This article is an edited transcript of an address given at the 2014 Nexus conference in Sydney.
And when [Paul] had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. (Acts 20:36-38)
Peter Jensen is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. This is the second of two articles on human nature. Read the first article in the Briefing archives.
What is man? Throughout history great minds have tried to define us as a species, but the essence of humanity has proved hard to pin down. “Man is a featherless biped”, Plato concluded, although he was somewhat dissatisfied with this as a definition. “Man is a reasoning animal”, wrote Seneca, echoing Aristotle. “Man is a tool using animal”, said Carlyle, anticipating modern anthropology. Man is “a poor, bare, forked animal”, wrote Shakespeare in his habitual pessimism about humanity.