chapter  9
21 Pages

Searching for the soul of Homo

The virtue of humility in deep evolutionary time
ByCelia Deane-Drummond

In the early hominin community, humility was likely to have been much more important than the mirror companion virtue of magnanimity, often celebrated in contemporary modern societies. Both involve the exercise of reason over the inner psychological world in a way that is distinctly human and not characteristic of other animals. This chapter deliberately engages with specific theological concepts as a way of entering into the perception of human beings through a theological gaze. The chapter will explore ancient theological concepts of humility proposed by medieval theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas as a way of probing the dawn of consciousness of self in relation to others and as a necessary step towards second-person personal and collective social relationships. The experience of infused humility can be understood as a theological enhancement of that self-awareness and takes self-reflection a step further, by considering that humility as directly infused by God. This implies, further, that not all humility is necessarily explicitly tied into reasoning capacities. Practical wisdom, as right relationship in the social sphere, is also mirrored in wisdom proper, understood as right relationship in relation to the divine. There are faint traces of expressions of long-term and faithful compassion and wisdom left behind in the hominin archaeological record. What is rather more challenging is finding ways of mapping traces that show humility or experiences of the transcendent.