Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Itch for the Absolute

Maybe, when I die, someone could read the last minute or so of this.

We have to close the distance between pushing buttons and affecting Gaia. We have to touch people.

/kisses Bronowski's forelock


Teacats said...

I remember when this series debuted on television -- and I watched each and every episode with my parents -- and they gave me the accompanying book for the next Christmas. Brillant on so many levels! We were living in England -- and bought the book from the wonderful bookstore in nearby Eton.

Makarios said...

"Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible. . . . We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act."

Bronowski nails it, of course. One of the hallmarks of mental, emotional, and spiritual health is the capacity for intelligent self-criticism. A person who is incapable of this--who is always right and never wrong--is deluded at best, psychopathic at worst, and potentially dangerous to hirself and those around hir. An organization, religion, society, or country that is incapable of self-criticism--that "knows," infallibly, what is good for itself and for others--has set itself on the road that leads to the dungeons of the Inquisition, to the Gulag labour camps of the Soviets, and to the gates of Auschwitz.

The United States flirted with this type of attitude during the Red Scare of the post-WWII period, and came close to it under Bush II. I well remember, during the Vietnam era, the bumper stickers that read, "America--Love It or Leave It." It was hubris, of course, which is always marked by a certain detachment from reality that is characteristic of psychosis; and an organization, religion, society, or country that is both psychotic and powerful can be very dangerous indeed.