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That Duality Cripples the Soul of Our Being

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It was in the Hall of Sovereigns in the same palace which the Acting Head of the Human Race, and the Family had occupied, for many centuries. It is still the most gorgeous—and I think the most beautiful, too—in the Empire. Its gilded masses cover miles of space, and blaze like the fallen sun. Its interior parks and gardens and forests stretch away into the mellow distances, an apparently limitless paradise. A hundred thousand persons, not counting the brigades and divisions of Household Troops, server the Parents and certain Eden-born families of their immediate descendants in this place. Yet the palace takes up no inordinate room in this grand capital, whose population almost defies figures, and which contains many streets that are upward of two hundred miles long without a break. Agriculture, the indispensable basis of civilization, was originally encountered as time, language, number and art emerged. As the materialization of alienation, agriculture is the triumph of estrangement and the definite divide between culture and nature and humans from each other. Agriculture is the birth of production, complete and with its essential features and deformation of life and consciousness. The land itself becomes an instrument of production and the planet’s species its objects. Wild or tame, weeds or crops speak of that duality that cripples the soul of our being, ushering in, relatively quickly, the despotism, war and impoverishment of high civilization over the great length of that earlier oneness with nature. The forced march of civilization, which Adorno recognized in the “assumptions of an irrational catastrophe at the beginning of history,” which Freud felt as “something imposed on a resisting majority,” of which Stanley Diamond found only “conscripts not volunteers,” was dictated by agriculture And Mircea Eliade was correct to assess its coming as having “provoked upheavals and spiritual breakdowns” whose magnitude the modern times cannot imagine. #RandolphHarris 1 of 20

“To level off, to standardize the human landscape, to efface its irregularities and banish its surprises,” these words of E.M. Cioran apply perfectly to the logic of agriculture, is not inherent in social reality but an imposition on it. The dimension of time or history is a function of repression, whose foundation is production or agriculture. Hunter-gatherer life was anti-time in its simultaneous and spontaneous openness; farming life generates a sense of time by its successive-task narrowness, its directed routine. As the variety of Paleolithic living gave way to the literal enclosure of agriculture, time assumed power and came to take on the character of an enclosed space. Formalized temporal reference points—ceremonies with fixed dates, the naming of day, etcetera—are crucial to the ordering of the World of production; as a schedule of production; the calendar is integral in civilization. Farming has been around for possibly millions of years. Maybe even since the time of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, and it has done more to shape history and society than almost any other activity. Nonetheless, within the lifetimes of most people now alive and possibly within the next two decades, agriculture as we know it will cease to be. This is a transformation that is creeping up on people and will take many by surprise, and we should not welcome it. Not only would industrial society be impossible without time schedules, the end of agriculture (basis of all production) would be the end of historical time. Representation begins with language, a means of reining in desire. By displacing autonomous images with verbal symbols, life is reduced and brought under strict control; all direct, unmediated experience is subsumed by that supreme mode of symbolic expression, language. Language cuts up and organizes reality, and this segmentation of nature, an aspect of grammar, set the stage for agriculture. #RandolphHarris 2 of 20

The new linguistic mentality led very directly to agriculture. Unquestionably, the crystallization of language into writing, called forth mainly by the need for record-keeping of agricultural transactions, is the signal that civilization has begun. In the non-commodified, egalitarian hunter-gatherer ethos, the basis of which (as has so often been remarked) was sharing, number was not wanted. There was no round for the urge to quantify, no reason to divine what was whole. Not until the domestication of animals and plants did this cultural concept fully emerge. Two of number’s seminal figures testify clearly to its alliance with separateness and property: Pythagoras, center of a highly influential religious cult of number, and Euclid, father of mathematics and science, whose geometry originated to measure fields for reasons of ownership, taxation and slave labor. One of civilization’s early forms, chiefdomship, entails a linear rank order in which each member is assigned an exact numerical place. Soon, following the antinatural linearity of plow culture, the inflexible 90-degree gridiron plan of even earliest cities appeared. Their insistent regularity constitutes in itself a repressive ideology. Culture, now numberized, becomes more firmly bounded and lifeless. Art, too, in its relationship to agriculture, highlights both institutions. It begins as a means to interpret and subdue reality, to rationalize nature, and conforms to the great turning point which is agriculture in its basic features. The pre-Neolithic cave paintings, for example, are vivid and bold, a dynamic exaltation of animal grace and freedom. The Neolithic art of farmers and pastoralists, however, stiffens into stylized forms; this pottery is typified as a narrow, timid botching of material forms. #RandolphHarris 3 of 20

