Contemplating Unification Thought
by Dr. Jennifer P. Tanabe
Original Human Nature
The theory of the Original Human Nature is perhaps more challenging than the topics discussed so far in this series. This is because it deals directly with each one of us. with each one of us. s directly with each one of us. It is not a theory of other beings, whether they be the Original Being, God, as in the theory of the Original Image, or all things, as in Ontology. So reactions to this theory seem to take on a more personal flavor, as we ourselves feel challenged.
I have encountered two types of criticism of this theory. The first criticism is that the theory sounds too good to be true, and it does not relate to the real world which is full of evil and social problems. The second criticism focuses on the controversial relationships between subject and object, and between Yang and Yin. In this article I will begin by addressing the first criticism, then present the basic points of the theory, and finally address the second criticism.
The theory of the Original Human Nature in Unification Thought begins with the statement that "Because of the human fall, human beings have lost their original condition" (Essentials, p.89). The original condition means not only human nature as it should have been but for the fall, but also human nature in the future after restoration is complete. Thus, Unification Thought is not a theory of human nature as we see it today, but of the original human nature under ideal conditions. Likewise, it does not explain the process of restoration of original human nature from fallen human nature.
Dr. Lee has commented that the first step in restoration is understanding original human nature, just as a doctor must learn about the healthy body in order to cure the sick. Also, he noted that each individual has to restore him or herself through a life of faith, and that life of faith differs according to their religion. Unification Thought is a general theory, and therefore the details of the life of faith chosen for restoration and perfection of the individual are not included. Unification Thought, however, does recognize the importance of the fall, and this is one of the most significant aspects of its understanding of human nature. For a correct understanding of human nature can only be achieved by realizing that the original human nature was lost through the fall. Philosophies that view human nature as basically good can turn only to the environment as the cause of evil in the world. They can never solve the problems because human nature after the fall does contain evil and this does not disappear simply by ignoring it. Philosophies that view human nature as inherently evil have no hope for a society of goodness. Thus, Unification Thought's greatest advance in our understanding of human nature may be its acknowledgment of the fall and the loss of the original human nature as created by God.
Now, let us look at the basic points in the theory of original human nature. The theory of the Original Human Nature describes three aspects of the human being: a being with Divine Image, which resembles the Original Image; a being with Divine Character, which resembles the character of the Original Being; and a being with Position, which resembles the characteristics of position in the Original Image.
To be a being with Divine Image means to become a being of united Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, a being of harmonious Yang and Yin, and a being with individuality. Human beings are creatures with both physical and spiritual aspects, and these must be brought into proper relationship, which means that the spiritual desires for love, truth, beauty and goodness should be primary. Physical desires for food, clothing, shelter, and physical sex should be objective to the spiritual desires. Thus, the unity of Sung Sang and Hyung Sang refers to the proper relationship between spiritual and physical desires in human nature.
The harmony of Yang and Yin refers to the harmony between husband and wife. This is because the husband represents the Yang aspects of the Original Image and the wife the Yin aspects. Now, this is a very controversial point, made all the more controversial by the various characterizations that have appeared in Unification Thought texts of Yang and Yin in the human intellect, emotion, and will. When questioned, Dr. Lee takes great pains to explain that women are not all Yin and men all Yang, and hence the Yin attributes of forgetfulness, vagueness, sorrow, and passiveness do not characterize the ideal woman! Rather, men and women both have Yang and Yin aspects of intellect, emotion, and will, but they are expressed differently. Whether this explanation satisfies all critics or not, we can understand that Unification Thought treats human beings as the highest level, and therefore most complex, of God's creations. Unification Thought also provides a clear philosophical basis for sex differences in human beings, but these differences do not provide any basis for discrimination or difference in value. That there are ontological differences between men and women, not just differences produced by socialization, has now become accepted by most psychological researchers. However, the range of overlap between the sexes is so great that the characteristics of any individual cannot be predicted based on sex alone. This is entirely compatible with the Unification Thought position that men and women both contain Yang and Yin characteristics. Thus, we should understand Unification Thought as saying that men and women are created to be different, reflecting different aspects of the Original Image, but that these differences are manifest in an infinite variety of ways. This means that there is potential for incredible beauty and harmony when men and women unite in marriage.
Unification Thought regards the relationship between husband and wife as a sacred and precious union. This conjugal union signifies the manifestation of God, the completion of the creation of the universe, the unity of God, the completion of the creation of the universe, the unity of humankind, and the perfection of the family. No wonder it is so difficult to achieve! Indeed, we can understand that one should not enter into marriage for the purpose of meeting one's own individual needs, but rather with the understanding that it serves a much higher purpose. On the other hand, Unification Thought gives great importance to the uniqueness of each individual. For each human being has an Individual Image, which is derived from the Individual Image in the Original Image. Thus each human being is truly unique, not by chance or through environmental influence, but is designed that way by God. There can be no better basis for respect for the individual than that. Recognizing the uniqueness of each human being also has implications for education, both in terms of teaching methods and expectations for each person. These will be discussed in a later article.
Divine Character means that human beings are created as beings with Heart (Shim Jung), Logos, and Creativity. Unification Thought regards the human being not as "knower" (homo sapiens) or "maker" (homo faber), but rather as homo amans, the loving being whose essential nature is Shim Jung. It is clear that human reason alone cannot succeed in achieving a world of peace and harmony. This is because original human nature is not based on intellect alone, but should have a balance between intellect, emotion, and will. These three faculties should be guided by Shim Jung to seek truth, beauty, and goodness and thus to establish the culture of Heart.
