Everyone has something in mind when they use the phrase, “We’re only human.” This is because everyone has an anthropology, a conception of what human beings are like, their potential and their limitations, about what constitutes humanity. Some hold a more optimistic estimation of the human race, a “high” anthropology if you will, while others are more cynical or pessimistic, maintaining a “lower” view. Jesuit scholar J. Patout Burns, in his book Theological Anthropology, explains that theological anthropology is simply“ [the investigation of] the resources, the limitations, and the destiny of the human person.” Such an investigation is not only beneficial, it represents the crucial first step of any philosophical or theological project. On this site, we try to learn our anthropology from Jesus, who “knew what was in man” (John 2:25) and prayed for forgiveness for his own executioners because they “know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We believe that the problem with being “human, all too human,” as Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, is deeper and more fundamental than any philosophy, instruction manual or moral system can address; it might even shed some light on why our Hero was crucified.
We hope the following guide will explain how certain technical terms are used on the Mockingbird site.
None of these definitions are, or could possibly be, comprehensive. Hundreds of books have been written on each. We are aiming, instead, via a few broad strokes, to give a sense of how the terms are being used. It should be noted that these terms are sometimes used as shorthand for their philosophical implications, or centrifugal outworkings.