Twenty-four centuries after his death, the words of Socrates can still unsettle an attentive listener. However, before we can understand his most famous dictum, we must clear away who we are not to grasp who we are—something only done when we are grounded in the fundamental relationships that are universal to humankind.

Probably, the most quoted sentence by any philosopher was spoken by Socrates in his defense against the charges of “corrupting the minds of the young and of believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state;”[1] charges he was found guilty of and sentenced to death. He claimed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”[2] Eva Brann, classics scholar and recipient of the National Humanities Medal, points out that this usual translation lacks the power to shake a person to the roots of his or her being. According to her, the Greek is more accurately rendered as “The unexamined life is not livable,” or better yet, “is not lived.”[3]

To understand the arresting phrase “a life not lived,” imagine a number of animals queued up for scrutiny, much like in a detective movie. In our animal line-up, we have an anteater, a zebra, a rhino, an astronaut, a stock broker, and a sumo wrestler.

Nature furnishes the anteater, the zebra, and the rhino with a fixed occupation, a fitting dress, and an appropriate emotional profile, respectively. The long, tapered snout of the anteater is its tool for carrying out its line of work, eating ants and grubs. No two zebras have identical stripes. A baby zebra identifies its mother by her stripes. Lions and other animals that prey on zebras are confused by the flashing stripes displayed by a running zebra herd. The dress of the zebra fits its way of life. An adult male rhino, in mating season, marks out territory with its urine. A rhino occupies the center of its territory and aggressively chases away any male rhino that challenges it; however, a male rhino must leave its territory for water, and then out of necessity it crosses the territories of other adult males. When a rhino intrudes into another rhino’s territory for water, it becomes submissive. The farther a rhino strays from the center of its territory the more submissive it becomes. Thus, the aggression of the rhino is perfectly regulated by nature.

Nature gives to an anteater, a zebra, and a rhino an entire life; not one of these animals chooses a life, but merely carries out the anatomy, emotions, and instincts given at birth.

In our strange collection of animals, Homo sapiens is the strangest of all, the most mysterious living creature. Nature gives human beings no specific way of life—no fixed occupation, no fitting dress, and no appropriate emotional profile. It is as if nature grew tired when she fashioned Homo sapiens and left this one species unfinished.

We are finished by culture, not nature; a truth most Americans reject as crazy, for we “know” that each one of us has freely chosen our own way of life; I know I did for years, for I was blind to the social, emotional, and intellectual habits instilled in me by American culture. I was the poster boy for the isolated, autonomous individual, shut up in the solitude of his own heart.[4]

We Are All Cartesians

As a young theoretical physicist, I drifted along, somnolent, certain that I had completely determined my own way of living. Then, in my early thirties, while a tutor at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, I read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville; I was stunned to discover that my firm conviction that I had freely chosen my own way of thinking was nonsense and that my inherited understanding that “all of us human beings and all the objects with which we deal are essentially bundles of simple quarks and electrons” was not just wrong, but goofy.[5]

Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, toured America for eighteen months, beginning in May 1831, and noted, “Less attention, I suppose, is paid to philosophy in the United States than in any other country in the civilized world.”[6] Even today, many, if not most Americans, find philosophy a bore and totally irrelevant to their lives; I know that for years I did. Yet, Tocqueville observed that “of all countries in the world, America is the one in which the precepts of Descartes are least studied and best followed.”[7] What a paradox!

Tocqueville contended that “Americans have needed no books to teach them [Descartes’] philosophic method, having found it in themselves.”[8] Social equality produces a disposition not to trust the authority of any person, and hence, “there is a general distaste for accepting any man’s word as proof of anything.”[9] As a result, “in most mental operations each American relies on individual effort and judgment.”[10] Just like Descartes, Americans employ the philosophical method “to seek by themselves and in themselves for the only reason for things.”[11]

Tocqueville could have been sitting directly across from me, each of us with a snifter of calvados, for he accurately described the way I encountered the world. Like all Americans, culture instilled in me a disposition to rebel against all authority. I have yet to meet an American—rich or poor, white or black, old or young—who does not smart under the thumb of another. I thought of myself as King of the Castle, deciding what is true and false, what is morally good and bad, what is beautiful and ugly. Pure democratic hubris!

