“Alone of all, the human race lifts up its head on high, and stands in easy balance with the body upright… Thy glance is upward, and thou dost carry high thy head, and so thy gaze is skyward…”
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Philosophers and theologians, biologists and other scientists have all observed it from time immemorial. Human persons stand out from the other animals. Literally.

The human body incarnates the human difference. Of course it does. This fits with what we consistently discover in the natural world. Anything but random, and anything but rooted simply in the demands of survival (though for that too they are well fitted!), the bodies of living things—if we carefully consider them—exemplify beauty, meaning, and deeper purpose.

The song of the lark or the cardinal is a masterpiece, as is the body capable of performing it. Each living thing has its place, and each (though some more remarkably than others) exemplifies a kind of plenitude, a sort of excrescence of being. In spring we might think of the redbud or the iris, the wild turkey or the swan.

And then there is man! Standing in easy balance with body upright and head on high; one of the creatures, but standing out among them.

The biological reality is that the human body’s structure is a stunning combination of factors—skeletal, muscular, etc.—all of which concur to enable us to do something absolutely unique: to stand upright with grace and ease. And so we move through the world with head on high, and able to gaze heavenward, if we but choose to do so.

Boethius suggests that this amazing and prominent feature of our biological reality should act as a lesson for us. We are different—not in a way that alienates or separates, but in a way that gives right order, and thus real unity among creatures, as well as direction and meaning to life. To all of us.

To step up to our place as the upright animal that gazes skyward, even as we move and live among terrestrial things, is to begin to discover the gift of being who we are.

Boethius (477-524 AD), Roman senator and philosopher, his Consolation of Philosophy is a seminal work that brought ancient thinking to the medieval world.

Become A LifeCraft Member

Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.

If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience. Your financial assistance enables me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.

Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:

  • Man of the Household (Course)
  • Woman of the Household (Course)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

“I have time when I am not conscious of time which presses in upon me in its empty quality, as lifeless time. He who has leisure thereby disposes of boundless time; he lives in the fullness of time, be he active or at rest.” Friedrich Juenger, The Failure of...

read more
Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

There is perhaps no greater intimacy possible between men than when a son looks to a father from whom he has learned to be a father himself. This Father’s Day, in addition to remembering my own father, I am reflecting on the astounding gift, and challenge, of being a...

read more
Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

“...it has been proved in the life of every man that though his loves are human, and therefore changeable, yet in proportion as he attaches them to things unchangeable, so they mature and broaden.” Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men Life today is characterized by mobility....

read more

Pin It on Pinterest