December 13, 2019
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The Place of Man in the Animal Kingdom

Origins and Etymology of the Word “Man”

The term man comes from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person” and words that are derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age. The word developed into Old English man, mannmeaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (see also German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”). According to Tacitus, the mythological progenitor of the Germanic tribes was called Mannus*Manus in Indo-European mythology was the first man, see Mannus, Manu (Hinduism). More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”). In the context of this attribution to the sephirah of Chokmah, man is taken in the sense of a male human. The term man is usually reserved for an adult, with the term boy being the usual term for a male child or adolescent. The English term “man” is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). [2] The Old English form had a default meaning of “adult male” (which was the exclusive meaning of wer), though it could also signify a person of unspecified gender. The closely related Old English pronoun man was used just as it is in Modern German to designate “one” (e. g., in the saying man muss mit den Wölfen heulen).

The Animal Man

Materialism sees man as composed of nothing more than material components. His intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects are nothing but products of his material nature acting according to the rules of physics and biology. The implication of the metarialistic point of view usualy implies that man is not responsible for his behavior and that ultimately the environment is to blame for unacceptable behavior. (Leads to emphasis on social programs, big government) Another implications of the materialist creed is that man is by no means distinguishable from the other material of creation. Therefore, he has no dignity or inherent worth. Animals (or even plants) have the same inherent worth as people.  Finally, a third implcation of the materialist belief system if that man’s identity is not in any way related to God. Therefore, man is in some sense ultimate, which sometimes goes as far as idolatry. To naturalists, no part of man separates him from the rest of the plant, animal, and mineral universe. Man can be completely explained by natural processes. Human beings are complex ‘machines’. Even his personality is nothing but an interrelation of chemical and physical properties which we do not yet fully understand. The process of evolution is sufficient to explain all that man is, even if difficulties exist in its application. Man is a highly evolved animal, that is all.  Human beings are complex ‘machines’; personality is an interrelation of chemical and physical properties we do not yet fully understand. The process of evolution is sufficient to explain all that man is, even if difficulties exist in its application. Man is a highly evolved animal, that is all.  Many naturalists, like Carl Sagan, believe that the universe has always existed and always will exist, and that we are children of the universe or cosmos. No spiritual reality exists. In the words of the Humanist Manifesto, naturalists “find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural.”  The materialists and the naturalist are generally proponent of the theory of evolution according to which man come from the ape.  Physically, apes are virtually superheroes compared to us. For example, chimpanzees are roughly four times more powerful than the average human. While humans lack the sheer power of the mighty chimp, our nervous systems exert much more control over our muscles, enabling us to execute far more subtle movements. Humans possess superior motor control, less body hair and a far more advanced brain. Neuroscientists have identified substantially more intricate nerve connectivity in the human brain, as well as some things called spindle neurons. Also known as Von Economo neurons (VENs), these cells appear most frequently in areas of the brain associated with social emotions. Under “social emotions,” you’ll find a whole Pandora’s box of human characteristics, including empathy, guilt and embarrassment. The consensus is that although humans have evolved socially from our last common ancestor, chimps have remained largely the same. Our two species still share such bloody traits as male kin bonding and lethal territorial aggression. Human males and females, however, share a deeper conjugal bond, creating family-based society. Chimps, on the other hand, have separate male and female hierarchies. Such differences depend on often slight genetic details. It is probably ethologist Desmond Morris that came up with the most simple, direct and effective way to describe man as a product of mother nature’s animal kingdom.  There are one  and ninety-three living species of monkey and apes, Desmond Mossris tells us, and among those, one hundred and ninety-two are covered with hair, the only exception to the rule is “a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens.” [3] This description, Morris tells his readers, is a simple, descriptive name based on a simple observation, and has the advantage that it makes no special assumptions.  [4]  Whatever his technological attainments, scientific accomplishments and other conquests, whatever what poets, philosophers and writters may say about him, in the eyes of a zoologist or any other observer of the animal kingdom, it seems clear that “Homo sapiens has remained a naked ape nevertheless; in acquiring loft new motives, he has lost none of the earthy old ones. [5] A recurring theme of naturalism is that man is not duty-bound to adhere to a set of moral rules. The only rules that are available are those of man’s own making. Since people differ on which rules are best, none are binding. The best that we can do is adapt to society or our environment. Death for the naturalist brings extinction. Man lives, he suffers, he dies. According to Ernest Nagel, “Human destiny is an episode between two oblivions.”