With agriculture, art lost its variety and became standardized into geometrical designs that tended to degenerate into dull, repetitive patterns, a perfect reflection of standardizes, confined, rule-patterned life. And where there had been n representation in Paleolithic art of men killing men, an obsession with depicting confrontation between people advanced with the Neolithic period, scenes of battles becoming common. Time, language, number, art and all the rest of culture, which predates and leads to agriculture, rests on symbolization. Just as autonomy preceded domestication and self-domestication, the rational and the social precede the symbolic. Food production, it is eternally and gratefully acknowledged, permitted the culture potentiality of the human species to develop. However, what is this tendency toward the symbolic, toward the elaboration and imposition of arbitrary forms? It is a growing capacity for objectification, by which what is living becomes reified, thing-like. Symbols are more than basic units of culture; they are screening devices to distance us from our experiences. They classify and reduce to do away with the otherwise almost intolerable burden of relating one experience to another. Thus culture is governed by the imperative of reforming and subordinating nature. The artificial environment which is agriculture accomplished this pivotal mediation, with the symbolism of objects manipulated in the construction of relations of dominance. For it is not only external nature that is subjugated: the face-to-face quality of pre-agricultural life itself severely limited domination, while culture extends and legitimates it. #RandolphHarris 4 of 20

It is like that already during the Paleolithic era certain forms or names were attached to objects or ideas, in a symbolizing manner but in a shifting, impermanent, perhaps playful sense. The will to sameness and security found in agriculture means that symbols became as static and constant as farming life. Regularization, rule patterning, and technological differentiation, under the sign of division of labor, interact to ground and advance symbolization. Agriculture completes the symbolic shift and the virus of alienation has overcome authentic, free life. It is the victory of cultural control; the amount of work per capita increases with the evolution of culture and the amount of leisure per capita decreases. Today, the few surviving hunter-gatherers occupy the least economically interesting areas of the World, where agriculture has not penetrated, such as the shows of the Inuit or desert of the Australian aborigines. And yet the refusal of farming drudgery, even in adverse settings, bear its own rewards The Hazda of Tanzania, Filipino Tasaday, !Kung of Botswana, or the Kahlahari Desert !Kung San—are seen as easily surviving a serious, several years’ drought while neighboring famers starved—also testify to the fact that no group on earth has more leisure time than hunters and gatherers, who send it primarily of games, conversation and relaxing. Service rightly attributed this condition to the very simplicity of technology and lack of control over the environment of such groups. And yet simple Paleolithic methods were, in their own way, “advanced.” Consider a basic cooking technique like steaming foods by heating stones in a covered pit; this is immemorially older than any pottery, kettles or baskets (in fact, is anti-container in its non-surplus, no-exchange orientation) and is the most nutritionally sound way to cook, far healthier than boiling food in water, for example. Or consider the fashioning of such stone tools as the long and exceptionally thin “laurel leaf” knives, delicately chipped but strong, which modern industrial techniques cannot duplicate. #RandolphHarris 5 of 20

The hunting and gathering lifestyle represents the most successful and enduring adaptation ever achieved by humankind. In occasional pre-agriculture phenomena like the intensive collection of food or the systematic hunting of a single species can be seen signs of impending breakdown of a pleasurable mode that remained so static for so long precisely because it was pleasurable. The “penury and day-long grind” of agriculture, is the vehicle of culture, “rational” only in its perpetual disequilibrium and its logical progression toward ever-greater destruction. Although the term hunter-gatherer should be reversed (and had been by not a few current anthropologists) because it is recognized that gathering constitutes by far the larger survival component, the nature of hunting provides salient contrast to domestication. The relationship of the hunter to the hunted animal, which is sovereign, free and even considered equal, is obviously qualitatively different from that of the farmer or herdsman to the enslaved chattels over which he rules absolutely. A machine, on the other hand, is outside of us, clearly created by us, modifiable by us, even discardable by us; it is easier to see how a machine re-creates the World in its own image. However, in many respects, a sentence functions very much like a machine, and this is nowhere more obvious than in the sentences we call questions. As an example of what I mean, let us take a “fill-in” question, which I shall require you to answer exactly if you wish full credit: Thomas Jefferson died in the year___. Supposed we now rephrase the question in multiple-choice form: Thomas Jefferson died in the year (a) 1788, (b) 1826, (c) 1926, (d) 1809. Which of these two questions is easier to answer? I assume you will agree with me that the second question is easier unless you happen to know precisely the year of Jefferson’s death, in which case neither question is difficult. #RandolphHarris 6 of 20

