The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and in Peoples

By Miguel De Unamuno; J. E. Crawford Flitch | Go to book overview

IX
THE PRACTICAL PROBLEM

L'homme est périssable. Il se peut; mais périssons en résistant, et, si le néant nous est reservé, ne faisons pas que ce soit une justice.-- SÉNANCOUR: Obermann, lettre xc.

SEVERAL times in the devious course of these essays I have defined, in spite of my horror of definitions, my own position with regard to the problem that I have been examining; but I know there will always be some dissatisfied reader, educated in some dogmatism or other, who will say: "This man comes to no conclusion, he vacillates--now he seems to affirm one thing and then its contrary--he is full of contradictions--I can't label him. What is he?" Just this--one who affirms contraries, a man of contradiction and strife, as Jeremiah said of himself; one who says one thing with his heart and the contrary with his head, and for whom this conflict is the very stuff of life. And that is as clear as the water that flows from the melted snow upon the mountain tops.

I shall be told that this is an untenable position, that a foundation must be laid upon which to build our action and our works, that it is impossible to live by contradictions, that unity and clarity are essential conditions of life and thought, and that it is necessary to unify thought. And this leaves us as we were before. For it is precisely this inner contradiction that unifies my life and gives it its practical purpose.

Or rather it is the conflict itself, it is this self-same passionate uncertainty, that unifies my action and makes me live and work.

-260-

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