The Psychological and Spiritual Man

The man with a broken nose by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

The man with a broken nose by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

On the extreme opposite of the spectrum, idealismsees man as essentially a spiritual being, and his physical body is foreign to his essence. Idealism  is the group of philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. To them the body is nothing but a shell for the spirit or the intellect.  This is the reason why idealism emphasizes how human ideas—especially beliefs and values—shape society.  Idealism thus rejects physicalist and dualist theories that fail to ascribe priority to the mind. Among the implications of the idealist point of view we have the fact that man’s body is neglected in their reflexions, we also have the strange idea according to which the deeds done in the body do not pollute the essence of the person and the belief that the male/female identity is a biological accident.  Among those belief systems the emphasis is on the immaterial component of man, we have Pantheism, Christianity, the Jewish Kabbalah and many others.  Where naturalism sees the cosmos as exclusively material, beleifs systems like pantheism argues that reality is ultimately spiritual. It is our soul, our essence as a person, that is most important. Traditional pantheism sees man’s soul eventually becoming one with the universal soul or mind. New Age teachers in the West have placed the emphasis more on the individual. Unlike naturalism, pantheism sees man’s problem as a spiritual one. Somehow, mankind has collectively forgotten its oneness with the universe. This separates man from understanding the true nature of things. Where naturalism sees only the material universe, and pantheism only a spiritual reality, Christianity argues that both are real in the sense that God, an infinite, personal, spirit-being, created the material universe apart from Himself. What the creation account tells us about the nature of man is that mankind’s creation is different from the rest of the animal kingdom.  In this perspective, the pantheists are also correct in affirming our spiritual component. Christians agrees that we do bear God’s image, but we are not gods ourselves. Both naturalism and pantheism see part of the whole, but both deny the fullness of what it means to be human.  In Christianity, humans were created to have personal fellowship with God. Man’s original position on earth was to be God’s agent and to have dominion over His creation. The disobedience of Adam resulted in a break in that fellowship, only to be corrected by the redemptive work on Christ on the cross. Mankind without God is in a sinful, rebellious state. Enslaved by sin, he feels guilt and shame, which is real and not simply imagined, as well as an emptiness that should be filled with the fellowship of his Creator. [6]   As a result of the fall, God’s image in man is corrupted but not lost entirely. [7] The image of God is the key to man’s identity. Man is God’s representative. Gen. 9:6 Man is a picture of God in some respects. [8] Christ, the God-man, is the perfect representative of what it means to image God. [9]

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me—
nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 303–312

This passage has provoked bitter scholarly battles—over its punctuation. Is Hamlet saying that man is like an angel in apprehension (understanding), or like a god in apprehension? The different placement of commas in the early texts of the play makes all the difference. Man is the noblest of all God’s pieces of work, the “quintessence of dust” (the fifth, or purest, extract from the dust of which all things are compounded). But despite the nobility, the reason, the grace, and the beauty of man, Hamlet cannot be delighted. At least, so he tells the king’s parasites, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as he explains his melancholia.  Maybe that’s what Desmond Morris is trying to tell us, in his book The Naked Ape, when describing the darker and more perplexing side of man:

“This unusual and highly successful specie spends a great deal of time examining his higher motives and an equal amount of time ignoring his fundamental ones.” [10]

The Male Gender

A man is a male human. The term man is usually reserved for an adult, with the term boy being the usual term for a male child or adolescent. However, the term man is also sometimes used to identify a male human, regardless of age. Like most other male mammals, a man’s genome inherits an X chromosome from his mother and a Y chromosome from his father. The male fetus produces larger amounts of androgens and smaller amounts of estrogens than a female fetus. This difference in the relative amounts of these sex steroids is largely responsible for the physiological differences that distinguish men from women. During puberty, hormones which stimulate androgen production result in the development of secondary sexual characteristics, thus exhibiting greater differences between the sexes. Masculinity has its roots in genetics. [11] Therefore while masculinity looks different in different cultures, there are common aspects to its definition across cultures. [12]  Sometimes gender scholars will use the phrase “hegemonic masculinity” to distinguish the most dominant form of masculinity from other variants. In the mid-twentieth century United States, for example, John Wayne might embody one form of masculinity, while Gandhi might be seen as masculine, but not in the same “hegemonic” fashion. Machismo is a form of masculine culture. It includes assertiveness or standing up for one’s rights, responsibility, selflessness, general code of ethics, sincerity, and respect. [13] Anthropology has shown that masculinity itself has social status, just like wealth, race and social class. In western culture, for example, greater masculinity usually brings greater social status. Many English words such as virtue and virile(from the Indo-European root vir meaning man) reflect this.[8][9] An association with physical and/or moral strength is implied. Masculinity is associated more commonly with adult men than with boys. The masculine principle is symbolized by the sun and the heavens in most traditions, with  Teutonic and Oceanic exceptions, and by all that is phallic, piercing, penetrating, upright and associated with heat, e.g. the sun, sword, spear, lance, arrow, dart, spade, plough, ship’s prow, pllar, pole, cone, obelisk, fire, flame, torch, also the linga, the shakta and yang forces, etc. (J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Dictionary of Traditional Symbols, 1978, Thamesand Hudson, London Ltd., p. 102.) In Amerindian symbolism the male principle is represented by the white eagle feather. In Taoism man is the central and mediating power of the Great Triad of Heaven-Man_Earth.  In Isalm he signifies universal existence, “the link between God and Nature.” The Sufis define man as “the symbol od universal existence.” (J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Dictionary of Traditional Symbols, 1978, Thamesand Hudson, London Ltd., p. 103.)