However, for most of us who know only roughly when Jefferson lived, Question Two has arranged matters so that our chances of “knowing” the answer are greatly increased. Students will always be “smarter” when answering a multiple-choice test than when answering a “fill-in” test, even when the subject matter is the same. A question, even of the simplest kind, is not and can never be unbiased. I am not, in this context, referring to the common accusation that a particular test is “culturally biased.” Of course questions can be culturally biased. (Why, for example, should anyone be asked about Thomas Jefferson at all, let alone when he died?) My purpose is to say that the structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as its content. The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, it may generate antithetical answers, as in the case of the two priests who, being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray at the same time, wrote to the Pope for a definitive answer. One priest phrased the question “Is it permissible to smoke while praying?” and was told it is not, since prayer should be the focus of one’s whole attention; the other priest asked if it is permissible to pray while smoking and was told that it is, since it is always appropriate to pray. The form of a question may even block us from seeing solutions to problems that become visible through a different question. Consider the following story, whose authenticity is questionable but not, I think, its point: Once upon a time, in a village in what is now Lithuania, there arose an unusual problem. A curious disease afflicted many of the townspeople. It was mostly fatal (though not always), and its onset was signaled by the victim’s lapsing into a deathlike coma. #RandolphHarris 7 of 20

If the victim was actually dead when burial appeared seemly, medical science not being quite so advanced as it is now, there was no definite way of knowing. As a result, the townspeople feared that several of their relatives had already been buried alive and that a similar fate might await them. How to overcome this uncertainty was their dilemma. One group of people suggested that the coffins be well stocked with water and food and that a small air vent be drilled into them, just in case one of the “dead” happened to be alive. This was expensive to do but seemed more than worth the trouble. A second group, however, came up with a less expensive and more efficient idea. Each coffin would have a twelve-inch stake affixed to the inside of the coffin lid, exactly at the level of the heart. Then, when the coffin was closed, all uncertainty would cease. The story does not indicate which solution was chosen, but for my purpose the choice is irrelevant. What is important to note is that different solutions were generated by different questions. The first solution was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that we do not bury people who are still alive? The second was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that everyone we bury is dead? Questions, then, are like computers or television or stethoscopes or lie detectors, in that they re mechanisms that give direction to our thoughts, generate new ideas, venerate old ones, expose facts, or hide them. Aside from language itself, I do not suppose there is a clearer example of a technology that does not look like one than the mathematical sign known as zero. A brief word about it may help to illuminate later examples. The zero made its way from India to Europe in the tenth century. By the thirteenth century, it had taken hold of Western consciousness. (It was unknown to the Romans and the classical Greeks, although analogous concepts were known to Babylonian mathematicians of the Hellenistic period.) #RandolphHarris 8 of 20

