I.1. The human is his mind

As young fetus, all mammals resemble each other very much. You see a little body then with head and bottom, two arms on the shoulders and two legs on the hips. All mammals have the same inner-body, which resembles that of birds as well.

The inner-body of all animals.

Later however, all kinds of protection grow around that naked body of animals, like furs, feathers, scales, shields and sometimes even whole houses. All kinds of tools grow on the limbs as well, like hoofs and claws on arms and legs, wings on the arms, beaks on the mouth, horns and antlers on the head et cetera.

Only the human keeps on looking like the fetus, even grown up.
So, our body makes us not elevated above animals. On the contrary, we actually are the most beastly looking animals on earth, pure biology and naked existence, the essence of all animals.

It is our mind that makes us different, makes us human, or our spirit or whatever name one gives to that power of comprehension we have. Would we all lose our mind tonight, by some kind of virus, then tomorrow we would be ordinary apes again, naked apes. Clumsy apes too, who would have little chance to survive. If it were cold, we would not have the idea to put on clothes, and next to a wardrobe full of clothes we then could freeze.

So the human, that is his mind. Understanding the human therefore means understanding our mind.
What is our mind doing? How does it work? What exactly is understanding? Why do we have a mind?
These are the most essential philosophical questions, I think. Also to value other knowledge well, we first need to know what knowledge is.

In this part I, the purpose of our mind first comes into discussion, so the why of it. Part II is about the way our mind works.

I.2. Animals are machines, the human has machines

In order to understand the human, or any other thing, you should not start with difficult thinking but simply with easy looking at the thing, or even feeling it if that is possible. And then you should not look at only the thing in question but also to the surroundings in which the thing is situated. A shoe for instance can only be understood if you also know the form of your foot, and a boat if you also know the water.
So let us first have a good look at the form of a human body and especially compare it with the body of animals. Like the form of a shoe tells us something about its purpose, the form of our body may tell us something about the purpose of being a human.

When you see a bird, you do not see much of the biological functions that play inside his body. Actually, you then see a machine, a streamlined flying machine. You see a piece of technique when you see an eagle. It is even super-technique, for look at a feather of a bird. Something so light in weight and yet so strong and flexible, we can not imitate.

The bird as flying machine.

Furs too can be called techniques, surviving-techniques for the animals, and the same is true for claws and hoofs as weapon and foot-wear, horns and antlers as weapon and tool, snail- and turtle-shells as protection and housing, fins and wings as vehicle et cetera. And even when animals are naked, like snakes, snails and jellyfishes, they often use techniques to survive, chemical and electromagnetic techniques for example like spouting poison and giving electric shocks.

So with animals the biology often is hidden behind and inside technical tools. The biology, the fetus, is only visible again if you strip these external devices.
Plants too are pieces of technique. Look at a flower and what do you see? You then see a satellite dish that directs toward the light and opens itself for it.

satellite dish and flower.

Because of the bowl-shaped form and the often light color, the received light is reflected and focused, and in that focus the fruit is growing, so under lots of warmth and light. We build a receiver in the focus of our satellite dishes, the real artificial flowers.
Nature is all technique, mechanical technique, chemical and electromagnetic technique, nuclear technique too. And every technique is a relating between opposite forms, like bolt-nut and proton-electron.

Animals also need these technical devices fixed on their bodies in order to survive, because they can not invent techniques themselves. As naked as a human no single animal can survive. Even a monkey would have a hard life without a fur, since he can not come to ideas, the idea of a coat, sweater or blanket for example.

We people however have no single piece of technique on our bodies except for those devices necessary for the essential biological functions like teeth, mouth, nose, ears, eyes, nails, arms and legs. The hair on our head also is functional as protection.
And we can afford our nakedness, our being stripped to pure naked existence, for we have that mind of us. With our mind, we see all these techniques in nature, and then we can imitate these techniques and that is how we survive.

We have techniques.We have techniques.The bird is technique.

We do not need a fixed fur and no horns, antlers, wings et cetera either, for we can see a coat in a fur, a shoe in leather, a weapon in a stick, a plank in a tree, a house in planks, a flying machine in a bird, a wheel in a rolling and a boat in a floating tree, the steam-engine in the cover that rattles on the pot with boiling water et cetera.

Animals are techniques, we have our techniques. Animals are culture, culture of nature, we people have culture and are pure nature.