Before Descartes, no philosopher considered himself as an individual unit separate from community and tradition. In Medieval Europe, an “aristocracy link[ed] everybody, from the peasant to the king, in one long chain;” for modern democracy to emerge, those links had to be broken.[12] Consequently, I, like all moderns, could not base my beliefs on tradition, custom, or class. By the sixth grade, I did not understand myself in terms of either family or nature; my Romanian heritage meant nothing in America, and although I spent my boyhood summers playing in rural Michigan, I never received any instruction at home or in school about my connection to nature. I understood myself as an isolated, autonomous individual. My constant reference point, then, was always myself. As a result, I formed the habit of always thinking of myself in isolation from other persons, and this habit carried over when I thought about things. In this way, I acquired the culturally-given habit of thinking: To understand something isolate it, so it exists apart from all relations.[13]

Hence, I believed that every part can be separated from the whole and that the whole can be understood as simply a collection of parts. With such a habit of mind, I attempted to understand every whole solely in terms of its parts. But the smallest parts of anything are material. Therefore, the culturally-given habit of thinking the whole is a collection of parts made me a firm believer in materialism—at that time, I could not think any other way, and I was not alone.

At the core of science is an unquestionable, sacred idea succinctly articulated by biologist H. Allen Orr: “The universe, including our own existence, can be explained by the interactions of little bits of matter,”[14] a concrete representation of the philosophy of materialism, which holds that every object as well as every act in the universe is matter, an aspect of matter, or produced by matter. Although Dr. Orr acknowledges that “how such mere objects [as a brain and its neurons] can give rise to the eerily different phenomenon of subjective experience seems utterly incomprehensible,”[15] he believes matter gives rise to mind but scientists will never know how, a belief that violates the central tenet of modern science—a theory in some way must be open to experimental refutation—and in this way, scientific materialism is an irrational ideology, inculcated by culture.[16]

When I was a young theoretical physicist, I would have staked my life on the proposition that matter is the ultimate reality. The future philosophers and aspiring poets I knew in graduate school often asked me over beer and pizza about the fundamental elements of reality. With no hesitancy, I could not help but say, “atoms, genes, individuals, competition, and warfare,” and, yet, believed I was thinking, not mindlessly repeating what had been programmed into me, and my philosopher and poet friends did not strenuously disagree. I now know that virtually every American forms the intellectual habit of looking to the part, not to the whole, and thus is at heart a Cartesian reductionist. Such an intellectual habit, of course, does not determine us to be a physicist, philosopher, or poet.

Tocqueville captured in one word the essence of Modernity. He was the first person to use the word “individualism” and reports “that word ‘individualism,’ which we coined for our own requirements, was unknown to our ancestors, for the good reason that in their days every individual necessarily belonged to a group and no one could regard himself as an isolated unit.”[17] The Latin word “indīviduum,” the root of the English word “individual,” means an indivisible whole existing as a separate entity. Stated in its most general form, the defining principle of Modernity is that every whole—a political community, a horse, or a carbon atom—is a sum of its isolated parts.

We Are on the Wrong Side of History

In Old Europe, like in every premodern culture, the group was considered prior to the individual in origin and authority. Jacob Burckhardt, the great scholar of the Italian Renaissance, explains that in Medieval Europe a “man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation.”[18] When asked “Who are you?”, a person may have replied, “A Vignola from Padua, a stone carver, and a good Christian.” Sociologist Robert Nisbet agrees that in Medieval Europe “the group was primary; it was the irreducible unit of the social system at large.”[19] Since the whole is seen as prior to and greater than any of its parts, the overarching principle in Medieval Europe as well as in all premodern cultures is things exist only in relationship.

Unfortunately, we moderns are on the wrong side of history, for the cultural principle things exist in isolation is false—no indivisible part exists as a separate entity. If we were reared from infancy as isolated individuals, as separate entities, we literally could not understand what we see. For human vision to be meaningful, a person must be a participant in the world. This surprising property of vision was demonstrated in a series of classic experiments by Theodor Erismann.[20] He fitted persons with vision-distorting goggles that made straight lines appear curved, right angles seem acute or obtuse, and distances seem expanded or shortened. Amazingly, after a few days, a subject’s vision was no longer distorted; he saw normally and functioned normally, even skiing and riding a motorcycle!

