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Is Humanity a Superstructure?

We know that man is a sort of animal. He has many things in common with other animals. But he has many distinctive features also.

Because of his similarities and dissimilarities with other animals man has a double life; an animal life and a human life, or in other words, a material life and a cultural life.

Here a question arises: What is the relation between man’s humanity and his animality, his human life and his animal life? Is one of these qualities of primary importance and the other of only secondary? Is one of these the basis and the other only a reflection of it? Is one of these the infrastructure and the other the superstructure? Is the material life the infrastructure and the cultural life the superstructure? Is the animality of man the infrastructure and the cultural life the superstructure? Is the animality of man the infrastructure and his humanity the superstructure?

This question nowadays is initiated from a sociological and not psychological point of view. That is why the discussion centres round the point whether among the social characteristics of man, his economic tendencies related to production and productional relations are more important than all other characteristics of his, especially those which reflect his humanity, and whether his other characteristics and tendencies are only a superstructure of his economic nature? Another interconnected question is whether it is true that science, philosophy, literature, religion, law, ethics and art of every age are only a manifestation of the economic relations of that age and have no intrinsic value of their own?

Though this question is initiated from a sociological point of view, its discussion inevitably leads to a psychological result and a philosophical discussion of the nature of man known in modern terms as humanism. Generally the conclusion drawn is that humanity of man is of no importance. What is important is his animality only. In other words the view of those who deny the existence of any basic difference between man and animal is supported.

This theory not only denies the importance of human tendencies towards realism, virtue, beauty and belief in Allah, but also denies the importance of man’s rational approach to the world and truth. It may be pointed out that no approach can be neutral. Every approach inevitably represents a certain material outlook.

It is surprising that some of the schools that support the theory that man is basically an animal, simultaneously talk of humanity and humanism also!

The fact is that the evolutionary march of man begins from his animality and proceeds towards the highest point of humanity. This principle applies to individuals as well as to society. In the beginning of his existence man is no more than a material organism. With a basic evolutionary movement he is changed into a spiritual substance. Human spirit is born in the lap of human body and then attains independence.

Animality of man is the nest in which his humanity develops and matures. It is a characteristic of evolution that the more a developing being evolves, the more that being becomes independent, self-existing and effective and the more it influences its environment. As the humanity of man develops, it makes an advance towards independence and gains control of all other aspects. This is true both in the case of an individual and that of a society. A developed individual controls both his internal and external environment. His development means that he has been emancipated from the subjection of internal and external environment and attached to creed and faith.

Evolution of society takes place exactly in the same way as the evolution of soul in the lap of body and the evolution of the humanity of an individual in the lap of his animality.

The development of society mostly begins under the impact of its economic organizations. The cultural and spiritual aspects of society are tantamount to its soul. As the effect of body and soul is reciprocal, there is a similar mutual relationship between spiritual and material arrangements also. Just as the evolutionary progress of an individual means his march towards freedom, independence and greater supremacy of soul, the evolutionary progress of a society also means the same thing. In other words, the more a human society is developed, the more its cultural life becomes independent of its material life. The man of future will be a man of culture and a man of faith, creed and ideology and not a man of economy, bodily needs and sensual enjoyments.

Of course all this does not mean that human society necessarily advances along a straight line towards the perfection of human values, nor does it mean that at every stage of time it is one step advanced further than it was at the previous stage of time. It is possible that mankind passes through a stage of social life in which despite all technical and technological advancement it is pushed a stage or two backward from spiritual and moral point of view, as is alleged to be the case with the man of our century.

Actually man on the whole is marching forward both from material and spiritual points of view. But his spiritual movement is not regular along a straight line. It is a movement which involves occasional stoppages, retrogressions and deviations to the right and to the left. Nevertheless it is on the whole an evolutionary and forward movement. That is why we say that the man of future will be a man of culture and not a man of economy and the man of future will be a man of faith, creed and ideology and not a man of bodily needs and sensual enjoyments.

According to this theory the human aspects of man because of their fundamentality, developed along with and even prior to the development of the production implements. Consequent upon their development the human aspects have gradually reduced man’s dependence on his natural and social environment and have diminished his amenability to the environmental conditions. The freedom so obtained enhanced man’s attachment to faith and ideology and added to his capacity of influencing his natural and social environment. In future as a result of gaining complete independence, man will become more attached and devoted to faith and ideology.

As in the past man was less equipped with the gifts of nature and was not capable of fully utilizing his own faculties, he was a captive of nature and his own animality. But in future man will be able to exploit better the gifts of nature and his own inherent capabilities. Thus to a great extent he will be liberated from the captivity of nature and his own animal tendencies and will add to his sway over nature and himself.

According to this view though man’s human reality emerges along with and in the lap of his material and animal evolution, it is in no way the reflection of and subservient to his material development. It is an independent and progressive reality. Though it is affected by material aspect, it influences them also. What determines the final destiny of man is his cultural evolution and his human reality, not the evolutionary progress of the production implements. It is human reality which in the course of its progress causes the development of the production implements along with the development of other human affairs. It is not true that production implements develop automatically and that humanity of man changes with a change in the tools directing production system.

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