Sunday, January 13, 2008

The strain of civilization

A mate just sent me this quote from Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies.

...that great spiritual revolution, the invention of critical discussion, and, in consequence, of thought that was free from magical obsessions. At the same time we find the first symptoms of a new uneasiness. The strain of civilization was beginning to be felt.

This strain, this uneasiness, is a consequence of the breakdown of the closed society. It is still felt even in our day, especially in times of social change. It is the strain created by the effort which life in an open and partially abstract society continually demands from us - by the endeavour to be rational, to forgo at least some of our emotional social needs, to look after ourselves, and to accept responsibilities. We must, I believe, bear this strain as the price to be paid for every increase in knowledge, in reasonableness, in co-operation and in mutual help, and consequently in our chances of survival, and in the size of the population. It is the price we have to pay for being human.

3 comments:

Riri said...

Well am glad somebody else is feeling uneasy! Loads of us down here are experiencing uneasiness as well but for reasons which are diametrically opposed to those you cite.

And yes you are right, uneasiness caused by diametrically opposed reasons is typically human.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Forgoing all emotional needs and accepting responsibilities looks like a price to pay for being a zombie!

It is interesting to note that most animals -except primates to a degree -posess neither cold logic of benefita and gain, nor are swept by emotions - or posess them in rudimentary yet undeveloped fashion. Which goes to show that both of them are Human characteristics. They are with us, unless we change ourselves into something we were not before.

NoolaBeulah said...

Hazar, he said "forgo at least some of our emotional social needs", not all f them. I would guess what he had in mind was some of the group loyalties that can break up a system and some of the benefits of tradition. But I'm only guessing. I haven't read the book.