The key to vision returning to normal was that the subjects were allowed to move about and act freely, enabling the strange new visual data to be integrated with the subject’s experience of self-movement and self-sensation through touch. Subjects not allowed to move on their own, though they were pushed on gondolas through the environment, never experienced normal vision while wearing the distorting goggles.[21] To see the world we must be participants, not mere spectators.

The senses are meant to be engaged with the outside world, and the mind with something other than itself. In isolation, the senses and the mind create phantoms. Experiments on human subjects in isolation tanks demonstrated that extreme sensory deprivation induces psychic disorders, such as mental confusion, hallucinations, and panic.

A human being exists only in relationship. Perceiving, feeling, imagining, thinking, and willing are impossible in isolation. A person in isolation from a larger whole, say nature or community, is a meaningless abstraction, an idealization that can only occur in philosophy and political theory. The isolated, autonomous self is a cultural myth, whose realization would reduce a person to nothingness.

To conform my thinking to the way things are, I replaced the Cartesian mantra “begin with the smallest parts” by a new mantra “begin with the whole.” I discovered again and again that the whole is very different from the sum of its parts. The notion that the human person is the sum of tiny pieces of matter is an obvious cultural fiction. I laughed out loud when I read the mind is a “set of information-processing devices, embodied in the human brain, that are responsible for all conscious and nonconscious mental activity, and that generate all behavior.”[22]

Dimwitted, after a struggle, I grasped that each one of us is part of a larger whole and that all paths to truth—myth, poetry, music, science, mathematics, philosophy, and religion—are based on experi­ences that are common to everyone. Furthermore, these universal experiences are more certain than experimental verification or logical argumentation. In this way, I learned to trust my experience and, at the same time, freed myself from the spiritually destructive notion that I am King of the Castle.

The American Emotional Profile

If I was initially put off by Tocqueville pointing out that democratic society programmed my thinking, then the corollary I drew that the same society instilled emotional habits in me was outrageous. And, for good reason. The emotions seem to be the core of our being. Our perceptions are of a common world available to all. Our thoughts are easily made public and can be shared by others. But our emotions seem radically private. No one can feel what another person feels. Most of us consider what is most private to be most of all who we are and take our unique emotional profiles to be our true selves. If we are moody or often lonely, then that is just the way we are. If we are quick to anger, then that is the kind of person we are. But the identification of our emotional profile with who we are is false.

When we understand ourselves in isolation from others, we see only our own needs and desires; nothing else is apparent to us. This leads us to see the world and other persons only in terms of our wants. When others frustrate the at­tainment of our desires, we become angry; when others have what we lack, we become envious; when we cannot get what we want, we feel sorry for ourselves. Isolation from others, then, predisposes us to anger, envy, and self-pity.

Circumstances modify this emotional profile, but nonetheless all isolated, autonomous individuals share the same profile. Consequently, the emotional responses of Americans are predictable. Drive any freeway in Boston or Los Angeles and you will see raw anger, the honking of horns and the shaking of fists. Every Superbowl commercial elicits envy; the celebrities and happy people on screen have what the viewers lack but want. To hear an expression of self-pity, turn on any country-and-western station.

Anger, envy, and self-pity are such a part of everyday American life that we take the intensity with which we feel these emotions as natural. But the Eskimo rarely experience these emotions. Eskimos speak of the white man’s “world where people are always loud and angry.”[23] In Eskimo culture showing anger to someone’s face is not acceptable. Anthropologist Jean Biggs was ostracized from her adoptive Utku Eskimo community for several weeks because of her single outburst of anger against white fishermen who she thought were taking advan­tage of the Eskimos.[24] Anger frightens and sickens Eskimos, for it destroys their web of human relationships.

Equality, however, tempers the negative emotions of Americans. When we see hardships and suffering, we easily imagine ourselves in the position of those in need. We generously support philanthropic enterprises, especially in times of disaster, such as hurricane Katrina or the attacks of 9/11; the deeper the misery of others the more our hearts pour out words of sympathy and our hands write larger checks. Some of us travel great distances and endure hardships ourselves to aid disaster victims. The source of such noble action is a democratic equality that engrains generosity in the American character.

If we understand ourselves as isolated, autonomous individ­uals, then we will take anger, envy, and self-pity as an essential part of who we are. When we understand that our predisposition to these negative emotions is not our nature but derived from culture and perhaps from events that befall us in early childhood, we acquire some distance from our emotional habits. Understanding the origins of our emotional habits allows us to judge our emotional life more objectively and to change certain habits we deem bad, without fear of losing some essential aspect of ourselves. We can free ourselves from culturally-given habits, acquire an interior life not programmed for us by culture, and begin to seize control of our lives and not be lived by culture.