The Symbolism of Man

In many traditions, including even the most primitive, man is described as a small-scale copy of the universe, a micrososm or synthesis of the world.  [&&] Man is the center of the world of symbols [??] In the Atharva-Veda (10:7) man was originally regarded as the cosmic pillar, a sort of Atlas, with the duty of holding the Earth and Heaven together, both being threatened with constant dissolution and disintegration. Man is thus both the center and principle of unity, ultimately identical with Brahman, the supreme principle.  The idea of man being made in God’s image, after our likedness… And the Lord God, formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a “living soul.” (Genesis 1:26; 2:7) Commentators observes that the idea of likeness weakens that of image by utterly removing any notion of identity. This concept from Genesis became the cornerstone of astological teatching, wedding the relationship between the microcosm – man – and the macrocosm – not simply the universe, but the all-embrassing mind of God, the idea and power of the universe.  His or her birth is to teach the individual like the creation of the world, since to that individual coming into being and the birth of the world are one aand the same, as are death and the end of the world.  When an individual dies it is one and the same that he or she dies to the world or that the world dies with them.  The entity, God-Universe-Man, is expressed as a sphere, the traditional image of the world in the centre of which each man stands.  His place in the world and the world’s place in him are defined by their mutual ties. Man symbolizes a network of cosmic relationship. Madame Blavatsky wrote: “Like a fetus, he is suspended by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos.” (Cited in Manly P. Hall, Companion in Ancient Philosophy, p. 385) Humanity, then, is still in in an embryonic state and, dwelling within the darkness of the sideral womb, is suspended drom Cause ny a threefold umbilical cord – the cable tow of the Freemason  and the braided cord of the Brajman initiate. Of the tnreefol spirit, Paracelsus writes that the first has its seat in the elements, the second in the spirits of the stars, and the thirdin the divine nature itself. Centuries before, Proclus had defined the truine nature of man as three monads which are one monad-being suspended from unimaginable unity.  The first

Tree of Life Attribution

The sacred animal attribution for Chokmah is the man. [1] Unfortunately Crowley offers no other precisions concerning this attribution and neither would other authors like Israel Regardie, Dion Fortune, Gareth Knight and the other usual scholars who wrote about the sephirotic attributions of the Hermetic Qabalah.  It is easy, however, to see in which direction this attribution is going.  What Crowley refers to here is Man as animal but more specifically man as the male counterpart of the human specie. This is easy to deduce since the sephira that plays the role of its conterparts, Binah, which is located on the other side of the Tree on the pillar of Severity, have the “woman” as its sacred animal attribution.  So what we are taling here is man as a specie but only the male specimens.


[1]  Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 10.

[2] American Heritage Dictionary, Appendix I: Indo-European Roots. man-1.

[3] (Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape, p. 9)

[4] (Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape, p. 15)

[5] (Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape, p. 9)

[6] (See Created in God’s Image by Anthony A. Hoekema, Eerdmans, 1986, 264 pp)

[7] Ps. 58:3, Rom. 5:12, Rom. 8:7,8, 1 Cor. 2:14

[8] Gen. 1:26-31

[9] 2 Cor. 4:3-4, Col. 1:15

[10] (Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape, p. 9)

[11] John Money, ‘The concept of gender identity disorder in childhood and adolescence after 39 years’, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 20 (1994): 163-77.

[12] Donald BrownHuman Universals

[13] Mirande, Alfredo (1997). Hombres y Machos: Masculinity and Latino Culture, p.72-74

[&&] Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, 1984, Penguin Books, p. 385.

[??] Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 630.


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