Without the zero, you will find it difficult to perform any of the calculations that are quite simple to do with it. If you should try multiplying MMMMMM by MMDCXXVI, you will have this point confirmed. I have been told, by the way, that such a calculation can be done, but the process is so laborious that the task is unlikely to be completed, a truth that did not escape the notice of medieval mathematicians. There is, in fact, no evidence that Roman numerals were ever used, or intended to be used, for calculation. For that purpose, mathematicians used an abacus, and between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, a struggle of sorts took place between abacists, who wrote Roman numerals but calculated with the abacists, and algorists, who used Hindu numerals employing the zeros sign. The objection raised by the abacists was that the zero registered the absence of a power of ten, which no Roman numeral did, and which struck them as philosophically and perhaps aesthetically offensive. After all, the zero is a sign that affects values of numerals wherever it occurs but has no values in itself. It is a sign about signs, whose very etymology, via “cipher” from the Hindu word for “void,” suggests the idea of “nothingness.” To the abacists, it was a bizarre idea to have a sign marking “nothing,” and I fear that I would have sided with the abacists. I speak of the zero for two reasons: First, to underscore that it is a kind of technology that makes both possible and easy certain kinds of thoughts which, without it, would remain inaccessible to the average person. If it does not exactly have an ideology, it contains, at least an idea. I have previously alluded to the technology of using letters or numbers to grade students’ papers, and to the Greek discovery of the technology of alphabetization: like the use of zero, these are examples of how symbols may function like machines in creating new mind-sets and therefore new conceptions of reality. #RandolphHarris 9 of 20

Second, the use of the zero and, of course, the Hindu numbering system of which it was a part made possible a sophisticated mathematics which, in turn, led to one of the most powerful technologies now in use: Statistics. We will talk more about statistics later. The word manufacturing comes from the Latin manufactus, meaning “handmade.” Today, the term brings to mind huge, noisy machines stamping out products and spewing waste. Giving up manufactured products is not popular or practical—almost everything we used today is manufactured. If all machine-made products were to suddenly vanish, most people in the United States of America would find themselves naked and outdoors, with very little around them. Expanding manufacturing is an object of nearly every nation on Earth. We cannot give up manufacturing, but we can replace today’s technologies with something radically different. Molecular manufacturing can help us get what we seem to want: high-quality products made at low costs with little environmental impact. Making the needed technology happen is the easy part. Far more complicated and difficult is overcome the list of non-technological obstacles. The first is heavy-handed tradition—and the powerful feedback loop that maintains it. In traditional less affluent communities, for decades or even centuries, each generation has lived much as its distant ancestors did. The governing assumption is that the future will replicate the past. This implies that what worked best in the past will continue to work best in the future. And, since life is lived close to the margin of survival, the less affluent around the World have plenty of cause to be rationally risk-averse. Their very resistance to the new, however, slows the rate of change, further reinforcing the anachronistic conviction that the future will resemble the past. #RandolphHarris 10 of 20

A second obstacle is education—and its absence. Everyone, of course, is in favor of education. Except. Except the unwise parents who, to keep the family from starving, need their children to slave in the field, to care for younger kids or to bed at the roadside. Except all those who think women should be kept ignorant and obedient. Except governments with other priorities. In villages across the World, the family is often the de facto school, passing down yesterday’s suspicion of the new, further reinforced in some places by religious instruction. Where state schools do exist, teachers are underpaid and undereducated themselves. Schools frequently lack even pencils and paper. Critics attack this global disgrace. However, the alternatively typically offered resembles the factory-style education systems found in industrial societies. Classrooms. Desks. Age-segregated classes. Rote work. Standardized test. Enforced punctuality. Uniformity in the name of democracy. A system, in short, that promotes what employers used to call “industrial discipline.” Can this ever be successfully replicated in every village? Should it? Mass education designed for the industrial age meets the needs of neither the pre-industrial village nor the post-industrial future. Rural education—indeed, all education—has to be totally reconceptualized. Today technology offers educators a tool for customizing education to the diverse cultures and needs of small groups and even individuals. We are approaching a time when we will be able—inexpensively—to put in every village some kind of computer connected in some way to the outside World. A time when children, given the chance, can, as we saw in India, teach themselves to access the Internet. A time when multiplayer games can educate. A time when local teachers can advance their own learning through distant online mentors. A time of “reverse home schooling,” when children tech their parents—and help reduce the parents’ suspicion of the new. #RandolphHarris 11 of 20