Daily living provides an opportunity to change our emotional habits. For instance, suppose that I plan to drive to the bank to deposit a check. I must keep in mind that in the main I will be dealing with isolated, autonomous individuals. I cannot change my culture or upbringing; but I can change my perspective. Instead of looking at only myself, I can see that the persons around me, too, have been shaped by culture. So, when I drive along the expressway and some young guy in a pickup truck cuts me off, I can smile to myself and think, “What else should I expect from this poor self-centered jerk, who sees only himself?” If I feel anger automatically rise within me, when he gives me an obscene hand gesture, I can laugh and say to myself, “There you go again. Reacting exactly how you have been programmed.” Such laughter erodes my habitual anger.

Inside the bank, I should expect the teller, an eighteen-year-old woman, fresh out of high school and earning minimum wage, to dislike her job, to be withdrawn into herself, and to be indifferent to me, the customer. I hope that underneath the cold indifference, I can see the real person; a young woman who spends seven hours, five days a week, separated from other people, mechanically repeating, “Good morning. How are you? May I help you? . . . Have a nice day.” She probably thirsts for human contact and love. Perhaps, I can say a kind word to her or crack a small joke to momentarily break her out of the shell she has created around herself. The young woman, a stranger to me, and I are bound together in our loneliness and our need to love and be loved.

All of us who lead isolated, autonomous lives tend to think that other people have let us down, and consequently, we often pity ourselves. Many of us even when we are thirty or forty do not see how unrealistic and selfish our expectations are of other persons. No doubt inside of each one of us is a baby screaming, “Everyone is here to serve me. And, look how they have failed!” And, it is probably true that friends or family have treated us badly more than once. At times human life does seem absolutely hopeless. A tangled knot of human relations gets passed from one generation to the next, with little hope that anything will ever be straightened out. When human relations become unbearable, we often feel that all we can do is sit down and cry. It is enough to break a person’s heart.

But pain and suffering are unavoidable in life. Child­hood days of camaraderie, of shared adventure, and of common pursuits disappear forever. The best of friends quarrel bitterly over nonsense and never speak to each other again. Every American family self-destructs once or twice. Nevertheless, we are all bound together, parts of each other, and without compassion and understanding, our lives will sink into misery, bitterness, or cold-heartedness. We become compassionate and understanding when we are liberated from our narrow selves, and, for many of us, that only happens through pain and suffering, those two universals that unite humankind.

Our Hidden Nature

Nature does not give us a fixed occupation, fitting dress, or an emotional profile; but that does not mean that we are born as a blank slate for culture to write upon. Our natural purpose, or occupation if you like, is so hidden from us that we must discover and then strive to fulfill it.

No animal but a human being can grasp a whole; the innate responses of animals are keyed to a few external stimuli. A deaf turkey hen pecks all her own chicks to death as soon as they are hatched. The poults’ distressed cheeping is the only stimulus that can inhibit the hen’s natural aggression in defense of the nest. The cheeping alone evokes a maternal reaction in the hen. Without the cheeping, a recently hatched turkey is judged by its mother’s instinct to be an enemy and is attacked. A hen with normal hearing will attack a realistic stuffed chick if it emits no sound and is pulled toward the nest by a string. Conversely, she will respond maternally to a stuffed weasel (the turkey’s natural enemy) if it has a built-in speaker that produces the cheeping of a poult.[25]

Ethologist Jacob von Uexküll, among the first to document the remarkable specificity of animal perception, discovered that a jackdaw is unable to see a grasshopper that is not moving: “A jackdaw simply does not know the shape of a motionless grasshopper and is so constituted that it can only apprehend the moving form. That would explain why so many insects feign death. If their motionless form simply does not exist in the field of vision of their enemies, then by shamming death they drop out of that world with absolute certainty and cannot be found even though searched for.”[26]

Chimpanzees perceive the shape, size, color, and design of stuffed toys, yet are frightened by such drolly, unnatural things and cannot see they are harmless pieces of cloth and wood.[27]

The scientific study of animal perception demonstrates that an animal’s world is not the world we see at all, but in the words of Uexküll more closely resembles “a small poorly furnished room.”[28]