A being with Logos means a being of Reason-Law, or a being in which freedom and necessity are united. This means that human beings are beings who live according to laws, or norms, as well as rational beings behaving according to free will. Confucius said when he was seventy years old that he followed his heart's desire without overstepping the line. This is a description of a being of Logos, in which free will and law are united. From this we can understand that ethical standards for individuals and society exist as laws of the universe. When Logos was formed in the Original Image it was motivated by Heart, which is the source of love. The purpose of law is the actualization of love. Thus, in the ideal society human beings will naturally follow the laws of the universe, with the result that love and joy are realized. A being of Creativity is one who inherits God's creativity which is based on heart. Human beings have developed science and art as expressions of creativity. However, these have not been motivated by love, nor have the creative activities been performed on the basis of proper values. Scientists have developed weapons such as the atomic bomb, destroyed natural resources through pollution, and caused numerous problems through their creativity. Artists have created pornographic, sacrilegious and other offensive works, because they have not been ethical people. Human beings who develop their creativity based on perfecting their character resembling the Original Image will be able to develop science and art to benefit human society.
This all sounds rather good, provided we remember that it is a description of the original human nature before the fall and after restoration, not human nature as it exists today. Indeed, if the theory of Original Human Nature stopped here I would still feel that it was valuable. However, there is one more section that is really important in this theory, and in fact for the theory of Ethics which will be discussed in a later article.
This section, on a being with Position, brings us back to the idea of subject and object, and naturally, the problems associated with these terms. However, I was happy to hear at the recent Society for Research in Child Development conference that at least one researcher has realized that human beings can be both agents and objects of other people's actions. So philosophers, don't worry, there is at least one psychologist who accepts that people can be in the object position to other people, and in this case, even to infants!
Unification Thought is a relational philosophy in which proper position is very important. The human being is not only an individual but also a connected body, i.e. in relationship to other beings. And connected bodies have two positions, subject and object. This means that for two people in relationship, one is in the subject position and the other in the object position. And, according to Unification Thought, human beings start in the object position, as objects to their parents. After growing, they become parents themselves and stand in the subject position to their children.
Additionally, all human beings stand in the object position to God. God created human beings as the object of His love. To fulfill this position, human beings should have "object consciousness" to God, or the heart of attendance and loyalty. Since human beings are created to be object to God and to other human beings such as their parents, they have object consciousness as part of their character. In the fallen world this has been exploited by evil leaders who took subject position over other people who responded with object consciousness. A true subject must, however, have the appropriate attitude, or "subject consciousness" over people in the object position.
According to Unification Thought, subject consciousness means that the subject should have concern, love and authority toward the object. Thus a true subject does not neglect or exploit, is not authoritarian but maintains authority while loving. In fact, being a true subject means relating to others as God relates to us.
Finally, human beings are usually in relationship to many others, with the result that they are the object position in some relationships, while at the same time they may be in the subject position to others. In Unification Thought terms, human beings are always in the connected body position, and so should possess both object consciousness and subject consciousness. Actually, subject consciousness must be based on object consciousness. A good subject has object consciousness to his or her own subject, and so is able to have appropriate concern, love and authority toward those who are in the object position.
So what is the problem with this? Well, if we really under stand the theory I think there is no problem with the connected body position. Even those who have a hard time thinking of themselves in the object position may be able to acknowledge that they are not in the subject position all the time to all people. Elected presidents have only limited terms of office, and religious leaders acknowledge that they are in the object position to God. So, if people are honest, I think they can agree that the connected body is a good description of the position of human beings.
However, there is still one relationship that is tricky -husband and wife. It is indeed written in Unification Thought texts that the husband is subject and the wife object. In this age of women should we still accept this statement? Well, speaking as a woman, I can say that Unification Thought absolutely supports my right and responsibility to be in the subject position. For example, as a professor I am in the subject position to the students in my class; if I am the chairperson of a committee, I am in the subject position to other faculty or administrators on the committee; if I give a sermon, I am in the subject position to the congregation; if I write an article or present a paper at a conference, I am in the if I write an article or present a paper at a conference, I am in the subject position to the audience. As an individual, with an Individual Image created by God which includes particular talents and abilities, I can take the subject position in any situation in which I am qualified and/or appointed. In all relationships in my life, apart from within my family, my position is not affected by the fact that I am female. Now, that sounds a lot better than my experience in the real world so, women, Unification Thought has a lot in it for you!
So, how about within the family? Well, it is true that Unification Thought says I should be object to my husband. Is this a problem? In my case, not at all. I am very happy that my husband should have subject consciousness toward me. And if he really has concern, love and authority, then he will guide our family well, taking into account all aspects of my situation in making decisions. Since I have the freedom and even responsibility to be subject to people in other areas of my life, it is quite a relief not to have to be subject at home all the time. I have enough trouble being subject to our daughter without having to be subject to my husband as well!
Well, I'm sure I can't convince all the skeptics, but at least I hope it is clear that Unification Thought is not sexist. Unification Thought maintains that women can hold any leadership position in the world, and just like men, they are in the connected body position which means object to some, subject to others. However, within the family, the relationship between husband and wife is determined to be subject and object respectively. There can be no harmony between two subjects, or between two objects. In order to have relationship there must be different positions. In my case, we have very beautiful harmony because my husband and I have very different talents and so we never compete, yet we have the same goal and vision of the ideal so we can work together to achieve it. Where we fall short of that ideal is not because Unification Thought does not work, it is because we are not applying it properly. I began this article by noting that the theory of the Original Human Nature carries a more personal challenge than the previously discussed theories. But I hope that it will not be rejected because it involves personal challenge. The theory of original human nature is not one that has been found wanting by critics who applied it. It has almost never been applied. So, let's try it out what have we got to lose other than the pain and suffering of life in the fallen world.
Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents