Some of us did not await the interest which has been aroused by the communist programme of socialist humanism to pose the problem that is inherent in the idea of humanism. Now this problem has become common talk and we may indeed be grateful for it, as matters of capital importance have been brought to the fore. Henceforward it will be impossible to speak as if the problem of Man would only begin to have significance after the collapse of the capitalist system.
But perhaps it has not been equally clearly seen that to adopt a definite position on this point of humanism is at once to raise many other problems.
Here, by way of introduction to the particular questions that are proposed in this book, I would like to draw attention to one of these problems. There is nothing man desires more than a heroic life: there is nothing less common to men than heroism. It is, it seems to me, a profound sense of this antinomy which gives at once its whole tragic and its whole spiritual force to the work of M. André Malraux. I imagine that this question of humanism, even in socialist terms, is not without its anxieties for M. Malraux.
Is it necessary to add that even to Aristotle it did not seem easy? To offer man, he pointed out, only what is human is to betray him and to wish him ill; for by the principal part of him which is the mind, man is called to something better than a purely human life. On this point (if not in their ways . . .