Like the form of a shoe tells us all about its purpose, the form of a human body may tell us all about our purpose. So what is the purpose of being so naked, being pure biology?

I.3. The handy and intelligent nakedness of the human

Why are we naked? Philosophers, in particular anthropologists, have asked themselves this question too of course and have invented many different answers .

Some anthropologists think that the human is naked because he can better sweat then, better cool his body. When the human started to develop his mind, he dared to move away from the save trees wherein he always could hide as ape. And in the open field, he then started to hunt.
However, hunting is dangerous, while a human is not strong. That is why a human only has one weapon when hunting becomes too dangerous and that is running away as fast as possible. But if you have a thick fur, you can not ventilate the heat and therefore can not sprint fast, not for a long time. That is why a human is naked, according to these anthropologists, so to perspire better, to have a better cooling.

Other anthropologists came to a different answer to the question of the nakedness of the human. According to them, the first human evolved near the sea, and as a hunter he then started to seek for food in the water as well, so went fishing. And while fishing, a thick fur is inconvenient. That is why we are naked for these anthropologists, so to swim better.

I think all these explanations are not simple enough. I think a human is naked, simply because he has a mind. With our mind, we see a coat in a fur and our mind therefore already is our fur. Would we have both a mind and a fur, it would be double.
We all would experience such a fixed fur as superfluous, inconvenient and unintelligent. Having all sorts of clothes for all kinds of circumstances in wardrobe or bag is much more handy and intelligent.

Thus being naked is very natural for beings with a mind. And the other way around, intelligent beings with a fixed fur would be very unnatural. Maybe there exist other beings with a mind in the cosmos and I think they all are naked beings, so without technical devices on their bodies. Those human beings with the body of a bird appearing in science-fiction stories do not have an easy life with all that superfluous ballast on their bodies.

Earthly human bike.Bird with human mind.

For some philosophers, the human is a rather crippled being because of his nakedness and lack of tools on his body. But actually that nakedness of us is very handy and therefore our strength. Would we have a fixed fur or wings, then we would be crippled.
Being naked, pure naked existence, is no deficit if you have a mind. On the contrary, because only naked you fit in everything, in a diving- or polar-dress, in sandals or mountain-shoes, in a helicopter or submarine et cetera.
We have a very handy and intelligent form, fitting our surroundings very well. The whole world, and even space, is our environment, while animals are bound to limited areas, the sky, the water, the trees, the desert, the cold et cetera.

The form of things tells us all about the purpose of things. Is being naked the only purpose of life for a human?
What is the consequence of being naked, combined with a mind? You are free then.

I.4. The human as only free being

Sometimes we wish we were free like a bird. But a bird is not free at all but bound to the air, the sky.
Happily, the bird does not have a mind. For imagine, being a bird with a mind! That would be terrible. You are like a pilot then who is chained to the chair of the cockpit of his flying machine, day and night, his whole life long, with hands, feet and head.

Imprisoned in the body of a bird.

That is worse than the worst prison. You would have all kinds of ideas and plans then, but could not carry out the plans. You would like to swim, to walk, to cycle, but that is impossible because you are chained inside your machine. You would like to make all kinds of things but could not use your hands.

So happily, the bird does not have a mind. Providing a bird with a mind would be very cruel of Mother Nature, unnatural.
What is true for the bird also applies to other animals, the fish is bound to the water, the polar bear to the cold et cetera.
Animals are not free but always bound to limited and limiting circumstances.

Only the human is free, free from superfluous ballast on his body, so that he is free to put on and take off all kinds of covering and clothes for all kinds of circumstances. And with our free hands we can catch, make and do all kinds of things.
We actually have a very handy body, an intelligent body-form as well.
The bird is not free but happily is not aware of that. The human is the only free being on earth, free from superfluous ballast on his body, free because of his mind that can invent all sorts of means and tools for all kinds of circumstances, not only on land but also on and under water and in the air and even in space.

Being free also must be the purpose of life for a human, I think. But what then does it mean, being free? One should not define a concept like freedom too much, because then it no longer is freedom. We are free to discover all sorts of things, freedom as well.

I will summarize a bit now. In order to understand a thing, a human body as well, you better first have a simple look at the form of the thing, also in relation with the surroundings. Having done that we now understand the handy and intelligent nakedness of our body. Only with a naked body, one can be a free being, provided that you have something like a mind.
We now have seen the purpose of our mind as well, as a device we use to see a coat in a fur, a shoe in leather, a house in wood and stones and so on.