Here, too, technology alone offers no remedy for unwiseness. Political, economic and social forces must be mobilized to educate the coming generation. Yet another critical obstacle is the paucity of energy in rural areas. Unless the less affluent of the World gain access to sources of energy more powerful than their own muscles and those of their farm animals, they will remain forever trapped in destitution. In a World where 1.8 billion people still lack electricity, it is impractical, in the face of massive poverty and today’s realities, to dogmatically oppose any and every extension of coal, gas, and even nuclear power, despite their well-know dangers and environmental costs. China’s twin-track development strategy, calling for the simultaneous development of its Second and Third Wave sectors, includes the planned construction of two new rectors a year for the next sixteen years. Its controversial Three Gorges Dam is the biggest in the World. Similarly, other governments around the globe, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, are also spending huge sums to bring electricity to their rural less affluent. However, as in education, these plans usually reflect the solutions of the industrial era—mass energy systems designed mainly to serve urban centers where factories and population are densely concentrated. The cost of applying the same solution to highly dispersed rural populations is enormous. According to a 2002 report by India’s planning commission, “Traditional grid connection would be uneconomical in villages…[At] the cost and pace at which rural electrification is taking place, it would be technically and financially impractical to expect the non-electrified villages to be covered even in two decades.” #RandolphHarris 12 of 20

By contrast, the report continues, “decentralizing power generation will be possible with renewable energy sources such as solar energy, biomass, small hydro power and wind energy.” Few planners take seriously into account the likelihood that, over the next generation or two, in energy as in so many other fields, convergences of old and new technologies will produce powerful hybrid results and completely new breakthroughs that will surprise us all. Bank of America (BofA) decided on a strategic expansion of its trust business. In 1982, BofA had assets of $122 billion, employed 82,000 people in more than 1,200 branches and offices from Sacramento to Singapore. Its trust department alone managed $38 billion in funds for some 800 large institutional investors and pension funds. Among its trust customers were the Walk Disney Company, AT&T, Kaiser Aluminum, and other industrial heavyweights. However, the bank had fallen behind technologically. At that point it decided to expand its beachhead in the trust business, in competition with Bankers Trust, State Street of Boston, and the other East Coast financial giants. BofA’s head of trust operations, Clyde R. Claus, realized he would need a state-of-the-art computer system. The old system, though recently given a botched $6 million face-lift, would be hopelessly inadequate. The day of proverbial “widows and orphans,” who went to the bank’s trust department, timidly asked the bank to invest their funds, and were satisfied with terse semiannual or annul reports—that day was long past. Trust customers now were far more sophisticated. Some had huge accounts. They wanted detailed information broken down every which way. The big ones had their own powerful computers, telecommunications nets, ad sophisticated financial analysis software, and they demanded complex up-to-the-instant data. #RandolphHarris 13 of 20

So Claus and BofA’s information systems group hired consultants and contractors to build the most advanced information system in the trust field. Some 3.5 million lines of programming code were written; and 13,000 hours of training were devoted to preparing employees to use the new information system. Despite this crash effort, the new system lagged behind its deadlines. Endless bugs plagued the project. Worse yet, the existing system was falling further and further behind, too. Customers were muttering. The pressures rose. In 1986 the trust department’s in-house newsletter, Turtle Talk, received an anonymous letter warning Claus not to implement the new system. It was, the letter writer claimed, not ready. If Claus thought so, it was because someone had “pulled the wool” over his eyes. However, Claus could not wait. Customers were already three months behind on their statements. Things had got so bad that BofA officials were paying out huge sums to customers on the “honor” system, because they could not locate the records needed to verify the amounts. Crisis followed crisis. Battle followed battle. Upheavals in the bank’s top management, sudden changes in policy, layoffs, staff relocations, all took a disastrous toll on the trust division. By 1988, having poured an estimated $80 million down the sump, the entire project collapsed. Bank of America backed ignominiously out of the trust business. The rout was complete. Heads rolled down the carpeted corridors in the months that followed Out went Claus. Out went several senior VPs. (Out, too, went 320 of the 400 employees of the main software and system design contractor.) Out went customers—taking with them about $4 billion worth of assets. Out went parts of the trust operation, one piece having previously been sold off to Wells Fargo, another turned over to State Street of Boston, one of the industry leaders that BofA had intended to challenge. #RandolphHarris 14 of 20

