Deus Sive Natura

Whether an age or an individual will express itself in creative thinking or in repetitive pedantry is more a matter of desire than of intellectual power, and it is probably more the nature of their desires than of their capacities that will determine whether or not humanity will develop further. Now it would seem that the present time is a very critical one for the evolution of human desire. It is an age in which the nature of desire has been glimpsed at for the first time, and that glimpse enables us to see two very different possibilities. The intellectual life, both in its scientific and its æsthetic aspects, is seen no longer as the vocation of the rational mind, but as a compensation, as a perversion of more primitive, unsatisfied desires. Now the question arises is this perversion in the line of evolution, or is it a merely temporary, pathological process? If by a sounder psychology, a way of living more in accordance with nature, it should be found that the satisfaction of purely human – or, as we might almost say, purely mammalian – desires is capable of absorbing all the energy that suppression now forces into scientific or æsthetic channels, then the human race may well find itself statically employed in leading an idyllic, Melanesian existence of eating, drinking, friendliness, love-making, dancing and singing, and the golden age may settle permanently on the world. On the other hand it may that though the desire, the necessity to escape life on the paths of intellectual or æsthetic creation may be weakened by the application of an intelligent psychology, yet a corresponding freedom from the internal conflicts which now hinder both these forms of expression may more than compensate for what is lost, and we may find the capacity to live at the same time more fully human and fully intellectual lives (J.D. Bernal, The Word The Flesh The Devil)

Categories: Episteme, Spinoza

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