What is the measure of man? This question has absorbed humanity for millennia and is responsible for the competitive, dog eat dog quality of our internecine societies and cultures. In fact our measuring of ourselves against one another is so great that we have lost touch with what humanity itself is. We cannot see the forest for the trees. The sum total of the achievements of all human individuals does not actually add up to humanity. In fact, if we carried out such an equation we would find that most human activity, especially that which competes with others in the day to day process of envious measuring oneself against others, actually subtracts from human achievement as a whole.
Heidegger said that contemporary man’s destiny is still “but little experienced with respect to the truth.”[i] In this idea, instead of a Measure of Man, we get a Measure of the Human in which the quality of human experience is calculated in respect to its truth. For humans, the human truth has to be found in the human quality of being essentially Sapiens, and the integrated relationship that Sapiens has with Being as creators and custodians of Being, as well as the children of Being. Human truth has to be found in this Sapiens/Being partnership. We depend on the world and the world depends on us – any meaningful measure of our fulfilment must take this partnership into consideration. The real worth of our cultures and technologies, and the of the civilisations which are made up of those cultures and technologies, has to be estimated according to how much they have contributed to furthering human fulfilment, which is the furthering of the relationship between Sapiens and Being.
[i] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER ESSAYS, p. 54