So there obviously is an intimate relation between our mind and our naked body. The result of both, the result of the combination of both, is that we are free, free from and free to. And since freedom is the result, it may very well be our purpose as well.

I.5. The relation between body and mind

A main problem in Western philosophy is called the body-mind problem, the question of the relation between body and mind. With our body, we stand right in the middle of nature, that is something everybody experiences daily as a fact. But what then is that mind of us? Where does it come from? That is the body-mind problem.
In general, Western philosophers see a gap between body and mind or matter and idea, and as a result of that also between human and nature. They do not really want this gap, would like to bridge the gap. But how?

The body-mind problem actually is the mind problem, I think. It particularly is the mind we do not understand. Where do we situate mind? In a super-nature or just in nature?

There anyhow is not a gap between the fact that we have a naked body, so still are like the fetus, and the fact that we have a mind. To a mind belongs a naked body. And the other way around, if you have a naked body, you need something like a mind to invent surviving techniques.
I am not saying that the body-mind problem now has found a solution. I will return to this question in part II when I write about the way our mind works.

I.6. About the purpose of our mind

Why do we have a mind? Why did not we stay mindless apes with fur and tail? Actually, I already answered this question. Nevertheless this chapter.
We have a mind to be free, I think. And we are free because with our mind we can invent all kinds of technical means for all kinds of circumstances so that we can survive nearly everywhere.
We also are free because we are naked, free from superfluous ballast on our bodies. And if you are so naked, then something like a mind also is necessary.

So, that at least is one of the functions of our mind, to be able to invent surviving techniques. It even is the most important purpose. It is true that we also can write poems with our mind and make paintings and music and invent theories and philosophies. However, we then first need a safe shelter.

Discovering surviving techniques clearly is the primary purpose of our mind, the fundament of all other things we do.
And in this sense our mind has the same function as the wings of a bird, the fur of a polar bear and the power and trunk of an elephant. The only difference is that animals use fixed hardware on their bodies, while we human beings have the software in our mind.
Difference then also is that, if one must do it with hardware, one has to make a choice. If you choose for wings on your arms, then the fur of a polar bear does not match with that.

Polar-bear?Or rather bird?

Do you have the software, so the ideas of all these techniques in your mind, then you can have a head full of ideas and as a result of that, have wardrobes, barns, garages, hangars, bags et cetera full of technical devices for all sorts of circumstances.

So the purpose of our mind seems clear. We need it to invent surviving techniques.

I.7. The relativity of knowledge

As an introduction to part II about how our mind works, first something about the relativity and even subjectivity of knowledge and truth.
Relations are very important in the relational philosophy. Only if you see the relations between the forms of things, you can situate and therefore understand the things.

Imagine beings on an other planet with a mind like our mind. If nature is intelligent, these beings too are naked, so without fur, feathers, hoofs and the like. However, their body does not have to look like our body. They could for example be egg-shaped, half a meter high, and move bouncing like a ball over their planet, with only one multifunctional sense-organ and one or two handy work-arms.
Suppose we send a spaceship full of human articles of use to them, so a pair of trousers and shoes, a pair of glasses, a bicycle and so on.
These other human beings then would not understand much of these things. Of course they will understand the inner working of our bike, the relations between the axle and the wheel, the chain and the cogwheels, the bolt and the nut. And they will see the focusing lens in a pair of glasses.

Bur what is the purpose of these things? What is a bike? That is something they will not understand easily.
The bike as vehicle for a human can only be understood, if you also know the form of an earthly human body that fits on the saddle with his bottom, on the pedals with his feet and on the handlebar with his hands.

Human bike.Egg-shaped human beings.

Also suppose that the circumstances on that other planet differ from our earthly circumstances, a different temperature and gravity, an other atmosphere, a different light from their sun. Then these egg-shaped human beings will not understand much of the function of earthly living beings either, because our bird can not fly, our fish not swim and our flower not open there in these different circumstances.
Like one needs to know the form of our earthly human body in order to understand our articles of use, one also needs to know the earthly circumstances in order to understand our plants and animals.
Such kind of knowledge ('That is a bike' 'That is a flower') therefore is relative or even subjective, typical earthly and human-bodily knowledge and truth.
More about knowledge and truth in part II.

Jan Helderman
end 1999 - beginning 2000

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