It was Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow all over again. Systems experts, whether called CIOs or directors of systems, are point men in the info-wars, vulnerable to bullets from any direction. A brief look at their rise, fall, and resurrection provides a keen insight into how power shifts as the control of information changes hands. Many Setians claim to have had an interest in the occult before finding their way to the temple, and quite a few are former “white lighter,” or wicca, devotees. Most come from a Christian background, and while some may have joined as a reaction against their upbringing, the sentiments and philosophy of the temple, while being un-Christian, do not appear to be virulently anti-Christian. For example, one former Jesuit found the Temple of Set after searching for a “civilized avenue for exploring the forbidden side of life.” He and his wife teach at a Catholic school, say they have no problem with their religious past, playing down their conversion to the Temple of Set as “just something bound to happen.” There are members of all ages, although the average racial and economic profile is firmly Caucasian, white-collar, and middle-class. Considering Aquino’s intellectual emphasis and his extensive required reading lists, it is not surprising that the educational level of the cult is fairly high. Typical occupations include college student, teacher, accountant, computer programmer, secretary. However, outside occupational status did not count for much within the group. This is because the members consider their mundane jobs a hindrance to their magical development, and because they often feel that the jobs they have are boring, unsatisfying, and economically unrewarding. The group’s emphasis is on magical over Worldly power found, enabled members to feel they were powerful beings, despite experiences outside the group which belied that. #RandolphHarris 15 of 20

Over and over again at meeting, one would hear [Setians] describe their everyday frustrations, which led them to want power—such as problems with jobs and relationships. Then, once they joined the group, they often used the practices they learned to counter these problems or vent their frustrations and anger. These practices in turn provided them with a socially channeled form to express these feelings. These truths were borne out, at least in part, by the evolution of the temple since its birth in 1975. At its zenith at the end of the 1970s, the cult had a membership of about one hundred, with pylons in Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York, and San Jose. However, by 1981 Aquin and his flock had begun to be plagued by the same problems that disrupted the Church of Satan. The same elitism that had attracted initiates in the first place led to frequent ego clashes as members competed for godlike status, resulting in increased dropouts and purges by the leadership. Aquino himself seems to have become disenchanted, retiring to the position of “GM Emeritus” and turning over the administrative duties of Dr. Steven Flowers, a Texas English professor. By 1987, Temple functions were strictly curtailed as the group experienced more defections and factionalizing, and in official missives, Aquino went so far as to express the view that perhaps the World was not ready for “Xepering.” Eventually, Aquino fell out with the San Francisco Police Department and sued the city of San Francisco for defamation of character, terming the entire affair a “modern witchhunt in the most classical sense.” Effort tends to live in the three Critiques, the last great statement of liberal Enlightenment, the other strand of rationalism that coexists in the universities with Baconian-Cartesian-Lockean rationalism. The primary effort is to set limits to pure reason, to say to “proud reason, ‘this far and no further,’” in such a way that reason will submit rationally. #RandolphHarris 16 of 20

Kant’s critical philosophy does not dictate to science what it must discover; it establishes the limits within which pure reason operates. It does the same for practical reason, thus turning David Hume’s distinction between the is and the ought from a humiliation for moral reasoning into the basis for its triumph and its dignity. It further establishes the faculty of judgment, which can again allow man to speak about ends of the beautiful. In this system not only does natural science have a secure place in the order of the university, but so also do moral and esthetics. However, the unity of the university is now Kant. These three kinds of knowledge (the true, the good, the beautiful in new guises) are given their domains by three Critiques, but are not unified by being knowledge of aspects of a single reality. Aristotle’s human sciences are part of the science of nature, and his knowledge of man is connected to and in harmony with this knowledge of the stars, bodies in motion and animals other than man. This is not the case with the human sciences after Rousseau, which depend on the existence of a realm entirely different from nature. Their study is not part of the study of nature, and the two kinds of study have little to do with one another. This new condition of the learned disciplines, which found its earliest expression in the German universities at the beginning of the nineteenth century and gradually spread throughout the Western universities, at fist proved very fertile. The progress of the natural sciences, now unimpeded by theological or political supervision and emancipated from philosophy, continued and became even more rapid. And the human sciences, given a fresh vocation, came to a new flowering, especially in historical and philological studies. #RandolphHarris 17 of 20