Of all the natural creatures, only human beings can get beyond narrow animal perception. A frog cannot see the iridescent, filigreed wing of a fly, nor can the fly see the glistening head and jet-black eyes of the frog. What characterizes human life in contrast to animal life is that a human being can get outside himself or herself through wonder and love. If you want to experience the human way of life, go outside at night and look at the stars, or in summer pick up a dandelion and look at it, or gaze into the eyes of the next person you see. Only a person can fall in love with the other; only a person is open to all existence. Who are we? We are lovers. Each person is, as it were, the eyes and ears of nature. Instead of inhabiting “a small, poorly furnished room,” every human person through love can be connected to all that is.

In the ancient world, sages, not encumbered by modern cultural prejudices, grasped directly our natural purpose, that human mind and nature form an indivisible whole:

Cicero: “Man himself, however, came into existence for the purpose of contemplating the world.”[29]

Epictetus: “God introduced man to be a spectator of his works; and not only a spectator of them, but an interpreter.”[30]

Augustine: “Material things help to make the pattern of this visible world so beautiful. It is as though, in compensation for their own incapacity to know, they wanted to become known by us.”[31]

A Zen master expressed in magnificent poetic imagery how the human being complements the world:

The wild geese do not intend to cast
their reflection;
The water has no mind to receive
their image.[32]

Amazingly, the study of animal perception re-discovered the spiritual nature of the human being—the capacity to be connected to all that is.[33]

Emotional Habits That Accord with Our Spiritual Nature

Are there any emotional habits that everyone should strive to acquire or attempt to avoid? At first, the answer seems “no,” since the human person is so unfinished by nature, and every culture constructs a different “I.” But one universal, ordering principle for human life does exist: Every person has the capacity to be connected to all that is. Thus, any habit that disconnects a person from other people should be avoided. For instance, a person quick to anger will not only anger those around him or her, but will be unable to judge irksome situations accurately. A short-tempered person often gets angry with the wrong people under the wrong circumstances and afterwards may feel regret.

Just as the short-tempered person is avoided by others, so too is the grouch. No one desires to be around a person enveloped in gloom and doom, or to associate with a man or woman who sees only shadows and what is wrong with others. The constant complainer refuses to put up with anything, no matter how trivial, and as a result is quarrelsome.

If a person cannot share, he or she is cut off from others; so, clearly, stinginess and greediness are to be avoided. Stealing and cheating are worse, for the thief and the cheat cannot disclose their activities for all to see, and consequently have cut themselves off from humanity. Similarly, the known liar will not be listened to by others. The liar deprives himself or herself of the full use of language and reason, the two faculties that differentiate human beings from the animals.

Thus, short-temperedness, quarrelsomeness, stinginess, greediness, and deceitfulness cut us off from others; but friendliness, a cheerful disposition, generosity, and truthfulness connect us to others.

If truthfulness is extended beyond truth-telling to include the capacity to see things exactly as they are, freed from subjective distortions, then, truthfulness also means to see oneself exactly for what one is, neither more nor less. Such self-awareness is humility. Objective sight reveals that underneath the faults and weaknesses of one’s neighbor lies suffering and a profound unknown. Compassion flows from seeing that one’s neighbor is essentially no different from oneself.

Ignorance, greed, and anger, what Buddha called the three poisons, are the obstacles that stand in the way of a person becoming connected to all that is. If we wish to become who we truly are by nature, we must strive to be truthful, selfless, and compassionate.

Freedom to Choose

I didn’t know whether I should have thanked or cursed Tocqueville, for he forced me to see that the life I led was given to me by culture and furthermore that such a life was contrary to nature. Ethnologist S.M. Molema, writing about his own people, the Bantu tribe, could have been writing about me. He personally testifies that in premodern Africa a person’s “actions are controlled by iron reins of tradition; his conduct is constrained by rigid custom. His very words are often a formula.”

I always took my freedom seriously, refusing to enslave myself to money and fashion. I genuinely thought I was the freest person in the world. I did not care what other people thought of me; I had no ambition; I refused to pursue fame and fortune; I was completely free from others. No person or institution could force me to do anything against my will. But I had discovered much to my dismay that when I told myself that to be free meant to be an isolated, autonomous individual my words were a cultural formula, and instead of me saying, “I think freedom is the right to do whatever one pleases, provided no one gets hurt,” it would have been more accurate to say, “I am a mouthpiece for modern culture.”

