Human Potential

We have enormous potential, much of it unrealized and unknown. Our physical, psychological and spiritual capacities continue to develop and unfold as we extend our frontiers of knowledge and possibility. As human health, development, productivity, research and their benefits continue to evolve, the technical, intellectual and moral life of humanity progresses. How can we help to stimulate that growth in our world and ourselves? First, we need to understand what constitutes human nature and potential, and then how to develop them.

Humans, individually and collectively, have three basic aspects that are important to consider in developing human resources and potential. The most obvious and accepted by all is our physical nature. To be human means to have a human body. Scientifically, our bodies place us in the animal kingdom; therefore, part of our nature is common to other animals with whom we are genetically very similar. We have physical needs that must be met to an adequate degree if we are to be able to effectively develop our distinctive abilities to think, feel and choose that make us unique from animals.

The psychological qualities to know, love and choose are faculties of our minds, hearts and wills. I believe these three capabilities have an immaterial or spiritual nature that some call the soul. The soul is defined as “the complex of human attributes that manifests as consciousness, thought, feeling, and will, regarded as distinct from the physical body” (Encarta Dictionary). In other words, the rational soul is what causes our minds, hearts and wills to manifest in our physical bodies, resulting in the psychological qualities of conscious thought, feeling and will. Attending to all three natures and all three faculties is important in developing potential.

Our thoughts, feelings and actions can be directed by either our bodies or our souls. Whichever nature predominates determines the character and condition of the individual and group. In our physical nature we see the animal characteristics of survival of the fittest and competition for resources as driving forces, and in the other we see altruistic and transcendent motives directing our behavior. Current theories of human resource development tend to emphasize the physical, material and animal aspects of human nature and neglect the spiritual, immaterial and transcendental parts of our nature. We prosper when our spiritual nature influences how we think, feel and choose. It can direct our minds, hearts and wills in healthy ways. If our animal nature prevails, then we actually become more destructive than any animal, with our increased powers of thought, feeling and action being driven by our baser desires and impulses.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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