Symbolic anthropology/psychohistory

Homo Sapiens and Demens

(Post-summer re-readings: El Paradigma Perdido and The Denial of Death)

Homo sapiens: Latin, “wise man”, modern man

Dēmēns: m, f, n: genitive dēmentis; third declension 1. out of one’s mind or senses; mad, raving, foolish, insane, reckless.

El Paradigma Perdido (by Edgar Morin) and The Denial of Death (by Ernest Becker)  tells us that homo sapiens are also demens as both reason and folly, wisdom and dementia are ontologically inseparable from the moment that human thinking enters the world of words. Thus the dialectic binary order/disorder we live in is born (Lacan).demens

Man is the result of a complex and ambivalent natural structural essence. Man is the result of panic/cowardice caused by the overwhelming uncertainty of fear, of the unknown and finally death (Becker).

The man’s demens is the specular mirror reversed of sapiens, and is the dualistic dialectic of opposites; demens/sapiens is something that cannot be resolved in favor of either of the two extremes. There is no end to the potential uncertainty that characterizes humans, and the internal existential conflict will always exist to the extent of the human species survival. Here on this dilemma, the self-awareness of death is a pivotal moment, because it represents a decisive break, a traumatic tear with quiet immediacy of existence that characterizes them with the rest of the animal species.

In the belief that all life is perishable, the finiteness=death is imposed as a fundamental attribute of the existing, with the addition that the human’s have always refused to accept that finitude. Thus, most cultural societal projects have always been aimed at eradicating these uncertainties under the weight of supersensible symbolic cultural constructions destined to continue our civilization.

It only arises culturally, for example, on the idea of man’s ​​immortality, articulated by causa sui, a project giving a sense of purpose and dignifies man’s sacrifices mediated by myth, magic, creeds (and now by science too) (Becker). But all these artificial cultural devices are vain attempts to suture the ‘original split’ (Freud/Lacan), which tailed all pretenses of building strong truthful being’s identities.

Man dispossessed of his true-self, and the world becoming trascendentalize, then is artificially and epically idealized (heroes/heroines/villains, etc.) and culturally comodify (marketing value) in unimaginable ways, creating an illusional world for most of us.  We all know that this illusion cultural project in itself cannot avoid the crude “reality” of finitude. Man can only placate this finitude for a self-closure and final acceptance by way of one’s personal mental conciliation -mostly introjected into cultural devices.

The man’s demens goes hand in hand with the cultural identity concept, it comes with special virulence in seeking a transcendental truth, but no absolute identity vocation can be sustained if it is not appealing to the fund and idolatrous exclusionary violence that dwells inside the human psyche. Any attempt to claim something good (culturally) also directly implies its double negation of what is left out of the selection.

The result of this split consciousness is thus being devoured by enormous anxiety and neurotically conflicted (and secretly) sinks into further existential crisis (chronic depression) as he/she ages. Their existence becomes an agonizing process to articulate an identity of true-self throughout a life time that protects the subject from the devastating reality chaired by the certainty of final finitude. Death is a transcendental denial and leads him to the creation of a mental imaginary world artificially populated by doubles characters (fantasious illusions and delusional alter-egos), as well as superstitious fear of ghosts, gods, angels, demons, remorse and guilt, etc. (Becker)

Man does not accept the reality of death, but at the same time, the awareness of it impending, allows him to exist as a man (as Homo sapiens and demens). As Morin and Becker expressed, we see with clean lacking eyes but mediated by all the artificial cultural-bridges that have tried and try to tie the fateful final gap filling in with paramount devices of: paradigms, fables, beliefs, myths, magic, religion, ideologies, theories, and thematics. All of that enable us to feel with a purpose, heroic and saved us in the grand scheme of things, i.e. our immortality as a perennial legacy continues.


About Mar Defoe

USA WORLD -Is an independent interdisciplinary blog that writes political commentaries from a variety of multicultural disciplines and under different categories: world affairs, literature, USA politics, satire-graphic-design, technology, psychology, academics, cultural studies. This blog allows others bloggers to partake in our 21st century world issues.


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