When I grasped that my spiritual nature is the capacity to be connected to all that is, I saw that freedom is not the “license to do whatever one wants,” but the capacity to choose to live a life in accord with my nature, and that required discipline and determination to adopt a new way of thinking—begin with the whole—and a new emotional profile—humility, selflessness, and compassion.[35]

We Are Viatores

Twenty-four centuries after his death, the words of Socrates can still unsettle an attentive listener. I think I embraced the spirit of his dictum “the unexamined life is not lived,” despite that I relied heavily upon modern science to unravel the difference between animal and human living. The steps for me, and I guess for Socrates, were to clear away who we are not, before we can begin to grasp who we are, or in a more philosophic language to unmask the opinions and beliefs that are peculiar to the culture we happened to be born into and then to ground living life well in those first principles and fundamental relationships that are universal to humankind. But we must never forget that we are viatores, traveling through this world, stumbling, getting up, and moving on, perhaps never fully grasping who we are and never living life as well as we possibly can.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

Notes:

[1] Plato, Apology, trans. Hugh Tredennick, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 24c.

[2] Plato, Apology, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 38a.

[3] Eva Brann, “Odysseus: Patron Hero of the Liberal Arts.” [4] See Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1966 [1835, 1840]), p. 508.

[5] Murray Gell-Mann, “Let’s Call It Plectics,” Complexity 1 (1995/1996), no. 5.

[6] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1966 [1835, 1840]), p. 429.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., p. 430.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., p. 429.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., p. 508.

[13] For a more complete discussion of the modern habits of thinking, see George Stanciu, “The Fetters of ‘Free Thought’.”

[14] H. Allen Orr, “Awaiting a New Darwin,” The New York Review of Books, 60, No. 2 (February 7, 2013).

[15] Ibid.

[16] For a full discussion of the failure of scientific materialism, see George Stanciu, “Materialism: The False God of Modern Science.”

[17] Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Régime and the French Revolu­tion, trans. Stuart Gilbert (New York: Doubleday, 1955 [1856]), p. 96.

[18] Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. S. G. C. Middlemore (New York: Modern Library, 1954), p. 100.

[19] Robert A. Nisbet, The Quest for Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), The Quest for Community, p. 81.

[20] See Ivo Kohler, The Formation and Transformation of the Perceptual World, trans. Harry Fiss (New York: International Universities Press, 1964).

[21] See Richard Held, “Plasticity in Sensory-Motor Systems,” Scientific American 213 (November, 1965): 84-94.

[22] Leda Cosmides, interview by Alvaro Fischer and Roberto Araya for the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

[23] Jean Biggs, Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), p. 74.

[24] Ibid., p. 284.

[25] Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression (New York: Harcourt, 1963), pp. 117-118.

[26] Jacob von Uexküll, quoted by Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, trans. Alexander Dru (New York: Mentor, 1963), p. 86.

[27] Wolfgang Kohler, The Mentality of Apes, trans. Ella Winter (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931), pp. 320-321.

[28] Ibid., p. 85.

[29] Cicero, De Natura Deorum, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933), p. 159.

[30] Epictetus, “The Discourses,” The Works of Epictetus, trans. Thomas Higginson (New York: Nelson, 1890), p. 24.

[31] Augustine, City of God, trans. P.G. Walsh et al. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1950), pp. 237-238.

[32] From Zenrin Kushu, an anthology of over five thousand two-line poems compiled by Toyo Eicho (1429-1504); see Alan Watts, The Way of Zen (New York: Random House, 1957), pp. 117 and 118.

[33] For a fuller discussion, see George Stanciu, “Wonder and Love: How Scientists Neglect God and Man.”

[34] S. M. Molema, The Bantu: Past and Present (Edinburgh: Green & Son, 1920), p. 136. Italics in the original.

[35] Plato, Republic, trans. Paul Shorey, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), Bk, VIII, 557b.

The featured image is “Et in Arcadia Ego” (1638) by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

All comments are moderated and must be civil, concise, and constructive to the conversation. Comments that are critical of an essay may be approved, but comments containing ad hominem criticism of the author will not be published. Also, comments containing web links or block quotations are unlikely to be approved. Keep in mind that essays represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Imaginative Conservative or its editor or publisher.

Leave a Comment
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Voiced by Amazon Polly