Man understood as a free, moral individual—as creative, as producer of cultures, as maker and product of history—provided a field for humane research taking man seriously as man, not reduced to the moved bodies that now constituted the realm of natural science. The serious goal that is necessary to make scholarship vital was provided by the sense that man could be understood by his historical origins; that moral and political standards could be derived from the historical traditions of the various nations, to replace the failed standards of natural right and law; that the study of high culture, particularly that of Greece, would provide the models for modern achievement; that a proper understanding of religion might provide a faith proof against critical reason. Scholars, for that moment, more than at any time since the Renaissance, seemed to be in the service of life, to be as useful as soldiers, doctors, and workers. The great movements of careful historical research and textual criticism initiated this heyday of the nineteenth century gave us nourishment which we have yet entirely to digest. The humanities took over the whole burden of instructing us about man, especially in morals and esthetics (the new science of the beautiful and the sublime). However, the very condition of this exhilaration in the human sciences—the dualism nature-freedom—created problems form the outset and in the long run undermined the confidences of their practitioners or turned them back into mere erudites again. There was a haunting doubt as to the reality of the realm of freedom, which seemed to restore the richness of the phenomenon man. What are the relations between the two realms? At what point doe the natural in man stop and the free being? It is really possible to limit the claims of natural science? #RandolphHarris 18 of 20

Within Kant’s system, if scientists can, as they claim, in the long run predict the behavior of all phenomena, can one plausibly postulate a noumenal freedom, the expression of which are predictable in the phenomenal field? Does not natura science presupposed mechanical causation, determinism and the reduction of all higher phenomena to lower ones, the complex to the simple, and do not the success of that science in astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology attest to the truth of its presuppositions? New discoveries or speculation such as evolution called into question that independent or nonderivative character of mind. The very faculty that made it possible to set the limits of science and reason in the Critique of Pure Reason proved to be just another accidental effect of evolving matter. The ground of morals and esthetics disappeared. Natural science continued to seem substantial, while romanticism and idealism inhabited imaginary cities, sublime hopes but little more. Pessimism as a philosophical school came onto the scene. Joined to the health and expansiveness of natural science was the recognition that humane learning had itself failed to generate moral and political standards. All the study of the facts of national history and the invention of “folk-minds” could not provide guidance for the future, or the imperatives for conduct. The learning was impressive, but it looked more and more to be the product of idle curiosity rather than the quest for knowledge of what is most needful. Philosophy, no longer a part of, or required by, natural science, was nudged over toward the humanities and even became just another historical subject. Its claim to be the ruler in the university no longer earned respect. There was a condominium with no higher unity. The humane learning could argue for equal rights and was to some extent formally accorded them, but that began to be “academic” and have little to do with the way things looked in the real World. The natural scientist was both the image of knower and the public benefactor; the humanist, a professor. #RandolphHarris 19 of 20

The problem of the knower in the perspective for the modern understanding was formulated over and over again from the beginning of the modern university dispensation by the man, not a member of the German university dispensation by the man, not a member of the German university, who, along with Kant, most influenced it—Goethe. A classic summation of his views is to be found in Faust, the only modern book that can be said to have made a national heroic model to rival those of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Shakespeare. The scholar Faust, meditating in his cell, translates the first line of the Gospel According to John, “In the beginning was the word (logos)”; then, dissatisfied with the description he says “the feeling,” which also does not quite do; finally and definitely he chooses to reinterpret it as “the deed.” Action has primacy over contemplation, deed over speech. He who understands must imitate the beginnings. The act of the creator, not preceded and controlled by thought, is the first thing. The scholar with his reason misunderstands the origin because he lacks the vital force that lies behind the order of things. He trifles, piling up facts from which the informing principle has been extracted. Faust’s relation to the perpetual studier Wagner, who says he already knows much but wants to know everything, is paradigmatic. Only knowledge that serves life is good, and life is in the first place constituted by dark action, by fatal impulse. Knowledge comes afterward and lightens the World made by the deed. As painted by Goethe, Wagner loos slight and feeble. His idle love of knowledge is superficial compared to Faust’s inchoate impulses. Although the opposition between the vita active and the vita contemplative is as old as philosophy, if not older, Goethe’s moment is the first where the side of action is taken by the theory itself, thus announcing the end of the ancient opposition. The theoretical life is groundless because the first thing is not the intelligible order but the chaos open to creativity. There can be no contemplation where there is nothing to see. #RandolphHarris 20 of 20


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