The instinct of bird to fly north has its reason for existing, and is just as necessary as the animal urge to find a mate, which produces offspring and continues the existence of the species. In all of these cases we see the nature of the creature as a thing with purpose, and all the impulses inherent in it with their own meaning. It is the same with man, although his higher nature and inner life give a different meaning to the same impulses and add a completely new order of impulses that do not exist in other animals. The foremost of man’s impulses is to know, and this coincides with his capacity for knowledge of a different order than the knowledge possessed by animals: only man can foresee death and understand immortality as an alternative; only man asks ‘why’ about his existence, and seeks to understand not only his life but the ultimate meaning of creation. If we give human nature its due respect–which we happily show to other creatures, not writing off their impulses as nonsensical, misdirected, contrived, or meaningless–then we should admit that this impulse to know the why and the meaning of things implies that there are answers and that these answers satisfy the impulse that seeks them. ‘To know’ things, to think about what matters and what matters absolutely and finally about the Absolute Itself, is the unique vocation of man; to be man is to know the Absolute. This summarizes the anthropology of Traditional world.
Human intelligence is distinguished from animal intelligence in that man is alone is capable of ‘objectivity,’ or what we could call ‘self-reflection,’ and this remains true even if man does not often employ or develop this power. That man is capable of objectivity and of conceiving the absolute, we can say that his intelligence is ‘total,’ hence the saying that man is the measure of everything and the insistence on the part of Tradition of placing man at the peak and center of Creation.