“He who never changes his mind is either the greatest of the wise or the most foolish of the fools”.
It is in this indecisiveness, stuck in the middle, that the tragedy of the modern world is consummated. In that limbo occupied by the bourgeois mediocrity of the industrial and post-industrial spirit, in the relativistic culture of the provisional that has its roots in the capitalist pragmatism and Protestant ethics of the Old and New Worlds.
It’s easy to speak of the foolish and the ignorant. The world is full of them, folk who do not always accept responsibility or limits. Operating with a kind of predestination in the best case, swimming in a filthy cesspool that dishonours the human race in the worst and (alas) most common case. Oh pietas! Oh caritas!
On the other hand there have always been great sages. They have constellated like golden flowers the course of Western civilization, from Plato to Descartes, from Galileo to Einstein.
Often on the payroll of politics, science and technology – they have drawn freely from their insights – rather than serving individual and collective ethics. These sages were inspired by the principle of truth, superior to any contingency. They dedicated their whole cognitive momentum and all their logical and speculative energy to it – bright beacons
in the stormy sea of Western thought.
This esprit de vérité then left our land. We have cheated, we are no longer faithful. Or merely just don’t care anymore. It has been substituted for by the principle of utility which has gradually strengthened thanks to a growing and sinister materialism. A marriage to the pleasure principle soon followed.
What matters today, on the desks of new start-ups as in the days of the Pilgrim Fathers is worldly success. In this world. Which perversely, seemed to be a good omen for the other world (the infamous confirmation principle which was once by divine grace, today simply means wealth).
Tell me who today – and I restrict myself to the professional sphere – in the public administration or the medical and judicial spheres (the so-called ethical professions who have a special significance for community well-being), doesn’t make personal interest the first principle of their work – whether just to gain time, pleasure, or more commonly money. Who still puts the spirit of truth before the spirit of personal gain?
We have reached that wasteland already… “Those who will be saved will be those who do not want to do anything and cannot do anything.” The best, by that time, will have already left these shores.
Recommended listening: “Franco Battiato” The Tower
Lo Spirito di Verità | Valley Life Magazine
“Chi non cambia mai idea o è il più grande dei saggi o il più sciocco degli stolti”, Confucio.