Anthropology: A New Scope
Man's Internal Potentials
There are potentials inside man that can be activated by external factors. Some intellectuals have claimed that there is no reality apart from what external factors create in man.
We disapprove this theory, for the external factors that influence man internally produce results different from themselves. Some behaviorists ignore man's potentials, although they do not clearly deny their existence.
Now we will present several reasons for the necessity of human potentials:
1-Denying Man's Internal Potentials Casts Doubt on All Identities Man Discovers about Realities: Every phenomenon has an identity which is definite and clear. For instance, we see something in the distance, and we are not sure whether it is a person or a rock; the object itself, however, has its own, definite identity, anyway. If man had no potentials inside him, his behaviors and actions should be indefinite – and this is impossible, for indefinite identity in the world outside is not observable. Therefore, we either have to consider those potentials arising from general concepts inside human beings – which is wrong, for general concept are fictitious products of the human mind – or we have to consider them as part of man's inside: there are realities inside man that create certain behaviors and reaction when in contact with external factors.
2-The Phenomenon of Inventions, Discoveries and Innovations: If discoveries and inventions do not originate from man's internal potentials, they must arise from external factors; however, there is not similarity or association between external factors and the discoveries and inventions made by man.
The inventions and discoveries do not arise from the great deal of information man has about a subject. If external factors could lead to discoveries and inventions by themselves, anybody who had them would become an inventor or a discoverer.
3-Different Behaviors – Political, Judicious, and Artistic: Some people have specific behaviors. Some seem to have a political kind of style, others a military, judicious, artistic or managerial behavior. The fact that people have different behaviors proves that they must have the potential needed for it. For example, if one has an artistic kind of behavior, he must have artistic potential, too.
4-The Activation of the "Self" that Manages Man's Life: As we have already mentioned, man's soul is abstract, and has been interpreted in various ways, like the "self" and the "ego." The external factors that enter man's life cannot be regarded as parts of the existence of the "self," for they are by no means comparable. The "self" is not a result of external factors; however, the accumulation of these factors inside human life can bring about the activation of the "self."
In brief, if the 'self' potential did not exist inside the phenomenon of life, external factors – that cannot consciously save their own existence against any creature – could never create the 'self.'
5-Mental Activities: We arrange the pictures we get from the world outside in our mind. The mind regards some phenomenon as true and some others false. The mind's potentials help it carry out various tasks. If man did not possess the potential of wisdom, for instance, it could not use its wisdom in any task at all. Without the potential of moral conscience, man would never accept a series of "shoulds" and deny others. Likewise, if man did not have the potential to seek beauty, he would never enjoy watching beautiful things.
Interpreting Opposite Potentials
Man is a being capable of showing himself to have both the highest and greatest of moral ethics and the most vile and vulgar qualities. Now that he possesses two opposite kinds of qualities, can he be said to have internal opposite potentials and talents? Will the fact of having opposite potentials and talents contradict man's unity of personality and the inseparability of his soul?
There is no doubt that man has internal opposites. Man can be more degraded and filthier than animals, or higher than angels; no one doubts that. The point that calls for consideration is how to interpret these conflicting qualities. Man has a variety of potentials. He can become a judge, or maybe an artist. He has both the potential to be righteous, and to be selfish and victimize the right for his own desires.
Our interpretation for such opposite potentials is that man cannot activate conflicting potentials in the same circumstances – he cannot simultaneously be righteousness and selfishly cruel. He may be righteous at times, but under certain conditions become cruel. We may consider man's conflicting potentials from two points of view:
1-Positive, Opposite Potentials: An example is the potentials for crude emotions and purely intelligent ones. The former are not any principle or law other than their causes, whereas the latter cannot do anything without obeying the law.
2-Potentials Implying Possibility and Power: Many qualities can arise in man, although he does not innately have them. In fact, the appearance of atrocious, vulgar qualities is the result of the disappearing or destruction of man's innate potentials; man has no innate negative quality of his own.
The former group mentioned above can be harmonized and organized in order to result in man's mental and spiritual development. For instance, if man's powers of thought and intelligence are enhanced, his crude emotions will become highly elevated ones.
The latter group, which are potential, cannot even flourish at the same time, let alone be harmonized. If man's potential for justice is activated, for example, at that moment he cannot be cruel and unfair. Thus, when a certain potential is activated, its opposite cannot possibly arise alongside it; if the conditions and circumstances change, however, the opposite may arise. Man must always beware of the opposites of good qualities arising within him.
In a word what God has blessed man with is purely positive, constructive potentials. Even the nature of the filthiest of man's instincts is useful and good. It is man who neutralizes his positive, constructive potentials, and abuses his instincts. The fact that man possesses various potentials does not conflict with the fact that his nature is abstract, either. The human nature has to be non-physical, and supernaturally united to be able to have different potentials. If man's nature were not supernatural, it would be impossible to interpret and justify the interference, overlapping and observable inseparability of his potentials.