The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of the Individual

The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of the Individual

The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of the Individual

The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of the Individual

Excerpt

Today we are witnessing and are deeply involved in a huge process of human transformation, a process which goes on silently, anonymously, in the most varied places and spheres of our world. This transformation seems to tend toward some formation beyond the individual. However, it manifests itself in diverse processes of disruption or invalidation of the individual.

The subject of this book is the situation of the individual in our present world. Its aim is to show the various evolutionary forces which have converged from different directions to effect his disintegration.

The individual as such is no end in himself and is not even an indisputable value. The identification of humanity and individuality is by no means a matter of course. If one believes, for instance, as a powerful group of medieval schoolmen did, in the reality of "universals," of general entities not recognizable by mere sensory perception, then the human qualities would be immediately inherent in the genus humanum as such, irrespective and independent of their expression in individuals. The great peoples of the East, to give another example, have undergone a process of individuation similar to that of the Western world and have, at the peak of their civilization, fostered, in their different ways, the same commonly human values, but they never came to set such store by the individual as the West.

Yet, although man and individual are not necessarily identical, man's fate has been closely linked with the fate of the individual. Following the trend of our Western history, the most precious, the essentially human qualities in man-self-determination and . . .

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