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  • Writer's pictureRussell Cornhill

The Human Ego.

Updated: Mar 23

The Thinking Process 2

I have no intention of discussing Freud’s ideas of the ego, id and superego. I’m simply referring to the basic idea of the ego as pride, which is possibly a manifestation of other emotions as well, but let’s stick with the basic idea of pride.

I have a proposed definition of the human ego—the one thing that may be bigger than the universe.

Okay, that’s rather sarcastic, but why would I say it? Most of us certainly don’t feel like we have huge egos, even the few that do.

I’m not talking about the cosmetic industry or the fashion industry, or all the other industries whose advertising appeals to our vanity rather than showing the usefulness of their product.

What I’m talking about is even more basic.

Consider the term ‘animal’. We all understand the meaning, right? We all understand it’s a scientific classification. We all know that as part of that classification, humans are animals. Don’t we? Religious people may disagree, as they believe we were made by God. I don’t agree with that idea. To me, the term ‘animal’ is a scientific classification, and unless we’re plants, we’re animals.

So why do we not mean ‘humans’ when we use the word?

I’ve taken to writing ‘other animals’ in my writing when I’m referring to animals other than human. Even Microsoft Word often attempts to correct me by pointing out that ‘other’ is an unnecessary word. Really? Is our bias even built into our computer programs? Yes, I know it’s trying to help my writing be more concise, but it doesn’t recognise that the word ‘other’ is very necessary in this case. We just don’t have a word for ‘other animals’. We didn’t think it was necessary.

In a similar vein, what is our description of nature? The animal world, the plant world, the climate, anything but the human world. We’re different. Why? If we’re animals then we’re part of nature. No, that idea also isn’t built into our language or our concepts. It’s just that damn ego at work.

Now take the concept of the human soul. We’re special. We’ll live forever. What could be more conceited than the idea of God creating mankind in his image? And creating the rest of the world for us to live in. Then he gave us a soul so we could live forever.

Even many nonreligious people seem to accept the concept of a soul. I recently saw a blog where someone pointed out where it might reside in the brain. Personally, I believe the whole idea of a soul is the creation of the human ego.

There is one other thing, even simpler and perhaps more telling, about the human ego—our use of the pronoun ‘it’. You can refer to anything else as ‘it’, perhaps even God if you’re discussing what it is or might be, but don’t ever refer to a human as an ‘it’. Fiction writers might get a way with it in exceptional circumstances, such as a sarcastic comment by a character, or in reference to something not seen properly, but otherwise, no, a human can NEVER be called an ‘it’.

I have always loved Ozymandias, the sonnet by Shelley. Perhaps, I’m talking about pride in a more general sense than in the poem, though I wonder if Shelley wasn’t doing that as well. One possible interpretation could be that, in time, even the greatest of mankind’s constructions will crumble before nature. Or should that be the rest of nature?

But no, the human race is determined to find our place in the universe, a place where our civilisation will tame nature and last forever.

The human ego—the one thing that may be bigger than the universe.

Yep, Just my thoughts. Nope, not much research.

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