The ultimate humblebrag has to be the one about man being little more than an animal with speech, or culture, or tools, because these make us nothing like an animal. As the Rabbi suggests, they mean that we have transcended animality, precisely.
And transcend doesn't mean exclude or negate, but it does mean that even animality itself becomes something radically different in man.
la bête humaine.
Which captures the extremes of man: "The Lord God (YHVA) is the Divine name beyond existence. But man cannot be created from this beyond." Rather, he is a strange union or combination "of the end and the beginning. He is therefore made of the dust of the earth and the sublime spirit of God. His Divine soul is not even the same animal soul of creatures; he is a paradox of the lowest and highest." Not an animal but a kind of super- (or infra-) animal; and not God, but a kind of hobbled godling.
All of the above is by way of a note to myself about how one would go about creating Man -- not this or that man, but Man as such, i.e., the category, archetype, or advanced prototype. The note says "consider man from the POV of God wishing to create a thinking, creative, and loving being." Think of the obstacles and potential bugs!
Again, it is one thing to have the idea of Man, but then it has to be embodied, and the body has to be in an environment and a community. One nonstarter would be reptiles. The problem isn't reptiles per se, but the absence of mothering. Rather, reptiles are abandoned by their parents long before they hatch, and they pop out of the shell more or less complete. Which is to say "perfect." A perfect reptile cannot transcend its own perfect reptilian archetype.
Furthermore, no matter how big the brain, a reptile could never be a person, because that brain could never be intersubjective. We've discussed this on a number of occasions, so I'll let it go. But human neoteny is the key to transcendence, or of squeezing transcendence into immanence. It is where transcendence first gets into the cosmos, in the sense alluded to above by Steinsaltz.
I've said it before, but that space between an immature and incomplete nervous system and its caretakers is everything. It is the crack where the Light gets in. And it gives a whole new dimension to the baby Jesus-with-Mary archetype. An infant God? Of course.
Over the years, I have been surprised and blown away that a number of Catholic thinkers have thought along these lines. In particular, Balthasar and Ratzinger committed anticipatory plagiarism against me by saying very similar things before I had the opportunity to think them myself. I shall now endeavor to dig them out, which I will not be able to do without the aid of God, considering how much they wrote...
Here's something from Balthasar's Theo-Drama vol III. Note that if you are God, and you are planning to incarnate as man, then this presupposes that Man must be in a form that will permit this.
Thus, just as God first had to create a community, he also had to create nervous systems and persons -- and even wombs -- susceptible to the Divine descent. This descent would just bounce off of most communities, just as surely as it would bounce off the skull of a Bill Maher or Barack Obama. Nor could it reach into the womb, as evidenced by their enthusiastic support of premeditated and Planned Pedicide.
von B writes of how "in principle every created spirit is qualified to apprehend the totality of being," or in other words, man is the container who can -- at least in principle -- contain the uncontainable, which is precisely Christ's mission. The resurrection is simply the last piece of evidence that the attempt at containment was unsuccessful, so to speak, for he skedaddled over the horizon of every human boundary.
"[E]very man, insofar as he possesses complete human nature, has access through love and understanding to all that is thought and felt, done and suffered by other subjects possessing the same nature. Thus all that is human is open to us..." (ibid.).
This has two important implications. First, notice that no matter how perfect the man, it still isn't enough. We are clearly the most exalted being in existence, and yet, in the absence of God this means nothing. In a Most Excellent Aphorism, Dávila puts it that Man is important only if it is true that a God has died for him.
Think about that one for a moment. As flawed as my parents were, there was never a time that I doubted they would give their lives for mine in a heartbeat, no questions asked. Naturally it is the same with I and my son. Importantly, it's not even a thought, but deeper than that. If push ever came to shove, it would be completely spontaneous.
Thus, even the very idea of God dying for man is about the loftiest idea one could humanly imagine.
But we're getting slightly off track or out beyond the reach of our headLight. We were discussing man's irreducible intersubjectivity. For von B, "the human 'I' is always searching for the 'thou'..., without ever being able to take possession of its otherness."
Thus thank God for our incompleteness, because without awareness of it, we could never complete ourselves via God! A cow, for example, doesn't know it isn't All That, any more than Obama does. Therefore, they remain stuck in cow- or asshood.
von B references Eve, the archetypal Mother of Us All, who says I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.
First, what a charming way to express it. Second, "She understands that the human child is not a mere gift of nature but a personal gift of God.... If we are to measure the whole scope of the self, we must penetrate into the very womb of the Godhead, which alone can solve the entire mystery of our being."
As the talking baby said after being born in Look Who's Talking, I don't know about you, lady, but I'm beat. To be continued.