Friday, November 25, 2016

Quoting Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1964
In analyzing the modern failure in each of these areas of thought [rationalism and naturalism] we have suggested that the difficulty arises from the lack of a principle of interpretation which can do justice to both the height of human self- transcendence in the organic unity between the spirit of man and his physical life. The modern mind interprets man as either essentially reason, without being able to do justice to his non-rational vitalities, or as essentially vitality without appreciating the extent of his rational freedom. Its metaphysics fails to comprehend the unity of mind and nature, of freedom and necessity, in the actual life of man. In similar fashion it dissipates the sense of individuality, upon which it insists with so much vehemence in the early Renaissance, because it cannot find a foundation in either nature, historical social structure, or universal mind for this individuality. It lacks an anchor or norm for the free individual who transcends both the limitations of nature and the various social concretions of history. It’s inability to estimate the evil in man realistically is partly due to the failure of modern culture to see man stature of self-transcendence. 
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, Vol. 1:  Human Nature, 123-124

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