Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Soul of the Cultural Body

The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of individuals to preserve the autonomy and individuality of their existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life. The fight with nature which primitive humanity had to wage for its bodily existence attains in this modern form its latest transformation. The eighteenth century called upon humankind to free itself of all the historical bonds in the state and in religion, in morals and in economics. Human nature, originally good and common to all, should develop unhampered. In addition to more liberty, the nineteenth century demanded the functional specialization of humans and their work; this specialization makes one individual incomparable to another, and each of them indispensable to the highest possible extent. However, this specialization makes each person more directly dependent upon the supplementary activities of all others. Nietzsche sees the full development of the individual conditioned by the most ruthless struggle of individuals; socialism believes in the suppression of all competition for the same reason. Be that as it may, in all these positions the same basic motive is at work: the person resists being leveled down and worn out by a social technological mechanism. An inquiry into the inner meaning of specifically modern life and its products, into the soul of the cultural body, so to speak, must seek to solve the equation which structures like the metropolis set up between the individual and the super-individual contents of life. Such an inquiry must answer the question of how the personality accommodates itself in the adjustments to external forces.

George Simmel (born March 1, 1858)

A Still More Perfect Day

When the Roman went into the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple, he found there no image of deity, and to him the shrine was empty. And yet that shrine was the symbol of a nobler God than any of which the Pantheon could boast. And there are some who scorn our spiritual faith which hesitates to speak God's name or express His nature in a form of words. But to us, on whom has dawned the vision of boundless realms of progress and the ideal of unattained perfection, God is the divine Presence which besets behind and before, the Life of our lives and the Soul of our souls; and Immortality gathers up into one conception the intimations and hopes of a glory yet to be revealed, of vistas of future beauty and harmony for which we strive, seeking after every deepening twilight for a still more perfect day.

Frank Walters (1845-1908)

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