Friday, March 27, 2015

The Modern Regime

Hippolyte Taine

During the past three hundred years we have more and more lost sight of the exact and direct meaning of things. Subject to the constraints of a conservative, complex, and extended educational system we study

* the symbols of objects rather than on the objects themselves;
* instead of the ground itself, a map of it;
* instead of animals struggling for existence, nomenclatures and classifications, or, at best, stuffed specimens displayed in a museum;
* instead of persons who feel and act, statistics, codes, histories, literatures, and philosophies; in short, printed words. Even worse, abstract terms, which from century to century have become more abstract and therefore further removed from experience, more difficult to understand, less adaptable and more deceptive, especially in all that relates to human life and society.

Here, due to the growth of government, to the multiplication of services, to the entanglement of interests, the object, indefinitely enlarged and complex, now eludes our grasp. Our vague, incomplete, incorrect idea of it badly corresponds with it, or does not correspond at all. 

Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1893)


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Paddington said...

And we increasingly delude ourselves that money is of value in and of iteself, rather than a representation of labour and goods.

Sackerson said...

Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - it's conditioning, yet most of us don't have much to fall back on if the system begins to fail.

Sackers - it's a strange and misleading thing, language. An aunt of mine had some kind of distant connection with Dylan Thomas. She said he was a horrible man.