Biological Humanism as the Framework for a New Culture

This is an excerpt from a book originally published 30 years ago by Dieter Duhm, initiator of the Tamera community in Portugal.


“Throughout history attempts to improve the world with morality and religion and to conquer man’s savagery by appeals to reason and conscience have failed. Men are humane to the degree that they recognise and fulfil their bodily, emotional, and spiritual needs in a social way (that is, in living together with others). The philosophy of the new culture does not appeal to any morals but to the deepest and most conscious “egoism”.

The necessary cultural change will not come through appeals or sacrifices but by changing our life practice, our way of working, our human contacts, our sexuality, and so forth, in a way that fulfils our needs. A new cultural concept can only be realistic to the extent that it presents a model for a better and truer self-realisation and fulfils a greater number of basic needs.

A culture based on true needs would, of itself, have a great ecological advantage. A community with loving communication, fulfilled sexuality, and creative work would no longer be dependent on vicarious satisfaction through the products of industrial society, as is the case today. It could, therefore, develop a new consumer model that would avoid wasting goods, energy, and other resources, thus saving the environment from destruction. The new consumer model needed by the ecological society of the future, is first and foremost, a new model of human self-realisation.

Humanism is a spiritual impulse towards liberation that entered history in the early Renaissance and has persisted through the eras of humanism, enlightenment, science, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Slowly man begins to see the world as something to be observed, grasped, analysed, and changed.

He frees himself from the old order based on authority, religion, and society, and on taking the reality of a situation for granted. By constantly using his own reason to enter into new realms, he creates the necessity to re-organise and re-form his world. This is the essence of the genuine humanistic tradition: to wrest control from formidable old power structures in order that the human steps into self-management and responsibility. On this historic path to autonomy, humanity can tolerate no pre-ordained limits and no moral ones, for it follows evolutionary laws of development.

Morals themselves become the object of analysis and change. Nietzsche, so far, dealt most consistently with these matters. Through Copernicus the power of thought entered into the religious world-view; through Marx it broke into the bourgeoisie; through Nietzsche it broke into the moral world-view; and through Freud it entered into sexuality. Every new breakthrough opened a new dimension in human social life that needed to be dealt with, assimilated, and integrated.

The dimension that now needs to be discovered and integrated is the dimension of life itself with its special principles of holistic and ecstatic ways of functioning (see previous chapter). The forgotten biological basis in which all control mechanisms are embedded must be laid open. The organic system of body and soul with its drives and emotions (that has an evolutionary and therefore historically changeable character) must regain its natural ways of functioning. We can only break the alienation of our age by reconnecting the human forms of action and development to the universal processes of the living world.

Biological humanism strives for the maximum integration of the human social world into the overall realm of living nature (I do not know whether there is also “dead” nature or whether what is called dead is in reality only a special case of the living world). Such an integration will realise the ideas of “organic environmental design”, like that developed by Hugo Kükelhaus, and will also achieve a fundamental reorientation of man in relation to his own nature. The nature of man consists not only of his anatomy and his physiological processes – here we share Teilhard de Chardin’s concepts of nature – but also of all his emotions, drives, instincts, and energies. One of the central inner drives of the human is the sexual drive. In this area there is a common denominator running through almost all cultures, religions, morals, philosophies, and political ideologies of the Occidental world, and that is the secret or admitted capitulation in front of Eros. Show an upstanding theorist a picture of a well-proportioned female with an inviting cleavage and he grows pale. If the destiny of the Earth and our culture is to be put in the hands of adults then these must be people who have free access to their erotic powers without suppression. This is the only way that the living world can be “controlled”.

The same evolutionary lines of development, instincts, and drives that are present in the animal realm come together in humans at a higher level. Becoming human is, in its most farreaching sense, a progressive spiritualisation and sublimation of all animalistic forces into a human culture. This process of sublimating has not yet succeeded because instead of accepting, cultivating and refining his animalistic strengths, man has tried to suppress and ignore them. We can perhaps see it as the “basic error” in the course of the history of consciousness that the process of cultivating the human animal was carried out as a battle of the spirit against the “beast in man” instead of through the union and reconciliation of the two. It was a fight against nature itself, which naturally could not be won. Instead of a sublimation of the whole human with all his drives, a dangerous split occurred, into an official and a repressed part that has so far obstinately resisted all attempts at humanisation. In this psychological ambiguity of the human lies the principal illness of our age. The conscious exposure and reintegration of repressed material and the “acceptance of the shadow”, which C.G. Jung formulated as a therapeutic principle, must be taken from the therapeutic level to the social and cultural levels, if man is to become whole again.

The human must become a conscious fellow creature on Earth, if not, he will senselessly destroy it. He can only achieve this if he accepts the authority of life and submits to it. Humanisation is the humanifying of the Earth, the penetration of the human into deeper and higher realms. But this penetration means mental-spiritual transformation resulting in a non-imperialistic domination. There is a law of the living world that only allows spiritual expansion through spiritual transformation.

We cannot control natural forces by fighting and conquering them – through that their unpredictable nature runs out of control and leads to earthquakes and floods, also on the soul level. Seen in this light, the history of our culture has largely been a puppet theatre, directed by the strings of the repressed, “conquered” natural forces and life energies. If one seeks control in the living world one must unite with it, get to know its rules, and follow them. It is a totally new kind of control, no longer dependent on contest and suppression, but on ecological harmony.”

Source: P2P Foundation