Philosophical Anthropology

If Unconditional Love is the primal principle of everything, a completely different view of reality (paradigm shift) and thus of mankind arises. This means that philosophical anthro-pology can undergo a fundamental transformation, by henceforth universally conceiving of man as a being consisting of pure love. Comparative biological and metaphysical research are of great importance here and can be linked and thus mutually reinforcing.

Matthieu Ricard (Wikimedia Commons)

Ricard points to scientific research that supports Hume’s optimistic claim. Indeed, experimental research has shown “that humans have an innate moral sense” (Altruïsme, p. 165). Humans instinctively or intuitively sense whether a situation is right or wrong. In Chapter 18 of his intriguing study, Ricard explains this view using research on children. It is shownThis is how biologist and Buddhist Matthieu Ricard expounds in his monumental work Altruism. The Power of Compassion from 2013 that man, contrary to what one might think, is not an egoist by nature. Egoism, according to Ricard, is not congenital, but learned! The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) in particular has been the instigator of the false idea that man is a wolf for his fellow man (homo homini lupus). But despite the fact that many people sometimes behave this way, shaped – or actually deformed – by their culture, man is different by nature. Hence, another British empiricist, David Hume (1711-1776), rejects Hobbes’ view of man. Hume considers man naturally fundamentally good and thus altruistic rather than selfish.

“that from one year of age, when they are just learning to walk and talk, children already spontaneously demonstrate helpful behavior and cooperation without having learned it from adults. Later, when they are older than five, their tendency to cooperate and help is influenced by social commitments and by learning ‘quid pro quo’; younger children pay no attention to this and help without distinction. Thus, the child learns to become more cautious and increasingly adopts the cultural norms prevalent in the society in which he grows up” (Altruïsme, p. 229).

Other research, according to Ricard, shows that even infants already attest to their humane disposition.

“From about fourteen months, babies begin to show concern for someone who is having a hard time, by going up to them, touching them kindly, or putting their little arms around them. For example, a little girl who looks intently at a crying baby might give him her own baby bottle or a necklace she really likes. When toddlers are older than eighteen months, their help is much more attuned to the needs of the other person: they call on an adult, embrace the victim, or give him not something they like themselves, but something they know from experience will comfort him. Hoffman [professor of psychology] cites the example of a child who first gave his teddy bear to a crying child. When he saw that this did not help, he went in the next room to look for the crying child’s own bear. This step was successful: the other child pressed his recovered bear against him and stopped crying” (Altruïsme, p. 231).


French philosopher and sociologist Auguste Comte (1798-1857) introduced the word ‘altruism’ (Wikimedia Commons)

Ricard argues that numerous experiments show that a phenomenon such as empathy is already manifested in very young children. The child exhibits both the capacity to empathize with the suffering of the other and the tendency to respond with adequate help. They specifically recognize the situation in which someone really needs help, after which they offer that help very sweetly. They do not want a reward for it! Children do not help out of self-interest and egotism. Their love is free. The reward system is only taught to a child by adults later on, as a result of which they slowly but surely start behaving less and less altruistically.

It is fascinating that people with a totality experience also emphatically point to the originally gifted nature of man. For example, NDE’er Anita Moorjani writes: ‘Each of us is essentially already pure and unconditional love’ (Ik moest doodgaan om mezelf te genezen, p. 263). That is, ‘to be myself is to be love’ (p. 226). ‘We are pure love – each of us’ (p. 133). This anthropological tenet, which is at once a metaphysical one, Moorjani explains as follows:

“In my NDE state, I realized that the entire universe is made up of unconditional love and that I am an expression of that. Every atom, quark and tetraquark is made up of love. I cannot be anything else because that is my being and the nature of the entire universe. Even things that seem negative are all part of the infinite, unconditional spectrum of love. In fact, the life force energy of the universe is love, and I exist from energy of the universe!” (Ik moest doodgaan om mezelf te genezen, p. 263).

If we take the above biological and metaphysical statements seriously, then a philosophical anthropology can emerge with Unconditional Love as its axiomatic starting point. The traditional view of man, in which man is inclined toward evil, can be replaced by the alternative view that he tends toward good. From this perspective, immoral behavior is a mere aberration, in which man – usually due to unfavorable circumstances – has lost sight of his true self.

The maieutics school explicitly wants to encourage researchers to develop this new view of man. Its consequences are crucial for the emergence of a revitalized society based on pure love. In such a society, people can freely develop their loving core and talents in order not only to become authentically happy themselves, but also consequently to offer the best of themselves to the community.