...man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots... ~ Emerson
The content of this page considers Ralph Waldo Emerson's insightful notion that:
"...man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world..."
From this page we hope to demonstrate that it may well be that behavioural "roots"
~ innate to Humanity ~ give rise to Human Societies!!!
Or to quote Emerson more fully:-
In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north, south, east, west, to the centre of every province of the empire, making each market-town
of Persia, Spain, and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go, as it were, highways to the heart of every object
in nature, to reduce it under the dominion of man. A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world. His
faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings of
an eagle in the egg presuppose air. He cannot live without a world.
In order to more fully explore the notion that the Human? world bursts forth as
"flower and fruitage" from human-innate "roots" it is necessary to venture
a little into some interesting philosophical areas:
"...Are all our actions alike performed by the one predominant faculty, or are there three faculties
severally in our different actions? Do we learn with one internal faculty, and become angry with another,
and with a third
feel desire for all the pleasures connected with eating and drinking, and the propagation of the species;
or upon every impulse to
action, do we perform these several actions with the whole soul?"
(Plato - The Republic : Book 4)
Plato lived in Athens and was a contemporary of Socrates and of Aristotle both of whom he knew personally.
He is recognized as being one of the most enduringly influential
figures in the history of western philosophy. A well regarded twentieth century philosopher
even went so far as to suggest that -
The safest general characterization of the European
philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
(A.N. Whitehead, in his work Process and Reality)
Plato's most famous work is his "The Republic". It features
two highly relevant passages explicitly suggesting that human actions fall into three categories -
and that human beings have a "Tripartite Soul". Similar
suggestions are to be found in other of Plato's works.
At age-of-the-sage we have explored such ideas fairly extensively and have to admit that our
own researches do lead us to the conclusion that Human Nature is
basically "tripartite" along the lines suggested by Plato's insightful questions about our actions and our faculties.
Although the range of ideas that directly arise from a consideration of Emerson's quote about Man as being a "knot of roots," and Plato's
questions about the human "motivational" soul, tend to be somewhat psychological we are confident that on fuller consideration
these ideas will be seen as having immense potential towards leading to a greater philosophical understanding
of The Human Condition.
Thoroughly convincing answers to questionings about "what people innately
are" and about
"what people are innately motivated to do" are important
forms of wisdom we should all be interested in attaining as they have the potential help us to
better understand our own lives, our own societies, and the world we live in.
We are seeking to bring the results of our researches into such deep
questions about human existence to public attention and,
in order to do so, have decided to present what we hope you will consider to be
convincing evidence in support of this Tripartite View of Human Existence.
Our site is rather
large and to facilitate a structured introduction to our findings we recommend three routes:
The Tripartite Soul
This is a review of how Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare and such major World Religions
as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism all hold the view that Human Spirituality
is relative to "Desire" and to "Wrath" thus supporting the three-directioned representation
of Human Nature and the
suggested relationship between "Human Nature and Society" that are presented earlier on this page.
The Study of History
"History is for human self-knowledge ... the only clue to what man can do is
what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done
and thus what man is."
R. G. Collingwood
It can be suggested that in much of Europe during those centuries referred to as the "Middle Ages" Kingdoms and Empires prominently featured a "Tripartism" consisting of
Churchmen, Noblemen and Commoners. In time diverse social change allowed the emergences of Capitalism, Liberalism, Constitutionalism, Nationalism and Socialism through the
influences of which the Middle Ages were replaced by increasingly urbanized and democratized early forms of Modernity.
It may well be that one of the most unappreciated things that we all do, as people living our individual lives,
is to contribute to what might be called "the Construction of Social Reality":-
We all, in our every day lives, quietly and largely unthinkingly, contribute to the construction of a Social Reality.
This process may be of paradigm philosophical significance looked at from the point of view of
"what man has done" being a lesson in "what man is!!!"
It can be suggested that what people are moved to do,
because people are so prompted by human-innate drives, gives rise to many
socially structured practices including the "Human-material"
homes, schools, shops, places of work, and transportation systems.
Spiritual capacities (again
probably innate to human beings) are usually expressed within one of several world
religions hence Churches, Mosques, Shrines, Synagogues and Temples.
Ethnic group forming capacities (again
probably innate to human beings) are usually expressed through National or Tribal languages and cultures.
The consideration of ethnicity and how it is expressed in the wider world
leads on toward a consideration of politics and historical developments. The example of
an "Open Society?" as presented above is perhaps a
somewhat contemporary and
liberal "Social Construct". We have, however, prepared a brief series of pages about the notably turbulent European
Revolutions of 1848
in the hope that
their content will demonstrate something of what
the human "bundle of relations and knot of roots - has done" in an unsettled time in history and
thus hopefully facilitate the cultivation of greater levels of insight into what that "knot of roots" actually is and into
what that "knot of roots" tends to give rise to in terms of historical and
Although 1848 was quite a long time ago (by human standards) we hope to demonstrate that a study of this situation
where "modern" liberalist, constitutionalist, nationalist and socialist aspirations were widely seeking to
challenge historically long established traditions of "throne and altar" governance can yield many important
insights into The Human Condition.
Please bear in mind that our history pages actually continue to examine later
periods of western European history but that we consider that these few pages about the
Revolution of 1848 are sufficient to establish the principle that the "human knot of
roots" has a telling influence on historical developments.
Charles Darwin, in his Autobiography written late in life, mentions something of his own early
religious convictions, (he actually trained as an Anglican, (i.e. Church of England), priest just prior to voyaging on the Beagle). Towards
the end of this Autobiography there is an extensive sub-section actually entitled "Religious Beliefs" that contains
At present the most usual argument for the existence of an
intelligent God is drawn from deep inward conviction and feelings
which are experienced by most persons. But it cannot be doubted
that Hindoos, Mahomedans and others might argue in the same
manner and with equal force in favour of the existence of one
God, or of many Gods, or as with the Buddhists of no
....This argument would be a valid one, if all men of all
races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God;
but we know this is very far from being the case. Therefore I
cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any
weight as evidence of what really exists....
In our own times sympathetic translations of the religious texts of many World Faiths have been made available
such that western peoples can hope to better appreciate the Wisdoms respected by faiths and cultures
across the world.
The philosopher Leibniz is credited with coining the phrase "The Perennial Philosophy" in relation to what
he perceived to be a shared respect by several World Religions for such spiritual virtues as "Charity", "Purity of
Heart", and "Humility".
Our own studies in this area have led us to recognise that the list of spiritual virtues respected by
ALL the major World Religions can be very greatly extended - even to the point of effectively overturning Darwin's
reservations as set out in his Autobiography.
Enlightenments, Wisdoms and Spiritual Insights!!!
Our Spiritual Insights Quotations pages show how such major World Religions
as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism and
Judaism ALL, and WITHOUT EXCEPTION, regard such attributes as
"Charity", "Purity of Heart", "Humility" and "Meekness" as being of a
The contents of our pages were inspired by a celebrated study into Comparative Religion, Aldous Huxley's ~ The Perennial Philosophy where some "Common Ground" between
the major World Religions as to Core Spiritual Truths was presented.
We believe that our own studies into Comparative Spirituality have significantly extended the range of agreement already accepted by Aldous Huxley.
An introduction to this ~ perhaps surprising extensive ~ range of "Insights held in common" is available from our Home Page