Excerpts from the book: “The Measure of Man” by Joseph Wood Krutch

“There is, to be sure, one answer to the question: (“What has made man less fitting to survive now than he was in 5000 BC”) familiar in one form or another. Reduced to its simplest terms, that answer is this: man’s ingenuity has outrun his intelligence. He was good enough to survive in a simple, sparsely populated world, where he was neither powerful enough nor in sufficiently close contact with his neighbors to do them or himself fatal harm. He is not good enough to manage the more complicated and closely integrated world which he is, for the first time, powerful enough to destroy. …The complexities of an industrial society make men more dependent on one another than they used to be, and the whole machinery of government is harder to handle. Wisdom and good will have either not increased at all, or in any event, have not kept pace with the necessity for them”

“Perhaps, indeed, we would not so readily have accepted the role of victim had it not been for the absolution which was offered in exchange for our surrender of importance and dignity. If there is a sense in which our teachers tell us that we cannot possibly succeed because, at best, we are only the luck product of natural selection, fortunate infantile experiences, or a favored position in the social system, so , in the same sense, we cannot ourselves be failures.

We may shift the blame for all that we have done or left undone upon the unfavorable environment, sociological or psychological, to which we were exposed. If there is some uneasy sense that our own shortcomings do really exist, we make even of them a sort of virtue when we permit them to function as the driving force behind a criticism of our social class, our nation, or the world at large upon which we thus unload any residual sense of personal responsibility:”

“But our difficulty in believing that is only the difficulty of believing something quantitatively outside our experience rather than contrary to it. . The fact remains that the more different levels of belief on which the mind is compelled to operate and the less clear the distinctions between them, the more difficult it becomes for us to really “know something”

From: “The Tragic Fallacy” by J.W. Krutch

“Like the belief in love and like most of the other mighty illusions by means of which human life has been give a value, the Tragic Fallacy depends ultimately upon the assumption which man so readily makes that something outside his own being, some “spirit not himself”: – be it God, Nature, or that still vaguer thing called the ┬áMoral Order – joins him in the emphasis which he places upon this or that and confirms him in his feeling that his passions and his opinions are important. When his instinctive faith in the correspondence between the outer and inner world fade, his grip upon the faith that sustained him fades also, and Love Or Tragedy or what not ceases to be the reality which it was because he is never strong enough in his own insignificant self to stand alone in a universe which snubs him with its indifference.”

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